Archive for November, 2010

>OBRA Trusts: Medicaid Planning or Medicaid Fraud and Abuse?

November 30, 2010

>OBRA Special Needs Pooled Trusts, as well as other types of trusts, are being utilized by unethical lawyers, nurses, and guardianship companies in Cook County, Illinois, to enrich themselves while the elderly disabled wards are being assigned court-appointed guardians and being placed into public aid nursing homes.

In fact, one Cook County Probate Court lawyer educates her peers in ways in which very large estates may be placed into OBRA and/or other types of trusts, to allow the disabled ward to qualify for Medicaid. She also educates her peers on which types of trusts are lacking oversite, and which types of trusts allow for “administrative fees” (i.e., attorneys’ and guardians’ fees). Her educational video, which some feel to be controversial, may be viewed at this website: IllinoisProBono.org

Unfortunately, some corrupt players in the Cook County Probate Court system (lawyers, nurses, judges, and guardianship companies) are using this legal loophole so they may enrich themselves through OBRA Special Needs Pooled Trusts. This Medicaid abuse can occur because only certain “special needs” expenses may be paid from OBRA Special Needs Pooled Trusts, such as medical bills, insurance premiums, and “administrative fees”. However, housing may NOT be paid from these accounts. As a result, the ward is immediately moved to public aid housing once their estate is placed into the OBRA Special Needs Trust.

There are numerous victims of this Medicaid Abuse scheme. There are even cases in Cook County where the lawyers and/or guardians, with the knowledge of the judge, illegally deposited dis-allowable funds of the ward (VA disability benefits, newly-discovered funds, etc) into the OBRA Trust.

Also, please contact the VA benefits office nearest you if you identify illegal funding of an OBRA account with VA benefits.

To read more about this abuse, visit http://www.ProbateSharks.com.

Full Article and Source:
NASGA: Soapbox: OBRA Trust Accounts: Medicaid Planning or Medicaid Fraud and Abuse

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>Director of NH Homeless Shelter Indicted in Theft

November 30, 2010

>The director of a New Hampshire homeless shelter and soup kitchen — a retired Manchester police captain — is facing felony charges he stole money from a trust set up for a disabled cousin.

The five-count indictment against 56-year-old Michael Tessier was handed down by a grand jury.

Tessier is charged with recklessly disregarding a known legal obligation to Thaddeus Jakobiec Jr., a blind and disabled cousin for whom the trust was established. Tessier allegedly transferred more than $80,000 to one of his personal bank accounts.

In September, Tessier told the New Hampshire Union Leader that he had done nothing wrong. His lawyer said he’d repaid the money.

Full Article and Source:
NH Homeless Shelter Director Indicted in Theft

>Bank-Robbing Lawyer Admits Embezzling From Clients

November 29, 2010

>When he’s finished serving time for two out-of-state bank robberies, a suspended local lawyer will return to Erie County for more jail time.

Michael W. Rickard II, 42, pleaded guilty to two felony grand larceny charges lodged against him for embezzling nearly $63,000 from two former local clients.

Rickard admitted stealing $10,240 he was holding for a 91-year-old mentally incapacitated woman who lives in a nursing home. He had been appointed her legal guardian. He also took $52,662 from another client’s estate.

State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia told Rickard he would likely sentence him to a one-year jail term after Rickard finishes his federal prison term of 37 months in a West Virginia prison.

The clients will be reimbursed by the New York State Lawyers Fund, which provides reimbursement to law clients who have lost money as a result of a lawyer’s dishonest conduct in the practice of law.

Full Article and Source:
Bank-Robbing Lawyer Admits Embezzling From Clients

>Editorial: Don’t Let Hawkes Off The Hook

November 29, 2010

>PAUL HAWKES’ ABRUPT RESIGNATION as chief judge of the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee is a positive development, but it should not silence questions about his abuse of his position to win approval for an opulent new courthouse. The Judicial Qualifications Commission, which has the power to discipline or remove judges, should proceed with a vigorous investigation. Separately, state Sen. Mike Fasano’s call for legislative hearings on how the $48 million courthouse received funding should be embraced by his colleagues and the judiciary.

