Archive for the ‘Tennessee’ Category

Nashville lawyer admits to stealing $1.3 million, gets 18 years in prison

November 16, 2013

A well-known Nashville probate attorney was sentenced Friday to 18 years in prison after admitting to stealing $1.3 million from three clients, including the late father of a severely disabled woman.

Dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, John E. Clemmons, 66, entered his guilty plea to three counts of theft, perjury and TennCare fraud in a barely audible voice. Under the plea agreement he could be eligible for parole after serving about five years and four months. Absent the plea deal, Clemmons could have faced jail terms of up to 30 years on the theft counts alone.

Clemmons, who already had pleaded guilty to stealing more than $60,000 from a fourth ward in Rutherford County, could face more charges as an investigation into dozens of other cases continues. His license to practice law was suspended indefinitely last spring when details of the Rutherford case began to emerge.

In all four cases, Clemmons had been appointed as a conservator of wards whom the courts had concluded were unable to look after their own affairs.

Assistant District Attorney General James W. Milam told Judge Steve Dozier that Clemmons has agreed to cooperate and “is cooperating” in that ongoing probe. Milam declined to discuss the details of the investigation

Under the agreement the victims, whose losses range from $172,506 to $771,009, will first collect restitution from bonds posted by Clemmons in the three cases and then from a state fund established to reimburse victims of attorney misconduct. The amount due after that, Milam said, will be Clemmons responsibility.

Milam said Clemmons filed false reports with the Davidson Probate Court and instead of the expenses he reported spending, wrote checks to himself. He also filed a false application for TennCare coverage for one of his clients.

Flanked by his attorneys, Paul Housch and Bob Lynch, Clemmons told Dozier the plea deal had been explained to him and that he had agreed to it.

Clemmons had turned himself in last week in anticipation of the plea deal. He will remain in custody and be turned over to the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

Action on the case came as some of the victims registered last minute pleas to Dozier urging him to reject the plea deal and order the Clemmons to make full restitution.

Ronnie Dismang, whose severely disabled cousin was one of the victims, wrote that she has been trying for months to learn how Clemmons was able to steal so much without detection by the courts or attorneys involved in the case.

Dismang wrote that whenever she asked how Clemmons could have gotten away with the thefts “I would get legal runaround.”

“John E. Clemmons does not deserve a plea deal for committing fraud against his conservator victims,” she wrote. “He should be required and ordered by the court to make full restitution to the victims’ families.”

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Nashville lawyer admits to stealing $1.3 million, gets 18 years in prison

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TN Attorney John E. Clemmons Takes Plea, Gets 18 Years in $1.3 Mil Theft Case as Investigation Continues

November 15, 2013

A suspended Tennessee probate lawyer has been sentenced to 18 years in prison after admitting that he stole $1.3 million from three conservatorship clients.

John E. Clemmons, 66, pleaded guilty to perjury, theft and defrauding the state’s Medicare managed-care program, known as TennCare, according to the Tennessean.

Meanwhile, an investigation continues concerning claims by other former clients that they, too, may have been victimized by Clemmons. He is reportedly cooperating with the probe.

Source:
Probate Attorney Takes Plea, Gets 18 Years in $1.3 mil Theft Case as Investigation Continues

TBI Case Against Franklin Co. Attorney, Joseph Bean Jr., Appointed to Conservatorship Results in Theft Indictment

November 15, 2013

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s case into a Franklin County attorney assigned by a court to be a conservator over the estate of a woman in failing health resulted in an indictment by the Franklin County grand jury. He surrendered to authorities .

Joseph Bean Jr., 41, of Winchester, was indicted on one count of theft or property over $10,000. Between October of 2009 and March of 2012, Bean, who was the court appointed conservator over the estate of the victim, stole more than $42,000 from her conservatorship account. Bean made payments from the victim’s conservatorship account to his American Express account, Bank of America mortgage account, a Community Bank loan account and his Toyota Motors account. Bean was appointed the conservatorship of the victim’s estate due to her failing health. He was the sole party with authorized access to her account to pay her bills and other financial obligations. The victim of the theft is now deceased.

In May of 2013, the 12th Judicial District Attorney General’s office requested TBI to investigate the theft after the attorney over the victim’s estate reported it to him. Bean was booked today into the Franklin County Jail on $7,500 bond.

Source:
TBI Case Against Franklin County Attorney Appointed to Conservatorship Results in Theft Indictment

Lawyer charged with theft, fraud in conservatorship cases

November 13, 2013

A longtime Nashville attorney has been jailed on charges of aggravated perjury, theft and TennCare fraud stemming from his care of three people, two of them elderly and one severely disabled, that the state said couldn’t care for themselves.

John E. Clemmons, 66, turned himself in on the charges Friday. Bail was set at $500,000, and a hearing on the charges, along with an anticipated plea deal, is expected as early as next week.

Using a cane and accompanied by one of his attorneys, Clemmons, who had been entrusted by the courts to manage the three conservatorships, walked slowly through the metal detector in the night court building a little after 1 p.m.and was taken into custody.

