Archive for the ‘CPS – DCF’ Category

I-Team: Court Disregards Preneed Plan, Appoints Professional Guardian

September 27, 2013

 We’ve learned that even when a person has legal protections in place to avoid being assigned a professional guardian, the court can disregard signed and notarized legal documents and appoint a guardian anyway.

This latest case involves 90-year-old Paulette Karpa, whose family and friends have been fighting against Florida’s guardian system for years.

 “She kept a beautiful house and she always dressed nicely. She took care of herself,” said neighbor Nancy Leewe, describing Paulette Karpa,

 Karpa, Leewe’s former neighbor, was known for taking long walks, gardening and weekly card games.

 But in 2009, Karpa’s life changed.

 After making a series of calls from her house to police about attempted burglaries…each turning out to be unfounded….the Florida Department of Children and Families was called.

 Soon after, professional guardian Patricia Johnson asked the court to have Karpa declared incapacitated, even though Karpa had made prior arrangements for a family member to care for her.

 In Florida, guardians can be given complete control over their wards’ lives.

I-Team: Court disregards preneed plan, appoints professional guardian

See Also:
Elderly Pinellas Man Freed From Alzheimer’s Unit After I-Team Looks at His Case

FINR: Caregivers Bloodied Patients as Complaints Drew Laughter

December 18, 2012

Caregivers at a Florida center for the brain-injured beat patients, goaded them to fight each other and fondle female employees and in one instance laughed at complaints of mistreatment, according to investigative reports released under a court order to Bloomberg News.

The center, the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation, is fighting a state directive that it move about 50 patients to other facilities. That order followed a Bloomberg story revealing a history of violence at the center southeast of Tampa. At least five patients have died from alleged abuse or neglect there since 1998, two in the last two years.
The newly released records summarize 15 probes conducted by the Florida Department of Children and Families since 2008, including 12 that have never been disclosed before. Leon County Circuit Court Judge Kevin J. Carroll ordered the state to provide the reports, with the names of victims blacked out, after Bloomberg petitioned the court, arguing there was a compelling public interest.

The Wauchula-based facility, known as FINR, draws patients from across the U.S. and abroad and is said by competitors to be the largest such rehabilitation center in the country. It often finds customers among the relatively few brain injured with legal settlements or insurance payments that enable them to pay premium prices. FINR charges some of them $300,000 a year.

In all of the 15 cases summarized in the reports –involving 17 patients and 20 staff members — the allegations were classified by investigators as verified, meaning they were supported by a “preponderance of credible evidence.”

‘Difficult Population’

Until now, the state had released only a summary of complaints, indicating there have been 526 allegations of abuse and neglect since 2005. Of those, 37 were deemed verified. Another 117 fell into a category defined by state regulations as when “there is credible evidence that does not meet the standard of preponderance.” The rest are still being investigated or involved cases where the agency discovered no evidence of abuse.

Joe Brennick, FINR’s owner and chief executive officer, declined to comment on individual cases. In an e-mailed statement, Brennick said the center “has consistently acted in the best interest of its patients, and has one of the toughest self-reporting policies in place for a facility of its kind.”

“It is important to understand that FINR serves one of the most difficult populations of patients in the country,” he said, “and that these patients often act out aggressively and are extremely difficult to manage. This is not to absolve wrongdoing by staff members, but is a fact that is often overlooked in media reports.”

Full Article and Source:
Caregivers Bloodied Patients as Complaints Drew Laughter

See Also:
Florida Brain Injury Center Fights Order to Move Patients

Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

September 17, 2011

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Department of Justice announced the filing of a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), alleging the agency discriminated against a black male former employee on the basis of race and/or sex by subjecting him to a hostile work environment and then terminating him in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. The suit was filed in federal district court in the Western District of Texas.

According to the department’s complaint, from early 2007 until his termination in July 2007, Michael Lewis was subjected to race- and gender-based slurs and insults and other objectionable conduct by his first- and second-line supervisors. Additionally, the supervisors ignored and even ridiculed his repeated complaints to them about being harassed by one of his assigned clients at DFPS, in contrast to the office’s prior practice of transferring non-black, female investigators from cases in which they experienced harassment from clients. The racial and sexual harassment of Lewis ultimately culminated in his termination.