Hawkes’ sudden decision last week to give up the position of chief judge during an emergency private meeting with his fellow judges raises more questions than it answers. He may have been responding to a request from Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady, who would not confirm or deny reports that he asked for the resignation. Or Hawkes could be trying to short-circuit the JQC investigation and save his spot on the appellate court. That is a self-serving strategy that does not restore the court’s tarnished reputation and should not be allowed to succeed.

There is no indication Hawkes has any remorse for his relentless pursuit of such an ostentatious courthouse at a time of declining state revenue, his heavy-handed lobbying of the Legislature for funding, or the damage he has done to the reputation of the state’s court system. His written explanation of how the project evolved does not match public records or the recollection of others.

The JQC has several avenues to pursue. Among them:

• Lobbying legislators and pressuring state officials. Hawkes, a former Republican legislator and top aide, was the driving force in pushing lawmakers to scrape up the money for the courthouse. Those tactics included a curious authorization of a $33.5 million bond issue in an unrelated bill approved on the last day of the 2007 session. Hawkes and others on the court then bullied the Department of Management Services so they could micromanage every detail of construction.

• Failing to disclose a conflict of interest. Hawkes ruled on an important case involving the St. Joe Co. while the court was negotiating to build the courthouse on public land that was formerly owned by St. Joe and could have been retaken by the company. Lawyers for 75 property owners who lost that case asked the Florida Supreme Court on Friday to set aside the decision. They reasonably argue Hawkes should have disqualified himself from hearing the case or disclosed his potential conflict of interest. Hawkes denies there was a conflict.

• Free trips. Hawkes and two fellow judges took a free trip in 2008 on a private jet paid for by the courthouse construction manager to see the Michigan Supreme Court, which served as a model for the new appellate court in Tallahassee. Court officials say Hawkes also tried to arrange a free trip to Louisville, Ky., to visit a furniture manufacturer and Churchill Downs but was told he could not go by the then-chief judge. Hawkes says he “never even thought about” going on such a trip.

Amid these serious concerns, giving up his position as chief judge was the least Hawkes could do. But that should not be the end of the story. There is plenty for the JQC and the Legislature to investigate, and they should not be sidetracked by Hawkes’ effort to save his job.

Full Article and Source:
Don’t Let Hawkes Off The Hook

>Man Charged in Will Scam

November 29, 2010

>A Suffolk County grand jury has indicted a Millbury man on charges he produced a bogus will and posed fraudulently as the rightful heir to nearly $1.5 million in the unclaimed assets of a dead Winthrop doctor, prosecutors said.

The grand jury indicted Kevin L. Upshaw, 42, this week on charges he presented the state treasurer’s abandoned property division with documents purporting to be the will and trust agreement of the late Dr. Rose Jannini. The charges include three counts of forgery, three counts of presenting false documents, and single counts of attempted larceny over $250 and giving a false statement under the penalties of perjury.

Full Article and Source:
Millbury Man Charged in Will Scam

>CA: Proposed Pilot Treatment Program for Mentally Ill

November 28, 2010

>It’s been almost seven months since Rich Detty’s son died in a Santa Barbara County psychiatric unit, and he’s still got more questions than answers.

In April, Cliff Detty, 47, of Santa Maria, died after spending hours in a restraint that held his limbs and torso down inside the county Psychiatric Health Facility in Santa Barbara. The younger Detty had struggled with paranoid schizophrenia for nearly a decade, and was homeless much of the time, or in jail.

Since Cliff Detty’s plight was uncovered, discussion has been under way about how to reform existing law and better serve patients and their families. Under current law, patients must present a danger to themselves or others, or be deemed gravely disabled, to be taken in for emergency treatment involuntarily. It was under such circumstances that Rich Detty was repeatedly denied the mental health assistance he sought for Cliff, who would have had to come in on his own terms to receive it.

But California counties can opt in to a provision called Laura’s Law that would require outpatient treatment for people who are unable — or won’t — access mental health services voluntarily. Any adult with whom the person resides, as well as a set of other qualified people, can petition the local Superior Court for treatment for the person with mental illness. The county mental health director then must conduct an investigation to determine whether the person qualifies, and if so, the person is placed in a six-month outpatient treatment program. Patients remain in the community and receive treatment, with less disruption to their lives than being locked away in a facility, according to advocates.

