Archive for the ‘Conservatorship’ Category

Judge rejects conservatorship for Casey Kasem

November 20, 2013

LOS ANGELES—Casey Kasem is receiving good medical care and a conservatorship is unnecessary for the ailing radio personality, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Superior Court Judge Lesley Green urged lawyers to reach an agreement that would allow three of Kasem’s adult children to visit their father, who is suffering from advanced Parkinson’s disease.

Kasem’s children have said they are being blocked from seeing their father by his wife of more than 30 years, Jean. But her lawyer Marshall Grossman said the children have rejected a proposal to allow them to visit their father each month and on major holidays.

Green acknowledged there is “bad blood” in the family, but noted a doctor who has evaluated Kasem reported he wants to see his children.

Kasem’s daughter Julie was seeking a temporary conservatorship for her father, but Green rejected that effort Tuesday. She cited reports by investigators and doctors who said Kasem was receiving by all accounts good medical treatment in his home.

The judge told lawyers to try to work out an agreement for visitation by Kasem’s children and set another court hearing for Dec. 20.

Attorneys for both sides planned to try to negotiate a visitation agreement Tuesday.

Julie Kasem’s attorney, Andrew Katzenstein, said his clients were pleased to learn that their father was being well cared for and hoped that a visitation arrangement could be worked out. He said the effort to have a conservatorship established was all about making sure Kasem was being properly looked after and to allow his children to see their father.

Grossman said he wants an accord that will end any further court action. “We’re looking to bring peace, not piecemeal,” he told Green.

Casey Kasem, 81, gained fame with his radio music countdown shows, “American Top 40” and “Casey’s Top 40,” and also was the voice of Shaggy in the cartoon “Scooby Doo.”

Full Article and Source:
Judge rejects conservatorship for Casey Kasem

See Also:
Casey Kasem Near Death but Alert, Children Suing Wife Jean for Conservatorship NOT Will and Money

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Nashville lawyer admits to stealing $1.3 million, gets 18 years in prison

November 16, 2013

A well-known Nashville probate attorney was sentenced Friday to 18 years in prison after admitting to stealing $1.3 million from three clients, including the late father of a severely disabled woman.

Dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, John E. Clemmons, 66, entered his guilty plea to three counts of theft, perjury and TennCare fraud in a barely audible voice. Under the plea agreement he could be eligible for parole after serving about five years and four months. Absent the plea deal, Clemmons could have faced jail terms of up to 30 years on the theft counts alone.

Clemmons, who already had pleaded guilty to stealing more than $60,000 from a fourth ward in Rutherford County, could face more charges as an investigation into dozens of other cases continues. His license to practice law was suspended indefinitely last spring when details of the Rutherford case began to emerge.

In all four cases, Clemmons had been appointed as a conservator of wards whom the courts had concluded were unable to look after their own affairs.

Assistant District Attorney General James W. Milam told Judge Steve Dozier that Clemmons has agreed to cooperate and “is cooperating” in that ongoing probe. Milam declined to discuss the details of the investigation

Under the agreement the victims, whose losses range from $172,506 to $771,009, will first collect restitution from bonds posted by Clemmons in the three cases and then from a state fund established to reimburse victims of attorney misconduct. The amount due after that, Milam said, will be Clemmons responsibility.

Milam said Clemmons filed false reports with the Davidson Probate Court and instead of the expenses he reported spending, wrote checks to himself. He also filed a false application for TennCare coverage for one of his clients.

Flanked by his attorneys, Paul Housch and Bob Lynch, Clemmons told Dozier the plea deal had been explained to him and that he had agreed to it.

Clemmons had turned himself in last week in anticipation of the plea deal. He will remain in custody and be turned over to the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

Action on the case came as some of the victims registered last minute pleas to Dozier urging him to reject the plea deal and order the Clemmons to make full restitution.

Ronnie Dismang, whose severely disabled cousin was one of the victims, wrote that she has been trying for months to learn how Clemmons was able to steal so much without detection by the courts or attorneys involved in the case.

Dismang wrote that whenever she asked how Clemmons could have gotten away with the thefts “I would get legal runaround.”

“John E. Clemmons does not deserve a plea deal for committing fraud against his conservator victims,” she wrote. “He should be required and ordered by the court to make full restitution to the victims’ families.”

Full Article and Source:
Nashville lawyer admits to stealing $1.3 million, gets 18 years in prison

Lawyer charged with theft, fraud in conservatorship cases

November 13, 2013

A longtime Nashville attorney has been jailed on charges of aggravated perjury, theft and TennCare fraud stemming from his care of three people, two of them elderly and one severely disabled, that the state said couldn’t care for themselves.

John E. Clemmons, 66, turned himself in on the charges Friday. Bail was set at $500,000, and a hearing on the charges, along with an anticipated plea deal, is expected as early as next week.

