Archive for July, 2010

CT Confidential: Ethics Judge Faces Charges

July 28, 2010

A probate judge who provides training to other judges on ethics, Bryan F. Meccariello, now faces misconduct charges arising from his approval to change the will of a woman without bothering to tell the man who was due to inherit much of her estate.

This is the same probate system that tells you that all my complaints about probate misconduct are the rants of an extremist. One of their own ethics “experts” has been nabbed abusing the system. In this case, Meccariello approved the change in a will at a hearing nobody was informed of.

Full Article and Source:
CT Confidential: Probate “Reform” — Ethical Judge Faces Charges

Judge Sets New Tone for Guardianships

July 27, 2010

Problems found in the management of wards under the county’s care are being addressed, according to District Judge Dave Gamble, who took responsibility for some of the issues in an interview.

“My first reaction when I saw some of the shortcomings was how I could have let certain things happen,” Gamble said about guardianships managed by Public Administrator Lynn EnEarl. “We tend to get into auto-pilot mode, and one of the things I made clear was that I myself have the ultimate duty with regard to these wards.”

EnEarl didn’t file annual reports on her wards or inventories in cases where she was named guardian by the court. The reports and inventories are required by state law, but EnEarl’s attorney, Mike Rowe, said that in some cases judges waived the requirement.

The issues with the public administrator were brought to light by Special Advocates For the Elderly, who were appointed by Gamble and District Judge Michael Gibbons.

Gamble said he felt that the court and the public administrator have a duty to the wards, and he laid down new rules for dealing with them.

“Certainly, there were shortcomings in the performance of Ms. EnEarl, but I believe those have been corrected and that all of us involved in guardianship cases have realized that we have not had the day-to-day needs of the ward foremost in our minds,” he said. “It was not just Ms. EnEarl’s fault. It was just as much mine as the ultimate authority in these cases. When a practice over decades has gotten into a pattern, it’s tough to break yourself out of that pattern. The SAFE advocates helped us break the pattern.”

Gamble said that he gave EnEarl direction for the care of the wards. He credited the Special Advocates For the Elderly for their help.

“It has been a boon for the system in Douglas County and led to a much better protective system for the wards,” he said. “My perception is that this has been really positive.”

Full Article and Source:
Judge Sets New Tone for Guardianships

See Also:
More Cases Against Public Administrator

Sonoma County Settles Lawsuit Involving Isolation

July 27, 2010

Sonoma County has agreed to pay $600,000 to settle a lawsuit by an elderly gay man who said social workers kept him from seeing his dying partner in the hospital.

Clay Greene, 78, of Guerneville filed a lawsuit earlier this year, claiming the county’s Public Guardian program discriminated against him because of his sexual orientation.

Greene accused social workers of denying him hospital visitation rights to see his partner, Harold Scull, despite signed wills, medical declarations and powers of attorney naming each other as spouses. The couple was not married nor registered as domestic partners.

The lawsuit also alleged that after Scull’s death, social workers forced Greene into a nursing home and sold the couple’s property, including art and heirlooms.

The county’s lawyer, Gregory Spaulding, denied the discrimination claims but admitted mistakes in selling the couple’s property.

“The county remains confident in its position that there was no discrimination in this case,” Spaulding said, noting that the plaintiff removed the discrimination allegations from the lawsuit three weeks ago.

Under the law, officials can sell property worth $5,000 or less to cover medical expenses, but the couple’s property sale brought in more than $25,000 at auction, Spaulding said. Errors in that case have led to revised policies at the Public Guardian’s office, he said.

Spaulding said the county settled the case Thursday to avoid further expense.

“It just made economic sense to stop the bleeding,” Spaulding said. “To end the case and avoid all expenses and costs.”

Full Article and Source:
Sonoma Co. Settles Gay Discrimination Suit

See Also:
Victim Sues Sonoma County CA

Hospice Worker Accused of Stealing From Dying Patient

July 27, 2010

A New Jersey hospice worker has been accused of stealing money from a dying patient. Tristan Chang, 23, allegedly used the hospice patient’s ATM card and PIN number to withdraw $700, the full amount the patient had in their account.

Tristan Chang, 23, has been charged with third-degree theft and third-degree hindering apprehension for this particularly heinous form of financial exploitation of the elderly. He faces up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Full Article and Source:
Hospice Worker Accused of Stealing From Dying Patient

Fox 6 Investigators: Who Are They Protecting?

July 26, 2010

Ruth Collins was declared incompetent by Judge Mel Flanagan before the county filed a guardianship case in probate court. Judge Flanagan appointed Collins’ daughter, Sandra Wright, to serve as the legal guardian for personal and medical decisions.

