Archive for the ‘New Hampshire’ Category

Portsmouth lawyer punished for mishandling client funds

October 23, 2013

PORTSMOUTH — Local attorney Richard Foley’s law license was suspended for six months by the Supreme Court’s Professional Conduct Committee, which placed the suspension in abeyance for a year, providing Foley adheres to a list of conditions.
 
According to PCC records, the suspension of Foley’s law license is related to his mishandling of funds he received from a client he was representing in a divorce case between 2009 and 2012. During the pendency of that case, Foley commingled his client’s funds with his own, failed to keep his client “reasonably informed,” spent his client’s money before earning it, and falsely reported that he was in compliance with financial rules, according to the PCC order.
 
Further, the PCC reports, Foley failed to perform “monthly reconciliations of any of his client trust accounts” between June 1, 2007 and May 31, 2012.
 
“Mr. Foley’s breaches were fundamental, evincing a lack of understanding of even the basics of law office accounting procedures,” the PCC order states.
 
“There was no written fee agreement with the complainant regarding his representation in the matter; only an oral agreement to represent her at $200 per hour,” according to the PCC. “At no time during the pendency of the divorce proceedings did Mr. Foley provide the complainant with an accounting of his time spent on her matter. The initial retainer check was not deposited into Mr. Foley’s client trust account.”
 
Foley also told his client that his fees for an appeal of the divorce case would be a flat fee and not hours-based, and never communicated the actual amount of the flat fee, the PCC found.
 
According to the PCC order, Foley agreed to pay all costs associated with an investigation into the matter, as well as to provide all future clients with written fee agreements, to track time spent on clients’ cases, and to complete 6 hours of training “regarding how to properly handle his client trust account.”
 
Foley is also ordered to hire a certified public accountant and for a year and to provide the Attorney Discipline Office with monthly client trust account reconciliations.

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Portsmouth lawyer punished for mishandling client funds

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The Waiting Game: Mentally Ill Patients in New Hampshire Face Spartan Conditions, Long Delays

March 26, 2013

Concord — Joshua Knight was alone, had been for hours. He curled up on the mattress on the floor, shut his eyes and tried to block out his memories of the day.
 
Knight, 33, had been handcuffed and dragged out of his basement apartment in Chichester that September day last year. His mother, Carla Northrup, had been crying so hard the police told her she had to leave because she was upsetting him even more.
 
She hadn’t been to see him at Concord Hospital, where the police had brought him, not yet. So Knight was alone.
 
He had a mattress, bolted to the floor. A plastic cube served as a hard, backless chair. A television glowed behind a plastic window. At least the staff was kind enough to leave him the remote, he remembered four months after his three-day stay in what is known as “Yellow Pod,” a handful of rooms at the hospital staffed by Riverbend Community Mental Health.
 
For the first two days of his stay at Yellow Pod, Northrup called the hospital to check on her son. Hearing it could be several days more before a bed was available at New Hampshire Hospital, the state psychiatric facility in Concord, she visited to drop off clean clothes and magazines.
The room smelled of urine. Knight was unresponsive, curled up on the mattress so tightly his wrists hurt for weeks after from being tucked into his chest.
 
Doctors would come and go, assuring him they were working on getting him to the state hospital. He didn’t believe them.
 
He couldn’t go outside for three days, until he was transferred to the state facility.
 
“It’s really frightening,” he said. “I was locked up in this little room, this tiny cell. I was treated like somebody who couldn’t take care of themself. Like an animal.”
 
Knight, who suffers from depression and anxiety, was alone, but his experience is not singular.

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The Waiting Game: Mentally Ill Patients in New Hampshire Face Spartan Conditions, Long Delays

Mentally ill patients face spartan conditions, long delays in New Hampshire

March 11, 2013


Joshua Knight was alone, had been for hours. He curled up on the mattress on the floor, shut his eyes and tried to block out his memories of the day.

 
Knight, 33, had been handcuffed and dragged out of his basement apartment in Chichester that September day last year. His mother, Carla Northrup, had been crying so hard the police told her she had to leave because she was upsetting him even more.
 
She hadn’t been to see him at Concord Hospital where the police had brought him, not yet. So Knight was alone.
 
He had a mattress, bolted to the floor. A plastic cube served as a hard, backless chair. A television glowed behind a plastic window. At least the staff was kind enough to leave him the remote, he remembered four months after his three-day stay in what is known as Yellow Pod, a handful of rooms at the hospital staffed by Riverbend Community Mental Health.
 
