Veteran's Affairs conservator mentioned in LA Times articles has been arraigned

One of the conservators who was of interest to the reporters of the LA Times who did such a wonderful job of investigation and exposure of the abuses and defrauding of the elderly is an ex-nurse by the name of Anne Chavis. This woman had absolutely no experience looking after the financial affairs of others when she was asked by Veteran's Affairs to become a guardian of veterans. The Los Angeles Times series in November covered a number of conservators who have caused the families of elderly men and women a lot of grief. The Los Angeles Times has now reported that Anne Chavis has been arraigned on charges of defrauding her clients.

Since this is now a legal matter it is not wise to comment further about the case. Needless to say, I do think that the reporters at the Los Angeles Times have been of real service to the elderly and their families who have been abused by the likes of Ms Chavis, her former attorney, Brian Smith, and her colleague who had also engaged in fraudent and deceptive practices.

The worst thing about Ms. Chavis is the way in which she used Christianity to cover up her own wrongdoing. She even started up a church that has no doubt benefited from money that she took from her charges.


Families also abuse the vulnerable

One of the arguments that I heard constantly regarding the Schiavo case was that Michael as guardian had the right to determine whether or not Terri should live or die. As I have stated through my comments in this and other blogs, I strongly disagree with that form of logic. There are several cases that highlight this situation. From Michigan, New York, California and Florida, the outcry against these guardians is growing. The most vulnerable members of society would have to be the men and women who suffer brain damage, either through the devastating effects of a car accident, or through dementia caused by old age, or even by a stroke.

The decision making process upon whether a person should be allowed to live or die should only be necessary where life support equipment, such as a ventilator is being used to sustain the life of a person who is dying. No matter how it is dressed up, it is inappropriate for families to be making decisions that will end the life of an elderly member of the family and only on the grounds that the upkeep of that person is too expensive. The life of the elderly member has become expendable and for that reason it seems that guardians or conservators are willing to make decisions that will help line their pockets with the wealth of the ward. If the Schiavo case had been plain sailing, that is there had not been any form of family intervention and effort to save Terri's life, then Michael Schiavo stood to inherit over 1/2 million dollars from Terri's estate. His motivation, on the surface, happened to be that he claimed that there was no way that Terri would recover. However, underneath the surface there was that money that had been won so that Terri would receive treatment. I certainly believe that the money from the lawsuit was the reason that Michael Schiavo fought so hard to kill his wife. There are other reasons and I have been looking at those reasons on my other blogs.

The Schiavo case is the tip of the iceberg. I think that I should start witha few cases within my family history that indeed highlight the difficulties faced by the elderly and the mentally incapacitated. The first case I want to highlight is that of my aunt Julia Liddell. My aunt was not able to have children, but her sister (the aunt that I never knew) had a son, and this child was adopted by Uncle Stan and Aunty Julia. The man in question was a good man, and certainly he had a good relationship, with his cousins, that is my father and uncle Allan. When my aunt had a stroke she was placed in a nursing home. Now, it was difficult for the families to visit my aunt because she lived on the other side of Melbourne. Certainly, before the stroke we used to see her on a regular basis, and I have always remembered this aunt with a lot of fondness. She always made it known that John, Uncle Allan and my father were to be the beneficiaries of her estate. However, there was a woman, on the other side of the Liddell family who worked at keeping my father and his cousin and brother away from my aunt. In this case she somehow gained control over my aunt's affairs, and she went to the next step - she had a stranger who is a solicitor draw up a will, which my aunt allegedly signed that cut out the three who were to be the beneficiaries and left her as the heir. This will was not challenged, yet it was clearly illegal because my aunt was not of sound mind at the time that the signature was obtained. Although this story is not one of guardianship abuse as in the Schiavo style, it is definitely a situation where someone has taken advantage of one who is weaker than herself.

The next story is that of my grandmother. At the time of Nana's death due to a series of heart attacks, Nana was close to 99 years of age. My late aunt Nancy, and her son had too much influence over my grandmother. My cousin gained the power of attorney over my grandmother, even though he was not the oldest grandchild, and there were three living children who should have had the legal right to having the power of attorney. My cousin was not altogether honest about how he dealt with my grandmother's estate, and he refused to hand back a painting that belonged to my mother. An adopted cousin stole a ring that belonged to my mother, but that is a story that lies outside of this one. When my grandmother was thought to not be able to look after herself my grandmother's house was sold from under her and she was placed in a nursing home. She hated that place and she used to plead with my mother to take her away from it, and she wanted to come and live with my mother. The staff at the nursing home neglected their charges, and this particular home has now been closed down due to the lack of professionalism of the staff. My mother tried to warn my grandmother that my cousin was trying to "diddle" her estate. She had a huge fight with my grandmother over a situation that had developed. My cousin used his influence over my grandmother to seek a change in the will that cut my mother out of her share of the estate. If anyone really cared about my grandmother, it was my late sister, for she used to visit on a regular basis and she did the little things that were necessary to look after an old lady. My cousin never did any of those things. He refused to have my grandmother in his home, and all he wanted was her estate so that he would have more money. He did a lot of horrible things and he set my mother's brother and sister against her with a litany of lies. My cousin was extremely manipulative when it came to this particular situation. He abused my grandmother through his lack of ensuring that she was placed in the best possible facitlity. I am not sure how much of the estate he squandered, so one day it will all catch up upon him.

