Archive for June, 2010

Judge John L. Phillips – Justice Has Not Been Served

June 30, 2010

Justice has not been served in the case of my dearly departed friend, the Honorable Judge John L. Phillips, known to all as the Kung-Fu Judge. Upon learning of his candidacy in 2001, Brooklyn D.A. Joe Hynes filed an ex-parte (secret action) to seal up all of Judge Phillips’ assets. Twelve apartment buildings and two movie Theatres were part of the millionaire judges’ empire. The Court then appointed Hynes former Chief of Staff, Harvey Greenberg, as Judge Phillips’ “Guardian.”

The transcript of the proceeding to condemn Judge Phillips is chilling. The reason presented to the court for a guardian was a videotape presented by a prosecutor from the Brooklyn DA’s office, Steven Kramer, who conducted a raid on Judge Phillips home along with three confederates. A.D.A. Kramer produced a videotape of the raid at the hearing, and the chief piece of evidence to appoint a guardian was that Judge Phillips had “campaign posters” in his house. These facts are not in dispute. I’ve read the transcript.

Judge Phillips was then remanded to a nursing home…in the BRONX, and the race for District Attorney was over.

Full Article and Source:
Judge John L. Phillips – Justice Has Not Been Served

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Former Judge Larry Seidlin Still Milking Anna Nicole Smith Case

June 30, 2010

Former Broward circuit judge Larry (Cryin’) Seidlin is still milking the Anna Nicole Smith case for everything he can.

Seidlin made the national media rounds last week to hype his new book, “The Killing of Anna Nicole Smith,” and to increase his visibility as he tries to land a syndication deal for a new court TV show, “Psychic Court.”

The man has no shame.

His performance in the six-day hearing to decide where Smith should be buried after her February 2007 overdose death at the Seminole Hard Rock Resort in Hollywood was bad enough.

But his latest turn as moral policeman, with the book decrying “enablers” who coddle and exploit celebrities for their trappings and wealth, is especially cringe-worthy.

Full Article and Source:
Former Judge Larry Seidlin Still Milking Anna Nicole Smith Case

NASGA Member on Guardianship Abuse

June 29, 2010

Dear Union County Freeholders,

My husband and I want to thank Freeholder Kowalski for stating that guardianship abuse in Union County will not be tolerated.

Based on Freeholder Kowalski’s closing comment on the June 24, 2010 – meeting we would like to bring to your attention that guardianship abuse is occurring right in the Union County Courts, in Judge John F. Malone’s courtroom. He is bringing down full plenary guardianships without due process for the alleged ward.

The most disturbing part of the matter is that Assignment Judge Karen Cassidy is fully aware that he is not following the rules of the court and is violating the judicial canons and is not reporting his unethical\illegal behavior as she is mandated to. Instead of protecting the most vulnerable and their families she is exploiting them.

Judge Cassidy is protecting a disturbing practice in the Union County Chancery Court.

Full Editorial and Source:
Guardianship Abuse

Brother Accused of Stealing From Disabled Sister

June 29, 2010

His brother begged a judge not to approve Brent A. Carney as trustee of a trust fund that their late mother established to care for their deaf, mentally handicapped sister.

Carney is mentally ill, has a criminal record that includes theft and slapping their sister and could not be trusted to administer the fund, older brother James Michael “Mike” Carney told the judge.

Nonetheless , Muskingum County Probate Judge Joseph A. Gormley approved Brent Carney in May 2008. Gormley did so after requiring Carney to obtain a $500,000 bond.

Two years later, the trust money is gone. The approximately $150,000 in the trust that their mother left for Lisa Anne Carney Ferguson is drained. Only $162.04 remains, records show.

A Fairfield County grand jury indicted Brent Carney on June 4. He is charged with theft from an elderly or disabled adult by deception, which is a first-degree felony, and with complicity to commit failure to provide change of address, a fourth-degree felony.

Mike Carney is furious with his brother and with the judge.

“How low can you go, man, to stick it to your own family member?” he asked. “He deserves to do some hard time for what he has done.”

Mike Carney said he plans to file a complaint with the Ohio Supreme Court’s disciplinary counsel against Judge Gormley for approving Brent Carney as the trustee despite abundant evidence indicating that it would be a bad idea.

