Friday, November 6, 2009

Scott Licensing Question Now Up to Judge

by Janet Phelan as Published in the San Bernardino County Sentinel 11-06-2009

After three days of hearings in October, the issue of whether Melodie Scott’s professional fiduciary license will be granted is in the hands of Oakland Administrative Law Judge Melissa Crowell.

Melodie Scott first caught the public eye back in November of 2005, when the Los Angeles Times raised questions about her business practices in their series on conservatorships for the elderly, entitled “Guardians for Profit--When a Family Matter Becomes a Business.” As a result of the outcry generated by the Times series, the California Legislature passed the Omnibus Conservatorship Reform Act of 2006, in which regulatory measures were put into place for the previously unregulated and unlicensed conservators. The Professional Fiduciary Bureau, however did not open its doors until 2008. Governor Schwarzenegger line item vetoed the funding for the Act and thus the Professional Fiduciary Bureau did not begin reviewing requests for licenses until the summer of 2008.

Melodie Scott’s application for a license was denied by the Professional Fiduciary Bureau in August of 2008, on the grounds that she made false statements on her application. She appealed that decision and the hearings began in Oakland Administrative court in May, were continued in August and concluded last week after three more days of hearings.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines a conservator as a “protector or guardian.”Conservatorships are generally initiated through court proceedings when there are allegations that an individual lacks the competency to handle his orher own affairs. There are two types of conservatorships in the state of California—conservatorship of person and conservatorship of estate. A conservatorship of person allows the conservator to make personal decisions for the alleged incapacitated person, including whether or not the conservatee will be allowed to marry, where he or she will reside or whether the alleged incapacitated person will even be permitted to see family members and friends. At the initiation of a conservatorship of estate, all assets are transferred into the control of the conservator, including bank accounts and property, which may then be sold without the permission of the conservatee. In many cases the court will approve both types of conservatorships upon initial hearing.

Several witnesses testified at the last round of hearings for Scott, including her attorney J. David Horspool, attorney Jim Church and conservator Sarah Kerley.

Although there were several requests to testify against Scott by those whose testimony could be considered adverse to her achieving her licensure, only one party was actually permitted to testify. Steve Price, of Yucaipa, lost his disabled son Stevie after a series of questionable medical decisions by Melodie Scott, who was the young Price’s conservator. Stevie Price had become disabled at the age of nine due to an emergency room foul-up. His parents sued the hospital and won $4.2 million.

Scott applied to become Stevie’s conservator in 1998 amidst protestations by the elder Steve Price. Following Stevie’s death in 2004, Price was ‘shocked’ to find that the entire trust had been depleted.

In a curious legal maneuever, Scott had actually subpoenaed Price to appear as a witness at her licensing hearing, after she discovered he intended to travel to Oakland to testify against her. This subpoena effectively blocked Price’s appearance in the courtroom and he was thus forced to remain outside of the otherwise public hearing until called to testify--against Scott.

In addition to Price’s testimony, three affidavits were submitted into evidence. These were signed by individuals who asserted they were negatively impacted by Scott’s business practices and constructed by deputy attorney general John Cooper, who represented the Professional Fiduciary Board in this matter.

Scott’s attorney, J. David Horspool has taken issue with previous reports appearing in the Sentinel regarding Scott and others professionally affiliated with her, including himself.
In an email dated October 22, 2009 Horspool lambasted Janet C. Phelan, the author of several of those articles as “not a real reporter. If you were,” Horspool said in directly addressing Phelan, “you would represent the worst of the worst.”

Moreover, Horspool alleged, the articles were not only derogatory but inaccurate. On October 23, 2009, he wrote: “….understand that false accusations of criminal conduct is actionable as slander or libel. If you want to continue down this road, please understand that I can sue you for defamation of character, libel and/or slander, and, when I am successful, I will obtain a charging order….“

On October 23 in Riverside Court, Riverside Superior Court Judge Gary Tranbarger vacated a sanctioning hearing against Horspool for a failure to appear on October 9th. When questioned why he was not pursuing sanctions against Horspool for not showing up or not informing the court that he could not appear, Tranbarger stated he was sure the attorney did not intend to miss the hearing. Papers had been filed for the October 9 hearing alleging criminal activity by Horspool. Tranbarger refused to entertain contempt of court charges against Horspool or discuss the allegations.

Charges have been dropped against Joseph Quattrochi, who was originally charged with threatening an employee of Melodie Scott. Back in 2007, Quattrochi had been parked close to Scott’s office on State Street in Redlands, awaiting the arrival of others who were planning on holding a demonstration in front of Scott’s office. He was arrested and booked by the Redlands Police. All charges were dropped last week.


Anonymous said...

They have induced us to fight over our possessions and freedoms in law courts with the aid of greedy lawyers in front of rapacious judges who have built up the largest prison population in the world.

Anonymous said...

Dont give melodie scott back her license people have lost a son and uncle because of her