The lengths to which the guardians will go to secure their dominion over the assets of their charges are revealed in the Lopez case.
In 1980, Nellie Lopez gave birth to her only child, Jacqueline Salazar at a hospital in New York. There were problems with the delivery, and as a result, Jacqueline Salazar was horribly injured, and sustained severe brain damage, quadriplegia and scoliosis.
She was not expected to live long, but her mother took action to ensure that was not the case. She sued the hospital, won a judgment of several million dollars, and quit her job as a city clerk to devote herself to caring for Jacqueline.
New York law, however, stipulates that the courts appoint a legal guardian for an incapacitated adult such as Jacqueline when the individual reaches the age of 18.
In 1998, the court saw fit to appoint a stranger as guardian for Jacqueline, even though the guardian is usually a parent or close relative. While the court evaluator, attorney Peggy Kerr, acknowledged that Lopez is "an intelligent, educated woman who has devoted her life, her heart and her soul to taking excellent care of her much beloved daughter," she urged that the court appoint someone "free from actual or apparent conflict of interest" as the guardian of Jackie's money. For her services, Kerr billed the estate $42,000 at $300 an hour.
A guardian was appointed, and the money-drain began. Nellie Lopez began to balk, refusing to deal with the guardians. The relationship became increasingly adversarial, and the guardian, attorney Mary V. Rosado, began threatening to remove Jackie from her mother's care and to block her from seeing her daughter.
At that point, Nellie Lopez and Jackie disappeared. According to Lopez's nephew, David Lopez, somewhere between December 22 and 27th, Lopez and Jackie simply picked up and left.
David, who states he has no knowledge of their whereabouts, is now reporting that he is being stalked and harassed by "private investigators" who have come to his home and his workplace. The harassment became so serious that David left his Manhattan apartment and went to stay outside the city with his girlfriend for a while. He then noticed the "private investigators" tailing him from work, and he began to take convoluted routes back to his girlfriend's home, in order to elude the dicks. He also began to photograph those following him and their vehicles.
At that point, according to David, they quit tailing him. He stated he believes that to be because of his acts of photographing them. However, he then received a letter from court appointed attorney Margaret Mayo requesting that he appear for a deposition. Both David Lopez and another aunt, Gladys Figueroa, have been ordered to bring their phone and bank records to that deposition, in an apparent attempt to discover if either of them have been in contact with or provided funds to the escapees. In conversation April 4, 2008, David Lopez explicitly denied recent contact with or financial support of the women.
Lopez had appeared for a previously scheduled deposition, only to have the court reporter fail to appear. That deposition was thus canceled.
David was also contacted by a psychic, Jackie Barrett. She called him at work, stating she was interested in the case. She soon started offering him money for information on the whereabouts of Nellie and Jackie. The offers began at $5000 and soon escalated up to twenty thousand dollars. He reports that he "cursed" at her, and told her to stop calling him. Lopez believes that Barrett was hired by the guardian. Calls to Jackie Barrett by the American's Bulletin were not returned.
The court papers concerning Nellie Lopez and Jacqueline Salazar reveal a certain frantic tone. Nellie Lopez has been deemed in contempt of court by Judge Sherry Klein Heitler, who further states that "Nellie Lopez continues to deny that the court has authority over her or her daughter's life" and that Lopez is refusing to attend status conferences or accept funds from the guardian. Heitler then ordered that Lopez return Jackie to Mary V. Rosado, court-appointed Guardian of Jackie's person and property, who shall then transport her to the nearest hospital for a complete medical assessment.
The Judge also ordered that "Nellie Lopez and Oscar Salazar (Jackie's father) shall not interfere in any way with the physical transfer of Jacqueline Salazar to the hospital" and that Nellie Lopez shall turn over immediately Jackie's passport to Rosado. Essentially, it appears that the "excellent care" that the evaluator Peggy Kerr noted was given Jackie by her doting mother is just about to be terminated.
David Lopez and others associated with the case have stated that the actions of the guardian have escalated this situation to a police matter, which should have been entirely unnecessary. Last month, David Lopez was approached by a man who identified himself as an FBI agent, making further inquiries about the whereabouts of Nellie and Jackie. It appears there is now an arrest warrant issued for Nellie Lopez.
The guardian, Mary V. Rosado, did not return calls from The American's Bulletin inquiring about this case.
I am requesting that those concerned about the apparent miscarriage of justice in criminalizing a mother for attempting to protect her daughter from institutionalization take the following actions:
Contact Mary V. Rosado and The New York Supreme Court. Rosado's work number is (212) 758-2104 and the Press Office of The NY Supreme Court is (212) 428-2500. Those in power need to know what we think of their behavior.
Please download and listen to this Radio interview Dr. Victoria Hufnagel interview with Janet Phelan on WBAI . The show aired on Friday on http://www.wbai.org/ in New York for those that missed it live you can download the mp3 file and listen with your favorite player.You can download the mp3 file here=>>
Listen to this interview about Nellie Lopez whose only sin is to want to take care of her daughter free of government interference.
June 19, 2008 update : Nellie Lopez had been released from custody, Jackie is being held at the hospital, please make the phone calls, let everyone know that this case is being watched by a lot of people. And more stress that can only hurt these victims who have been through enough already .