“His actions were inexcusable. That was poor judgment,” Mike Carney said.

The judge said he tried to respect the mother’s wishes in naming Brent the trustee and tried to protect Lisa’s interests by requiring the bond. He said he didn’t think Brent would be able to get bonded and was surprised when he did.

“Despite his shortcomings, he was able to get a bond,” Gormley said. “It’s unfortunate that he has apparently misappropriated the funds, but Lisa can now look to the bonding company and say, ‘Replace my money.’ So, it’s not as gloomy as it looks.”

The family was unaware of the trust fund’s depletion until recently, when a Fairfield County investigation into the production and use of counterfeit checks led law enforcement first to Whitacre, then to Brent.

Brent Carney remains in the county jail in lieu of $250,000 bond. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial in August. Fairfield County Prosecutor David Landefeld refused to comment on the case because it is pending.

Mike and Greg Carney have told Lisa that Brent stole her money. She is upset and angry, Mike said, but doesn’t fully comprehend what happened.

“She doesn’t understand the amount he really took,” he said.

Full Article and Source:
Brother Accused of Stealing From Disabled Sister

Marie Long Wants Her Money Back

June 28, 2010

Attorneys for an 88-year-old widow left penniless by her trip through Maricopa County’s probate court are asking that the old lady’s money be returned until a new trial is held – one presided over by a judge who doesn’t play favorites.

In their 70-page motion, attorneys for Marie Long lay out a pattern of treatment in which Commissioner Lindsay Ellis sided with and even lauded the attorneys and fiduciaries who wound up with all of the widow’s money while ignoring requests from the attorneys who were trying to protect her assets as they dwindled to nothing.

The pattern of “blatant partiality, bias and hostility” culminated in Ellis giving a highly improper heads-up to the favored attorneys this spring, sending them an advance copy of her ruling that approved hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees they collected from Marie and lambasted the old lady’s legal team.

But their motion for a new trial goes beyond her eye popper of a case and calls into question that coziest of probate practices, the one that allows lawyers and fiduciaries to collect fees first and seek approval (which they virtually always get) later.

“It is a long-standing practice that invites unfettered financial abuse of the incapacitated, incompetent and the elderly,” Marie’s attorneys wrote. “This practice must stop.”

Marie was worth $1.3 million when she suffered a stroke in 2005 and came under the protection of probate court. Today, she’s destitute and depends on taxpayers for support.

Full Article and Source:
From Probate Files, Elderly Widow Wants Her Money Back

See Also:
Probate Judge’s E-mail Raises Eyebrows

Woman Convicted of Stealing From Elderly Aunt

June 28, 2010

A Lakeland woman faces at least 34 months in prison after being convicted of financially exploiting an elderly relative with dementia.

A jury found Jo Marie Weeks guilty on all three counts: exploitation of an elderly person, scheme to defraud and theft. Circuit Court Judge Dennis Maloney scheduled Weeks’ sentencing hearing for Aug. 6.

Under state sentencing guidelines, Maloney would have to offer a reason for departing from the minimum sentence of 34 months, said a spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office. Weeks, who has no previous felony convictions, could receive a maximum of 60 years in prison.

Weeks, 32, and her husband, Eric Weeks, were arrested in December on charges they siphoned more than $100,000 from Lelia Boyd, Jo Marie Weeks’ great-great aunt, who lives in a Winter Haven assisted-living facility. Boyd, 89, is mentally incapacitated, a doctor and a nurse testified during the week-long trial.

Full Article and Source:
Lakeland Woman Convicted of Stealing From Elderly Aunt With Dementia

See Also:
Trial Begins in Exploitation Case

Judge Demands Guardian Produce Records

June 27, 2010

Public Administrator Lynn EnEarl has been accused of violating state law by not conducting inventory of her charges’ property when she took over their cases or filing annual reports with the district court on their financial and health status.

District Judge Mi chael Gibbons ordered EnEarl, who is seeking re-election, to file an inventory and provide accounting in an order issued Thursday.