“All workers have the right to go to work each without facing discrimination and without having to suffer racial and sexual harassment. Public employers should set an example for others by upholding the law and taking prompt and effective action to stop discrimination when it occurs,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will vigorously pursue such violations of Title VII.”

The El Paso, Texas, area office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigated and attempted to resolve Lewis’s charge of discrimination before referring it to the Department of Justice for litigation. More information about the EEOC is available on its website at

The enforcement of Title VII is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its websites at and

Justice Department Files Lawsuit Alleging Racial and Sexual Harassment by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

DSHS Vows to Toughen Oversight of State’s Adult Homes

September 19, 2010

In an attempt to overhaul Washington’s adult family-home system, the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is seeking new laws to boost the cost of opening new homes, raise training requirements and hike enforcement penalties for violators.

In addition, an adult-home-industry group asked DSHS to stop licensing new homes in three key counties — King, Snohomish and Clark. High vacancy rates are threatening to put dozens of owners out of business while reducing residents’ quality of care.

The proposed changes are in response to a continuing investigation by The Seattle Times, Seniors for Sale, which found 236 deaths of vulnerable adults that indicate neglect or abuse but were not reported to the state or investigated.

Washington has licensed nearly 3,000 adult homes to provide board and care for up to six adults. Adult homes are less-regulated, less-expensive elder-care options than nursing homes, and are touted as providing personalized care in cozy, neighborhood settings.

But The Times found that hundreds of seniors have been injured or died prematurely from substandard care, often through neglect by scantly trained caregivers.

State Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, chair of the Health and Long Term Care Committee, said: “We have work to do. We’re going to have to push forward and take action. We cannot afford to have the kind of awful cases The Times uncovered to continue. We must put a stop to it.”

Full Article and Source:
DSHS Vows to Toughen Oversight of State’s Adult Homes

Washington State: DSHS Neglect Referrals Drop

September 15, 2010

Last month, officials from the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) said that the agency was referring far fewer cases of suspected elder abuse and neglect to law enforcement.

DSHS made the revelation to a 24-member task force that is studying how to better safeguard seniors in adult family homes. The group, made up of community advocates and public officials in the senior-care field, was formed earlier this year in response to The Times’ ongoing series about adult family homes.

At the meeting, several task-force members expressed surprise at the sharp drop, which began after 2007. They questioned how suspected neglect cases could be dropping when more people than ever rely on long-term care and the number of adult homes continues to rise, according to participants.

DSHS offered no explanation in reply.

Full Article and Source:
DSHS Referrals for Neglect Drop

Hearing Set for Queener Case

April 29, 2010

A court battle continues over who is the best person to make decisions about 79-year-old Bob Queener’s medical care, housing and day-to-day needs.

The dispute is primarily between Department of Human Services staff and Queener’s relatives, who are upset that DHS recommended a judge give all authority over the Des Moines man’s life to people who don’t know him. Queener began showing signs of dementia last summer.

An article in The Des Moines Register recounted how DHS staff removed Queener from his home and a court-appointed conservator began to sell all his household goods, vehicles and mortgage-free home.

At a hearing Monday, an attorney for DHS said Queener’s court-appointed temporary guardian, D. Thomas Smith, no longer wishes to be considered for the role of permanent guardian.

[Assistant Polk County Attorney] Ford said DHS is now looking for another suitable family member – other than Queener’s niece, Cheri Jensen, who was his main caretaker until DHS intervened in December.

A hearing on who should be permanent guardian has been tentatively scheduled for June 1 or 2.

Full Article and Source:
Hearing on DM Man’s Guardian is Set

Florida Lawmakes Move to Enhance APS

April 27, 2010

A little-noticed bill would enable the Florida Department of Children and Families for the first time to ask a court to decide whether a mentally or physically impaired adult needs a guardian.

Supporters say the legislation will remove a roadblock that stalls or blocks state services designed to protect vulnerable adults from abuse and neglect. The House passed the bill unanimously Wednesday; a Senate vote is expected this week.

The bill was filed in September, five months before the death of a Fernandina Beach woman with a long history of mental-health problems and department investigations.

