Archive for the ‘Connecticut’ Category

No One is Safe: Parents Say Hospital Kidnapped Their Daughter

November 20, 2013

Source:
Parents Say Hospital Kidnapped Their Daughter

See Also:
NASGA:  No one is safe!

Advertisements

Police Investigate Probate Lawyer Over Disabled Man’s Missing Funds

August 28, 2013

Police are investigating a probate court-appointed lawyer who allegedly tried to cover up his improper handling of a disabled man’s finances by filing false accounting statements — as the man’s assets dwindled by tens of thousands of dollars over the years.

The Newington Police Department’s investigation of Michael Schless, a retired Newington attorney now living in Florida, began after the Aug. 4 publication of a Government Watch column about Schless’s longtime role as probate conservator for John Fritz, 64, of Wethersfield, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Fritz once had assets worth more than $100,000, but now his money market and stock accounts have shrunk to about $20,000 — even though his family says they should have remained stable because his living expenses are covered by Social Security payments and part-time employment.

Newington Probate Judge Robert A. Randich also wrote in a ruling last spring that Schless attempted to “hide his transgressions by filing knowingly false accountings.”

Despite that ruling, however, Randich had declined to exercise his option to request a criminal probe, and Fritz’s family had been unable to persuade law enforcement authorities to investigate.
That soon changed.

Days after the column appeared, a Newington police detective was assigned to the case. A member of state’s attorney’s office in New Britain “took notice of [the] newspaper column … and independently requested that the matter be investigated,” according to an Aug. 8 letter to a state prosecutor from David A. Ruth of Bolton, a lawyer representing Fritz’s family.

A state prosecutor independently confirmed Ruth’s assertion that the police investigation is underway.

Full Article and Source:
Police Investigate Probate Lawyer Over Disabled Man’s Missing Funds

See Also:
Deceit, Improprieties By Probate ‘Conservator’ Deprive Disabled Man Of Inheritance, Court Finds

Police Investigate Probate Lawyer Over Disabled Man’s Missing Funds

August 26, 2013


Police are investigating a probate court-appointed lawyer who allegedly tried to cover up his improper handling of a disabled man’s finances by filing false accounting statements — as the man’s assets dwindled by tens of thousands of dollars over the years.

The Newington Police Department’s investigation of Michael Schless, a retired Newington attorney now living in Florida, began after the Aug. 4 publication of a Government Watch column about Schless’s longtime role as probate conservator for John Fritz, 64, of Wethersfield, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Fritz once had assets worth more than $100,000, but now his money market and stock accounts have shrunk to about $20,000 — even though his family says they should have remained stable because his living expenses are covered by Social Security payments and part-time employment.

Newington Probate Judge Robert A. Randich also wrote in a ruling last spring that Schless attempted to “hide his transgressions by filing knowingly false accountings.”

Despite that ruling, however, Randich had declined to exercise his option to request a criminal probe, and Fritz’s family had been unable to persuade law enforcement authorities to investigate.

That soon changed.

Days after the column appeared, a Newington police detective was assigned to the case. A member of state’s attorney’s office in New Britain “took notice of [the] newspaper column … and independently requested that the matter be investigated,” according to an Aug. 8 letter to a state prosecutor from David A. Ruth of Bolton, a lawyer representing Fritz’s family.

A state prosecutor independently confirmed Ruth’s assertion that the police investigation is underway.

Full Article and Source:
Police Investigate Probate Lawyer Over Disabled Man’s Missing Funds

See Also:
Deceit, Improprieties By Probate ‘Conservator’ Deprive Disabled Man Of Inheritance, Court Finds

Deceit, Improprieties By Probate ‘Conservator’ Deprive Disabled Man Of Inheritance, Court Finds

August 5, 2013

A Wethersfield man suffering from cerebral palsy entrusted his affairs to a probate court-appointed lawyer, whose job as “conservator” was to protect his interests and assets. But those assets dwindled by tens of thousands of dollars amid improprieties by the lawyer, who tried to “hide his transgressions by filing knowingly false accountings,” a probate judge said in a recent ruling.