There is one more case that I want to highlight, not because of any abuse either, but as an illustration of the pressure that is placed upon families to follow the recommendations of the medical staff, even if these go beyond the religious and moral values of the family. My father is not a Catholic, but he certainly valued the right to life. Anyway, my father suffered a stroke two days before his birthday. My mother was not home at the time, and it was my brother who found him and called the ambulance. The stroke caused my father to suffer brain damage of the type that caused him to be rather unruly in his behaviour. He was a very difficult patient. Anyway, after the first stroke he was allowed to come home. However, he refused to recognize my sister, Linda, as a member of the family. He was able to go home and he functioned as a member of the family but it was obvious that he had suffered brain damage. When my father suffered a second very serious stroke he was staying at Phillip Island, and he was rushed to the hospital at Wonthaggi until his transfer to the Monash medical centre. The doctors at the Wonthaggi hospital began the pressure to get my mother to agree to place a DNR on my father's chart. She refused that pressure and the family stood by that refusal. When he was removed to the Monash Medical Centre, the pressure became more intense and my family continued to resist this pressure. Eventually, after my father was placed in a nursing home, he had another stroke that caused his death. The doctors at the Monash Medical Centre refused to give him further treatment.

I have highlighted my father's story in this blog because of the way in which the whole family pulled together to protect my mother as she resisted the pressure of the doctors and the social workers involved in my father's case. The pressure that is placed upon families to make decisions that will end their lives is immense. Sometimes the prognosis that is given is one that leads to a wrong decision that is an attempt to end the life of someone who requires life support for a time. Take for example, the case of Haleigh Poutre, the twelve year old who received terrible injuries from a bashing she received at the hands of her now deceased aunt and adopted mother. The doctors who examined Haleigh did not give her a chance at survival, but Haleigh has proved those doctors to be wrong. In Haleigh's case, the adopted mother was murdered by Haleigh's grandmother, who then killed herself. Haleigh's mother was contacted and she consented to the idea that Haleigh should be withdrawn from life support, even though the child had not been given the chance to show whether she had the ability to recover. This child was placed into the hands of the Boston department of Social Security, and the public guardian did not waste time requesting the withdrawal of the life support. The judge in this case was too quick in making a decision that would allow the support to be withdrawn. However, Haleigh is a fighter and she has rallied to the point that she has been removed to another hospital where rehabilitation is given to children. The guardian in this case had not done his or her duty by the child who was incapacitated prior to her rallying revival. Everyone was too quick in trying to end this child's life. The biological mother did not care whether the child lived or died, and the only one who cared for her well being is the man who has been charged with causing her actual bodily harm. He faced being charged with murder if she had been allowed to die, yet he is the only one who fought for this child to ensure that she was given the chance to live. The question remains: what will happen to Haleigh once she has been allowed to recuperate? At the moment the child is a ward of the state, and she is subjected to the possibility of further abuse unless her future is secured.


Justice Sleeps While Seniors Suffer - Los Angeles Times

Justice Sleeps While Seniors Suffer - Los Angeles Times

This is part two of a four part investigation by reporters from the Los Angeles Times. The first part of this report concentrated upon a group of conservators who had not put the needs of their clients first. Instead those conservators had deliberately robbed the estates of their clients, thus causing angst with the conservatee as well as amongst the conservatee's family members.

Once a guardian or conservator is appointed it is extremely difficult for the ward to have the conservatorship lifted. The reason for this difficulty lies not with the conservator or guardian but in the way in which the probate judges have been failing in their duty to do what is right and just for the sake of all parties involved in a dispute. This failure is the subject of the headline of the report - justice sleeps whilst seniors suffer.

Prior to moving on to a discussion on the cases brought up by the Los Angeles Times, I want to recap again on the guardianship issues surrounding the Schiavo case because much of the criticism of that case is relevant where these other cases are concerned. When Terri Schiavo collapsed and ended up in hospital, on life support for a short time, her unfaithful husband ensured that he had full guardianship over Terri by pulling a rather nasty little stunt. He had his boss from the restaurant, who was also a lawyer, make contact with Mr. and Mrs Schindler, telling them that it was in their daughter's best interest to sign over guardianship to Michael. He then went into court and gained the emergency guardianship over his wife's affairs. What then transpired is that Terri was weaned off the life support and after a month she was listed by the doctor as being awake - which in medical terminology means that she was not comatose, neither was she a vegetable. When Terri was discharged from Humana hospital she was not comatose but she required further nursing care and she was placed in a facility that was to help her with rehabilitation. It was around this time that Michael Schiavo, who was the only one who had access to her medical records, decided to sue Terri's doctors based upon what is now proved to be false information that she had a heart attack brought on by bulimia. The truth happened to be that Terri did not suffer a heart attack and she was not a bulimic. The purpose of this lawsuit was to use Terri in an effort to make money out of her condition. Schiavo actually expected to get $20 million for the injuries to his wife, the cause of which has never been determined. After lying to the courts, Schiavo won his case and was awarded $750,000 for Terri's care as well as a further $630,000 for loss of consortium. As soon as the money had been deposited into an account for his wife, Schiavo placed a DNR on her chart and ordered that all therapy was to cease. The nursing staff had testified that they were in trouble if they even placed a face washer into Terri's hands. They were not allowed to give any form of manipulation that might have helped the recovery of this woman from her brain injuries. Schiavo filed to end his wife's life by removing her PEG tube. There is a lot of behind the scenes action in this case and it is not my intention to mention all of that here. What is relevant however, is that the first Guardian Ad Litem who was appointed, Richard Pearse, wrote a report which in part indicated that there was a conflict of interest in the situation that had arisen, and that Michael Schiavo should be removed as Terri's guardian. Instead of the judge acting upon this report, the Guardian ad Litem was dismissed, and in an unprecedented move, the probate judge, George Greer, appointed himself as the Guardian Ad Litem. At no time did Greer ever go and see Terri. He relied instead upon the lies of George Felos and Michael Schiavo. It must be pointed out that there are a number of irregularities in this case that were never addressed by the justice system. Every review that took place claimed that Greer had acted within the narrow confines of the law. What was missing in these reviews happened to be a discussion of the merits of the issues within the case. At every turn the Schindlers were rebuffed and they could not get any investigation into what really took place on the morning that Terri collapsed. There is still reason to believe that Michael Schiavo had a hand in that collapse.

