Archive for January, 2010

SAFE: Special Advocates for the Elderly

January 31, 2010

Thanks to an inaugural group of 10 volunteers, life may be a little easier for Douglas County’s elderly who find themselves in an often-confusing legal system.

The county’s first team of Special Advocates for the Elderly was sworn-in Jan. 21 by district judges Michael Gibbons and Dave Gamble.

Under the direction of former Lyon County District Attorney John Giomi, now a Topaz resident, the volunteers are qualified to advocate on behalf of their wards in matters from guardianship to appropriate care and treatment.

The program is similar to the county’s CASA program which works on behalf of children.

“You may be the last resort to keep elders as independent as long as possible or help them make the transition,” Giomi said. “You’re the only one to keep the best interests of the elderly in mind.”

Sharon Doan, Lovana Dressler, John Giomi, Nancy Henker, Dana Jantos, Dawn King, Daniel Lancaster, Donna Miller, Madeline Snyder-Hollstrom, Jeffrey Weisend

Full Article and Source:
Volunteers Step Up to Aid Elderly in Court

Drug Induced Dementia – A Perfect Crime

January 31, 2010

Under the influence of declining birth rates, expanding longevity, and changing population structures around the world, the global prevalence of senile dementia is expected to increase more than four-fold within the next forty years. Within the United States alone, the number of affected individuals over the age of 65 is expected to rise exponentially from 8 million cases (2% of the entire population in the year 2000), to 18 million retirees (roughly 4.5% of the national census in the year 2040). Although they are striking, these statistics quite likely underestimate the scope of the coming epidemic, as they fail to consider the impact of under-diagnosis, early-onset disease, and the potential for a changing incidence of illness in the context of increasingly toxic environments.

In the face of this imminent crisis, concerned observers have called for policies and practices which aim to prevent, limit, or reverse dementia. Drug-Induced Dementia: A Perfect Crime is a timely resource which reveals why and how medical treatments themselves – specifically, psychopharmaceuticals – are a substantial cause of brain degeneration and premature death.

Drug Induced Dementia – A Pefect Crime (Grace Jackson, MD)

Ex-Broker Says She Can’t Pay Back Stolen Funds

January 31, 2010

A former Joliet resident who was found guilty nearly four years ago of stealing thousands of dollars from an elderly man has yet to pay back all the money.

Now Gloria Osorio, 37, wants a public defender to represent her.

Osorio, who is living in Chicago and in the past sometimes used the first name of Renee, was arrested in 2004 and charged with four counts of financial exploitation of the elderly. While working as a broker for investment firm A.G. Edwards, she was accused of taking money from Earl Fromm Sr. of Morris. Osorio was supposed to have invested the cash for him but did not.

During the investigation, Osorio told a Joliet police officer that she took between $65,000 and $70,000 over a few months. Some of the money was used to pay off the $34,000 loan on her Mercedes-Benz. She also told the officer about opening an account for Fromm at a credit union. Osorio had access to that money and listed herself as Fromm’s granddaughter on the credit union’s records.

Represented by Ira Goldstein, Osorio had a bench trial in September 2005 in Judge Richard Schoenstedt’s courtroom, and he found her guilty.

In early 2006, the judge sentenced Osorio to 48 months probation and 180 days in jail. He also ordered her to pay restitution of a little more than $62,500.

Osorio paid $26,527.30 but still owes more than $36,000.

Osorio will return to court at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 4.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-Broker Can’t Pay Back Stolen Money, Afford Lawyer

Charged With Exploitation of His Mother

January 31, 2010

Douglas J. Koufman is charged with exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult for more than $100,000. The 57-year-old surrendered at the Palm Beach County Jail and posted bail.

Koufman’s attorney Michael B. Cohen says: “We vigorously deny the allegations and we believe that the evidence will eventually show that Mr. Koufman will be exonerated.”

According to an affidavit by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Koufman misappropriated at least $873,000 from his mother’s trust fund.

