|For the first time ever, the UN is reviewing the Human Rights record of the U.S. There are certain pre-designated agencies that are allowed to submit these reports, and I have gotten permission to do so.|
Random reports going in to the UN do not have the power of bundled reports from numerous parties, submitted as one entity to powerfully support the contention that the probate courts across the country are robbing people of their rights, their funds and their lives.
I urge you to send me your report if you wish it to be included. Please get to me by April 15th
If you have any questions on formatting your report, please E mail me .
All correspondence to me should come to my email address.
Reports are coming in and I have been contacted by more victims. The word seems to be getting out. Please get your documented reports in to me as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please email me. I am unable at this point in time to help in creating the reports, although I can give some input on formatting, etc.
Thanks to all of you for all you are doing for this cause. We're going "International!"
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Posted: 23 Mar 2010 05:38 PM PDT
Policing the guardians: combating guardianship and power of attorney fraud
Mathis E. McRae
The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
People often envision robbery and assault by some unknown individual or physical or mental abuse by a known caregiver as typical crimes against the elderly. However, these are not the only cases of eider abuse. One area in which law enforcement has seen an increasing number of complaints is financial exploitation of the elderly through the mismanagement of their income and assets. These incidents usually occur when individuals are given legal guardianship or power of attorney over the victim’s finances.
This article discusses what constitutes guardianship and power of attorney fraud and the problems inherent in such cases. It also offers investigators and prosecutors advice in handling these cases. Finally, it suggests ways to decrease the number of financial exploitation crimes.
Appointed by the court, guardians generally provide care for individuals unable to care for themselves. This often means making decisions that affect every aspect of their lives, including their persons, property, and finances. The problem with this arrangement, as the Pepper Commission on Aging(1) points out, is that it follows an “all or nothing concept.” People judged incompetent lose all of their rights and seldom regain them, unless they can prove total recovery from the conditions that led to their being judged incompetent. This sometimes leads to individuals abusing their positions as guardians. In an attempt to correct this problem, the Florida Legislature created the Study Commission on Guardianship Law to investigate abuses and pinpoint deficiencies in Florida’s system, to receive public input, and to recommend changes in the law.(2) As a result, Florida now uses a flexible adjudication arrangement that allows the court to establish a guardianship tailored to the particular disabilities of the incapacitated person. Based on their capabilities, individuals can retain some of their rights, while surrending others. In short, the court may appoint an individual as a guardian of the person, the person’s assets, or both. Overall, this law allows for closer scrutiny by the court of the manner in which the ward’s assets are spent.
Law enforcement agencies sometimes add to the problems caused by these judicial constraints. They, too, may see power of attorney holders as having cart blanche over conveyors’ finances.
Law enforcement professionals need to recognize that individuals can be guilty of theft or exploitation of aged adults through the improper use of funds for their own profit, as well as through the misuse of a power of attorney. Once investigators and prosecutors realize this, they can turn their attention to the very real problem of proving wrongdoing.
PROOF OF THE OFFENSE
Suspects usually gain access to their victims’ bank accounts by presenting the power of attorney to the bank or by having their victims agree to have a second signature on the accounts in case of emergency. Therefore, proving financial exploitation usually requires accessing checking and savings accounts by subpoena or search warrant; retrieving canceled checks, statements, and items of deposit; and determining the flow of the alleged victim’s funds. If suspects clearly profit from using victims’ funds, and victims meet their State’s definition of aged or disabled, the issue becomes one of intent. That is, investigators must determine whether suspects intended to exploit victims or whether they believed, in good faith, that they had the right to use victims’ funds for that particular purpose. In most jurisdictions, if any evidence, however minimal, exists to prove that the exploitation was intentional, the court would allow a jury trial.
As noted, case law relating to power of attorney fraud places a higher burden of responsibility on guardians. They have the right and authority to serve their charges’ needs, not their own. Therefore, prosecutors who present the power of attorney into evidence should actually help the State’s case because victims, in conveying that power, place trust in defendants to act in their best interest. Use of Theft Statutes
In order to apply theft or theft-related statutes to guardianship and power of attorney cases, the prosecution must prove that defendants did not have victims’ consent to use their funds in the manner indicated. One difficulty prosecutors often face is the inability of victims to provide testimony. Victims may be deceased or physically or mentally unable to testify.
In its decision, the court noted that while proving nonconsent to the taking of property is a necessary element in a theft case, this lack of consent may be proven by circumstantial evidence. Further, even when victims apparently agree to allow others to control their finances, that consent is not effective unless, as a factual matter, it is voluntary and intelligent. The court found that the victim was not mentally competent to understand the nature of the joint bank account arrangements she had with the defendant, was not capable of giving valid consent, and therefore, the defendant had gained unauthorized control over the victim’s property.