This case was such a shambles that it pointed to the lack of justice within the American judicial system with the regard of the rights of the elderly and the disabled are concerned. It pointed up what can only be described as corruption within the judicial system. This case reinforces the LA Times headline that justice sleeps whilst seniors suffer (except that the woman concerned was not a senior, for she was under 50 when she died, and only 25 when she was injured). The probate judge in the case, George Greer, has a reputation of not following up with guardians who come under his jurisdiction, that they have filed their mandated returns. In fact Michael Schiavo failed to file these financial returns to detail what he had been spending in Terri's name. The Schiavo case is in Florida only the tip of the iceberg, and the cases that come under the jurisdiction of Greer might give cause for concern.

The first case examined by the LA Times staff is that of a elderly woman by the name of Emmeline Frey, who at the age of 93 ended up in the clutches of a woman by the name of Donna Daum. Frey had managed to amass an estate that was valued at over $1.1 million due to her penny pinching habits. Within the first 12 months of the conservatorship, Daum had given $500,000 to her brother to invest. This money lost value over the period of about 3 years, and there was no accounting for the proceeds of the investments. There is also the ethical issue of using her brother as an "investment advisor" to be considered in this matter. The rip off occurred over a period of three years, yet the probate judge had done nothing to oversee the conservator to ensure that Frey's estate was preserved.

As the LA Times pointed out:

Professional conservators wield enormous power over people deemed too infirm to look after themselves. They choose their doctors, control their bank accounts and decide where they will live — even who can visit them.

Probate courts, which appoint conservators, are supposed to monitor their conduct, scrutinize their financial reports and fine or remove those who misuse their authority.

Yet the courts have failed dismally in this vital role.
The power of control that is exerted by the guardian is a power that is wielded by the unscrupulous in a rather authoritarian fashion. These comments could have been directed at the way in which guardians have the same in control in Florida. These are the words that are echoed so much in the Schiavo case, for Michael Schiavo wielded that power over Terri to the point that he refused to allow her family visitation access whenever he had a fight with them. He did not care at all about what was best for Terri, for in Michael Schiavo's world, only Michael Schiavo ever mattered. As we will see, in some respects the scenes played out in Florida are probably familiar scenes to a number of families who were trying to get their loved ones out of the clutches of guardians who were out to enrich themselves at the expense of their clients.

Out of 2400 cases that were examined by the staff of the LA Times, there was evidence that judges frequently ignored the evidence of neglect, incompetence and outright theft. Some of the conservators, such as Melodie Scott and Donna Daum steered business to friends and relatives. Some went as far as getting friends to buy the houses of their conservatees for a song, and then onselling the property at a much higher price, thus making a very handsome profit out of the estate of the conservatee. There have been reports of missing property, as well as conservators allowing friends and relatives to "sit" in the houses of their conservatees without the payment of rent.

When a conservator such as Melodie Scott or Donna Daum take over as the guardian of someone who is declared incapable of looking after himself, that person gains control over the bank account. This makes it easy to charge inflated fees and rip off money from the client's bank account, or to do, as Donna Daum did, hand money over to her brother to make poor financial investments that cause a drop in the value of the client's estate.

Who is to blame for this situation? The judges say that they are swamped. Is that a good reason for this sloth in not supervising adequately the way in which these people are conducting their conservatorship business? The system was designed, not with the professional conservator in mind, but with the family of the person in mind. The surge in the profession of conservators has brought about a business that has not been properly regulated. There are two methods of regulation: one is the legal requirements for obtaining a license to practice as a legal guardian and the other is the oversight of the courts. The state of California is in the process of addressing the first issue. What is it doing about the second issue? What is the reason for the probate judges neglecting their fiduciary duty towards all who come into the probate court? Are they receiving kickbacks from the lawyers who are supporting the crooked conservators?