Hunter’s death has gained statewide attention as a symbol of what several experts say are gaps in the mental-health care system. Hunter had been admitted to hospital emergency rooms more than 60 times, undergoing several psychiatric evaluations along the way, during the last two years of her life without getting the help she needed, they say.

Reaction to the bill has been mixed.

A former insider at the agency’s Northeast Florida office calls the bill a “classic example of Legislature appearing to do something without dealing with fundamental core issues.” The bill makes it easier for the state to place a vulnerable adult into guardianship, but it doesn’t address the shortage of guardians, said Gene Costlow, who retired from his human services program director position in March after 37 years with the agency.

Full Article and Source:
Florida Lawmakers Move to Enhance Adult Protection in the Wake of Sarah Hunter’s Death

When Should the State Step In?

April 20, 2010

Life took a drastic turn for Bob Queener – and for the loved ones who believed they were doing their best to keep an eye on him daily – when he began to show signs of dementia. Without warning last December, the state removed Queener under police escort from the Des Moines home where he’d lived alone for four decades. He was placed against his will in a locked mental health unit.

For five hours the next day, his panicked relatives knew only that the 79-year-old had disappeared, said his sister Barbara Conrath, 74, of Bondurant.

Three months later, most of Queener’s possessions were sold or thrown away by a stranger authorized by the court to control his property, said his brother Rich Queener, 65, of Prescott.

Several of Bob Queener’s relatives believe workers with the state Department of Human Services acted too quickly when they sought court approval to have him removed from his home. They’re also upset that a judge gave all authority over his life to people who don’t know him or love him.

“I mean, my goodness, it wasn’t right. It really wasn’t,” said Conrath, one of his eight living siblings.

DHS spokesman Roger Munns defended the agency’s actions as part of an extraordinary effort by government agencies to protect Queener’s well-being.

Full Article and Source:
Elderly Care: When Should the State Step In?

State Workers Accused of Preying on Vulnerable Woman

January 2, 2010

Two women employed by the state to protect a vulnerable elderly woman instead preyed on her, stealing about $20,000 from her bank accounts while she was hospitalized for dementia.

Police said both women were adult protective investigators with the Florida Department of Children and Families. One went so far as to wait in 85-year-old Jane Janssen’s Cocoanut Row apartment and pose as Janssen in case the banks called to verify transactions, according to arrest affidavits made public Wednesday.

This week, Palm Beach Police detective Nicholas Caristo week arrested Mindi Marie Berry, 33, her DCF supervisor, Greta Laverne Lambert, 41, and a third woman, an employee of an escort service who told police she was hired to cash stolen checks.

Police on Wednesday were getting a warrant to arrest a fourth woman in the alleged scheme, which came to light after Janssen’s son, Christopher Janssen, complained last month, police said. Berry and Lambert were fired in November after DCF learned of the police investigation, an agency spokesman said.

Described in police records as the scheme’s “mastermind,” Lambert worked for DCF for several years and had risen to the rank of supervisor.

Berry was taken into custody in November, soon after Christopher Janssen’s complaint. After a month-long investigation, Caristo arrested Lambert and Alexis White, 19.

The women face charges of organizing a scheme to defraud, grand theft from an elderly person, credit card fraud and identity theft. Their attorneys couldn’t be reached.

Full Article and Source:
Palm Beach Police Arrest 2 State Employees for Stealing From Patient

DCF Worker Arrested for Fraud & Grand Theft

November 13, 2009

A case worker for the state Department of Children and Families has been arrested on charges of stealing from an elderly woman with dementia whose case she had been assigned to investigate.

Mindi Marie Berry, 33, is accused by police of copying the 85-year-old Palm Beach woman’s financial documents and making ATM withdrawals and debit card purchases from the woman’s bank account — to the tune of more than $1,500.

When confronted, Berry told Palm Beach police detectives that she knew the woman had already been the victim of identity theft and thought that her actions would be blamed on the previous culprit, according to an arrest report.

Berry was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on charges of organized scheme to defraud, grand theft from a person 65 years or older, fraudulent use of a credit card and fraudulent use of personal I.D. information.

Full Article and Source:
Police: DCF Worker Stole From Elderly Woman She Was Assigned to Investigate