According to court filings Clemmons was charged with three counts theft of more than $60,000, one count of aggravated perjury and Tenncare fraud.

Court records and interviews show that more than $1 million in assets from the three wards is unaccounted for and much of it has been tracked back to Clemmons himself. In one case, a civil suit already has been filed seeking restitution of $450,000.

In that case, records show, Clemmons submitted periodic reports to the court on the handling of the ward’s estate that contradicted the actual bank and checking account records. Checks he reported making out to health care workers and other service providers, for example, ended up in his own bank account.

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Lawyer charged with theft, fraud in conservatorship cases

Former TN Attorney John E. Clemmons Accused of Stealing from Conservatorship

November 13, 2013

John E. Clemmons is now facing criminal charges in Davidson County for the first time. You may remember he pleaded guilty in Rutherford County for doing the same sort of thing he is alleged to do here – stealing from the infirmed who were powerless to protect themselves.

Now, Clemmons is jailed in Nashville on half-million dollars bond. He’s accused of causing millions of dollars of heartache to families like those of Nannie Malone.

Malone was 82 when she died in a nursing home. Clemmons was supposed to be caring for her and paying her bills. He had been her conservator for six years.

“I would ask for money to buy diapers or to get her hair cut. He said, ‘She had no money,'” said Malone’s daughter, Teresa Lyles. “He was very arrogant, he was very arrogant.” Lyles says her younger sister hounded Clemmons, demanding an audit and an accounting of their mother’s money.

“So he filed a petition in court to keep her from seeing our mother. She couldn’t handle that. She could not handle not seeing our mother. And she took her own life that night,” Lyles said. Eventually, the bank statements would show Clemmons wrote himself more than 50 checks from Nannie Malone’s account for a grand total of $367,000. “One of those checks would have paid for the medicine that my mother needed – the cancer drug that he stopped paying for,” Lyles said.

Lyles told Channel 4 News in July she wanted Clemmons prosecuted, and that’s the process now in place.

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Former Attorney Accused of Stealing From Conservatorship

New oversight of conservatorships proposed

November 3, 2013


A task force assigned to examine the growing number of  conservatorships in Davidson County has concluded there aren’t enough resources to provide adequate oversight and has proposed the creation of a publicly funded Office of the Public Guardian.

The new office would replace the existing single public guardian, a post now vacant.

In a 55-page report made public Friday, the task force appointed in March by Probate Judge David “Randy” Kennedy said the proposed new office could be funded by a combination of public money and voluntary support.

The panel cited an increasing caseload of conservatorships in the local court, with the number jumping from 636 in fiscal year 2009 to 1,782 in 2012.

The task force was appointed in the wake of the abrupt resignation of the public guardian, Jeanan Mills Stuart, after a series of Tennessean reports on the fees Stuart charged for a variety of tasks. Among those tasks were accompanying wards on shopping trips and attendance at events, including a symphony orchestra performance.

Stuart, whose resignation coincided with Kennedy’s demand that she resign, charged her wards the full hourly lawyer’s fee — up to $225 an hour — no matter the task.

A Tennessean review of Stuart’s billing showed she billed twice for the same services, including a five-hour shopping excursion.

Specific fees dodged

The task force dodged the issue of setting specific fees for nonlawyer tasks but did recommend that conservators be required to “use their time as judiciously as possible” and “act in the best interest of the ward.”

The panel, headed by attorney Colleen P. Mac­Lean, did not recommend a specific budget or staffing level for the proposed public guardian office but instead contrasted the current effort in Davidson County with Tarrant County in Texas, which it cited as a model program.

While Tarrant has a staff of 11.5 to handle an annual caseload of 1,237 cases, the panel said, Davidson has a single judge and a staff of 3.5. Davidson’s caseload is growing and is expected to surpass 1,910 a year.

The Tarrant court has an annual budget of $940,000 and it spends an additional $675,000 to contract with a third party to provide services to wards.

In addition to urging an increase in public funding, the panel said increased court filing fees could underwrite the cost of some of its recommendations.

Kennedy did not respond Friday to a request for comment but provided a copy of a letter forwarded to Metro Council members along with copies of the report.

“I am confident that working together we will continue to enhance and improve our system of justice in this challenging area of the law,” Kennedy wrote in the letter.

The panel attributed the high Davidson County caseload — the highest in the state — to a variety of factors, including a high number of nursing homes, hospitals and veterans facilities and a large homeless population.

“This translates into a ballooning demand, particularly of indigent individuals in need of a conservatorship who do not have friends or family available to serve in this position,” the report states.

Data gathered by the panel showed that the fees charged by conservators currently range from $50 to $250 an hour. Much of the current caseload, it found, is handled by nonprofit and government agencies.

But, the task force warned, those entities “don’t have the capacity to serve all the indigents in Davidson County.”

While not recommending specific fees for non-legal-conservator services, the panel did suggest a system under which overall fee limits could be set.

