Archive for the ‘Minnesota’ Category

Rochester woman gets 5 years for bilking elderly couple

November 21, 2013

A Rochester woman was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison for swindling an elderly couple out of their life savings.               

Carolyn Jean Cassar, 61, received a sentence 14 months longer than federal court guidelines but two years fewer than what prosecutors had sought.

“This level of cold-blooded manipulation is beyond what even a normal fraudster exhibits,” U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen told Cassar, who stood silently next to her attorney. Ericksen added, “You knew what you were doing to the victims

Cassar pleaded guilty in July to bilking her neighbors out of $840,000 over six years, using ever-more elaborate lies as she asked for increasing amounts of money

From 2006 to 2012, Cassar borrowed money from the couple in 375 transactions.

“As she earned the victims’ trust and discovered that they believed everything she said, her lies became more frequent and more outlandish,” Kim Svendsen, assistant U.S. attorney, told the judge.

“As a result of her lies, Cassar was able to have all the things the defendants denied themselves their entire lives, including lavish vacations and expensive furnishings for her home, and the victims were left with nothing,” Svendsen said.

According to the plea agreement and other court documents, Cassar persuaded the couple to give her money for travel to Washington, D.C., so she could attend to the affairs of her daughter’s death in a car crash, including buying a dress for her burial.

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Rochester woman gets 5 years for bilking elderly couple

Minn. high court to decide end-of-life case

October 22, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Supreme Court will decide whether guardians have the legal authority to take their wards off life support.
The high court agreed Wednesday to review the case of Jeffers Tschumy. That means the court will for the first time in nearly 30 years revisit an end-of-life issue that could affect many of the more than 12,000 Minnesotans under guardianship who don’t have health care directives, the Star Tribune reported Saturday ( ).
The key issue is whether guardians must receive a judge’s approval to remove life support, or whether guardians already have that power.
Tschumy was a mentally disabled man with no family and no health care directive who had been under guardianship since 2008. He choked on food last year and was declared severely brain-damaged with little hope of recovery.
The Allina Health System requested that a judge allow him to be removed from life support, either by clarifying that his guardian had the right to make the decision, or by issuing an order allowing his removal from life support. District Judge Jay Quam denied the guardian’s request for sole power to make that decision, but authorized the termination of Tschumy’s life support. He died.
Quam wrote that guardians have a strong case to make end-of-life decisions under a state law that grants them the power to allow or withhold medical care, but he said the law does not specifically allow them to end life support. Until the Legislature decides to address the issue, he wrote, only judges or legally authorized representatives can order life support removed.
Last summer, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed Quam’s ruling, reasoning that the final authority lies with guardians and that end-of-life decisions shouldn’t be dictated by the court. The appeals court relied on a 1984 Supreme Court ruling.
The state attorney general’s office, which weighed in with briefs supporting a mandatory judge’s sign-off, is expected to do so again before the Supreme Court.

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Minn. high court to decide end-of-life case

No Minneapolis cops have been disciplined after 439 complaints

October 14, 2013

Of 439 cases involving Minneapolis police misconduct handled by a new office created last fall, not one so far has resulted in discipline of a police officer.

Police department officials say those numbers obscure gains made in responding to citizen complaints about police behavior, but skeptics say the few cases of actual discipline confirm that the new system is not working any better than the one it replaced.

“I believe there has been considerable progress,” said Medaria Arradondo, commander of police internal affairs, who reviews complaints along with Michael Browne, director of the new conduct review office.

“The criticism was that it would not improve process and lead to less discipline,” said Teresa Nelson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota. “The numbers show that those criticisms were accurate.”

The question of how Minneapolis police disciplines its own is facing fresh scrutiny after several recent incidents involving Minneapolis police officers. Two of the incidents involved off-duty officers accused of fighting with black men and using racial slurs in Green Bay, Wis., and Apple Valley, and led Police Chief Janeé Harteau to convene a citizens advisory group this summer.

In addition, the city of Minneapolis made $14 million in payouts for alleged police misconduct between 2006 and 2012, but the Minneapolis Police Department rarely concluded that the officers involved in those cases did anything wrong, according to a Star Tribune analysis.

