Archive for February, 2013

Woman gets 30 years for exploiting elderly, disabled adults

February 28, 2013

A DeKalb County woman was sentenced to 30 years — 20 behind bars — for exploiting elderly and disabled adults in her care.

Bobbie Ward, 50, was also ordered to pay $14,229 in restitution to one of the victims, according to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office. Ward, a former Cedar Grove Middle School secretary, was convicted last month on 21 charges stemming from her treatment of six adults in her care over a five-year period.

The charges included neglect of disabled and elderly adults, exploitation of disabled and elderly adults, false imprisonment of an elder person, forgery in the first degree and 13 separate counts of identity fraud.

“This sentence sends a resounding message that elder and disabled adult exploitation will not be tolerated in DeKalb County,” District Attorney Robert James said in emailed statement. “She relentlessly preyed on vulnerable adults and exploited them for her own personal financial gain.”

Prosecutors contend that Ward took disabled and elderly adults into her home and then housed them in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, while proving inadequate food and medication. She then used their identities to make a profit for herself.

One elderly victim who had been locked in his room escaped from her house through a window, breaking his foot, James said. Ward took money from the victims’ bank accounts and forged their names on government checks without their permission, according to evidence presented in court.

Ward was first indicted on the charges in 2011, then re-indicted last year when more victims were discovered. She was arrested March 8, 2012, on her birthday, for failing to show up for a court appearance and has remained jailed since then, records show.

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Woman gets 30 years for exploiting elderly, disabled adults

Elder Justice Act promotes awareness of elder abuse

February 28, 2013

DARKE COUNTY – State and local officials are focusing on establishing safeguards and promoting awareness of elder abuse, which has becoming a growing topic in recent years.

Last week, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine joined state representatives Wes Retherford and Mike Dovilla to introduce the Ohio Elder Justice Act, which is intended to strengthen the existing Adult Protective Services Law and improve the response to elder abuse incidents.

“We need to do everything we can do protect our senior citizens from both physical and financial harm,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “We are pleased that representatives Dovilla and Retherford are working towards turning these recommendations into law.”

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Elder Justice Act promotes awareness of elder abuse

Judge to review conservator fees, halts future appointments

February 27, 2013

Davidson Probate Judge David Randy Kennedy has halted at least temporarily new appointments to the Public Guardian and says he will personally review past billings for possible abuses.

Kennedy announced the freeze of new appointments to Public Guardian Jeanan Mills Stuart in a letter sent Friday to Metro Council members.

“To the extent she has been compensated in amounts now deemed excessive, the ultimate responsibilities for approval of her fees rests with me… In other words the buck stops here,” Kennedy wrote in the three-page letter.

Kennedy’s action follows a Tennessean report that detailed how Stuart routinely charges her full legal fees of up to $225 an hour for non-legal services. She has billed some of her wards $400 to attend their funerals. And she billed another ward $986 to accompany her to a performance of Handel’s Messiah, and $1,282 for a shopping trip to Dillard’s, Walgreens and lunch.

Full Article & Source:
Judge to review conservator fees, halts future appointments

See Also:
Judge David Randy Kennedy’s Written Response to The Tennessean’s Questions

Firing bad judges

February 26, 2013

You haven’t heard the last of Cook County Circuit Judge Cynthia Brim, who was ejected from her courtroom during a bizarre rant, got arrested for throwing a set of keys at a deputy sheriff and was acquitted of misdemeanor battery after pleading insanity.

She’s still not allowed in the courthouse without an escort, but she hopes to return to the bench soon, and why not? In November — eight months after her arrest — voters awarded her another six-year term.

Voters had no way of knowing it was the fifth time she’d been hospitalized for a mental breakdown after she stopped taking her meds. But they had plenty of other reasons to fire her. She’d been found unqualified by local bar associations who evaluated her in this election cycle, and the one before, and the one before that. Each time, she won another term.

Yes, the voters have spoken. Somehow we don’t think they were saying, Great job, Judge Brim! More likely they got to the bottom of the ballot, where 57 unfamiliar names awaited an up-or-down vote, and punted.

They voted yes on all of them. Or maybe no. Or they didn’t vote at all. It’s been 22 years since voters tossed a judge from the bench, and it’s not because Cook County has only good judges. It’s because the system protects the bad ones. It must be changed.

Full Article & Source:
Firing bad judges

Disabled Veterans Fight VA Appointed Fiduciaries

February 25, 2013

Across the country, disabled veterans’ families are in bitter battles with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, trying to oust VA-appointed fiduciaries from their lives.

Two attorneys, Doug Rosinski of Columbia, S.C., and Katrina Eagle of San Diego, have taken on VA in cases involving allegations of bureaucratic mistreatment. Both said regional program managers sometimes overlook the misdeeds of paid fiduciaries while coming down hard on veterans’ relatives who do the work for nothing.

The agency’s policy is that family members get priority in fiduciary appointments, but it does not always work that way. And while many family members serve successfully as fiduciaries for disabled veterans, some get into trouble, often because of a lack of training or knowledge of the rules, R.Dean Slicer, a top regional program manager in Indiana, boasted in a November 2010 email to an Indianapolis bank official that they would have “fun” battling with a war veteran’s daughter. Carolyn Stump, a registered nurse, was trying to free her seriously ailing 81-year-old dad, William Evans, from a fiduciary at the bank who had tangled with the family and had recently been slow paying some bills, according to court records.