Using a cane and accompanied by one of his attorneys, Clemmons, who had been entrusted by the courts to manage the three conservatorships, walked slowly through the metal detector in the night court building a little after 1 p.m.and was taken into custody.

According to court filings Clemmons was charged with three counts theft of more than $60,000, one count of aggravated perjury and Tenncare fraud.

Court records and interviews show that more than $1 million in assets from the three wards is unaccounted for and much of it has been tracked back to Clemmons himself. In one case, a civil suit already has been filed seeking restitution of $450,000.

In that case, records show, Clemmons submitted periodic reports to the court on the handling of the ward’s estate that contradicted the actual bank and checking account records. Checks he reported making out to health care workers and other service providers, for example, ended up in his own bank account.

Full Article and Source:
Lawyer charged with theft, fraud in conservatorship cases

New oversight of conservatorships proposed

November 3, 2013


A task force assigned to examine the growing number of  conservatorships in Davidson County has concluded there aren’t enough resources to provide adequate oversight and has proposed the creation of a publicly funded Office of the Public Guardian.

The new office would replace the existing single public guardian, a post now vacant.

In a 55-page report made public Friday, the task force appointed in March by Probate Judge David “Randy” Kennedy said the proposed new office could be funded by a combination of public money and voluntary support.

The panel cited an increasing caseload of conservatorships in the local court, with the number jumping from 636 in fiscal year 2009 to 1,782 in 2012.

The task force was appointed in the wake of the abrupt resignation of the public guardian, Jeanan Mills Stuart, after a series of Tennessean reports on the fees Stuart charged for a variety of tasks. Among those tasks were accompanying wards on shopping trips and attendance at events, including a symphony orchestra performance.

Stuart, whose resignation coincided with Kennedy’s demand that she resign, charged her wards the full hourly lawyer’s fee — up to $225 an hour — no matter the task.

A Tennessean review of Stuart’s billing showed she billed twice for the same services, including a five-hour shopping excursion.

Specific fees dodged

The task force dodged the issue of setting specific fees for nonlawyer tasks but did recommend that conservators be required to “use their time as judiciously as possible” and “act in the best interest of the ward.”

The panel, headed by attorney Colleen P. Mac­Lean, did not recommend a specific budget or staffing level for the proposed public guardian office but instead contrasted the current effort in Davidson County with Tarrant County in Texas, which it cited as a model program.

While Tarrant has a staff of 11.5 to handle an annual caseload of 1,237 cases, the panel said, Davidson has a single judge and a staff of 3.5. Davidson’s caseload is growing and is expected to surpass 1,910 a year.

The Tarrant court has an annual budget of $940,000 and it spends an additional $675,000 to contract with a third party to provide services to wards.

In addition to urging an increase in public funding, the panel said increased court filing fees could underwrite the cost of some of its recommendations.

Kennedy did not respond Friday to a request for comment but provided a copy of a letter forwarded to Metro Council members along with copies of the report.

“I am confident that working together we will continue to enhance and improve our system of justice in this challenging area of the law,” Kennedy wrote in the letter.

The panel attributed the high Davidson County caseload — the highest in the state — to a variety of factors, including a high number of nursing homes, hospitals and veterans facilities and a large homeless population.

“This translates into a ballooning demand, particularly of indigent individuals in need of a conservatorship who do not have friends or family available to serve in this position,” the report states.

Data gathered by the panel showed that the fees charged by conservators currently range from $50 to $250 an hour. Much of the current caseload, it found, is handled by nonprofit and government agencies.

But, the task force warned, those entities “don’t have the capacity to serve all the indigents in Davidson County.”

While not recommending specific fees for non-legal-conservator services, the panel did suggest a system under which overall fee limits could be set.

It cited a flat fee of $1,500 for a case requiring minimal duties and a ceiling of $10,000 for more complicated cases, with a requirement that fees over that ceiling would require greater documentation.

The panel also called for the creation of a program to provide voluntary services for overseeing conservatorships. Such a program would provide training for those interested in serving as conservators.

Overall, the panel concluded that the Davidson County court has too few resources dedicated to the administration and oversight of conservatorships.

“The number of these cases is expected to grow even further as the baby boomer generation ages and life expectancies continue to grow due to advances in modern medicine,” the report concludes.

Full Article and Source:
New oversight of conservatorships proposed

Casey Kasem Near Death but Alert, Children Suing Wife Jean for Conservatorship NOT Will and Money

October 29, 2013

Casey Kasem is near death but alert, according to some statements from sources close to the matter. This announcement comes after his children announce they may be suing his current wife, Jean.

Reports indicate that the children are seeking conservatorship of their father and are not looking to alter his will or get money from the legendary broadcaster.