It cited a flat fee of $1,500 for a case requiring minimal duties and a ceiling of $10,000 for more complicated cases, with a requirement that fees over that ceiling would require greater documentation.

The panel also called for the creation of a program to provide voluntary services for overseeing conservatorships. Such a program would provide training for those interested in serving as conservators.

Overall, the panel concluded that the Davidson County court has too few resources dedicated to the administration and oversight of conservatorships.

“The number of these cases is expected to grow even further as the baby boomer generation ages and life expectancies continue to grow due to advances in modern medicine,” the report concludes.

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New oversight of conservatorships proposed

SSI ‘Processing Fee’ Prompts Federal Charges

October 26, 2013

A Social Security claims representative is facing federal charges for allegedly imposing a fee in order to “process” Supplemental Security Income claims.

A federal grand jury indicted Montrell Levelle Arnold, 42, of Memphis, Tenn. this week on two counts of extortion and two counts of bribery.

According to the indictment, several SSI beneficiaries agreed to pay Arnold a fee to process their claims.

After SSI benefits were electronically deposited into their accounts, Arnold allegedly contacted beneficiaries by telephone and text message to confirm the payments and arrange for his “processing fee.”

Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Memphis said that they believe Arnold may have taken advantage of more Social Security beneficiaries during his tenure with the agency than they are currently aware of and are asking anyone with information to contact the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General at 855-260-6353.

Arnold faces up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each extortion charge in addition to as many as 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each bribery charge.

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SSI ‘Processing Fee’ Prompts Federal Charges

TBI case against Franklin County attorney appointed to conservatorship results in theft indictment

September 23, 2013


CHATTANOOGA – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s case into a Franklin County attorney assigned by a court to be a conservator over the estate of a woman in failing health resulted in an indictment by the Franklin County grand jury. He surrendered to authorities this afternoon.

Joseph Bean Jr., 41, of Winchester, was indicted on one count of theft or property over $10,000. Between October of 2009 and March of 2012, Bean, who was the court appointed conservator over the estate of the victim, stole more than $42,000 from her conservatorship account. Bean made payments from the victim’s conservatorship account to his American Express account, Bank of America mortgage account, a Community Bank loan account and his Toyota Motors account. Bean was appointed the conservatorship of the victim’s estate due to her failing health. He was the sole party with authorized access to her account to pay her bills and other financial obligations. The victim of the theft is now deceased.

In May of 2013, the 12th Judicial District Attorney General’s office requested TBI to investigate the theft after the attorney over the victim’s estate reported it to him. Bean was booked today into the Franklin County Jail on $7,500 bond.

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TBI case against Franklin County attorney appointed to conservatorship results in theft indictment

Expedited Probate Docket Is An Initial Success

September 19, 2013

Over a month ago, Davidson County Trial Courts approved the establishment of an Expedited Probate Docket.  Judge Randy Kennedy and Presiding Judge Joe P. Binkley, Jr. jointly announced that due to the large and growing volume of cases filed in the Seventh Circuit Court; it has been determined to be in the best interest of the public and for the efficient administration of justice to establish and maintain an Expedited Probate Docket, as distinguished from the regular probate dockets.

Over 100 cases have been tried by Special Probate Master Jennifer Surber and Special Master John Manson who alternately preside over expedited dockets and conduct hearings on uncontested probate matters including name change petitions, small estate administrative proceedings, petitions to administer intestate estates, petitions to probate wills, codicils and other testamentary instruments.  

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Expedited Probate Docket Is An Initial Success

See Also:
TN: Conservator Jeanan Mills-Stuart and Judge Randy Kennedy

3 ex-CNAs won’t serve jail time in elderly patient-abuse case at Johnson City nursing home

September 16, 2013


Three former CNAs who admitted spraying two Appalachian Christian Village nursing home patients with water to agitate them were denied judicial diversion, but won’t serve any jail time.

A fourth woman was granted diversion because she didn’t participate in the abuse. She was charged because even though she didn’t participate, she saw the abuse on one occasion and didn’t report it.

Rebecca Blevins, 39; Jessica Ketterman, 22; and Jennifer Ketterman, 20, all of Elizabethton, pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of willful abuse, neglect or exploitation of a dependent adult. Blevins was not eligible for diversion due to previous bad check convictions. At that same hearing, Amanda Adolphi, 33, Gray, pleaded guilty to failure to report the abuse.

In the plea agreements, the women were each given an 11 month, 29 day sentence, which will be served on probation. Adolphi was the only one granted diversion. After her year of probation, the conviction can be erased from her record.

A fifth woman, Bonita Scott, 51, Chuckey, was also charged in the incident, but she pleaded guilty to her case shortly after being charged.

“This case tears me up,” said Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood. “We have over here four, probably very nice people, who have been contributing members of society. It’s inscrutable.”

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3 ex-CNAs won’t serve jail time in elderly patient-abuse case at Johnson City nursing home