To bring this back to the Schiavo case, there are many who question the way in which George Greer handled the Schiavo case. For the lawyers and guardians who are his buddies, Greer is seen as a hero. He received several awards because of his unwavering decision making that allowed Michael Schiavo to kill Terri through what can only be described as an horrendous death via starvation and dehydration. It must be pointed out that there is evidence that George Felos and other lawyers in the Schiavo camp gave generous donations to the re-election funds of George Greer. In fact there seems to be a very close relationship between the donation of campaign funds and the outcome of the various challenges in the case, not just at Greer's level but in the other higher courts as well. There is definitely a whiff of collusion in this case, especially when Greer won the award of judge of the year, and then Schiavo, who had behaved so unprofessionally as a guardian was awarded guardian of the year. It was a case of self-congratulation because the Schiavo-Felos-Greer conspirators had pulled off their coup of sacrificing a disabled woman upon the altar of a corrupt judicial system so that more guardians would be allowed to kill off their wards by pulling similar stunts. The use of Schiavo's brother and sister in law as corroborative witnesses to what Terri had allegedly said should not have been allowed because of the conflict of interest. We have no guarantee that what they said under oath was true, especially when they only came forward when it seemed that Michael had stuffed up so bad that it looked like he was going to lose on his request.

The parallels between the cases that have been presented are very strong and they are parallels that cannot easily be ignored.

(to be continued)


Widow's step family find her - she requests new guardian be appointed

Widow Seeks New Guardian - Los Angeles Times

There has been good news for Helen Jones, the elderly woman whose financial assets were being bled dry by Melodie Scott, the professional conservator. In what has been a real turn around for Helen Jones, her late husband's family read about her plight and they have come forward to claim her and to offer help.

As a result of the step-grandson, Michael, coming forward, Melodie Scott has relinquished her role as Helen's guardian, leaving Helen free to request that Michael be placed in charge of her assets.

Mike Tomazin, 52, of Madera filed court papers to replace Melodie Scott, an entrepreneur who in 2002 sought and won court appointment as Jones' conservator, California's term for an adult's guardian.

Jones' court-appointed lawyer, Donnasue Smith Ortiz, said Scott has agreed to resign. Scott did not return calls seeking comment, but her attorney has said in the past that her client would step down for a "suitable" conservator.

Michael Tomazin, the 52 year old step grandson stepped in at the request of his parents, after they had learned about the plight of the elderly Helen Jones. The children of her late husband had lost contact with her after his death, and they were shocked when they were contacted by the Los Angeles Times. Michael, who lives 300 miles away from Helen willingly filed the court papers to become her guardian.

April Trial Set for Woman Seeking to End Conservatorship - Los Angeles Times

In November a trial date of April 22 was set for Helen Jones, the elderly widow who was fighting to regain control over her affairs from Melodie Scott.

The Los Angeles time began following Helen's story when reporters were investigating the activities of the professional conservators in California. Helen's case was one of several cases that were highlighted by the reporters.

Helen told of her frustration over the case becoming a long and drawn out affair, and over the hearings that have been months apart and at the end of yet another hearing there would be no action taken.

When a family matter turns into a business pt 3

The issue of appointed conservators, as they are called in California, or as appointed guardians, as they are called in Florida, is one that needs to be handled so that the person who is being forced into this situation is not being ripped off by people who are out for a fast buck. The stories that are listed in the Los Angeles Times are a litany of how elderly people have been tricked into becoming the wards of these professional conservators.

The law that was originally enacted was meant to make it easier for family members to administer the estates of their loved ones who were no longer able to look after themselves. However, things changed when a university economics professor became the first to set himself up in the business of professional conservator. In the end he was forced to get out of the business because of the complaints that were made against him. This did not stop the growing number of these "professional" conservators. In fact this had become a new "professional" industry. The stories that have been outlined in the Los Angeles Times report have shown that even if this is a growing professional industry, it is not an industry that is both professional and ethical.

To recap on Helen's story, she was tricked into signing a piece of paper that gave her rather unscrupulous conservator the right to control her "wealth" and possessions. Helen had always been a frugal woman and it was distressing to her that the conservator was wasting so much of her money on things that she considered to be an unnecessary addition to her home. What is worse, for Helen at least, the conservator had used information on her medical records against her, and tried to force her into taking medication for a mental illness that is mentioned in her records, and which it might be considered that it is debatable that she has this particular illness.

In each of the illustrated cases it has become clear that once a person is committed to the clutches of the professional conservators, there is almost no way that they can reverse the court decision. This is the same scenario that is happening all over the USA, and for the Schindler family, it meant the unnecessary and untimely death of their daughter, Theresa Marie Schindler-Schiavo - there was no way that George Greer was going to reverse his decision (was there a kickback?). Some of the hapless victims have been very wealthy, such as Donald Van Ness, a former owner of a candy company, who did not know that a conservator had been appointed until he tried to use his credit card. The unscrupulous way in which the conservators have behaved has led to a lot of litigation for the hapless victims and their families, having to even fight to find out where the family member had been taken.

The misuse of their clients’ funds, deliberately selling off assets to either friends or family and a number of other practices that have caused hardship, and perhaps in some cases have led to the untimely death of the victim because of neglect, are just some of the litany of charges that have been leveled at these unscrupulous conservators.   These conservators have a power that is quite frightening, and when one considers the fact that instead of being family members, as intended by the original legislation, they are strangers who are out to enrich themselves at the expense of their hapless victims. How else can one explain the fact that one woman’s estate was billed by her conservator because he attended her funeral? The amount billed was $1700, and this kind of charging is just the tip of the iceberg.

