Archive for the ‘New Jersey’ Category

Volunteers Sought For County Guardianship Monitoring Program

November 16, 2013

COURT HOUSE — Cape May County Surrogate M. Susan Sheppard, Esq. is seeking volunteers to be part of the Guardianship Monitoring Program in Cape May County. The state-wide initiative calls for volunteers to monitor the well-being of the elderly and disabled who rely on legal guardians to manage their financial and health-related decisions.

Surrogate Sheppard said, “Volunteers are the foundation of this program – The Guardianship Monitoring Program enables Attorneys, Accountants, Retired Professionals, Students and others to volunteer to assist and protect our most vulnerable residents. We are in need of volunteers for our program in Cape May County.”

“As a society, we must protect those who are most vulnerable, it is our responsibility to ensure that those who have guardians appointed are well taken care of in Cape May County,” added Surrogate Sheppard. According to Census data, the population of elderly and disabled Americans will grow dramatically in coming years. Surrogate Sheppard stressed, “It is essential that we take steps to protect those with guardians by enhancing the level of oversight of legal guardians which this program does – but volunteers are the key to its success.”

Legal guardians in New Jersey are appointed by the court and are responsible for making decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person about personal and medical care, meals, transportation and even where the person lives. Guardians take control of the person’s assets, manage budgets, pay debts and make financial and investment decisions.

Legal guardians can be family members, friends, attorneys and others. They not only manage the affairs of people they assist, but also must report annually on the financial status and the general well-being of the individual in their charge. Written reports are filed each year with the county surrogate. The annual reports are designed to provide the courts with key information on the quality of financial management.

Surrogate Sheppard said, “Volunteers work directly in my office to review guardian files and the annual reports.” Volunteers receive detailed training from court staff on how to read and analyze the guardians’ annual reports and how to gather data for the new computer system. Volunteer monitors flag inconsistent or incomplete financial information, which is then reported to judges for appropriate action.

To access the volunteer application go to: www.njcourts.com/guarianship. Questions can be submitted to: njguardianship.mailbox@judiciary.state.nj.us or call Cape May County Surrogate M. Susan Sheppard, Esq. at 609-463-6667.

Full Article and Source:
Volunteers Sought For County Guardianship Monitoring Program

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Cops: Englewood woman beat up 82-year-old mother-in-law, knocked out teeth

October 20, 2013

An Englewood woman accused of beating her 82-year-old mother-in-law so violently that she knocked out several teeth and gave her a concussion was transferred from the Bronx yesterday to the Bergen County Jail.

Mary Tene, 54, was being held on $125,000 bail, charged with aggravated assault and elderly abuse, after being extradited.
 
Police said the 5-foot-5-inch, 105-pound Tene beat the older woman the night of Sept. 11 after she tried to convince her to kick a drug habit. Tene then high-tailed it across the Hudson, they said.
 
Even though she cut and dyed her hair, Englewood police tracked Tene to an Adams Place tenement in the Bronx, Englewood Detective Capt. Timothy Torell told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
 
On Sept. 30, she “walked right into the arms” of Detectives Chris Kedersha and Carlos Marte on Sept. 30 as she headed to there, he said.
 
“She tried to pass herself off as a cousin of hers,” Torell said, but the detectives weren’t fooled (SEE: Fugitive accused of beating mother-in-law nabbed by Englewood detectives in the Bronx).
 
Investigators had been looking for Tene since the night of Sept. 11, when responding officers found the severely beaten victim at an East Palisade Avenue apartment between Dean and Engle streets.
 
Detectives learned that her mother-in-law “had been trying to counsel Tene about her drug problem” when the attack occurred, Torell said.
 
The victim “was in rough shape when our officers got there,” he said.
 
Tene has a violent criminal history spanning New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Florida, records show.

Full Article and Source:
Cops: Englewood woman beat up 82-year-old mother-in-law, knocked out teeth

NJ guardian laws leave Toms River man fighting to regain freedom

September 4, 2013

The Bill of Rights no longer applies to Ken Schmidt.

He can’t vote, sign a lease, get married or open a bank account.

