Archive for November, 2012

Linda Kincaid Reports: Silicon Valley Tax Dollars Fund Elder Abuse; Apathy & Negligence by Law Enforcement & District Attorney

November 30, 2012

“San Jose Police confirmed that Villa Fontana isolates several residents. However, SJPD referred management of that abuse back to the Public Guardian, the perpetrator of the abuse.” *

San Jose Police Lieutenant Michael Knox is the first government employee to take any action on behalf of elder abuse victim Gisela Riordan. For over two years, Gisela has been denied visitors, phone calls, and mail. Imprisoned at Villa Fontana, she is not allowed contact with family, friends, neighbors, advocates or clergy. Each day is like every other for Gisela, lonely and filled with despair.

Lieutenant Knox listened sympathetically to Gisela’s story. Police Chief Chris Moore had already determined that SJPD’s ignoring false imprisonment and isolation was “consistent with Department policy.” Knox committed to a review of the Department’s policy on ignoring mental abuse of elders. Although a small step, it was the first positive step taken by any government employee in Santa Clara County.

Elder Abuse by the Public Guardian

Since early 2010, Gisela Riordan has been a victim of elder abuse by her conservator, the Santa Clara County Public Guardian Donald Moody. California law clearly states that a guardian or conservator does not have authority to isolate a conservatee. California law also states that isolation and imprisonment of elders are crimes.

However, the Public Guardian is not concerned with California law. Moody imprisons and isolates conservatees to suit his whims. Gisela is falsely imprisoned and unlawfully isolated at Villa Fontana, a secured residential care facility willing to violate the law in exchange for payment.

Keeping conservatees isolated simplifies the management of those individuals. With no visitors, there are no complaints of neglect or substandard care. No one sees bruises or other evidence of physical abuse. No one knows if conservatees receive medical care or enough food to eat.

Given that Villa Fontana is willing to violate Gisela’s most basic right to visitation, advocates can only imagine what other rights are violated behind locked doors. There is no way to know what abuses or indignities are visited upon conservatees imprisoned inside the facility.

Since early 2010, Gisela Riordan has been a victim of elder abuse by her conservator, the Santa Clara County Public Guardian Donald Moody. California law clearly states that a guardian or conservator does not have authority to isolate a conservatee. California law also states that isolation and imprisonment of elders are crimes.

However, the Public Guardian is not concerned with California law. Moody imprisons and isolates conservatees to suit his whims. Gisela is falsely imprisoned and unlawfully isolated at Villa Fontana, a secured residential care facility willing to violate the law in exchange for payment.

Keeping conservatees isolated simplifies the management of those individuals. With no visitors, there are no complaints of neglect or substandard care. No one sees bruises or other evidence of physical abuse. No one knows if conservatees receive medical care or enough food to eat.

Given that Villa Fontana is willing to violate Gisela’s most basic right to visitation, advocates can only imagine what other rights are violated behind locked doors. There is no way to know what abuses or indignities are visited upon conservatees imprisoned inside the facility.

*[Linda Kincaid, NASGA California Advocacy Liaison]

Full Article and Source:
Silicon Valley Tax Dollars Fund Elder Abuse, Apathy & Negligence by Law Enforcement and District Attorney

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Mayoral Blitz Over Clark Estate

November 30, 2012

It was a loud, high-profile stage whisper designed to get the attention of 15 competing teams of attorneys fighting 3,000 miles away over an estate worth an estimated $400 million. Santa Barbara’s current mayor Helene Schneider showed up at a press conference with former mayor (and current planning commissioner) Sheila Lodge to express their mutual concern that Santa Barbara’s interest was getting lost in the very high-octane shuffle over the two wills recluse heiress Huguette Clark wrote within weeks of each other.

In the second will, Clark left her 23-acre Santa Barbara estate that fronts the Pacific Ocean across from the Andree Clark Bird Refuge — named after her older sister — to an entity named the Bellosguardo Foundation, which she stipulated would be dedicated to the promotion of the arts. Backing the two mayors — in spirit if not body — was former mayor and arts advocate Hal Conklin, as well as an impressive array of big monied movers and shakers who’ve donated generously to the arts in Santa Barbara over the years, like Michael and Anne Towbes, Leslie Ridley-Tree, Robert Emmons, and Sarah Miller McCune. Clark died last May at age 104, having spent the last 22 years of her life living in a New York City hospital.

That second will has been challenged in court by about 20 of Clark’s distant relatives, upset that they’d been totally cut out compared to a will she’d written six weeks prior. They’ve argued that Clark — who’d amassed a world-class collection of paintings, not to mention a $3 million collection of dolls — had been unduly influenced by her nurse, her attorney, and her accountant, all of whom she took care of handsomely in the second will. (In the previous will, Clark gave her nurse $5 million and split most of the rest among relatives. In the second, she gave the nurse $30 million, her relatives nothing, and her foundation the rest.) Schneider and Lodge expressed concern that the warring factions, now in settlement talks, might arrive at a deal that ignores Santa Barbara’s legitimate claim on Clark’s generosity. Her Bellosguardo estate — and the collection it holds — would provide Santa Barbara a priceless attraction. “In the 3,000 pages of depositions that have been taken, there’s not one indication that she was not competent,” stated Lodge.

