Archive for the ‘Rhode Island’ Category

Federal Judge Jails Estate Lawyer Joseph Caramadre as Flight Risk

June 1, 2013

A Rhode Island estate planning lawyer’s effort to revoke his guilty plea in a controversial $30 million elder insurance fraud case was a “bizarre” and unjustified “hatchet job” on Joseph Caramadre’s former counsel, a federal judge said.

U.S. District Judge William Smith not only nixed Caramadre’s bid for a new trial but agreed with prosecutors in the Providence case that he should immediately be jailed as a flight risk, pending his sentencing in July, report the Associated Press and the Providence Journal.

“It was amazing to watch a defendant perjure himself saying he perjured himself the first time,” the judge said.

Caramadre and an employee were charged with defrauding dying individuals into allowing insurance investments to be made in their names.

They pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy shortly after their trial began in November.

Federal Judge Jails Estate Lawyer as Flight Risk, Nixes ‘Bizzare’ Effort to Revoke Plea

See Also:
Death Takes a Policy:  How a Lawyer Exploited the Fine Print and Found Himself Facing Federal Charges

RI Lawyer/Guardian Arrested for Embezzlement, Unlawful Appropriation from Elderly Client

April 7, 2013

Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell, Superintendent, of the Rhode Island State Police and Commissioner of Public Safety, announces that on Wednesday, March 6, 2013, members of the Financial Crimes Unit arrested attorney Janet A. Mastronardi, age 52, of Warwick, Rhode Island for Embezzlement and Unlawful Appropriation. The investigation, conducted by the Financial Crimes Unit, was the result of a complaint filed by a David Curtain, Chief Disciplinary Counsel for the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Janet A. Mastronardi was taken into custody at her law office in Warwick.

In February 2012, the Financial Crimes Unit was notified that Janet Mastronardi had allegedly embezzled over $100,000 from an elderly client. Janet Mastronardi had been appointed guardian of the client in September 2005, as a result of the client’s deteriorating health and mental condition. In January 2010, Janet Mastronardi closed two of her client’s investment accounts and deposited the proceeds of $224,058.57 into two newly opened bank accounts. This money was never listed on her client’s probate account. A review of Janet Mastronardi’s bank accounts revealed that she stole $144,989.21 of her client’s money by writing a series of 25 checks payable to herself over the next eleven months.

Janet A. Mastronardi was arrested at her law office, processed at the Lincoln Woods Barracks and arraigned at Third Division District Court on the above charges. She was released on $10,000 personal recognizance. If convicted, Janet Mastronardi faces up to a maximum of twenty years in prison and a $50,000 fine for the embezzlement charge and up to a maximum of twenty years and a $434,967.63 fine for the unlawful appropriation charge.

State Police Arrests Lawyer for Embezzlement and Unlawful Appropriation from Elderly Client

Trial Opens for 2 Accused of Defrauding the Dying

November 19, 2012

An estate planning lawyer and one of his employees fraudulently made more than $30 million by making investments in the names of people who were terminally ill with ailments such as cancer and Lou Gehrig’s disease, a federal prosecutor said during his opening statement at the pair’s trial Tuesday.

The lawyer, Joseph Caramadre, and his employee Raymour Radhakrishnan are charged with dozens of counts, including wire and mail fraud, identify theft, conspiracy and money laundering. Caramadre is also charged with witness tampering.
Prosecutor Lee Vilker told the jury that Caramadre bragged he had discovered a loophole in variable annuities and so-called “death-put bonds,” both of which offer a benefit if the owner dies.

“It’s not a loophole if you have to lie to get it,” Vilker told the jury.

Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Full Article and Source:
Trial Opens for 2 Accused of Defrauding the Dying

Death Takes a Policy: How a Lawyer Exploited the Fine Print and Found Himself Facing Federal Charges

September 5, 2012

Joseph Caramadre has spent a lifetime scouring the fine print. He’s hardwired to seek the angle, an overlooked clause in a contract that allows him to transform a company’s carelessness into a personal windfall. He calls these insights his “creations,” and he numbers them. There have been about 19 in his lifetime, he says. For example, there was number four, which involved an office superstore coupon he parlayed into enough nearly free office furniture to fill a three-car garage. Number three consisted of a sure-fire but short-lived system for winning money at the local dog track. But the one that landed him on the evening news as a suspect in a criminal conspiracy was number 18, which promised investors a unique arrangement: You can keep your winnings and have someone else cover your losses.