Schmidt, 74, had many of his civil rights stripped away after he fell and hit his head outside his Toms River home in January 2012. A judge declared him to be mentally incapacitated, and ordered the state Public Guardian to take charge of his assets and medical care under New Jersey’s guardian laws.

With one false step, Schmidt, a retired insurance salesman, plunged headlong into a bureaucratic system he hasn’t been able to climb back out of, even though he says he fully recovered a year ago. He walks under his own power, writes coherently in a clear, steady hand, enjoys James Patterson thrillers, and is conversant in such wide-ranging topics as the A-Rod steroid scandal, Obamacare and the recent bloodshed in Egypt.

Yet until a judge says otherwise, Schmidt can’t even receive his own mail. Nor can he leave the $5,000-a-month assisted-living facility the state placed him in more than a year ago, and return home to the Toms River townhouse he owns, mortgage-free, just six miles away.

“I never wanted this. I never asked for this. They just buried me here,” he told the Asbury Park Press.

“I want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he said. “I want my life back, first and foremost … but nobody seems to care.”

Little public scrutiny

Schmidt’s predicament is a cautionary tale of how quickly someone’s civil rights and life savings can be swept away, and just how difficult it can be to get a judgment of incapacity lifted.

In addition to his home, Schmidt had more than $65,000 in the bank prior to his accident. He said the care manager assigned to him by the Office of the Public Guardian has told him that those funds have been exhausted paying for his care.

“ ‘It’s all gone.’ That’s their classic answer: ‘I’m sorry, it’s all gone.’ And they won’t give me anything in writing,” Schmidt said. “Everything’s just disappeared.”

The state’s guardianship system is a critical safety net for tens of thousands of disabled and vulnerable individuals.

But the system is shrouded in secrecy. Court documents in guardianship cases aren’t public records, the identities of wards and their guardians aren’t publicly disclosed and no one keeps track of how many active guardianship cases there are statewide.

All guardians, except for the Public Guardian, are required to file an annual update on the incapacitated person’s condition and care, and an accounting of how the person’s assets are being spent. In Schmidt’s case, the Public Guardian, a post currently held on an acting basis by Helen C. Dodick, doesn’t have to account for how his money was spent until he dies, according to the judge’s order.

Meanwhile, privacy rules prohibit the Office of the Public Guardian from commenting on Schmidt’s case. An agency spokeswoman said Schmidt could sign a release to waive his privacy rights, but because he’s still legally considered to be incapacitated, he can’t sign anything, at least not without his guardian’s permission.

“I have no rights. I’m not allowed to do anything,” Schmidt complained.

“The state has too much power. I know that they are helping people, and people do need help,” he said. “(But) they just assumed I wouldn’t rehabilitate.”

Rare to get out

It’s the rare person who tries to get out from under a guardianship, which requires the filing of a petition in state Superior Court.

In the vast majority of guardianship cases, the incapacitated person has progressive dementia that only worsens over time. Jeffrey M. Moran, the Ocean County surrogate, says his office typically handles no more than two or three requests a year from wards or their guardians to dissolve a guardianship.

The process requires affidavits from two doctors, or a doctor and a psychologist, attesting that the person has sufficiently recovered to have his personal rights restored.

Without the cooperation of their guardians or families, however, wards like Schmidt are at a distinct disadvantage.

“There are significant impediments to regaining your rights,” said Point Pleasant attorney Robert F. Brogan, past president of the New Jersey chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

“You have no access to funds, and you have no legal ability to contract with anybody to help you,” he said. “How do you hire a doctor, how do you hire a lawyer, when the court has taken away your ability to engage in contracts?”

Such restrictions are proper and necessary to protect a truly incapacitated ward from making critical mistakes, such as “giving $50,000 away to the vacuum salesman,” Brogan noted.

But when a ward is no longer incapacitated, the restrictions of an indefinite guardianship can be difficult to bear, Brogan said.

“Your life,” he said, “can really get turned upside down.”