Of the program, [Commissioner Ann] Eldridge cast a wary eye.

“I’m going to be looking at it very carefully,” she said.

Responding to Eldridge’s concern about the lack of court oversight in the pilot project, Feliciano said the county already promotes a conservatorship program. But some argue that the conservatorship process is more intrusive than the role of the court within Laura’s Law. A person must be a danger to himself or others to qualify for conservatorship, excluding many people from treatment. Still, the ADMHS is hesitant to employ the law.

Full Article and Source:
In the Wake of Patient’s Death, ADMHS Proposes Pilot Treatment Program for Mentally Ill

>Indiana Judge Suspended

November 28, 2010

>A Marion County traffic court judge accused of abusing his power will be suspended without pay for 30 days.

Superior Court Judge William E. Young was charged with four counts of judicial misconduct in July and reached a “conditional agreement of discipline” with the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications.

The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications determined that Young issued unnecessarily harsh sentences, was tougher on those who chose to go to trial, gave out a standard sentence to defendants who lost at trial instead of considering the circumstances of their cases, and tried to coerce defendants into pleading guilty, sometimes by making inaccurate comments about the burden of proof.

Young didn’t offer a formal response to the charges, but he agreed to the accuracy of certain facts surrounding each charge and to the punishment, according to court documents.

Full Article and Source:
Marion County Traffic Court Judge to be Suspended 30 Days

>NY Woman Accused of Embezzling $90K

November 28, 2010

>A 40-year-old New York state woman accused of embezzling $90,000 from an elderly Suttons Bay man was arrested last week in Connecticut.

Gina Miller was arrested on a warrant issued by county Prosecutor Joseph T. Hubbell for bilking funds from a county resident who believed her friend needed a liver transplant. The story was made up.

Miller has waived extradition, which means Hubbell can start the process of bringing her to Leelanau to answer these charges. He did not know when Miller will be transported.

Court documents show she had experience in taking money from vulnerable people. Miller was convicted in the Queens County Court, New York City, of first degree scheming to defraud in 2003, and of grand larceny on June 14 of this year.

Hopefully, the case will serve as notice to older residents and their families that predators are ready to take advantage if an opening is presented, according to Det. Clint Kerr, who investigated the Leelanau case.

“Don’t just give your money to people, especially people you don’t know very well,” Kerr said.

Miller is charged with three counts of using false pretenses to obtain $20,000 or more from a vulnerable adult, and two counts of conspiracy to commit false pretenses of $20,000 or more from a vulnerable adult. The felony charges are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000 or three times the value of the amount taken, which ever is greater. Hubbell also is a seeking habitual offender third offense charge, which if included on a plea or sentence of guilty would double the penalties.

Full Article and Source:
NY Woman Accused of Taking $90,000

>OR: Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program

November 27, 2010

>Oregon has joined 22 states in a new effort project senior citizens from investment fraud.

The national effort is called the Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program. The program will train medical professionals to recognize seniors who may be vulnerable to scams because of cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease, and then refer these at-risk patients to securities regulators and adult services professionals.

Full Article and Source:
Oregon Joins National Effort to Fight Scams Aimed at Seniors

>Mass. Aims to Cut Drug Overuse for Dementia

November 27, 2010

>State regulators and the Massachusetts nursing home industry are launching a campaign [11/19/10] to reduce the inappropriate use of antipsychotic medications for residents with dementia — a practice that endangers lives and is more common here than in most other states.

During the next year, a team of specialists will identify nursing homes with successful methods for avoiding overuse of antipsychotics and determine which homes need help cutting back. Nursing home staff will be taught how to deal with aggressive and difficult behaviors, often displayed by dementia patients, without resorting to antipsychotics to sedate them.

In 2009, 22 percent of Massachusetts nursing home residents who received antipsychotic medications did not have a diagnosis for which the drugs were recommended — the 12th highest rate of inappropriate antipsychotic use in the nation, the Globe re ported earlier this year.

Twice in the past five years, federal regulators have issued nationwide alerts about troubling and sometimes fatal side effects when antipsychotics are taken by people with dementia, often Alzheimer’s patients.

Full Article and Source:
Massachusetts Aims to Cut Drug Overuse for Dementia