Full Article and Source:
Mayoral Blitz Over Clark Estate

Pair Suspended as Executors of Huguette Clark’s Will

PA Judges Could Face Discipline in Traffic Court Probe

November 30, 2012

As many as 10 current or former Philadelphia judges, including state Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery, could face state disciplinary proceedings following an investigative report on Philadelphia Traffic Court.

The list includes three sitting Traffic Court judges; five who no longer hear cases or have been suspended from the Traffic Court bench; one Municipal Court judge, Joseph J. O’Neill Sr., who successfully appealed a red-light ticket; and McCaffery, whose contact with the Traffic Court’s director of operations about a ticket for his wife was questioned.

“Judges alleged to have engaged in unethical or inappropriate conduct have been referred to the Supreme Court and the Judicial Conduct Board,” consultant William G. Chadwick wrote in the conclusion of his 35-page report. The report, set up by Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille, was submitted last week to Gary S. Glazer, the Common Pleas Court judge now in charge of Traffic Court operations.

Full Article and Source:
Pennsylvania Judges Could Face Discipline in Traffic Court Probe

Local Politics & the Alleged Compassionate Hospital

November 29, 2012

Welcome to St. Joseph Hospital of Elmira, New York, where they claim on their website:

“St. Joseph’s Hospital, a Catholic health facility, is a voluntary not-for-profit community general hospital founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester in cooperation with the physicians and citizens of Elmira, NY. The St. Joseph’s Hospital community, by maintaining a deep respect for the dignity of each person, strives to heal, as Jesus did, in mind, body and spirit, all who come to us.”

“Maintaining a deep respect for the dignity of each person”… except for Gary Harvey.

It was Thanksgiving Day and Sara Harvey had made the arrangements to visit her husband. She and the guard arrived only to be told that the hospital hadn’t received an okay. Guard is not authorized if visit is not authorized, but the dignity people continued with their refusal.

(Cliff Note: A guard is required because Sara is supposedly a danger to her husband because she supposedly didn’t follow medical advice. The hospital, guardians et al petitioned the court to starve & dehydrate Gary to death, but she is the danger. Irony at its best.)

So, while all the important people, who should have made sure the visit was authorized and those who could have given the okay after the failed communication, enjoyed their Thanksgiving meals with the ones of their choice, Gary was denied a mere visit from his wife. The wife that loves him… talks to him… reads to him. Instead, he, a person who has always loved holidays and spending them with the wife he loves — got to lay there alone in the isolation that is his life.

Full Article and Source:
Local Politics & The Alleged Compassionate Hospital

AARP Faces Conservative Competition

November 29, 2012

Looking to counter what they see as AARP’s liberal slant, a new organization aims to rally conservative senior citizens.

The National Association of Conservative Seniors says it will provide seniors “membership benefits while working together to protect conservative American values” —benefits that include “financial planning services, health and wellness offers, Medicare insurance plans and competitive pricing on auto insurance and roadside assistance,” according to a release.

“These are the best years of American seniors’ lives,” said John White, NAOCS founder and president. “Our goal is to provide them with services that will enhance these years, making it easier for them to focus on the things that matter most to them: family, friends, faith and country. … We believe in America now, and we believe in America’s future. Together we can assure that the values our nation is built upon will continue for our children, grandchildren and generations to come.”

Full Article and Source:
AARP Faces Conservative Competition

LTC Facilities and Financial Institutions to Play a Role in Preventing, Detecting and Reporting Elder Financial Abuse

November 29, 2012

Long-term care (LTC) facilities, financial institutions, and anyone involved with keeping tabs on home care providers could play a role in preventing, detecting and reporting elder financial abuse.

Witnesses talked about strategies for fighting financial abuse Thursday at a hearing organized by the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

The witnesses did not talk about long-term care insurance (LTCI), and they mentioned annuities and life insurance only in passing.

But several did talk about LTC providers.
Hubert “Skip” Humphrey, III, an assistant director in the Office of Older Americans at the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), testified that “bad actors” could include family caregivers or paid caregivers as well as financial advisors, fiduciaries, home repair contractors or scam artists.

“Development of strategies to deal with the myriad of ‘bad actors’ is essential,” Humphrey said, according to a written version of his remarks posted on the committee website.

One step the Office for Older Americans is taking is to develop guides for “lay fiduciaries,” to help family members and others handle older people’s money in a prudent fashion and spot possible signs of financial exploitation, Humphrey said.

The office also is producing a guide aimed at LTC facility operators.