John Fritz, 64, of Wethersfield, hasn’t been able to get his money back. And his family so far has been unable to get law enforcement officials to investigate.

Meanwhile, Michael Schless, the longtime conservator — who was replaced last December in that role by Fritz’s half-brother — has retired as a lawyer and moved to Florida. He said in a brief interview last week that he’d done nothing wrong. “I deny stealing any money,” he said.

What happened to Fritz is exactly the opposite of what is supposed to happen when a judge of the Connecticut Probate Court appoints a conservator to manage the affairs — and protect the assets of — someone incapable of doing it himself.

Fritz, who was born with cerebral palsy, asked Connecticut Probate Court 25 years ago to appoint a conservator to manage his finances including an inheritance from his recently deceased mother that ultimately put his assets at more than $100,000.

In voluntary conservatorships like Fritz’s, a person who feels he needs such help can ask the probate court to give a “conservator” the power to handle his affairs by managing his finances, paying his bills and making various other arrangements.

Now his money market and stock accounts have shrunk to about $20,000, even though his family says they should have remained stable because his living annual living expenses are balanced out by Social Security payments and income from his limited part-time employment.

The sad story is told in public documents on file at Newington Probate Court.

When Fritz asked the probate court for a conservator, it appointed Schless, an attorney in Newington. The arrangement continued over the decades as Fritz has lived in a Wethersfield Housing Authority apartment building for the disabled and elderly.

Schless, as conservator, submitted annual financial accounting statements to the probate court in Newington.

Schless retired as a lawyer in recent years and moved to Boynton Beach, Florida. But he kept his role as Fritz’s conservator (you don’t have to be a lawyer to be someone’s conservator). Then, last year, Fritz’s half-brother and sister-in-law, James and Sharon Imbert of Newington, were shocked to see how little money was left in his accounts.

They particularly did not like the fact that Schless’s financial accounting statements showed net annual losses from Fritz’s stock and money-market accounts — of $9,333 for 2010, $12,752 for 2011, and $6,181. The Imberts obtained statements from the financial institutions and found that there actually had been a net gain of $1,451 in 2010, a loss of only $456 in 2011, and a gain of $254 for 2012.

They found other problems — including thousands of dollars in payments out of Fritz’s account for expenses that were not his. Examples, they said, were $1,074 to American Express, $39 to XM Satellite Radio, and $4.35 to the Sun Sentinel newspaper in Florida.

In cases like this, the probate court approves financial accountings in three-year batches after a hearing. After Schless submitted his reports for 2010, 2011, and 2012, Imbert challenged the accountings and sought the return of $58,147 to the state of his living half-brother.

Full Article and Source:
Deceit, Improprieties By Probate ‘Conservator’ Deprive Disabled Man Of Inheritance, Court Finds

Personal Injury Lawyer Charged With Masterminding Insurance Fraud Scheme

August 4, 2013

Federal authorities say that a Bridgeport personal injury attorney masterminded an insurance fraud scheme that included an unlicensed doctor and several chiropractors and netted $2.5 million in settlements. Joseph P. Haddad, 65, has been charged with nine federal offenses and is also the target of a civil lawsuit filed by insurance companies.

A federal grand jury indictment was returned July 25. Haddad appeared on August 1 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport, entered a plea of not guilty and was released on a $150,000 bond. Haddad is being represented by New Haven attorney John Williams, who did not return calls seeking comment on Friday, August 2.

Haddad’s arrest stems from “Operation Running Man,” a 14-month undercover fraud investigation headed by the FBI. The investigation included the use of recordings made by an undercover special agent who feigned injury and met with with Haddad and the medical professionals who were reportedly part of the scheme.   

As alleged in the indictment, Haddad, who lives in Orange, and the others defrauded insurance companies by exaggerating the auto accident injuries sustained by Haddad’s clients, and the cost of their medical care, to justify larger monetary settlements with insurance companies. Authorities say more than 10 insurance carriers lost a total of approximately $2.5 million. The Connecticut Post lists Travelers, Metropolitan, Progressive, Esurance and Nationwide as being among those that were defrauded from December 2006 to February 2010.   

