Archive for April, 2010

Attorney Blunder or Attorney Incompetence?

April 30, 2010


Missing Aunt Helen

April 30, 2010

On March 3, 2001, my Aunt Helen Fabis, 87, was taken by ambulance to the Critical Care Unit of Memorial Community Hospital, Edgerton, profoundly confused, malnourished and in critical condition, and suffering form the effects of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

On March 8, 2001, Kathleen Simane, Aunt Helen’s grandniece, was appointed her Temporary Guardian. In less than 54 days of Simane’s tenure, Simane spent all of Aunt Helen’s life savings (bank accounts, SS checks, proceeds from sale of stocks, cash), in excess of $75,000.

My Aunt died a pauper in a nursing home on April 30, 2001. Impoverished by Simane, Aunt Helen was waiting to apply for Medicaid and public assistance.

Simane used Aunt Helen’s money for her personal extravagances: breast enlargement procedures, a brand new, fully loaded 2001 Chevy Suburban, her rent and utilities, training, food and supplies for her dogs. She left Aunt Helen penniless – not even enough funds for final arrangements and burial. No estate for the heirs. Rock County Probate Court took no action; the Temporary Guardianship was “closed” without any accounting or inventory.

July 20, 2006, Judge James P. Daley admonished Kathleen Simane: “The funds should have been used for her (Helen Fabis) benefit, but you used them for your benefit…You took money from someone who could not protect herself. You were supposed to protect her…We as a people will be judged by how we treat the least in our society and those who cannot help themselves.”

Count One Theft By Bailee: Judge Daley sentenced Simane (shown below) to prison for two years, followed by eight years of extended supervision and, Count Two Theft By Bailee: Five years in prison, followed by 10 years extended supervision as a consecutive sentence. The judge stayed the second sentence in favor of 10 years probation. He ordered Simane to pay restitution: $78,289.81 (not the total amount stolen from my Aunt).

Criminal Case: 1) STATE OF WISCONSIN vs Kathleen A. Simane 2005CF000301;

Civil Cases: 2) Rock County Probate Case No. 01GN35 (closed no accounting/inventory);
3) Dane County Probate Case No. 2001PR1252 “open” assets: $00.00;
4) Dane County Case No.: 2002CV003962 Estate of Helen Fabis vs
William Skibbe;
5) Rock County Case No.: 2004CV000375 Estate vs Bank One/Kathleen Simane case “open”/bankruptcy;
6) US Bankruptcy Court District of MN Case No.: 4-37370 Petitioner: Kathleen Simane, “closed”;
7) US Bankruptcy Court District of MN Adversarial Case No.: 5-3083 Estate vs Kathleen Simane, “open”.

NASGA – Victims’ Stories

See Also:
Great Escapes – “Woman Charged for Swindling Aunt”

Is Kathleen Simane Now Kathy Larson?

Urgent Call to Action – Free Danny Tate

April 29, 2010

Judge Randy Kennedy is refusing to award Michael G. Hoskins his attorney fees, or rule on Mr. Hoskins motion to award them. He is taking the postion that he doesn’t have to rule on them, effectively denying Mr. Hoskins his payment for the last 7 months. Although the attorney that David Tate hired to put his brother Danny Tate in conservatorship has been paid………..the attorney Danny hired to defend him is being denied his fees- How can that be right? It isn’t. I view it as a clever way for the judge to effectively starve him off the case.

I spent nearly two hours today on the phone with Michael G. Hoskins. He is a smart attorney, and I believe he is truly in Danny’s corner. But, he’s got to get paid. He would like to devote all of his energy to Danny’s case, because he is passionate about it. But we live in a real world, and the judge is making it difficult for him to be on the case.

If he leaves the case……….it is over for Danny. The judge will appoint an “adequate” attorney to his case, and you can draw your own conclusions.
Call to action- Please send a check to Michael G. Hoskins at 3200 West End Ave., Suite 500, Nashville, TN 37203. Make the check payable to: Tate Legal Defense Fund.

This is urgent, and this is serious. Send whatever you can. $10 to $10,000……….whatever you can afford, but we HAVE to keep this guy on the case. Yesterday, I blogged about the 10 things we could do to help Danny, and while those are important…….this has become urgent. I also announced the Awareness Concert taking place on Sunday, May 23rd at 12th and Porter in Nashville. Tickets sold to that event will also go directly to the Tate Legal Defense Fund, so please buy a ticket to that event-there are many who are watching this case from the United Kingdom and beyond, and have joined the “Friends for Danny Tate’s Defense” Facebook group.You can also support this cause by buying tickets for the Awareness concer-.even if you don’t plan on attending. It will be a donation for the cause. We accept paypal, and credit card payments. Buy your tickets now!