His mother, Charlotte Koufman, is now 88 and suffers from dementia.

Full Article and Source:
Man Charged With Draining Elderly Mom of $800,000

New Jersey Supreme Court Precedent-Setting Ruling

January 30, 2010

In a precedent-setting ruling, the state Supreme Court has recused a Morris Township municipal court judge from presiding over a drug case because he is an adversary of the defense attorney.

Judge Robert Nish should have recused himself because he and defense attorney Alan Albin happen to be attorneys on opposite sides of an unrelated pending probate case, the high court said in a 6-0 ruling.The decision is meant to provide guidance to New Jersey’s 318 part-time judges in 528 municipal courts, many of whom also work in private practice. In its ruling, the high court determined judges “must recuse themselves whenever they and a lawyer for a party are adversaries in some other open, unresolved matter.”

“For millions of New Jerseyans each year, municipal court judges are the face of the judiciary,” the court said in a ruling written by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. “Ensuring both conflict-free, fair hearings and the appearance of impartiality in municipal courts is vital to our system of justice.”

“The Supreme Court took the opportunity to send a pretty clear message to the lower courts that they don’t want even a hint of impartiality” on the bench, said Albin, who is no relation to Supreme Court Justice Barry Albin.

Full Article and Source:
N.J. Supreme Court Rules Morris Township Judge Should Be Removed From Drug Case

More Education About Guardianship Needed in MO

January 30, 2010

The question of guardianship may seem like a simple decision to be made, but being placed under guardianship can have devastating effects for a person with developmental disabilities. It’s often seen as the only option when a person needs assistance or support in making decisions, but disability advocates say it can lead to a loss of freedoms.

Preliminary results from a project on guardianship in Missouri show that more work needs to be done to educate the public about the rights of people with developmental disabilities.

Five years ago, Cristal Chapman says someone filed a petition to place her under full guardianship when she began having some personal difficulties as a result of her disabilities. She says she was forced to live hours away from her husband in a locked-down facility and had to give up some of her civil and human rights, even though she had done nothing wrong.

“They took away my freedom of religion. There was one point where they wouldn’t let me talk to, see or write my husband. It was pretty bad.”

With assistance from Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services, through the Guardianship project, Chapman successfully petitioned the court and restored her rights. Chapman is again living independently with her husband, and making her own decisions.

Full Article and Source:
More Education Needed in MO About Guardianship

Arkansas Judge Removed From Bench

January 30, 2010

The state Supreme Court on Monday ordered Pulaski County Circuit Judge Willard Proctor removed from the bench.

The high court, acting on a recommendation from the state commission that disciplines judges, concluded Proctor violated canons of judicial conduct in his relationship with a nonprofit probation program run from his courthouse office.

The state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission accused Proctor of improperly involving himself in the activities and finances of the Cycle Breakers program, and of breaking the law by requiring probationers to pay “civil fees” with the threat of jail time.

At a hearing last summer, Proctor admitted giving probationers rides to meetings, hosting them as his home, letting one stay at his home and baptizing some at his church.

But he argued before the high court earlier this month that running what he called a “cutting edge” probation program from his office did not warrant his removal from the bench. He asked the justices to reject the commission’s recommendation on procedural grounds.

Full Article and Source:
Supreme Court Orders Judge to be Removed

Medical Tech Arrested

January 30, 2010

A medical technician at two facilities for the elderly – one in Granite Bay and another in Citrus Heights – allegedly stole cash and jewelry from dozens of victims to feed her gambling addiction, authorities said.

Placer County Sheriff’s detectives on Tuesday afternoon arrested Sasi L. Raj (left photo), 46, of Antelope, at Eskaton Lodge in Granite Bay, where she has worked since August 2007, Det. Sgt. Brian Whigam said.

Raj, who was arrested on suspicion of burglary and financial elder abuse, also worked at Merrill Gardens in Citrus Heights, Whigam said.