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No Minneapolis cops have been disciplined after 439 complaints

Linda Kincaid Reports — Elder abuse: NCPEA Forum on Polyvictimization in Later Life

October 1, 2013

National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA) will host its First National Forum on Polyvictimization in Later Life on October 1, 2013 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The ongoing project aims to enhance professional knowledge and understanding of polyvictimization as a characteristic of elder abuse. Discussions will include the most promising solutions to this poorly understood problem.
NCPEA describes the following forms of elder abuse.

  • Physical abuse is physical force that results in bodily injury, pain, or impairment. It includes assault, battery, and inappropriate restraint.
  • Sexual abuse is non-consensual sexual contact of any kind with an older person.
  • Domestic violence is an escalating pattern of violence by an intimate partner where the violence is used to exercise power and control.
  • Psychological abuse is the willful infliction of mental or emotional anguish by threat, humiliation, or other verbal or nonverbal conduct.
  • Financial abuse is the illegal or improper use of an older person’s funds, property, or resources.
  • Neglect is the failure of a caregiver to fulfill his or her care giving responsibilities. Self-neglect is failure to provide for one’s own essential needs.

Multiple forms of elder abuse often occur together. A single perpetrator often engages in multiple forms of abuse. Multiple perpetrators abuse the same victim.

Polyvictimization is a complex phenomenon and a new term for the elder abuse field.

The Forum will include brief presentations and active workgroups exploring different dimensions of the issue. Discussions will be videotaped, with segments to be used in a virtual training series being produced as part of the project.

The Forum aims to arrive at a new framework that places elder abuse within the context of polyvictimization. It will also contribute a later life perspective to the ways that polyvictimization is typically considered.

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Elder abuse: NCPEA Forum on Polyvictimization in Later Life

State court of appeals reverses ruling that prevented guardians from ordering their wards from life support

August 14, 2013

Legal guardians have the authority to order their wards to be disconnected from life support, according to a state Court of Appeals ruling Monday that said the end-of-life decision shouldn’t be dictated by the courts. 

“This supports our position that guardians don’t need to go back to court to get consent to terminate life support,” said Charles Singer, the attorney for the professional guardian appointed for Jeffers Tschumy, the man at the center of the case. “We’ve been operating under that assumption for 30 years.”


Monday’s decision overturns a Hennepin County District Court ruling that said end-of-life decisions are too important to be made by a guardian most likely appointed years before to handle matters of daily living.
Minnesota has 12,000-plus wards; the decision could affect those who don’t have health care directives in place spelling out their end-of-life decisions. It is the first time such an issue has been addressed in the state courts.
Tschumy, 57, was mentally disabled and living in a group home under the guardianship of Joseph Vogel since 2008. In April 2011, he choked on food and was declared severely brain damaged with little hope for recovery.

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State court of appeals reverses ruling that prevented guardians from ordering their wards from life support

Tonight on T.S. Radio: Minnesota Courts Sanction Guardian Ordered End of Life

August 11, 2013

In what has to be a predatory guardian’s wish list come true, the Hennepin County District Court of Appeals, just sanctioned the ending of inconvenient lives on behalf of the guardians.

Claiming in their opinion that the statutes somehow magically indicated that the guardians had this right as an extension of their total control of the victim, was a direct assault on the rights of families and individuals.

After reading the statutes cited by the court and their statements to the effect that they had considered all pertinent statutes, how this court concluded that a guardian had an otherwise unrecognized right to end the life of an individual, is beyond me.

Claiming this decision would be the result of consulting with family members and medical personnel, had to have been a joke. Anyone exposed to the corruption of the probate/guardian system knows that the family is immediately cut out of the picture and is not consulted about anything. In most cases, the family is not even informed of any decisions.

The Court made special mention of the notion that it might be too emotional, or financially a burden for the family, to allow the victim to continue on.

The translation for this is: The estate has been depleted by guardians, attorneys and anyone else who could get their hooks in it. Insurance has reached its limits and Medicare/Medicaid will not pay any more. 14,000 individuals have been placed under guardian/conservator status in Minnesota. The massive transfer of personal assets to the guardian from the estate of the victim, can now be brought to a final end by ending the life of the victim….. without court permission or intervention.