Gibbons set a 1 p.m. Tuesday hearing seeking an inventory of the property of Sharon Hicks, 83, who has been under the public administrator since 2006, and to determine whether Hicks should continue under EnEarl’s guardianship.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Demands Guardian Produce Records

See Also:
Advocates Vs. Administrator

Florida Lawyer Arrested

June 27, 2010

A Kissimmee lawyer hired to manage money for an Alzheimer’s patient and his wife used their credit cards to pay for a trip to Mexico, office furniture and other personal expenses, Osceola County investigators said.

Linda Littlefield, 38, was arrested at the Sheriff’s Office, where she went to meet with detectives. The charges are grand theft and credit-card fraud. The Florida Bar also is investigating a complaint about the case.

Deputies say the man’s family hired Littlefield in 2006 to set up a $40,000 trust. She told them they needed to give her their credit cards and monthly bills so she could pay them with the trust fund, investigators said.

The man was in his mid-80s when he died in February 2009. Last January, his wife began receiving statements from her credit-card company saying she owed nearly $15,000 on one of the cards. There was no balance when she hired Littlefield, detectives said.

An investigation showed Littlefield made five unauthorized purchases, one on each of five cards, sheriff’s spokeswoman Twis Lizasuain said. The total spent was nearly $54,000. Littlefield also used $7,900 of the trust to make payments on the credit-card bills, she said.

Full Article and Source:
Investigators: Kissimmee Laywer Used Client’s Credit Cards to Pay for Mexico Trip

Family Members Accused of Theft

June 27, 2010

A Wake County mother and son have been arrested and charged with exploitation of the elderly after more than $54,000 was withdrawn from an 85-year-old family member’s bank account, according to court documents.

Janet Hood of Wake Forest uses a wheelchair and was living in a care facility at the time police say the money was taken, according to a search warrant issued for bank records.

Betty Jo Hood, 65, and her son, Richard Allen Richardson, 38, were charged with one count each of exploitation of an elder adult, according to court documents.

Full Article and Source:
Family Members Accused of Theft

Notes from Texas Public Hearing: Senate Committee on Jurisprudence

June 26, 2010

The Senate Committee on Jurisprudence, under the direction of Chairman Wentworth, met today in the Capitol Extension for invited and public testimony on interim charge 2.

Interim Charge 2: Study the guardianship program implemented by the Department of Aging and Disabilities and the Department of Adult Protective Services, including the efficiency and effectiveness of the program, the relationship between the two agencies, the appropriate rights for parents, and whether clients and their assets are adequately protected.

(2:12) Debby Valdez, an advocate for familial guardianship and a member of GRADE (Guardianship Reform Advocates for the Disabled and Elderly), was the first of nearly 3 hours of witnesses who gave emotional testimony on the abuses in the probate and guardianship system and were critical of DADS, Adult Protective Services, the private “profit-driven” guardianship system (in particular, GSI – Guardianship Services Inc.), Tarrant County Probate Judge Ferchill, and Denton County Probate Judge Windle. Other issues were ex parte discussions, attorney ad litems,revocation of parental rights, loss of familial interaction, revocation of familial guardianships, kickbacks, abuse, inappropriate relationships, sexual assault, the “stripping of civil rights,” claims of “homicide,” intentional overmedication, onerous appeal fees ($10,000 in Judge Ferchill’s court), and theft of assets by ad litems.

(3:42) Sen. Harris voiced his anger at Commissioner Traylor and Assistant Commissioner Jessee over the lack of oversight with wards in private guardianship.

(3:47) Emotional public testimony continued.

(4:53) Steven Fields, court administrator for Tarrant County Probate Judge Ferchill, addressed the testimony regarding GSI, Judge Ferchill’s relationship with GSI, ex parte hearings, the lack of notice given to family members with ex parte and revocation hearings, and specific allegations by family members. Mr. Fields stated “emergency situations” can require ex parte hearings, and family members can “create problems” for wards under the care of GSI. Mr. Fields said the $10,000 fee is a “security” for court costs in ad litem hearings. Sen. Harris expressed concern regarding overmedication, inadequate monitoring/oversight of wards, and Judge Ferchill.

Full Article and Source:
06/24/10 Senate Jurisprudence Committee on Jurisprudence

See Video of the Hearing