How do these professional conservators manage to take control over the lives of their unwary victims? They do it at such a speed that the families of their victims do not even have the opportunity to prevent the conservatorship happening in the first place. The Los Angeles Times reporters state:

“In many courtrooms, they get emergency appointments on the day they ask for them, based on short forms in which they swear that prospective clients cannot care for themselves.
These hasty hearings are meant for cases in which elderly people are in imminent danger. But professional conservators have made them the norm, The Times found. More than half of their Southern California cases began this way.Adults are entitled by law to attend emergency hearings. Yet they were not formally notified in more than half the cases The Times examined. Often, judges dispensed with the requirement after conservators told them that prospective wards were too feeble to come to court.By securing immediate appointments, professionals can gain control over elders before safeguards required in non-emergency cases kick in. For example, in nine of 10 emergency cases, wards were not interviewed by a court investigator before a judge decided they needed a conservator.”

The Times discovered at least 50 cases where the conservators had used their clients’ money to enrich themselves. Some clients, such as Mr. Charles Thomas, who had built up his fortune by establishing Burger King Franchisees, have had their estates and fortunes plundered by the unscrupulous. One of the problems with the current laws is that the law does not set down what is reasonable. This leaves the way open for exorbitant charges by these conservators. In the case of Mr. Thomas, the conservator, Lablow plundered the estate for more than $1 million in fees alone.

The enrichment does not end with the charging of exorbitant fees, for in one case a Sacramento conservator used his girl-friend’s firm to auction off the possessions of his wards. In another case, a San Francisco conservator decorated his apartment with the Chinese paintings that were the possession of his ward. In another case, Melodie Scott allowed her sister-in-law to live in a house owned by one of her wards, rent free. The owner of the house was a woman who, at the age of 51 suffered from bipolar disorder. Scott told the court that neither she, nor Sarah Kerley had enriched themselves at the expense of this client. However, whilst Kerley lived in the house, the client’s funds paid for the thousands of dollars worth of utility bills that had been racked up. The woman had been moved from her own house so that Kerley and Scott could in fact benefit from the situation.

In another case, that of Florrie Fairfield, a wealthy former real estate agent, she was placed in the hands of a conservator on the grounds that she suffered from a form of Alzheimer’s disease and it was necessary to ensure that no one took advantage of her. However, the conservator who was assigned to this woman ended up being the beneficiary of Fairfield’s multimillion dollar estate. In California at least, the guardians are not supposed to be able to benefit in this way. There are supposed to be checks and balances in place, but it seems that in this case, these steps were not taken. The female conservator covered herself from infringing the law by ensuring that the will named the company as the beneficiary and not herself. This is not good enough and this woman should have been charged with defrauding her client.

These are the cases that have been the tip of the iceberg in California, where the law had tried to protect those who needed to take over the care of their family members, but where professionals moved in and started to bleed their victims’ estates dry. For the families involved in these cases there have been costly legal battles against these strangers who have entered into their lives. In some respects the stories outlined by the Los Angeles Times have a familiar ring, for there are stories to be told from Florida, through to Washington and New York of people who are being ripped off by these unscrupulous strangers. One common thread that has come to light in the stories is the mention of the requirement to file returns. Once again we see an issue that is being raised  - the non-compliance by the conservators for the filing of these returns.


Fredericksburg.com - Carrots don't wince in pain: The brain-damaged are people, too

Fredericksburg.com - Carrots don't wince in pain: The brain-damaged are people, too

It is almost a year since Terri was forced to starve to death, when she was not even allowed to be given an ice chip. This case put euthanasia on demand on the world stage. It was the cruelest death that could ever be handed to an innocent person. Terri did not want to die and she made that clear when she consistently refused to give up the will to live when she was abused almost on a daily basis by the man who alleges that he loved her, and that he was only fulfilling her wishes by ordering her death.

Terri Schiavo was brain damaged but she was not brain dead. She was not "just lying there like a corpse". She was able to get out of bed. She could smile, and she could feel pain, as well as manage to smell odours. That is why the writer of this article has stated "carrots don't wince in pain". Neither do potatoes, tomatoes, or cucumbers. Yet the people who wanted Terri kept up a constant mantra that she could feel no pain and that the death that they prescribed for her would be "lovely" and that she would "feel nothing".

As Terri neared death, George Felos, the lawyer for Michael Schiavo, the adulterer who was living with another woman whilst he condemned his wife to death, even described Terri as looking beautiful. However, the reality of Terri's condition happened to be that she showed all of the signs of dehydration, as her body was drying out. It is not a sight that could be described as beautiful. One has to question the mental stability of a man who would describe a woman dying from dehydration as beautiful. Not even carrots are forced to become so withered and dry before they are plucked from the ground and prepared to be eaten.

The contrasting story here is that of a 44 year old fireman who had been in a minimally concious state due to injuries he had sustained, and who through the love of his family suddenly recovered, sat up and started talking to them. He lasted about one year before he died from complications of pneumonia. This man is a reminder that people who are described as PVS are not vegetables but they are in fact viable human beings.

What is wrong with out world that we are prepared to follow the dictates of a mad man who described brain injured people as though they had no right to live? Why is it that a neurologist is allowed to get away with testifying that someone who can sit up in bed is allegedly in a state that she does not deserve the chance to be given any form of therapy that would have assisted her recovery?

Terri is dead because the American judicial system denied her of her civil rights. Lest we forget, even brain injured people have civil rights and the right to be killed is not one of the rights that have been enshrined in the American Bill of Rights and the American Constitution. The legal system in the USA needs a good shake up and the justices who have been promoting the Culture of Death through their written decisions need to be removed from the bench. Men and women who uphold life need to be appointed to the bench in the USA, otherwise the slide into oblivion will be awaiting the USA. Hopefully Terri's case will not lead to that slide into oblivion, rather it is hoped that this case will act as an anticlimax for the death movement.