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Guardians Can Order End of Life Support

Daughter pleads not guilty to financial exploitation

August 8, 2013

A Byron woman has pleaded not guilty to charges that she financially exploited her mother.        

Kathleen Marion Studnicka, 46, was charged Dec. 5 in Olmsted County District Court with two felony counts of financial exploitation-vulnerable adult.

According to the criminal complaint, an investigation that began in August 2012 revealed that from July 2011 through March 2012, more than $23,000 had been deposited into the 86-year-old woman’s bank account. During that time, she had accumulated a bill for housing and care that totaled nearly $15,000.

According to the complaint, Studnicka, who had power of attorney over her mother’s finances, withdrew more than $22,000 from the account, with her mother’s permission. None of the money was used for the older woman’s expenses, the report says.

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Daughter pleads not guilty to financial exploitation

Minneapolis conservator accused of mishandling vet’s finances quits

August 2, 2013

A prominent Twin Cities guardian and conservator has given up his caseload after an investigation was launched into his handling of a veteran’s finances.  

Stephen Grisham, founder of Alternate Decision Makers Inc. in Minneapolis, stepped down as president of the company after the allegations arose about a month ago, said Jacob Kamenir, who took over as president after Grisham’s departure. Kamenir said the Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating Grisham.
“ADMI is fully cooperating with all parties that are investigating and all assets are fully secured,” Kamenir said. “ADMI is being transparent to all parties that are looking into this matter. Our primary focus right now is making sure that our clients are taken care of.”
Kamenir said all clients were immediately notified and “all client assets are secured.” He declined to comment further on the allegations, saying he would provide more information once the investigation is complete.
Grisham founded ADMI in 2000. Court records show the company has been involved in at least 293 cases. Mark Thompson, Hennepin County court administrator, said the investigation is limited to one file in Hennepin County.
“It’s substantial and we take it seriously, but it does not seem like a widespread problem here,” Thompson said. “I am not terribly concerned that things won’t be handled and investigated properly.”
Guardians and conservators are appointed by judges to make life and financial decisions for people suffering from dementia or other incapacitating conditions. In recent years, revelations of theft and neglect by some court-appointed caretakers have prompted new laws to increase oversight of what has been a lightly regulated profession.
In 2010, an Apple Valley woman who was an appointed fiduciary for some veterans was sentenced to federal prison for stealing their money. After the woman’s sentencing, Grisham told KARE-11:  “When you’re appointed as a fiduciary for someone, there is a lot of trust and a great responsibility that needs to be taken seriously and unfortunately in that case she broke that trust.”

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Minneapolis conservator accused of mishandling vet’s finances quits

Court: Guardians can order end of life support

August 1, 2013

A Minnesota appeals court has ruled legal guardians can order the end of life support for their wards.

The ruling overturns a Hennepin County District Court finding that end-of-life decisions are too important to be made by the guardian alone. The appeals court disagreed, saying those decisions should not be dictated by the courts.

The case involves Jeffers Tschumy, who was mentally disabled and living in a group home. In 2011 he was declared severely brain damaged after choking on some food. A Hennepin County judge denied his guardian the right to end life support, but ordered that it be discontinued.

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Court: Guardians can order end of life support

Lawyer barred from practicing for mental health issues

July 29, 2013

Minneapolis lawyer Jill Eleanor Clark has been forbidden from practicing law for being “unable to competently represent clients because of mental health issues.”

Clark, 56, of Golden Valley has been placed on “disability inactive” status by the state Supreme Court, which rules on attorney discipline cases.

“There is overwhelming evidence in the record that Clark has a serious mental health condition,” the Supreme Court order, made public Wednesday, said.

Details of her condition were placed under seal, but some specifics emerged.

Her medical records show that “she suffered from extreme stress and anxiety during long stretches of 2012, and that this stress and anxiety severely affected her cognitive abilities and judgment.”

On two occasions, she went “on the run” because of emotional crises, once leaving town for 10 days and once for three weeks, the order said. She was hospitalized three times during those crises.

Clark did not dispute that she had mental issues, the order said. She was temporarily suspended in January.

In July 2012, Clark filed a motion to disqualify the entire Supreme Court from ruling on her case. The court denied the motion.

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Lawyer barred from practicing for mental health issues