For the first two days of his stay at Yellow Pod, Northrup called the hospital to check on her son. Hearing it could be several days more before a bed was available at New Hampshire Hospital, the state psychiatric facility in Concord, she visited to drop off clean clothes and magazines.
The room smelled of urine; Knight was unresponsive, curled up on the mattress so tightly his wrists hurt for weeks after from being tucked into his chest.
 
Doctors would come and go, assuring him they were working on getting him to the state hospital. He didn’t believe them. He couldn’t go outside for three days, until he was transferred to the state facility.
 
“It’s really frightening,” he said. “I was locked up in this little room, this tiny cell. I was treated like somebody who couldn’t take care of themself. Like an animal.”

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Mentally ill patients face spartan conditions, long delays in New Hampshire

Police helped wealthy woman accuse local lawyer of theft

March 1, 2013
 
PORTSMOUTH — While an elderly woman endorsed a new will and trust last May, leaving the bulk of her sizeable estate to a city police officer, she accused her former lawyer of stealing from her.
 
The woman, Geraldine Webber, died Dec. 11, 2012, at age 94, seven months after she was videotaped for an hour and 20 minutes signing a new trust giving police Sgt. Aaron Goodwin her waterfront home, stocks, a bond and a Cadillac. The will and trust are being contested by Portsmouth attorney Jim Ritzo, who says he managed Webber’s estate for the previous 25 years, that her wishes remained consistent and they did not include Goodwin.
 
Ritzo alleges in the county probate court that Goodwin exerted undue influence over Webber and that she was incompetent when she agreed to give the police sergeant power of attorney over her estate, as well authority to make her life-and-death medical decisions. Evidence in the case is expected to include the video of Webber signing her new estate documents on May 2, 2012, when she called Goodwin her “second son,” made sexual advances toward her new lawyer, Gary Holmes, and alleged her old lawyer, Ritzo, stole checks and money from her.
 
Ritzo denied the allegations Monday, saying he’s “never taken a dime” from Webber, including for the quarter-century he managed her estate.
 
“It’s a classic sign of Alzheimer’s (disease) to say people are stealing from you,” said Ritzo, who had petitioned the probate court to have Webber evaluated for competency prior to her death. “I think it’s very simple, just let the judge watch the video and decide.”

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Police helped wealthy woman accuse local lawyer of theft

Woman’s Competency Debated in Estate Battle Involving City Detective

December 1, 2012

Attorneys embroiled in claim that a Portsmouth police detective is exploiting an allegedly incompetent elderly woman in order to inherit her significant estate faced off Thursday in Superior Court.

Squaring off in Rockingham Superior Court before Judge Peter Hurd were Portsmouth attorney James Ritzo and Hampton attorney Gary Holmes. Both lawyers met in Probate Court, where each argued their side of the accusations involving the local woman and her relationship to local detective Aaron Goodwin. The woman, who will be 94 in December and whose competency is being disputed, has an estate that includes an $805,000 waterfront home, according to Portsmouth assessing records.
 
Goodwin, who denies any wrongdoing, is named as a beneficiary of her new trust, which was filed in June with the county probate court.
 
During the roughly 40-minute proceedings, Ritzo argued Goodwin provided companionship to the elderly woman so he’d “inherit the entire estate.”
 
Ritzo told the court the woman was his client the past 25 years and during the last 10 years has suffered “increasingly” from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and failing eyesight. He told the court he drafted several wills for the woman, most recently in 2009, and that they remained fairly consistent over the years.
 
That changed, according to Ritzo, shortly after Goodwin met the woman in November 2010, when she called police about a prowler. “She called me up two weeks after that and said ‘I want to change my will because I’m in love with Mr. Goodwin and I want to leave my entire estate to him,'” Ritzo said.

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Woman’s Competency Debated in Estate Battle Involving City Detective

 

NH: Public Guardian Worker Charged With Embezzling

November 20, 2012

A woman responsible for managing funds for wards of the state has been indicted for allegedly embezzling $52,000 in public funds, federal prosecutors said.

Heidi Lacerte was indicted on a single count of embezzlement for allegedly taking money from the Office of Public Guardian between February and October 2010, according to prosecutors.

The stolen money was Social Security and Department of Veterans Affairs benefits meant to cover “current medical and fiscal needs” of beneficiaries who were under the public guardian’s care, according to the indictment.

The Office of Public Guardian is a nonprofit group established in 1979 to provide advocacy and guardianship for people whose family is unable to serve as a guardian. Part of Lacerte’s job as an estate manager required her to manage the finances of individuals who received services from the Office of Public Guardian, prosecutors said. The indictment was filed in U.S. District Court alongside a plea agreement struck with federal prosecutors.