When a Family matter turns into a business pt 2

The reporters of the Los Angeles Times highlighted several cases where vulnerable people have ended up in the hands of professional guardians or conservators. The first case mentioned is that of Helen Jones, a penny pincher who has always managed to look after herself to the point that she had sufficient money to take care of her needs in her old age. Helen had lived independently in her own little home, that is until a professional conservator by the name of Melodie Scott walked into her life, and Helen was tricked into signing a piece of paper that ended up seeing her declared as someone who could not look after herself.

Helen is not allowed to spend her own money, but Melodie Scott has been helping herself to Helen's estate as she has been bleeding this elderly and vulnerable adult dry. Of the $560,000 that Helen had saved for the expenses of old age, Melodie Scott has managed to acquire more than $200,000 that is allegedly for fees, as well as appliances that are not required, and around the clock help that is also not required. Ms Scott even managed to find a medical file that allegedly stated that Helen was a schizophrenic, thus allowing the conservator have Helen declared mentally incompetent to care for herself. There was even an attempt to force Helen to take medication that she did not require. At 87 years of age Helen Scott needs something better than a professional conservator who is helping herself to Helen's estate.

In some ways the situation in Los Angeles is no different than the situation in Florida because the oversight of the conservators or guardians is in the hands of the probate court. There is always the possibility that California will have its own version of George Greer from Pinellas county, waiting for an opportunity to become infamous as he or she rules against a vulnerable adult and agrees to oversight having the person put to death, in the same manner as Terri Schindler was put to death by her adulterous husband. What is of real concern is that the oversight of the guardian conservators has been equally lax such that a professional but unregulated industry has been allowed to grow, and the professionals have been enriching themselves at the expense of vulnerable elderly adults. There is more regulation for hairdressers than for guardianship professionals. This is a criminal situation because not even family members are allowed to have a say once a professional guardian has stepped into the picture.

Before Melodie Scott walked into her life, Helen Jones always kept her records in accordian files. Her bills were always paid promptly and she managed to take herself to the bank and the laundromat. She kept a close wathch on her finances, never spending in an unnecessary manner. However, once Scott walked into her life, Scott has spent money on air conditioning, a new refrigerator and a new stove. She limited Helen to spending money of $50 per fortnight, whilst she spent up Jones's money on paying Scott's own sister to paint Jones' house. Further money was wasted on a Christmas tree, that was unnecessary because one already existed in the garage. Yet Scott had unlimited access to Helen's money because a judge decreed that Helen Jones could not look after herself.

Helen Jones has suffered much in the way of indignities since Melodie Scott moved into her life. When Helen's brother passed away due to a bout of pneumonia, Helen did not want him cremated. However, as soon as the funeral home found out that Helen had a conservator, they phoned Melodie Scott, and instead of a coffin, Helen discovered that the burial was to be for an urn with her brother's ashes. This is something that is so personal, and Melodie Scott had no right to order the cremation of Helen's brother instead of a proper burial.

Helen's case is just the tip of a new iceberg in California, for the industy of professional guardians has been growing, and now more than 15% of vulnerable adults who require guardians end up in the hands of these blood-sucking leechlike professionals such as Melodie Scott.

To be continued

The Observer | UK News | Elderly suffer most abuse in their homes

The Observer UK News Elderly suffer most abuse in their homes

They are elderly, and they are the most vulnerable members of society. This time the report is not about abuse in the USA but a report that is about to be released in the UK. This is a report that indicates that in the UK the elderly are subject to abuse from members of their own family and in their own homes. The abusers can also be social workers who have come into the home to perform some sort of service. Sometimes the abuse relates to neglect such as not making sure that the elderly person has food. In other cases it involves sexual abuse. Some of these cases have occurred in Britain's nursing homes.

Just as there is shame about sexual abuse of younger family members, there is also a stigma of shame attached to sexual abuse of the elderly. The number of reports and successful prosecutions against the perpetrators of this form of abuse has remained low. This is a problem that needs to be aired, put into the eye of the public so that the elderly are no longer afraid of their abusers.


When a Family Matter Turns Into a Business - Los Angeles Times

First, I read about the abuse of elderly vulnerable citizens in Florida, especially in the corrupt Pinellas County, and then I read about the elderly retired judge who has been locked up in a nursing home complete with wrist band to make sure that he can go nowhere, and now I find the subject being discussed in the Los Angeles Times.
This lengthy report by Robin Fields, Evelyn Larrubia and Jack Leonard, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers, details various cases of elderly abuse by men and women who are known as Conservators in California.
The following extract from the report gives statistics regarding the granting of emergency conservatorship:
Emergency Appointments
More than half of all conservatorships filed by professionals in Southern California between 1997 and 2003 were granted by the courts on an emergency basis, often bypassing initial assessments by court investigators and other safeguards designed to protect wards’ rights. In all, there were 1,160 emergency appointments:
  • Granted without notice to senior or family: 56%

  • Granted before an attorney appointed: 64%

  • Granted before court investigator’s report: 92%
Sources: Probate records for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. Data analysis by Maloy Moore

It is through the method of going to court to seek emergency appointments that the unscrupulous amongst the men and women who act as guardians to California’s vulnerable elderly adults manage to get a foothold and to “legally” steal the wealth of the people who have become trapped within the system.
The report details several cases where the elderly person does not require a guardian or conservator at all, however, the way in which this vile system has been working the unscrupulous, such as Melodie Scott, hear of a case through the nursing homes, hostels or hospitals and they work swiftly by seeking an emergency appointment as conservator.
Conservatorship began as a way to help families protect their enfeebled relatives from predators and self-neglect. Instead of protecting some of the most vulnerable adults, those who are elderly and are on the brink of such conditions as Alzheimer’s or even Parkinson’s Disease end up in the hands of what can only be described as unscrupulous predators who have learned how to manipulate the statutes in their favour as they go about fleecing the victim and enriching themselves.