In June, Allstate and Deerbrook insurance companies filed a federal civil lawsuit against Haddad and others involved allegedly involved in the scheme. According to the suit, beginning in 2006, Haddad and others began to “defraud Allstate by submitting bils for medical treatment that was unneccessary, worthless, and often based on fictitious clinical findings or diagnosis.”  

The civil case against Haddad is pending. However, last week, the court entered a default judgment for $990,911 in favor of Allstate against Francisco Carbone, a medical doctor whose license had previously been revoked by the state.   

As part of the scheme, federal authorities say, the co-conspirators fabricated medical records, prescribed unnecessary pain medication, performed unnecessary chiropractic treatment, ordered and billed for diagnostic tests of questionable medical value, and overstated injuries or permanent partial disabilities that were allegedly caused by the accidents.   

“This kind of blatant fraud drives up the cost of insurance for all people,” Acting Connecticut U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly said in a prepared statement. “With the help of the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to uncovering these schemes and prosecuting those who are the most responsible, especially corrupt attorneys and doctors who drive these schemes and profit the most in direct violation of their professional oaths.”   

Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the FBI said in the same prepared statement that “the level of detail and orchestration alleged in this conspiracy to defraud automobile insurance companies is wrought with unadulterated greed and avarice.”   

She continued: “As an attorney, Mr. Haddad is an officer of the court and, therefore, privileged and entrusted with upholding its laws and ethical canons. Instead, because of his selfish actions, Mr. Haddad is now a defendant in federal court and faced with some very serious charges.”

Full Article and Source:
Personal Injury Lawyer Charged With Masterminding Insurance Fraud Scheme

Connecticut Department on Aging Will Better Serve State’s Growing Senior Population

July 14, 2013


(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, state Department on Aging (SDA) Commissioner Edith Prague and members of the General Assembly’s Aging Committee, held a ceremonial bill signing today for Public Act 13-125, An Act Concerning the Department on Aging.  The legislation fully establishes SDA which was statutorily created on January 1, 2013 and will ensure that Connecticut’s seniors have access to the supportive services necessary to live with dignity, security, and independence.

“Under the leadership of Commissioner Prague, this department will greatly improve the quality of life for our state’s growing senior population,” said Governor Malloy.  “Over the last decade, the number of elderly residents living in Connecticut has grown nearly 5 percent and currently makes up more than 14 percent of the state’s population – that number is expected to grow to 21.5 percent of the population by 2030.  This is why it is crucial that we have an office specifically designed to assist these residents and administer the services and programs that they depend on day-in and day-out.”

The department will be responsible for managing a variety of federally funded programs at the state level under the Older American’s Act.  All appropriate functions, programs, and duties within the Department of Social Services’ (DSS) State Unit on Aging and Office of Long Term Care Ombudsman will be transferred to the newly-formed SDA.  In March, Governor Malloy tapped former State Senator Edith Prague of Columbia to serve as the Commissioner of SDA.

“There’s much we need to do to help elderly residents in our state and, now that we have a department that focuses specifically on them, we can work on improving the way we deliver those services,” said Lt. Governor Wyman.  “As the past chairman of the State Senate’s Committee on Aging, Commissioner Prague has experience on issues pertaining to elderly services and is well-respected by her colleagues in both parties as a staunch advocate for senior citizens across the state.  I am happy to have Commissioner Prague as a partner as we work towards the Governor’s goal of improving the quality of life and care for Connecticut’s older adults.”

Full Article and Source:
Connecticut Department on Aging Will Better Serve State’s Growing Senior Population

Judge Rules That ‘Unscrupulous’ Lawyer Must Pay For Ripping Off Friends

July 10, 2013

Attorney Lawrence Mulligan and his wife were like family to Bruce and Pamela Jalbert of Southbury.