While Paul Housch bills Danny Tate’s estate for reading the Nashville Scene article that exposed what was going on with Danny’s case……….Danny’s attorney is denied his fees. It is now up to us to help out. Are you in?


See Also:
Facebook: Friends for Danny Tate’s Defense

Hearing Set for Queener Case

April 29, 2010

A court battle continues over who is the best person to make decisions about 79-year-old Bob Queener’s medical care, housing and day-to-day needs.

The dispute is primarily between Department of Human Services staff and Queener’s relatives, who are upset that DHS recommended a judge give all authority over the Des Moines man’s life to people who don’t know him. Queener began showing signs of dementia last summer.

An article in The Des Moines Register recounted how DHS staff removed Queener from his home and a court-appointed conservator began to sell all his household goods, vehicles and mortgage-free home.

At a hearing Monday, an attorney for DHS said Queener’s court-appointed temporary guardian, D. Thomas Smith, no longer wishes to be considered for the role of permanent guardian.

[Assistant Polk County Attorney] Ford said DHS is now looking for another suitable family member – other than Queener’s niece, Cheri Jensen, who was his main caretaker until DHS intervened in December.

A hearing on who should be permanent guardian has been tentatively scheduled for June 1 or 2.

Full Article and Source:
Hearing on DM Man’s Guardian is Set

Victim Left Out of Hearings in DHS Case

April 29, 2010

State laws give elderly Iowans a steadfast right to attend all their legal hearings, even if they have impaired mental capacity.

That makes it all the more striking that 79-year-old Bob Queener wasn’t allowed at hearings regarding control over his care and property, advocates for the elderly say. An article in last Sunday’s Des Moines Register recounted Queener’s removal from his home in December without warning to his relatives.

Because of a quirk in Iowa law, though, families don’t have the right to be notified before the state restricts their elderly relatives’ civil rights in cases that involve the Iowa Department of Human Services.

Lori Duboys of the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse said the Queener case illustrates issues she’s seen in some state-ordered emergency or temporary guardianships across the country.

“We can tell you that is happening more and more these days,” Duboys said. “The elderly are being treated like criminals, with this exception: Criminals are present at their trials.”

Full Article and Source:
Man Left Out of Hearings in DHS Case

See Also:
When Should the State Step In?”

Guardian Ignored Woman’s Last Wish

April 28, 2010

Marie Meader made it known: When her time came, she wanted to be buried, not cremated.

The genial Omaha woman a retired nurse and teacher told her relatives she wanted to be in a cemetery where her loved ones could find her.

She even went to John A. Gentleman Mortuary and chose her casket, picked out flowers for her funeral and planned the services and burial at Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery. All she had to do was pay for it.

But Marie Meader never paid the bill. She soon slipped into dementia and, with no capable relatives nearby, a judge appointed Dinah Turrentine-Sims to watch over her.

As guardian and conservator, Turrentine-Sims was supposed to look after matters of Meader’s health and wealth.

Those matters included prepaying for Meader’s funeral something Meader’s nieces repeatedly reminded Turrentine-Sims to do.

In turn, Turrentine-Sims reassured the nieces that she would take care of the mortuary bill.

She did not.

When Marie Meader died last month at age 90, her out-of-state nieces made a grim discovery: There was no money left in Meader’s accounts, which once held at least $150,000.

And nothing had been paid to the mortuary.

Meader’s nieces had little choice. They could try to pool $10,000 money they didn’t have for their aunt’s burial. Or they could have her cremated which would cost $2,000.

Marie Meader was cremated. A small group of relatives, most from out of state, celebrated her life at an Omaha church.

There was no burial at Evergreen, no fulfillment of her final wish.

It isn’t the only duty Turrentine-Sims is accused of neglecting. Authorities now say more than $400,000 is unaccounted for in the estates of as many as eight wards a dollar amount that investigators say may climb.

Prosecutors have charged her with theft and with abuse of a vulnerable adult in two cases where the losses have totaled more than $250,000. They allege that Turrentine-Sims, 59, spent thousands of her wards’ dollars at a Council Bluffs casino.