The Times examined the work of California’s professional conservators, reviewing more than 2,400 cases, including every one they handled in Southern California between 1997 and 2003. Among the findings:
• Seniors lose their independence with stunning swiftness. More than 500 were entrusted to for-profit conservators without their consent at hearings that lasted minutes. Retired candy company owner Donald Van Ness, 85, did not know what had happened to him until he tried to pay for lunch at a San Diego-area restaurant and was told his credit card had been canceled.

Some conservators misuse their near-parental power over fragile adults, ignoring their needs and isolating them from loved ones. One withheld the allowance that a disabled man relied on for food, leaving him to survive on handouts from a church. Another abruptly moved a 95-year-old woman to a care home and for a month refused to tell her daughter where she was.

• In the most egregious cases, conservators plunder seniors’ estates. One took 88-year-old Thelma Larabee’s savings to pay his taxes and invest in a friend’s restaurant. Helen Smith’s conservator secretly sold Smith’s house at a discount — to herself. The conservator’s daughter later resold it for triple the price.

•More commonly, conservators run up their fees in ways large and small, eating into seniors’ assets. A conservator charged a Los Angeles woman $170 in fees to have an employee bring her $49.93 worth of groceries.  Palm Springs widow Mary Edelman kept paying from beyond the grave: Her conservators charged her estate $1,700 for attending her burial.
Once in conservators’ grasp, it is difficult — and expensive — for seniors to get out. Courts typically compel them to pay not only their own legal fees, but those of their unwanted guardians as well. In the 15 months it took Theresa Herrera’s grandson to unseat her conservator, almost half of the 92-year-old’s $265,000 estate had been exhausted.

To be continued.    


The case of John Phillips aged 82

John Phillips is a retired New York judge who is now 82 years young. During his life as a judge, Mr. Phillips managed to amass a fortune in property. Now he is being confined in a nursing home because someone had him taken before the court and had him declared incompetent as far as looking after himself was concerned.

This declaration of incompetence has meant that John has been forced into a nursing home, whilst the court appointed guardian has had the opportunity to get hold of the property owned by Mr. Phillips.

This is yet another classic case of guardianship abuse. This story highlights the comments that I made concerning the State of Florida, especially Pinellas County where such abuses are rife, and where guardians have been forcing the elderly into a similar situation under the Baker Act, that is administered by a woman who has connections to none other the the same hospice where Terri Schiavo was forced to die. The difference in this story is that this case is in New York State.

Court appointed guardians owe their wards a duty of care, especially when it comes to the protection of property. If this story was to conclude in the same way as the stories in Florida and Michigan, then the asset stripping guardian has only one purpose in mind - rob Mr. Phillips of his estate, and when the money is gone, starve him to death.

These cases highlight the lack of justice that exists in the civil justice system. It seems that greed is constantly the winner in these cases. I cannot understand how the "professional" guardians are managing to gain precedence over members of the family of the victim who is being stricken with such abuse. The family members of Judge Phillips are attempting to come to his aid and they have scheduled a court appearance to challenge the guardian. If this case goes according to script, then the judge will deny the family their right to make the challenge.

For an elderly person such as John Phillips, the declaration of incompetence is almost like a death sentence. In this particular case, it seems that the judge who allowed this to happen and declared this man incompetent to look after himself, has taken the unnecessary step of having this man confined to the nursing home, complete with tracking wrist-band.

To put a tracking wrist-band on a resident of a nursing home is in my view something that could cause the person to go into deep depression. It is an extremely cruel method of control, especially when the person is definitely competent to speak up for himself. One could see the use of a tracking device to be useful for someone with Alzheimer's Disease, but from what I have read about this man, so far, I cannot see the evidence of Alzheimer's Disease that would require that he was to be confined in the nursing home as though he were a criminal.

No matter where these cases appear, there is a lack of justice and once again it illustrates exactly how rotten and decayed the justice system in the USA has become when there is more that can be done for criminals than innocent people who are being forced to be placed into nursing homes, and then watch as the guardian strips them, not just of their dignity but also their wealth. It is time to speak up against this form of injustice.

Retired judge in New York subject of guardianship abuse

I have just become aware of the following article:


February 28, 2006 -- EXCLUSIVE

A beloved former Brooklyn judge says he's a virtual prisoner in a Bronx
nursing home where he has been confined by a court order for more than a
year while his appointed guardian sells his assets.

The former judge, John Phillips, 82, wears a monitoring wristband and
cannot leave or receive telephone calls at the East Haven Nursing and
Rehabilitation Center — but spoke to The Post via a tape recorder
carried by a friend during a visit.

"It's lousy what they did to me," Phillips told The Post. "I've got to
get out of here and get back to Brooklyn. They're stealing from me. I'm
going to get my life back. I've got no business being here."