Full Article and Source:
NJ guardian laws leave Toms River man fighting to regain freedom

Bergenfield senior found, but a troubling trend grows

August 27, 2013
Donald Wicklund

Last Wednesday, Connie  Wicklund was downstairs in her Bergenfield home when she heard a main-floor door open and shut. Her husband, Donald, had likely taken the trash out, she reasoned.
                    
But when she came upstairs, he was gone, sparking what started as a desperate search by family and friends — and then early the next morning by law enforcement.

Those four days of anguish and uncertainty ended happily early Sunday evening when Wicklund, 81, was found in a back yard less than seven houses away from his own home. He was “conscious and verbal” but “dehydrated and malnourished,” police said.

The 5:51 p.m. discovery was sparked in part by a reverse emergency call the police initiated on Sunday — the third since Wicklund was first reported missing at 12:34 a.m. on Thursday — asking residents to check their back yards.

One of Wicklund’s neighbors, following the police advice, found a shoe next to a koi pond in his back yard. Upon further investigation, the neighbor located Wicklund and called 911, said Capt. Cathy Madalone.

Madalone said dogs had helped search that area before Sunday.

“He was probably trying to get back home,” she said late Sunday. “We don’t know for sure. We are waiting for him to get back from the hospital, and we are waiting for him to be coherent enough to speak with him.”

Full Article and Source:
Bergenfield senior found, but a troubling trend grows

Employees at Totowa mental health facility admit stealing patient information to file fake tax returns

August 24, 2013

A nurse and a co-worker at a state-run mental health facility in Totowa are facing up to 10 years in prison after admitting that they stole patient information that was used to file phony tax returns in a bid to obtain nearly $400,000 in refunds.

Alidu Dramani, 33, a practical nurse from Irvington, and Evans Boamah, 30, of Elizabeth, a human services assistant, admitted to U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark earlier this month that they stole the names and Social Security numbers of patients at the North Jersey Developmental Center.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
They then gave the stolen identity information to a conspirator, who was a tax preparer, to file false tax returns and get federal tax refunds to which they were not entitled, authorities said.

As a result of the defendants’ participation in the conspiracy, tax preparers filed, attempted and intended to file false tax returns for 2009 through 2011 seeking $396,416 in tax refunds, authorities said.

Dramani, who was hired in 2007 and earned $49,134, and Boamah, who started a year later and made $33,290, were arrested by agents of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations unit in August 2012.

They were suspended without pay and are facing termination from their jobs at the 188-acre campus in Totowa, which currently serves 283 developmentally disabled residents, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services said Tuesday.

Full Article and Source:
Employees at Totowa mental health facility admit stealing patient information to file fake tax returns

Fresh fraud charges for ex-Morris County investment adviser

August 14, 2013

A former Morris County woman previously accused of bilking clients of her unregistered investment advisory firm has been hit with a fresh set of theft and fraud charges, the state Attorney General’s Office said today.

And among Janet Fooshee’s alleged victims was a retirement community where she allegedly volunteered as a bookkeeper, officials said.

A grand jury on Monday indicted Fooshee, 61, now of Maine, on charges that she stole more than $150,000 from the accounts of both her advisory firm’s clients and the retirement community, where she worked pro bono. Authorities say she put this money into the accounts of other clients in an effort to cover up their financial losses.

Full Article and Source:
Fresh fraud charges for ex-Morris County investment adviser

Millburn fire inspector to pay back grandmother’s estate

August 5, 2013

Peter and Angela DiCostanzo of Nutley
 appear with their attorneys in Superior Court

Superior Court ordered a Millburn fire inspector to pay $100,000 after he pleaded guilty on Friday, July 26, to charges of forgery and theft, relating to his grandmother.

Peter DiCostanzo, 40, of Nutley, appeared in court with a $100,000 check, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Spokeswoman Kathy Carter said.

DiCostanzo and his wife Angela, 35, had been indicted on charges of forgery, theft and misapplication of entrusted funds, relating to Peter DiCostanzo’s grandmother. Charges against Angela DiCostanzo were dismissed on Friday, according to Carter.

Full Article and Source:
Millburn fire inspector to pay back grandmother’s estate

Englewood Housing Authority Not Amused…

May 29, 2013

A drug and prostitution sting inside a senior citizen building: For outsiders, funny stuff.

