Friday, August 20, 2010

State Denies Melodie Scott Fiduciary License

By Janet C. Phelan

The California Department of Consumer Affairs has issued a final determination on the issue of embattled conservator Melodie Scott’s application for a professional fiduciary license. In a decision tendered last week, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) denied Melodie Scott’s appeal.

According to Russ Heimerich, press officer with the Department of Consumer Affairs, Melodie Scott has already filed a writ in Sacramento Superior Court to overturn the decision by the DCA
Scott first caught the public eye back in 2005 when she was featured in the Los Angeles Times series, "Guardians for Profit--When a Family Matter Becomes a Business." Due to the public outcry engendered by the Times’ series, the California Legislature passed the Omnibus Conservatorship Reform Act of 2006.

The Act called for the establishment of the Professional Fiduciary Bureau, among other stipulations intended to protect the elderly and disabled from unscrupulous fiduciaries. Lodged within the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Professional Fiduciary Bureau (PFB) was mandated with licensing and oversight of the previously unlicensed fiduciaries and conservators.

Scott first applied for a license in 2008, when the newly formed PFB started accepting applications for licensing. Her application was initially denied on grounds that she had made false statements on the application. Later, two other charges were added – a drunk driving arrest and the further violation of continuing to act as a fiduciary without a license.

Scott appealed the decision and the matter went into an administrative hearing in Oakland. Administrative Law Judge Melissa Crowell opined that Scott should be granted a probationary license. Brian Stiger, executive director of the DCA, who has final say on these matters, declined to issue the license to Scott. She then appealed his decision. After two months of re
consideration, the DCA issued its final determination on August 12.

A conservator is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as a "protector or guardian." Conservatorships, which generally impact the elderly and disabled, are generally established through court proceedings, when there are allegations that a person may be incapable of handling his or her affairs. There are two kinds of conservatorships in the state of California--conservatorship of person and conservatorship of estate.

Upon the initiation of the former and the appointment of a conservator of person, the alleged incapacitated person’s rights to make personal decisions are all transferred to the conservator. These decisions include where she may live, whether she may marry and even whether family or friends may visit. Upon the initiation of a conservatorship of estate, the alleged incapacitated person’s financial assets are all transferred to the care and protection of the professional conservator.

A number of national grassroots organizations have formed in the last several years, due to growing concern that the conservators are abusing their clients and self dealing from the estates of their wards.

Melodie Scott’s current website advertises her as a "Professional Fiduciary." Gary Duke, legal counsel for the Department of Consumer Affairs, has affirmed that offering herself as professional fiduciary without a license is a misdemeanor.

An incident report concerning this latest issue was filed with the Red lands Police this week by a local woman. The party filing the complaint reports that the responding officer, Eric Strobough, declined to take a full fledged misdemeanor report, stating that criminal activity by fiduciaries needs to be investigated by the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau. The bureau was requested last month to contact law enforcement on the issue of Scott offering services without a proper license. Gary Duke declined to answer follow up queries as to whether or not the DCA had contacted law enforcement, citing Government Code 6254 as exempting him from responding to this query.

Officer Strobough had also responded to the "dead body " call which came in to the Redlands PD when Melodie Scott conservatee Frank Bellue passed away at the condo of Scott’s ex-husband last year. Bellue had apparently been living in the condo with Melodie Scott’s brother, Graham Zinck. Strobough declined to comment on the curious circumstances surrounding Bellue’s death. In response to a request for public records, the city of Redlands released the police and paramedics’ reports but blacked out every indication as to cause of death and whether Bellue was alive when emergency services arrived on the scene.

Adding further confusion to the matter, Angela Bigelow, an analyst with the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau has stated that criminal activity by fiduciaries should be reported to law enforcement.

According to the Redlands Police, no report was filed by the DCA.

Other allegations lodged against Scott include theft, embezzlement, breach of fiduciary duty, using power of health care to withhold necessary medical care from her clients, resulting in death, and undue influence upon judges.

A police report concerning a death threat made by Scott to a Sentinel reporter caught on audio tape was referred to the district attorney, who declined to prosecute her. Recently, Scott’s application for guardianship of a minor child was dismissed in San Bernardino Court. The Sentinel has learned that Child Protective Services became involved.

Melodie Scott did not respond to requests for comment.

Source=>>The San Bernardino CountySentinel

No comments: