Good News for New Jersey: Guardianships Get a Safety Net

New Jersey needs to protect vulnerable adults better from being defrauded by their guardians, officials said Wednesday in announcing a plan to have volunteers monitor the records of the tens of thousands of elderly and disabled residents who are under court oversight.

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said the state’s judiciary will be putting out a call for attorneys, accountants, retired professionals and others to volunteer for a new guardianship monitoring program that will debut in Passaic County and spread statewide.

“We want people who can read and analyze simple financial reports,” Rabner said.

The volunteers will be asked to pore over the annual reports filed in cases in which a guardian — sometimes a relative or friend or sometimes an attorney or other professional — has been appointed to manage the finances, medical care and housing choices of an incapacitated adult.

Those reports are kept in county surrogate offices, some of which do not have the staff to ensure the reports are even filed on time, much less reviewed, Rabner said.

“We know that monitoring practices vary throughout the state,” said the chief justice, pointing out that some counties have until recently been relying on paper files rather than computerized records.

The volunteer initiative was triggered by a concern among judges that the swelling number of guardianships — combined with shrunken budgets and staffs — has left many of these cases untended. Unchecked, the abuse can continue for years. In 2009, Ridgewood attorney Steven T. Rondos pleaded guilty to improperly withdrawing $1.5 million from the guardianship accounts of two dozen clients between 2001 to 2008.

As examples of the kind of abuses that can occur, Rabner cited a 2004 case in which an Ocean County attorney stole a combined $2.6 million from 56 incapacitated clients under his guardianship and the 2008 case in which a Toms River minister who served as a social worker took $200,000 from 19 people under his watch. The chief justice said those abuses were uncovered because Ocean County has an accountant review guardianship case files. The volunteers that the court plans to train will be given instruction on how to check the balances reported at the beginning and end of reporting periods, looking for signs that too much money is being spent on undocumented expenses.

Full Article and Source:
Guardianships Get a Safety Net


16 Responses to “Good News for New Jersey: Guardianships Get a Safety Net”

  1. Thelma Says:

    Best news I've heard all day!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Mz Diskin gets it!

  3. Joecitizen Says:

    Excellent news and good example for the rest of the nation.

  4. Barbara Says:

    Wonderful news for New Jersey. I know there's still a long way to go, but at least they're on the way!

  5. Sara Says:

    Good Going New Jersey and Stewart Resmer for keeping the reporters on top of it.

  6. Lynn Says:

    How wonderful! It is about time! I hope it spreads to all States! Fast!

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I live in Georgia. Kudo NJ. Need to share article with all States Probate Judges, State Atty Generals.

  8. Mary Waddell Says:

    Any way that guardians can be monitored is to the good. It is amazing how negligent and greedy some of these guardians are.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    It's a start, now hopefully the profiteers won't be able to "PAY OFF" the volunteer analysts. And it wouldn't do much good if the analysts don't have any clout. I'm sure there are "regulars" profiteering for many years on scam guardianships, who won't be happy about anyone finding their criminal income, so clout is necessary, outside & above their local racketeering club. Pa would be one of the last to allow a disturbance of the criminal profiteering, since I personally know that Pa. Dept. of Aging is complicit in such criminal income.

  10. Sue Says:

    Applause and standing ovation. New Jersey is acknowledging the broken down system needs independent monitoring, auditing and review.Those with criminal minds are put on notice. I hope those who figured no one would go looking are living in fear feeling the heat it's the only way to keep people honest – they must fear consequences for wrongdiong.Now where are the other 49?

  11. StandUp Says:

    Hats off to Judge Stuart Rabner and I hope the media will continue to post updates to NJ's success.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Guardianship records in my PA county are illegally sealed. We are a long way from following New Jersey's lead.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    This is a joke so the courts are admitting guardianship is a fraudulent proceeding …….. the protection in exchange for the person's civil rights does not exist ………

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Volunteers schmolunteers. There is so much money in guardianships that the entire industry is self-protecting. The attorneys and accountants who 'volunteer' to oversee their fellows will just pat each other on the back, look the other way, and rubber stamp even the most egregious of invoices.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Cook County (Chicago) IL could sure use some oversight like this….

  16. Anonymous Says:

    The pitfalls with such programs is WHO is put on these boards, agencies and groups. Often such as what happened in Los Angeles CA with the 2005 Los Angeles Times (newspaper) which exposed the huge fraud going on with conservatorship. The unethical lawyers and judges put more of their own (unethical group) in charge of these so-called protection groups. In the end more wasted tax payer money, no prosecution or changes (because you have more lawyers over seeing more lawyers). Any agency that over sees the lawyers and judges must be objective and NOT formed by the lawyers or judges involved. Its always a bait and switch or promises then nothing is done or its another way to take advantage of the situation. People (victims) need a place to go to that acts, objectively and gets involved and does an investigation, has the power to remove lawyers and judges without red tape. We have to reverse how the legal system is being abused and used against the innocent. We need to prosecute all lawyers and judges involved using the local Canon code of conduct rules all lawyers and judges my abide by.

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