Slicer, who last year was promoted to oversee the fiduciary program in 13 states, declined to comment.

“It is very unfortunate that the VA gives any one person that much power,” said Stump, who is also her father’s medical caretaker and state court-appointed guardian.

Disabled Veterans Fight VA Appointed Fiduciaries

Recommended Website: CANHR

February 25, 2013

Since 1983, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), a statewide nonprofit 501(c)(3) advocacy organization, has been dedicated to improving the choices, care and quality of life for California’s long term care consumers.

Through direct advocacy, community education, legislation and litigation it has been CANHR’s goal to educate and support long term care consumers and advocates regarding the rights and remedies under the law, and to create a united voice for long term care reform and humane alternatives to institutionalization.


Tonight on T.S. Radio: Legislation Expanding Human Trafficking of the Elderly

February 24, 2013

Our guests this evening will be Leonie Rosenstiel and Marcia Southwick.   

New Mexico is reviewing several bills regarding guardianship. At issue this last week New Mexico bill SF 112 which would have expanded the grip of predatory guardians beyond death for a minimum of six months. Opponents suggested that the way this bill was worded also required that any will or trust that was set up had to be tested in court before being declared valid. They said it was treading on territory that properly belonged to the Uniform Probate Code. If passed, it would provide a field day for attorneys creating will contests among family members.

Opponents of the bill said the guardian should not notify only relatives known to him/her, that anyone doing the notification should comply with the requirements of the Probate Code.

There wasn’t a vote to table the bill and mark it up for a vote. Sen. Ortiz y Pino said he was willing to sit down with two of the attorneys on the Senate Judiciary Committee and try to address the issues.

5:00pm PST …6:00pm MST …7:00pm CST8:00pm EST

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Lawless America: Kathie Seidel and Greg Seidel

February 24, 2013

Lawless America: Kathie Seidel
Lawless America: Greg Seidel

Law enforcement, MT lawmakers to fight elder abuse

February 24, 2013

Global stranger scams prey on older, trusting generations, and with Montana’s elderly population expected to double between now and 2030, seniors in the Treasure State are at high risk.

“We will rank fifth in the nation in the next few years as far as having the highest percentage of elderly people,” explained Big Sky Senior Services Executive Director Denise Armstrong. “We are just ripe for the scam artists.”

Financial exploitation isn’t the only type of abuse. Thousands of elders in Montana also fall victim to physical, emotional and sexual abuse, along with various forms of neglect. “Statistically they say only one in five cases are reported,” Armstrong said. That means between 2011 and 2012, instead of the reported 6,000 victims, an estimated 30,000 older Montanans were abused.

Despite those statistics, the amount of offenders prosecuted under the Montana Elder Abuse Prevention Act over the past two decades is minimal. “Since the act was passed in 1992, there’s only been 65 convictions in the entire state since 1992. That tells us that the Act is being underutilized,” said Twito. “That doesn’t mean that there’s not crimes against seniors, it just means prosecutors aren’t using it.”

Because of that, county attorneys statewide are pushing for Senate Bill 134 this legislative session. The bill revises portions of the existing Act, making it easier for prosecutors to use it in elder abuse cases. Senate Bill 134 would eliminate the need for prosecutors to prove the victim’s capacity due to mental or physical impairment and clarifies that the definition of an older person is anyone over the age of 60.

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Law enforcement, MT lawmakers to fight elder abuse

Sister Wins Guardianship Battle Over Tennessee Public Guardian

February 23, 2013

After a three-month court battle and a personal plea at the end of a two-hour court hearing, a 78-year-old Nashville resident won her battle Tuesday to have a family member serve as her conservator rather than the county public guardian.

Davidson County Probate Judge David Randy Kennedy ruled that Mary Fowler’s younger sister, Judy Cathell, an Illinois resident, will take over immediately as conservator.

Jeanan Mills Stuart, the public guardian, was appointed as temporary conservator for Fowler late last year over the objections of Robert Walsh, a brother who also lives in Illinois, who petitioned to be conservator instead. Robert Walsh said he was told he couldn’t be the conservator because he lived in another state. No such objection was raised Tuesday to Cathell’s appointment.

Other family members and wards have complained about fees charged by Stuart, the public guardian appointed by Metro Council. She currently charges $225 an hour even when she is doing non-legal work. A handful of wards have fought their conservatorships under Stuart and gotten released.

In this case, Fowler and her family contacted The Tennessean after seeing a story published Sunday about Davidson County’s public guardian. They complained that they had no control over Fowler’s finances and life decisions, and questioned Stuart’s proposal to sell her home. They argued in court that a family member would be better suited to be conservator.

“This is the worst thing I’ve seen in my life,” Robert Walsh said of the entire process.

After testimony by caregivers and relatives, Kennedy stepped down from the bench and took a chair across from Fowler to hear her personal plea, which was barely above a whisper. Seated in a wheelchair, Fowler said that she agreed that her sister could properly care for her. “You need the assistance of your sister,” Kennedy said. Fowler plans to move to Illinois to be closer to her sister and a brother.

Asked after the court session if she was happy with the result, Fowler smiled and said, “Yes, now I have my money back.”

Full Article & Source:
Sister Wins Guardianship Battle Over Tennessee Public Guardian