Gainer points to another problem that prosecutors face in financial exploitation cases. At times, evidence exists that victims consented to the arrangement; however, they lacked an understanding of the nature of the transaction, the meaning of the expenditures, or other circumstances which, had they known or understood, would have caused them to act differently.
While undue influence has been carefully explored in civil cases relating to financial transactions, it has rarely been applied in the criminal context, especially in theft cases. The closest analogy has been those States that use instances of coercion, undue influence, or victims’ lack of fully understanding transactions as evidence in exploition cases. Under such circumstances, most States require proof of victims’ limited capacity or ability to care for their own needs for them to meet the definition of aged adults. Further, there is often an age requirement, usually 60 or 65 years of age.(10)
Education of incoming and current law enforcement officers must be enhanced. Officers need to realize that not all criminal activity is violent, that not all property is stolen in the night, and that documents need not confuse, but may incriminate and convict guilty exploiters.
The often-used phrase “the graying of America” accurately describes the shifting upward of the age of crime victims and the changing nature of the types of crimes by which they are victimized. Social service agencies, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors must communicate and work together in order to make progress against this type of criminal activity.
1 Pepper Commission on Aging, Master Plan on Aging for Florida, vol. 1, Part A, September 1990.
3 The Florida law previously referenced refers to the misuse of a power of attorney as one means in which the crime of exploitation may be committed. See FLA. STAT. Sec. 415.102(9)(1973).
4 See, e.g., FLA. STAT. Sec. 415.111(5)(1993).
5 State v. Dyer, 607 So.2d 482 (Fla. App. 2 Dist. 1992).
6 FLA. STAT. Sec. 415.102(1993).
7 State v. Cuda, 622 So.2d. 502 (Fla. App. 5 Dist. 1993).
8 FLA. STAT. Sec. 415.102(9)(1993).
9 Gainer v. State, 553 So.2d 673 (ALA.CR.APP.1989).
10 See, e.g., FLA. STAT. Sec. 415.102 (3)(1993).
Bibliography for: “Policing the guardians: combating guardianship and power of attorney fraud”
Mathis E. McRae “Policing the guardians: combating guardianship and power of attorney fraud”. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin,The. FindArticles.com. 23 Mar, 2010. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2194/is_n2_v63/ai_15267880/
Friday, March 19, 2010
"As far as "passion" is concerned, most of these people don't witness it, because I have kept a low profile, from most of them, so, that is a misinterpretation. However, if a person isn't "passionate" about being prevented from spending normal family time, with their own, elderly, parents, something is horrifically, wrong. If other people told lies, against you, for the purpose of exploiting your parents, and denied you normal access to them, don't you think you would feel passionate? I would, certainly, hope so. If you don't understand that this is happening to upstanding citizens, i.e. productive members of society with no criminal records, then, the issues are not being understood." Barbara Morris
Thursday, March 18, 2010
My mother needs help here in New York. She was "injured" in her home in March 2009. My sister "discovered" her, almost dead with a massive head injury.
After six months of recovery, mom had a choice to go home with assistance or try assisted living. When she didn't like it, she requested the facility to send her paperwork to her doctor who would submit it to Medicare for a home plan.
The Director and Social Worker refused, citing the POA and Health Proxy my sister obtained during mom's recovery, neither of which gave my sister the authority to force mom to stay at the facility.
My sister petitioned for Guardianship, in the wrong County, and The Supreme Court of Nassau County NY, Judge Joel K. Asarch accepted it. The Article 81 MHL, under which the hearing proceeded, clearly states it should have been in The Supreme Court of Suffolk County where the facility is located. No change of venue was requested.
The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct is investigating, or so they say. My sister worked for a financial attorney for 27 years in Nassau County, until he suddenly retired in March 2009, when the Madoff Scandal became public, leaving my sister unemployed and broke. Hey, isn't that when mom got "injured"? Mom had a sizable diversified trust, one third Madoff, so she didn't lose everything like my sister did.
Mom is suffering everyday while at the facility . Her knee was hobbled in physical therapy there, she's received two more head injuries there, and I cannot get any county or state agencies to intervene. My sister tells mom she is doing everything she can to get mom out. I tell mom the truth and she doesn't know what to think.
The court granted personal needs guardianship, not property, citing the POA as sufficient. Mom has tried to go to the bank to revoke the power of attorney but the staff will not let her go out without my sister. She wants to get a lawyer. She wants to go home, and can well afford to, or maybe she can't. My sister refuses to give mom her credit cards, bank statements, bills, trust papers, deed, money, which she took from mom's house while she was recovering.