Kasem, who has made a fortune from his distinctive radio voice and delivery style, is not in good health. The popular top 40 host has Parkinsons and has lost the ability to speak. His agent of 35 years, Don Pitts, told CNN about his client’s health:

“He has Parkinson’s, has it very bad. It took his speech, and for somebody who made millions of dollars using his voice–for him to lose that gift, that beautiful instrument–it must be frustrating. But he’s handling it very well. His mind is very sharp, his brain works well. You can tell in his eyes he understands everything you’re saying. He just has trouble translating it from the brain to his vocal cords.”

In an even sadder turn of event, Mr. Kasem’s children have been prevented from seeing their own father. At one point, the kids were camped outside of residence with signs.

The siblings recently spoke to New York Daily News, telling the publication of their intentions moving forward. Kerri Kasem discussed the legal actions they may pursue in order to see their ailing father again:

“We haven’t heard anything from her yet. We’re giving her a chance to respond privately, and if she doesn’t, we’re taking legal action. I think we’re going to wait until Monday or Tuesday. If she doesn’t answer our letters, we’ll have to do it in court. We hope it doesn’t come to that.”

The children want to declare their sister Julie as conservator of Casey. Kerri, who is now 48, discussed why Julie is the logical choice:

“Her forte is working with people in hospice situations. We just want to be sure our dad is being cared for properly. We don’t want to be in charge of his money, just his health care.”

Full Article and Source:
Casey Kasem Near Death but Alert, Children Suing Wife Jeanfor Conservatorship NOT Will and Money

Casey Kasem Early Dementia ‘Shuffles’ Around

October 20, 2013

Casey Kasem is mainly bedridden with advanced Parkinson’s disease, only able to “shuffle short distances” and may have the early onset of dementia … this according to new legal docs obtained by TMZ.

The docs were filed by Julie, one of Casey’s 3 kids from his first marriage, asking a judge to create a conservatorship and give her and her husband the power to control Casey’s health care decision.

Julie says in the papers that Casey’s wife of 33 years, Jean, has isolated Casey from his kids.  Julie says Jean won’t even allow Casey’s kids to talk with them by phone.

Julie claims she currently has a power of attorney to make health care decisions for Casey, and that should give more than enough authority to have contact with him.

Full Article and Source:
Casey Kasem Early Dementia ‘Shuffles’ Around

TBI case against Franklin County attorney appointed to conservatorship results in theft indictment

September 23, 2013


CHATTANOOGA – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s case into a Franklin County attorney assigned by a court to be a conservator over the estate of a woman in failing health resulted in an indictment by the Franklin County grand jury. He surrendered to authorities this afternoon.

Joseph Bean Jr., 41, of Winchester, was indicted on one count of theft or property over $10,000. Between October of 2009 and March of 2012, Bean, who was the court appointed conservator over the estate of the victim, stole more than $42,000 from her conservatorship account. Bean made payments from the victim’s conservatorship account to his American Express account, Bank of America mortgage account, a Community Bank loan account and his Toyota Motors account. Bean was appointed the conservatorship of the victim’s estate due to her failing health. He was the sole party with authorized access to her account to pay her bills and other financial obligations. The victim of the theft is now deceased.

In May of 2013, the 12th Judicial District Attorney General’s office requested TBI to investigate the theft after the attorney over the victim’s estate reported it to him. Bean was booked today into the Franklin County Jail on $7,500 bond.

Full Article and Source:
TBI case against Franklin County attorney appointed to conservatorship results in theft indictment

CPA Disbarred for Stealing from Daughter’s Trust Fund

September 21, 2013

The Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday that its Office of Professional Responsibility has prevailed in seeking the disbarment of David O. Christensen after he was convicted of theft for misappropriating funds as the conservator of his daughter’s trust account.

Christensen’s CPA licenses in Washington and Oregon had been revoked previously as a result of his conviction.

In a final agency decision, the IRS administrative law judge declined to grant a request by Christensen to continue in a limited practice as a tax return preparer, and instead, disbarred him from all practice before the IRS. The judge found that Christensen’s conviction for theft, along with the revocation of his CPA licenses, constituted disreputable conduct under Circular 230.  Christensen had argued that he should be permitted to continue to prepare tax returns because his theft conviction resulted from a family matter that had nothing to do with his tax preparation practice before the IRS.

“OPR strives to protect the integrity of the tax system from unscrupulous and incompetent practitioners regardless of how those traits become known,” said OPR director Karen L. Hawkins in a statement.

Agreeing with OPR’s proposed sanction, the administrative law judge held that the seriousness of Christensen’s offense warranted disbarment from practicing before the IRS finding, that the “respondent has displayed a lack of integrity, including in his testimony at trial, in attempting to distinguish his professional actions from his ‘father-daughter’ relationship.”

Christensen is therefore prohibited from any practice, including tax preparation, before the IRS for a five-year period.

Full Article and Source:
CPA Disbarred for Stealing from Daughter’s Trust Fund

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