Full Article, Video, and Source:
Fox 6 Investigators: Who Are They Protecting?

Follow NASGA on Facebook!

July 26, 2010

National Association to STOP Guardian Abuse

Former Judge Michael Conahan Pleads Guilty

July 25, 2010

A former judge in northeastern Pennsylvania pleaded guilty Friday to a racketeering conspiracy charge for his role in a kickback scheme that put juvenile defendants, many without lawyers, behind bars for sometimes minor offenses.

Michael Conahan, 58, faces up to 20 years in prison after his plea in Scranton federal court. No sentencing date was set.

Court documents do not indicate if Conahan will testify against the other former Luzerne County judge charged in the case, Mark Ciavarella Jr. Conahan’s lawyer, Philip Gelso, declined to comment Friday.

Ciavarella has maintained his innocence and plans to go to trial.

Prosecutors accuse the pair of taking $2.8 million in kickbacks from two private detention facilities. Conahan, as president judge, shut down a county-owned juvenile center while Ciavarella, the juvenile court judge, filled beds at the for-profit facilities, they charged.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-Pa. Judge Pleads Guilty in Kids-for-Cash Scheme

Judge: Daughter Had No Right to Mother’s Money

July 25, 2010

A Wayne County judge says a Houston woman had no right to take $500,000 from the bank accounts of her now 95-year-old mother in 2008.

Wednesday’s decision by Probate Judge David Szymanski means lawyers for M. Louise Stanton can file court papers to go after the assets of Janice Stanton Hines, 58, whom Szymanski jailed for contempt of court in December for refusing to repay the money. Stanton Hines is still in jail.

“The court finds that these assets belong to M. Louise Stanton,” Szymanski said in an eight-page decision. He rejected Stanton Hines’ claim that her mom gave her the money.

“I’m ecstatic,” Charlene Glover-Hogan of Detroit, the mother’s court-appointed lawyer, said Wednesday.

“I couldn’t imagine doing anything like that to my parents,” Glover-Hogan added.
The mother’s court-appointed guardian, Steven Geller of Royal Oak, said he will take steps to have a judgment entered against Stanton Hines, enabling him to seize her assets.

Court papers say Stanton Hines, a disaster relief coordinator in Houston, withdrew nearly $800,000 from M. Louise Stanton’s accounts after her mother added her and another daughter’s names to them. When the other daughter confronted Stanton Hines, she returned $286,000, leaving a $500,000 shortfall.

Full Article and Source:
Judge: Woman Had No Right to Mother’s Money

Are Regulators Cracking Down on Elder Abuse Medicare Fraud?

July 24, 2010

California State health insurance regulators are cracking down on insurance brokers who prey on elderly consumers confused by new federal health insurance rules.

On Tuesday, the Department of Managed Health Care took steps to bar a Folsom insurance agent from selling Medicare Advantage plans after she allegedly defrauded at least 12 capital-area seniors, who then incurred thousands of dollars in unexpected medical bills.

The agent, identified by state officials as Nadia King, allegedly canceled the existing Medicare coverage of her clients and enrolled them in Medicare Advantage plans run by private insurers.

King could not be reached for comment. She has until the end of the month to appeal the decision to revoke her privilege to sell Medicare Advantage products.

She is one of two dozen agents across the state getting legal scrutiny because of what officials said was deceptive marketing aimed at seniors.

Full Article and Source:
Are Regulators Cracking Down on Elder Abuse Medicare Fraud?

Caregiver Arrested for Theft

July 24, 2010

Erma Jean Williams, 58, is accused of taking vacations, remodeling her home and buying a car – all at the expense of Marian McGlone, the 90-year-old woman she was caring for.

“This lady took advantage of two really good people. My dad and step-mom. They were really good people,” said step-son Robert McGlone.

Investigators say over a period of two years, Williams took control of McGlone’s estate.

The NBC2 Investigators obtained video taken at an attorney’s office. It documents the second to last time Williams tried to get Marian to change her will, just two weeks before she died.

The brothers say the video proves their mother was being taken advantage of.

“It shows she didn’t know why she was there, how she got there, she didn’t even remember our father’s name,” said Ronald McGlone.

Due to worries that McGlone wasn’t competent, the will wasn’t changed that day. But the sheriff’s report shows four days later, Williams brought McGlone back to the office.

At that time the will was changed, leaving half of McGlone’s trust to Williams.

McGlone died two weeks later.

Investigators say in the end, Williams stole more than $200,000 from the family.

Full Article and Source:
Caregiver Arrested for Stealing Money From Elderly Woman