Caramadre portrays himself as a modern-day Robin Hood. He’s an Italian kid from Providence, R.I., who grew up modestly, became a certified public accountant and then put himself through night school to get a law degree. He has given millions to charities and the Catholic Church. As he tells his life story, his native ability helps him outsmart a phalanx of high-priced lawyers, actuaries and corporate suits. Number 18 came to fruition, he says, when a sizeable segment of the life insurance industry ignored centuries of experience and commonsense in a heated competition for market share.

Federal prosecutors in Rhode Island and insurance companies paint a very different picture of Caramadre: They say he’s an unscrupulous con artist who engaged in identity theft, conspiracy and two different kinds of fraud. Prosecutors contend he deceived the terminally ill to make millions for himself and his clients. For them, Caramadre’s can’t-miss investment strategy was an illusion in which he preyed on the sick and vulnerable.

ProPublica has taken a close look at the Caramadre case because it offers a window into a larger issue: The transformation of the life insurance industry away from its traditional business of insuring lives to peddling complex financial products. This shift has not been a smooth one. Particularly during the lead up to the financial crisis, companies wrote billions worth of contracts that now imperil their financial health.

Full Article & Source:
Death Takes a Policy: How a Lawyer Exploited the Fine Print and Found Himself Facing Federal Charges

Paralyzed Woman Moves Robotic Arm With Her Mind

June 8, 2012

A 58-year-old woman paralyzed by a stroke was all smiles after sipping her cinnamon latte with the help of a mind-controlled robotic arm.

Cathy Hutchinson is one of two tetraplegic patients able to reach and grasp with a robotic limb linked to tiny sensor in her brain, according to a study published today in the journal Nature. The device, called BrainGate, bypasses the nerve circuits broken by the brainstem stroke and replaces them with wires that run outside Hutchinson’s body. The implanted sensor is about the size of a baby aspirin.

“You can go from the brain, which seems to be working quite well, directly to a device like a computer or a robotic arm,” said BrianGate developer John Donoghue, director of the Institute for Brain Science at Brown University in Providence, R.I. “This can help restore independence to a person who was completely reliant on other people for every activity, whether it’s brushing their teeth, eating their dinner or taking a drink.”

Hutchinson, who has been unable to move or speak for 15 years, had the 96-channel sensor implanted in her brain’s motor cortex in 2005. Since then, the BrainGate team has been fine-tuning the system to give her back some of the control she lost.

“Having control over your life restores dignity,” said Donoghue. “If you just watch her reaction after she picks up the cup and takes and drink, that smile captures everything.”

Full Article, Video and Source:
Paralyzed Woman Moves Robotic Arm With Her Mind

Rhode Island Lawyer Charged With Professional Misconduct

October 30, 2010

The state official who investigates alleged misconduct by lawyers has charged former Johnston Town Solicitor Milan T. Azar with violating three rules of professional conduct.

Azar is accused of deliberately overbilling the state Department of Children, Youth and Families for a guardianship, lying about it to the DCYF and to the chief disciplinary counsel of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, and improperly soliciting clients.

Azar has denied the bulk of the case. But in a formal answer to the charges, he admitted that he submitted to the DCYF the bills that are under scrutiny, and that he falsely blamed a helper for the initial submission.

The charge has been made by David D. Curtin, chief disciplinary counsel, and will be considered at a hearing by a three-member subcommittee of the Supreme Court’s disciplinary hearing board, composed of two lawyers and one public member who is not a lawyer. The hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Full Article and Source:
Johnston Lawyer Accused of Professional Misconduct

Carel Bainum Under Fire Again

July 31, 2010

A Warwick woman who is facing a civil-fraud suit for what the Rhode Island Supreme Court has termed “a troubling scenario of money, deceit and financial abuse” of a man who died at age 98 has now become the focus of two more court cases involving a 94-year-old man who is in a locked dementia ward of a Coventry nursing home.

One of the court cases charges the woman, Carel Callahan Bainum, with criminal trespass at the Coventry Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center where Michael Koczan, an Air Force veteran who suffers from severe cognitive impairment and a host of physical problems, has resided for the past several months. Warwick’s onetime animal control supervisor, Bainum, 62, has pleaded not guilty and is demanding a jury trial.