But now that the notoriety has quieted, the no-joke subject of how to protect elderly residents from more such criminal elements was the focus of an un-smiling Housing Authority board Monday night.

And other than increased vigilance and talking more with tenants, there was no ready answer by the cash-strapped authority.

It was the board’s first meeting since being overwhelmed with media attention about the arrests of James Parham, 75 and Cheryl Chaney, 66 on drug and nuisance charges. Both lived in the Vincente K. Tibbs Senior Citizen Building, a 152-unit public complex managed by the authority.

The salacious story was picked up by media worldwide and became joke fodder for TV talk-show host David Letterman and Saturday Night Live.

Full Article and Source:
Englewood Housing Authority Not Amused; Says Protecting Seniors Top Priority

See Also:
Three Arrested in Drug, Prostitute Sting at New Jersey Senior Citizen Complex

Township Council Hopeful is Accused of Raiding Estate of Client With Dementia for at Least $850K

May 27, 2013

As Clarksboro resident Joy Lippincott aged and slipped into dementia in recent years, she increasingly depended on a small group of people to manage her affairs, including her two daughters, a lawyer and her accountant, Hamilton resident and future council candidate Robynn Dumont.

Lippincott, who is now 85, had considerable assets in her name, court documents indicate. The handling of her care and finances led to a dispute between the two daughters, and eventually the wholesale raiding of her bank accounts and investments by Dumont, according to allegations in a civil complaint filed in Gloucester County.

Lippincott’s daughter Sandra Carty had initially sued her sister in April 2010, alleging the sister had taken advantage of their mother by coercing her to make financial decisions.

In February 2012 she amended the suit to add Dumont, accusing the accountant of making suspicious financial transactions and transferring at least $850,000 and possibly much more from Lippincott, who “had diminished mental capacity and was vulnerable to coercion and undue influence.”

According to Carty’s civil suit, her sister and Dumont worked in tandem “wrongfully transferring, dissipating, converting and encumbering the assets of Ms. Lippincott.” And when a judge ordered Dumont to pay back a sum of money to Lippincott, Dumont allegedly bounced checks, leading to the filing of a criminal complaint against her.

At about the time Dumont was added to the civil lawsuit in February, the Hamilton Democrats announced she was one of their candidates for a seat on Township Council.

“I want to make what difference I can,” she said at the time.

“She has single-handedly dissipated the life savings of an 85-year-old woman who is incapacitated in her home,” Celano [Lippincott’s court-appointed guardian] said. “She’s an absolute scoundrel. There’s probably no sanctions stiff enough, but I’d be satisfied if she was sent to prison for a few years.”

Full Article and Source:
Hamilton Council Hopeful Robyn Dumont Accused of Raiding Estate of Clarksville Client With Dementia for at Least $850,000

Three Arrested in Drug, Prositution Sting at NJ Senior Citizen Complex

May 17, 2013

A man, 75, and a woman, 66, suspected of using cocaine and running a prostitution ring out of their apartments at the Vincente K. Tibbs Senior Citizen Building have been arrested after residents complained about vagrants, drunks and addicts invading their building, authorities said.

The suspects and an alleged accomplice are believed to be behind a recent rise in crime that had residents afraid to come out of their apartments, authorities said. Their growing fears prompted an undercover investigation and new round-the-clock police patrols of the complex.

“Essentially, they were prisoners in their own building,” Chief Arthur O’Keefe of the Englewood police said of the residents. “I wasn’t going to allow that to continue.”

In late April, police arrested fifth-floor residents James Parham and his neighbor Cheryl Chaney on charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and maintaining a drug nuisance. Chaney faces an additional charge of possession of crack cocaine.

A third suspect, Selma McDuffie, a 54-year-old school crossing guard, was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia after police found her with a crack pipe, police said. McDuffie has been suspended from her police-run crossing guard job in Englewood and threatened with arrest if she returns to the building.

Full Article and Source:
3 Arrested in Drug, Prostitution Sting at Englewood SeniorCitizen Housing Complex