Phillips has been an involuntary guest at the home since December 2004.
Court-appointed guardians have looked after his multimillion-dollar
estate since 2002, when a judge ruled that he was not mentally competent.

All records in connection with his case have been sealed. But a lawyer
retained by a niece of Phillips' said the judge is barred from leaving
the facility by a court order.

"I still don't understand how the judge is at the nursing home," said
the lawyer, Armani Scott. "But once he was put in, the court said he
can't get out until they say so."

Scott said he's unaware of any specific treatment the ex-judge is
getting at the home.

A nursing-home official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The
Post that Phillips did require monitoring and care — but also said the
situation would be better if the ex-judge lived with a relative.

Of particular concern to both Phillips and loved ones is what's
happening to his estate, which includes at least 10 buildings and two

Earlier this month, a committee formed by friends of Phillips' filed a
complaint with state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to look into the
management of his finances by his court-appointed guardian, Emani Taylor.

Taylor did not return a call seeking comment.

Relatives plan to attend a Brooklyn Supreme Court hearing today in hopes
of persuading Justice Michael Pesce to release Phillips and relieve Taylor.

Meanwhile, Phillips is outraged that his properties are being sold.

"They are stealing my theaters and everything," Phillips says on the
tape. "I want to get out of here . . . I'm gonna tear their asses up
when I get out."



When Guardians seek the death penalty

Court appointed guardians have the responsibility to care for their wards. However, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the guardians often act in their own interests and not in the interest of one who is incapacitated.

In the past I have blogged about Terri Schindler-Schiavo. Much to my disgust the Florida Guardians association had the temerity to name Schiavo as Guardian of the Year for 2005. If this association was on the level, they should have been denouncing Schiavo for the dishonest way in which he pushed to kill his wife. No, instead of denouncing him for not providing information that was required by law to the Courts, they awarded him, because he succeeded in killing his wife.

The Schiavo case is only the tip of an iceberg. More and more cases are coming to light where the spouse, acting as guardian for the other half of the relationship has pushed to kill either husband or wife, because they do not have sufficient funds to continue the required level of care. This is a shameful situation and it is one that needs attention. It also highlights the fact that the judiciary has been paying court to the culture of death with its many decisions that have brought about the end of the life of someone who is not dying but is brain injured. These people were denied the opportunity to live. One can only say: Shame on the judiciary because of the lack of justice within those decisions. The judges have forgotten to err on the side of life.

One case stands out because it is going the other way, at the moment. It is the case of Scott Thomas. In this case, the spouse is seeking to end her husband's life but she does not have custody of Scott and so she cannot carry out her intention to place him in a nursing home and then order the removal of his feeding tube. Scott's mother has custody and she is ensuring that he has necessary therapy that is assisting his recovery.

On the other hand, the case of Haleigh Poutre stands out for a different reason. Haleigh's case is sad because she was sexually abused at a very young age by her mother's lover. Haleigh ended up in the charge of her now late aunt, and during the time that Holli was caring for Haleigh, the little girl received a number of unexplained injuries. The Boston department of social services investigated the complaints but they believed the aunt and her husband Jason Strickland, until Haleigh turned up in hospital in an unconscious state. The aunt and her husband were charged over the injuries, and the department resumed care for Haleigh. My question concerning the Boston DSS is why was it necessary, after such a short period of time had elapsed, to go to the courts and request that Haleigh be removed from the ventilator and her feeding tube. The medical opinion that was sought seemed to be that it was not in the best interests of the child to remain alive. However, this medical opinion was flawed.

Now Jason Strickland obviously has a vested interest in keeping Haleigh alive, and when the first judge ruled against Jason's request to represent Haleigh, he appealed that decision. The appeal has bought precious time for Haleigh, but the appeal judge ruled against Jason's right to speak on her behalf. The mother of the child wanted the child to die. She has continued to show no real concern for her own daughter. Haleigh remains a ward of the DSS of Boston. The appeal judge had ruled that a DNR order could be placed on the charts and that the life support could be ceased. In other words, the judge was giving Haleigh, an innocent eleven year old, a death sentence.

However, Haleigh will have nothing of that decision. On the same day that this decision was made, the little girl began to respond to the doctors and it seems that she is coming out of the coma. She has now been removed to a rehabilitation hospital, and she is receiving the treatment that she deserves. Even though it appears that the DSS did not care for this child, I have noticed that Denise Monteiro is showing that she does care for the child's welfare. I hope that in the future she is not returned to the care of her mother, because I fear that she would only face more abuse if that should happen.

Should the courts be so lenient in their decisions when a life hangs in the balance? Why should these judges make decisions that are in fact the imposition of a death penalty upon innocent people? What if eleven year old Haleigh had not begun to stir at that moment? Would the department go ahead and seek further opinions? I would hope that Haleigh's case will serve as a reminder that people need to be given a chance to show signs of recovery and those hasty decisions are usually the wrong decisions. Jason Strickland's attorneys did this work pro bono because they wanted to give the little girl a chance to begin to recover. It is a pity that the mother of the child only thought about putting her child to death. I believe that we need to get back to the idea that we must choose life over death. If people knew the real pain of dehydration they might not be so willing to accept this as proper for people who are disabled but are not dying. So it is time for America, England, Australia and Europe to wake up and reverse the evil trend towards the culture of death.