Whigam said Raj dispensed medication to the senior residents at the facilities and had a master key to their rooms. When they left their rooms to eat or see a doctor, she would enter the room to steal from them, Whigam said.

“They trusted her,” he said.

So far, detectives say they have identified a dozen victims, but believe that more will come forward.

Full Article and Source:
Medical Tech Suspected of Stealing From Senior Residents Arrested

The Most Frightening Abuse of Power

January 30, 2010

Dorothy Wilson is 85 years old and suffers from early dementia. She is not a stroke victim or in a wheelchair, and she does not need to be washed or bathed. She cleans and cooks for herself.

I applied for guardianship in December, 2008, but my siblings fought this. In March, 2009, a geriatric “care” manager and guardian were assigned to my mother and she was declared incapacitated. An order was issued for an aide in her home 24/7, but soon arrangements were made for Mom to stay with family on weekends. Restricted pickup and return times were ordered, and although I requested relief many times, but the judge refused to allow it. His decision was based on the care manager’s assertion that 9am on a Saturday to pickup and 9am on a Monday to return is the only time the agency, Home Companion Services of Port Jefferson, will allow.

One aide soon became Mom’s friend and confidant. On September 15, 2009, the care manager went to my mother’s house with a new aide that does not drive, and ordered the other aide to leave or she would call the police. Mom insisted she did not want Cheri to leave and she was threatened as well. The guardian claimed she did this for my mother’s “safety” although nothing had happened.

The court has refused to allow my mother to stay with family additional days when someone is available, which is what she wants, and would save her thousands of dollars in agency fees. No one listens to her or respects her wishes. After Mom complained to me and her attorney about the violation of her privacy and HIPPA rights, her attorney advised the judge via letter on October 30, 2009. False allegations were then made against me by the guardian and the care manager. On November 10, 2009, the guardian mailed a letter to me stating that I violated the court orders prohibiting anyone from discussing costs with Mom and she imposed supervised visitation.

Mom’s attorney requested a hearing, which was scheduled for Thanksgiving Eve. Despite the fact that I told the truth, the judge believed the lies of my siblings, the aide and the attorney. Since I was acting pro se, my witness was not allowed to testify. The guardian arranged for my siblings to take Mom for the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend, preventing my family and I from seeing her for the holiday. On December 3, the judge ruled that while there would be no supervised visitation, he stated that I had absolutely no credibility. This was based on the fact that my mother wrote letters pleading her case and I was accused of dictating them to her because my sister advised the guardian that my mother “cannot write.”

My mother was unhappy with the “visitation” arrangements that the guardian made for Christmas. She wrote a letter and called her. After my mother did that, the guardian sent me a letter refusing to allow my mother to visit with me and her grandchildren until 5PM on Christmas Day, instead allowing my siblings to take her for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

This is the most frightening abuse of power I have ever seen. It is virtually impossible to fight people like this unless you are very wealthy.

Dorothy Wilson, NY Victim

Recommended Website: Financial Abuse of the Elderly

January 29, 2010


In a sentence, Florida’s exploitation law (FSS 825.103) states that when someone maliciously takes the property of an “elderly person,” they are committing exploitation. That’s the essence of the law.

But there is also an important requirement: Within this law, an “elderly person” is defined as someone 60 years of age or older who is suffering from the infirmities of aging to the extent that their ability to adequately care for and protect themselves is impaired. The law states that the elderly person must suffer a physical or mental infirmity. Therefore, exploitation is based primarily on infirmities or disabilities and not deception.

This is why exploitation is not fraud and why it can be much more devastating and offensive. Fraud is generally defined as deception that is carried out for the purpose of achieving personal gain while causing injury to another party. Exploitation requires more than that. It requires that the victims suffer disabilities that make them more vulnerable. And when the victim is more vulnerable, the victim impact is far worse.


See Also:

Financial Abuse of the Elderly; A Detective’s Case Files of Exploitation Crimes, by Joe Roubicek