Over a 10-year period, the couples traveled together, dined together and often socialized at each other’s homes. So it was no surprise that Larry Mulligan would handle the Jalberts’ legal matters.

But while the Jalberts thought Mulligan was working diligently to represent them in a property dispute, he was actually ripping them off for hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. To make matters worse, it has since been discovered that he wasn’t even doing any work on the case.  

The Jalberts sued Mulligan and a Waterbury Superior Court judge recently ruled that the lawyer must pay the Jalberts $746,842. That money includes treble damages and interest on the $219,750 the Jalberts paid Mulligan for legal work pertaining to a property that the Jalberts purchased in 2004 for $295,000.  

In issuing his written ruling, Judge Robert B. Shapiro used words like “immoral,” “unethical,” “oppressive” and “unscrupulous” to describe Mulligan’s actions.

 Full Article and Source:
Judge Rules That ‘Unscrupulous’ Lawyer Must Pay For Ripping Off Friends

Connecticut judge suspended 30 days for late decisions

June 20, 2013
A Connecticut state judge has been suspended for 30 business days after admitting being late in issuing child welfare rulings.

The suspension approved Wednesday by the state Judicial Review Council was the second discipline in four years against Judge E. Curtissa R. Cofield. She was also suspended for eight months in 2009 after being accused of drunken driving and using racial slurs while arguing with Glastonbury police.

Cofield apologized for her conduct Wednesday during a more than 30-minute speech before the council. She said she has done many good deeds including helping women get off drugs and prostitution.

Full Article and Source:
Connecticut judge suspended 30 days for late decisions

CT: Judge Once Suspended in Drunken Driving Case Faces New Discipline

June 12, 2013

Superior Court Judge E. Curtissa Cofield, suspended for eight months in a drunken-driving incident in 2009, faces a new disciplinary hearing June 19 for allegedly allowing child-protection cases involving 10 foster children to languish.

Disciplinary hearings against sitting judges in Connecticut are rare. There have been 12 since 1989, and Cofield’s previous case was one of those dozen. The suspension she received in 2009 was the longest in at least 20 years

After Cofield returned to the bench, she was transferred from the adult criminal court to the juvenile court, which operates behind closed doors.

But problems surfaced earlier this year.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Once Suspended in Drunken Driving Case Faces New Discipline

Former Mayor Gets Nearly 5 Years for Bilking Elderly Man Out of $600K

May 19, 2013

Peter DiRosa, former mayor of Manchester, Conn., was described in court Thursday afternoon as a one-time congressional hopeful who became obsessed with launching a Hungarian resort as a way to reclaim his past stature and who used the retirement savings of a Kennebunk man to pursue the ultimately failed scheme.

DiRosa, 66, still of Manchester, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge George Z. Singal to 57 months — four years and nine months — in prison on fraud charges and ordered to pay the now 81-year-old retiree back the $540,000 he convinced the victim to invest in the project.

DiRosa, who wore a dark suit to the afternoon hearing, was ordered to report for his sentence at 2 p.m. June 19 at a federal facility to be determined, but which Singal agreed should be “as close as possible to Manchester, Conn.”

During the sentencing hearing in the federal courthouse in Portland, several of DiRosa’s friends and colleagues spoke about his character, his background as a high school teacher and successful business owner, his active role in his church community and his time in public service.

But Singal chose a sentence closer to the 71-month prison term recommended by prosecutor Craig Wolff from the U.S. attorney’s office than the 30-day incarceration with 14 months of home detention sought by defense attorney William Maselli.

“It’s certainly a puzzle how people who knew Mr. DiRosa for so many years had one view of him, while the jury in this case, after hearing the evidence, had a very different view,” Singal said. “I think what happened here was Mr. DiRosa became obsessed. He felt like this project would make him more than what he was.”

The victim’s son told the judge during the hearing that the stress caused by DiRosa’s “trickery” forced both his mother and father to seek medical treatment.

Full Article and Source:
Former Conn. Mayor Gets Nearly 5 Years for Bilking Elderly Maine Man Out of $600,000