Her former wards and their families accuse Turrentine-Sims of something worse: stripping their loved ones of their dignity along with their dollars.

Full Article and Source:
Guardian Ignored Woman’s Last Wish

See Also:
Nebraska’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Calls for Safeguarding of State’s Wards

Patient Advocate Suspended for Speaking Up

April 28, 2010

The decision by the Department of Health and Senior Services to suspend a social worker who wrote a letter protesting the closing of Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital is a troubling move. It’s bound to put a chill into anyone who works for the state and wants to point out a problem with administration policy. Susan Hollander Whitman, a consultant and geriatric-case manager for the Office of the Public Guardian, has been suspended from her duties while officials investigate whether she “appropriately or inappropriately represented herself as a member of the office.”

In her letter last month to state Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Warren), Hollander Whitman said closing the hospital would disrupt the lives of the 19 elderly and incapacitated patients for whom she has guardianship. She wrote that she has been visiting the institution for six years “working closely with staff and patients to assure the best care for these adults.”

“I can not in good conscience advocate for them to be moved around and have their stability disrupted,” she wrote.

Doherty, whose district includes the hospital and who opposes closing it, read a portion of the letter at a budget committee hearing last week. That prompted the Department of Health and Senior Services to relieve Hollander Whitman of her duties pending a probe. Department spokeswoman Donna Leusner says Hollander Whitman’s patients have been temporarily reassigned.

In her letter, it seems clear Hollander Whitman was expressing her own view and concern as an advocate for her patients, as any good guardian should. She did not use official letterhead, and she identified herself as a guardian representative, not as someone speaking on behalf of the agency.

Department officials have not said what policy the social worker might have breached. In other words, they can’t say for sure if she even did anything wrong. That makes taking away her job — and the patients she was speaking up for — all the more unfortunate.

Full Article and Source:
Patient Advocate Suspended for Speaking Up

Editorial: When the Elderly Cannot Take Care of Themselves

April 28, 2010

The struggle between professionals and family members over what happens when a loved one loses the capacity to take care of himself was accurately described in Jennifer Jacobs’ article about Bob Queener, “When Should the State Step In?” (April 18 Des Moines Sunday Register). The problem with the article, however, is that while it accurately described one case, it does not give a proper overview of the workings of the system used to help incapacitated citizens.

First, let me say that while I have no inside knowledge of the Queener case, I do, as a regular part of my practice, represent people – usually through court appointment – who are the subject of an inquiry by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) and know personally many of the individuals involved in that case. To understand how these cases are handled, a short overview of the procedure is in order.

Full Editorial and Source:
When the Elderly Can’t Take Care of Themselves

See Also:
When Should the State Step In?

Danny Tate Benefit/Awareness Concert Scheduled!

April 27, 2010

Billy Block is happy to confirm Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 12th & Porter for the Danny Tate Benefit/Awareness Concert.

Thanks to everyone at 12 & P for the support.

Kevin Montgomery and CeCe DuBois will be spearheading this effort. Looking forward to seeing who steps up to play!

Music is Power!

Facebook: Friends for Danny Tate’s Defense

Florida Lawmakes Move to Enhance APS

April 27, 2010

A little-noticed bill would enable the Florida Department of Children and Families for the first time to ask a court to decide whether a mentally or physically impaired adult needs a guardian.

Supporters say the legislation will remove a roadblock that stalls or blocks state services designed to protect vulnerable adults from abuse and neglect. The House passed the bill unanimously Wednesday; a Senate vote is expected this week.

The bill was filed in September, five months before the death of a Fernandina Beach woman with a long history of mental-health problems and department investigations.

Hunter’s death has gained statewide attention as a symbol of what several experts say are gaps in the mental-health care system. Hunter had been admitted to hospital emergency rooms more than 60 times, undergoing several psychiatric evaluations along the way, during the last two years of her life without getting the help she needed, they say.

Reaction to the bill has been mixed.

A former insider at the agency’s Northeast Florida office calls the bill a “classic example of Legislature appearing to do something without dealing with fundamental core issues.” The bill makes it easier for the state to place a vulnerable adult into guardianship, but it doesn’t address the shortage of guardians, said Gene Costlow, who retired from his human services program director position in March after 37 years with the agency.

Full Article and Source:
Florida Lawmakers Move to Enhance Adult Protection in the Wake of Sarah Hunter’s Death