The other case is a guardianship that last week, after a testy hearing, culminated with a judge giving Koczan’s daughter control over every aspect of her father’s life — financial and health-care decisions as well as decisions over whom he has relationships with. The court made this ruling after it heard testimony about the disruptive and allegedly dangerous influence Bainum has had over Koczan.

The guardianship petition was originally filed by the state’s mental-health advocate, H. Reed Cosper, who says in court papers that Koczan “is being exploited” by Bainum, a person “who has a history of financial and emotional exploitation of elderly men, particularly veterans.”

Full Article and Source:
Warwick Woman Under Fire in Court, Again, Regarding 94-Year-Old Nursing Home Patient

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Supreme Court Upholds

Insightful and Comforting Cat

February 7, 2010

A cat with an uncanny ability to detect when nursing home patients are about to die has proven itself in around 50 cases by curling up with them in their final hours, according to a new book.

Dr David Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor at Brown University, said that five years of records showed Oscar rarely erring, sometimes proving medical staff at the New England nursing home wrong in their predictions over which patients were close to death.

The cat, now five and generally unsociable, was adopted as a kitten at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre in Providence, Rhode Island, which specialises in caring for people with severe dementia.

The tortoiseshell and white cat spends its days pacing from room to room, rarely spending any time with patients except those with just hours to live.

If kept outside the room of a dying patient, Oscar will scratch on the door trying to get in.

When nurses once placed the cat on the bed of a patient they thought close to death, Oscar “charged out” and went to sit beside someone in another room. The cat’s judgement was better than that of the nurses: the second patient died that evening, while the first lived for two more days.

Dr Dosa and other staff are so confident in Oscar’s accuracy that they will alert family members when the cat jumps on to a bed and stretches out beside its occupant.

Full Article and Source:
Cat Predicts 50 Deaths in RI Nursing Home

Supreme Court Upholds

December 5, 2009

Carel Callahan Bainum, who has made headlines for years in Warwick, takes offense to her latest portrayal as someone who would exploit the assets of an elderly friend.

But it will take more than indignation to counter what the Supreme Court termed in a recent order upholding a lower court ruling as a “troubling scenario of money, deceit and financial abuse of an elderly person.”

The Supreme Court recently affirmed Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Lanphear’s May 2008 restraining order virtually freezing Bainum’s assets and prohibiting her from conveying or encumbering real estate or any assets of more than $2,000 until the suit brought against her is resolved. Bainum owns as many as six properties in Warwick plus four in Grants Pass, Ore., where she lived with her husband. She returned to Warwick after her husband’s death.

Bainum claims the court action, for all practical purposes, will force her into bankruptcy, leaving nothing to repay what remains of a $120,000 loan that she acknowledges she owes. Without the ability to sell assets so as to make mortgage and tax payments, Bainum says, she will lose properties to foreclosure and tax sales. Those foreclosures have already started to happen.

Bainum claims this could leave Sona Stevens with nothing. Stevens is the daughter of Vartan Baligian, who loaned the money to Bainum. Bainum has filed a counter-suit against Stevens for defamation of character and liable.

Full Article and Source:
Bainum Refutes Claim She Sought to Bilk Long-Time Friend

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Honest Deal or ……?

Honest Deal Or……?

November 29, 2009

Carel Callahan Bainum pictured with Vartan Baligiham

Calling the case “a troubling scenario of money, deceit and financial abuse of an elderly person,” the state Supreme Court has refused to disturb a lower court decision that blocks a Warwick woman from doing much of anything with her assets until a civil fraud trial is held.

The restraining order was issued by Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Lanphear in May 2008, two months before Vartan Baligian died at age 98. It prohibits his “friend” Carel Callahan Bainum from transferring, selling, concealing, disposing of or encumbering any real estate, cash, bank accounts, mortgage proceeds, bonds, personal property or other items of value — other than to pay her “normal and usual personal living expenses” — until the lawsuit against her is resolved.

At issue is repayment of the remainder of a $120,000 loan Baligian made to Bainum in 2002.

Baligian’s daughter, Sona Stevens, of West Warwick, claims her father was a victim of elder financial exploitation.

Bainum, 61, denies those allegations. In a court filing, she asserts that it was Baligian’s idea to loan her money so he could make higher interest and “sustain his home and pay his monthly expenses.”

Full Article and Source:
Honest Deal or an Elderly Man Exploited?