Federal prosecutors said that the funds were kept in an account held by the OPG, so it could be tapped as needed. But around Feb. 23, 2010, Lacerte began pilfering money from the fund by “having checks written to herself drawn against beneficiaries’ funds,” according to an indictment. Prosecutors say she also purchased gift cards and took cash intended for beneficiary accounts for her own use.

Court documents do not say how Lacerte’s alleged theft was discovered. Terms of the plea deal do not reveal what prosecutors may recommend for a sentence, but Lacerte faces up to 10 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

The indictment and plea agreement was made public Nov. 8 in U.S. District Court. Lacerte is expected to enter her guilty plea on Nov. 30 before U.S. Judge Steven McAuliffe in federal court.

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Public Guardian Worker Charged With Embezzling

Lawyer: Cop is Exploiting Elderly Woman

November 7, 2012

A Superior Court judge is scheduled to preside over a hearing Thursday regarding allegations that a Portsmouth police detective is exploiting an incompetent elderly woman to inherit her significant estate.

The detective, Aaron Goodwin, 33, denies any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, the New Hampshire attorney general’s office and Bureau of Elderly Affairs have stated there’s no evidence of a crime, while Portsmouth police brass say the accusations largely pertain to off-duty activity.

The woman, who will be 94 in December and whose competency is being disputed, has an estate that includes an $805,000 waterfront home with boat docks and an in-ground swimming pool, according to Portsmouth assessing records. When recently asked if Goodwin is named as a beneficiary of her new trust, which was filed in June with the county probate court, the woman told Seacoast Media Group, “You bet he is.”

“It’s my money and my house and I’ll do as I please,” she said.

Making accusations in a Rockingham County Superior Court probate motion that Goodwin provided companionship to the woman so he’d “inherit the entire estate” is attorney James Ritzo. The Portsmouth lawyer filed a motion with the court stating the elderly woman was his client for the past 25 years and during the last 10 years, he alleges, she has suffered “increasingly” from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and failing eyesight.

In his motion, Ritzo wrote that he drafted several wills for the woman, most recently in 2009, and that they remained fairly consistent over the years. Instead of billing the elderly client regularly during those 25 years, Ritzo wrote, he had an agreement stating he’d be paid a percentage of her estate “for past services.”

That changed, Ritzo claims in his motion, shortly after the detective met the elderly woman in November 2010, when she called police about a prowler. Two weeks later, Ritzo wrote in court documents, the woman asked him to change her will so she could “leave her entire estate to detective Aaron Goodwin.”

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Lawyer: Cop is Exploiting Elderly Woman

NH Nurse Accused of Bilking North Hampton Couple

November 4, 2012

An in-home caregiver/nurse will be in court for a probable cause hearing on charges that she allegedly bilked an elderly North Hampton couple out of nearly $2,000.

Valerie Trunfio, 36, of Hampton is facing one count of forgery and one count of receiving stolen property as part of an investigation by the Hampton and North Hampton police departments.

Her probable cause hearing at the 10th Circuit Court in Seabrook is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 5.

If she decides to waive the hearing, the case will be transferred to Rockingham Superior Court for review by a grand jury for possible indictment.

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Nurse Accused of Bilking North Hampton Couple

Exeter man charged with bilking 2 elderly widows out of more than $1M

October 14, 2012

EXETER, N.H. (AP) — An Exeter businessman is facing charges that he bilked two elderly widows out of more than $1 million.

A federal indictment charges Frederick McMenimen with mismanaging the funds and pocketing the money for himself while working as a financial adviser in Portsmouth. He’s charged with mail fraud, interstate transportation of goods taken by fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.

According to the indictment, McMenimen spent $134,000 on his home mortgage, more than $31,000 for docking and yacht utilities, over $120,000 for his children’s private school and college tuition, and about $350,000 in credit card payments.

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Exeter man charged with bilking 2 elderly widows out of more than $1M

The Defining Issue of Our Generation

August 30, 2012

Baby boomers are accustomed to feeling self-important. The 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 were dubbed the Me Generation for good reason. We have high expectations, we want only the very best, and we are savvy consumers of goods and services.

We are not the Greatest Generation – that was our parents – but we were raised to believe in the American Dream. It was there on television (black and white at first) in the lives of Beaver Cleaver, Donna Reed, Dick van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. It involved growing up with your mom and dad; completing school and getting a good job; falling in love and getting married; having two great kids, a house and a two-car garage; seeing your children grow up and have children of their own; and living happily ever after. No wonder we have high expectations.

Unfortunately, we soon discovered that real life was not like TV. Throughout our lives boomers have collectively revised and reimagined every facet of the American Dream. When we were having babies, for instance, boomers transformed the way pregnancy and childbirth was approached not merely by health care, but also by society as a whole.

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The Defining Issue of Our Generation