The office is hoping the facility operators will identify possible cases of financial exploitation and do something about them, Humphrey said.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Home Payment Missing? Could be Fraud

Elderly Couple Removed From Longtime Home; Family, Friend Dispute Office of Aging Findings

November 28, 2012

In May 1964, Nels and Irene Highberg bought their first and only home. It was a modest, brick rancher — no garage — on a pleasant cul-de-sac on the edge of East Petersburg.

The Highbergs raised two sons there. They entertained neighbors there. They grew old there.

After 48 years at 6312 Miriam Circle, the Highbergs — Nels is 92, Irene is 89 — figured they could manage a while longer. Family and friends agreed.

But the county Office of Aging stepped in last summer, saying for safety reasons the Highbergs must move to a nursing home.

“I ain’t going to go,” Highberg said, according to Erick Highberg, the couple’s 54-year-old son.

When a van arrived Aug. 2 to take the couple to Oak Leaf Manor in Millersville, Highberg sat in a chair in the driveway for many long minutes. He got in the van only after a police officer showed up.

“He respected her uniform,” said Erick Highberg, noting his father’s more than 20 years of service in the Navy and Coast Guard.

Mrs. Highberg said in a phone interview she got in the van to see what the nursing home was like. “I didn’t understand we would be locked up here,” she said. “They brought us in here, and they kind of disappeared real quick.”

Now, after more than three months at Oak Leaf Manor, Mrs. Highberg still wants to return home.

Full Article and Source:
Elderly Couple Removed From Longtime Home; Family, Friend Dispute Office of Aging Findings

Doctor Sued in Huge Prescription Fraud Case

November 28, 2012

A psychiatrist who lives in Skokie is being sued for orchestrating what federal authorities are calling the largest prescription fraud case ever in Chicago.

The defendant, Dr. Michael J. Reinstein, received illegal kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies and submitted at least 140,000 false claims to Medicare and Medicaid for antipsychotic medications he prescribed for thousands of mentally ill patients in area nursing homes, according to a civil health care fraud lawsuit filed today.

Reinstein also submitted at least 50,000 claims to Medicare and Medicaid, falsely stating that he provided “pharmacologic management” for his patients at more than 30 area nursing homes and long-term care facilities, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit seeks triple damages under the False Claims Act, plus a civil penalty of $5,500 to $11,000 for each alleged false claim.

“This is the largest civil case alleging prescription medication fraud against an individual ever brought in Chicago,” said Gary S. Shapiro, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Full Article and Source:
Doc Sued in Huge Prescription Fraud Case

Texting Ex-Broward Judge Ana Gardiner Faces Bar Inquiry

November 28, 2012

Day One of former Broward Judge Ana Gardiner’s two-day endeavor to minimize a torrent of telecommunications with a homicide prosecutor during a 2007 death-penalty trial largely played out as a cheerleading session rather than a misconduct inquiry Tuesday.

The Florida Bar referee tasked with meting out Gardiner’s disciplinary action heard from two Bar witnesses who offered less than an hour of combined testimony compared to the nearly four hours of defense testimony characterizing Gardiner as a hard-working jurist and caring mentor with an impeccable reputation for honesty and integrity.

Gardiner’s character witness list is a “Who’s Who” of high-powered attorneys, prosecutors and judges. One by one they took to the witness stand to tell Palm Beach County Circuit Judge David Crow of Gardiner’s stellar standing in the legal community.

“She was one of the finest trial judges we’ve ever been privileged to have in our county,” said Brian Cavanagh, Broward’s chief homicide prosecutor, who retried the Omar Loureiro murder case after the death sentence Gardiner imposed was overturned and Loureiro was granted a new trial.

“As a lawyer, judge and a person, she has made a difference in so many lives and our community,” said Kelly Hancock, a civil attorney, who championed Gardiner’s pro bono work. “She would never mislead anyone.”

Full Article and Source:
Texting Ex-Broward Judge Faces Bar Inquiry

7 Common Snowbird Scams

November 27, 2012

It’s not just retirees who flock to warm-weather states such as Florida and Arizona as the temperature drops up north. During snowbird season — November through April — scammers also head south to prey on the half-year residents.

“Absolutely, during snowbird season there’s an increase in scams — and many are done by organized outfits … who specifically target older seasonal residents,” says Joe Roubicek, who spent 20 years investigating scams as a Fort Lauderdale police detective before writing Financial Abuse of the Elderly: A Detective’s Case Files of Exploitation Crimes.

1. The malevolent mechanic. They wait outside shopping malls or supermarkets, watching for snowbirds (often recognized by out-of-state license plates) to park and go inside. If the car’s older or left unlocked, they can pop the hood and disable the vehicle by pulling wires. “When the elder returns, they offer help getting their car started — after driving them to the bank for money to pay for the repair,” says Roubicek. “Their main target: women in their 70s or 80s.”

Full Article and Source:
7 Common Snowbird Scams

See Also:

Financial Abuse of the Elderly

Read Sample Chapters of Mr. Roubicek’s New Work in Progress: “Kill Mom, Kill Dad; Disposing of the Elderly for Profit”