My mother and I are not permitted to see the Petition or the Court Evaluators Report which contains financial info and allegations made by my sister. Mom's court appointed attorney did not represent her, and even stated to the court that she believes mom should stay in the facility. The judge allowed it. Seems pointless to complain to The Nassau County Bar Association when the Judge is the vice-president. I've written to,called, and e-mailed so many agencies that are supposed to help, but they don't.They hang out a sign, collect a paycheck from county and state taxes, and don't do anything.
The next thing I write will be a parody titled "How to cash in on your mom, in these hard times" In which I will follow the steps my sister took and then, don't worry about any agency or court, they won't stop you. Including the tip that you don't have to pay a lawyer, the ward has to pay that, and all of the court proceeding. What have you got to lose? Seriously, I am suffering for and with my mother.
The court has kept her in the facility 7 months now, she's anxious, confused, overmedicated and desperate. My sister tells her if she doesn't stop complaining, she's going to turn her over to the state, and who knows what they'll do with her. Please help mom.
After talking to you over the phone I could not get over how similar our stories were
The story of elder exploitation and abuse sounds eerily like my own here in Florida in the early stages, it seems that people who do this think alike.
My brother was having major financial problems, he was in foreclosure and had Federal Tax Warrants against him as well as other legal actions.
Other than Dementia, Alzheimer, and short term memory loss my mother rode a Trike 3x a week and was in perfect physical health. WE always asked for a handicapped room when we traveled and never left her alone.
Once Adalberto J. Fernandez a.k.a. Al and William A. Hart a.k.a. Bill started experiencing financial problems, they took Clara and left her alone in a Motel Room , according to emergency room records she was drugged and left alone, when Al and Bill found her with a serious head injury, and she was also not expected to live!But not before they had transferred all control of her finances over to themselves.
*They executed Quit Claim Deeds whose signature even to un trained eyes did not match hers.
*They executed a POA who the court later declared NOT to be valid.
*Using this POA the closed out all her accounts,Bonds,Stock, CD's and had the money sent to them with Clara as payee, but of course Clara was not aware of an of this, not was she in an condition to agree as she was fighting for her life.
*They tied her existing accounts to their own using Overdraft protection then overdrew their accounts until there was nothing left in hers.
I am publishing these photos to expose the inhumanity to which these elders were subjected to (Dr. A.J. Fernandez died Jan 9th 2005 because of the stress of the situation) for the sake of financial gain for a few who continue to ply their trade in human suffering in order to financially profit at any cost.
When all of these was happening Clara was drugged with the strongest cocktail of drugs known, drugs that would knock young healthy human being down, and the Florida Division of Children and Families was the only agency that could have protected her from serious injury, after several complaints that were made BEFORE Clara was injured they did nothing, the DCF in Bartow,Florida more specifically supervisor Roselynn Smith and Clay Kellam called us on December 24th,2004 to tell the worried family that they lacked police powers and there was nothing the could do to protect Clara from injury.
It is regrettable that I have to publish these pictures to show how the authorities fail to provide even a modicum of protection for elders and when siblings fight and the elders get caught in the crossfire and are seriously injured and killed how they will just look the other way!
WE can put men on the moon but we are not able to provide protection for our elders or when a sibling gone bad goes on a rampage, we can not be bothered to protect the lives of these elders!
Or could it be that more money is to be made if we look the other way , call it a civil matter and feed the courts and it's servants because the authorities in charge of protecting our elders do not have the intelligence or political will to investigate and separate the good guys from the bad guys?
March 18, 2010 - by Paul Hsieh
President Obama’s health care “reform” plan has been criticized for being economically unsustainable, politically unpopular, and constitutionally suspect. But for many practicing physicians like myself, his plan contains an even greater but seldom-discussed flaw that overshadows those others. ObamaCare would fatally compromise doctors’ ability to uphold their Hippocratic Oath to treat their patients according to their best judgment and ability.
Whenever the government attempts to guarantee “universal health care,” it must also control that service, if only to control costs. Hence, it will inevitably seek to control how doctors practice. Accordingly, the White House Council of Economic Advisors has recommended controlling costs through “performance measures that all providers would adopt.” Physicians who strayed too far from government “comparative effectiveness” practice guidelines would be punished as “high end outliers.”
This will place your doctor’s medical conscience directly on a collision course with government bureaucrats.
If you developed severe abdominal pain due to gallstones, who should decide whether medication or surgery would be the best treatment for you? The doctor who felt your abdomen, saw your ultrasound, and knows your drug allergies? Or a bureaucrat who has never met you, never went to medical school, and is quoting “comparative effectiveness” guidelines from a book?
Yet if that bureaucrat decides that your doctor is performing more surgeries than government guidelines allowed, then your doctor could face punishment — even if surgery would be the best choice for you as an individual patient. Your doctor would be forced to choose between following his conscience and treating you to the best of his ability — or following a bureaucrat’s decree. In essence, he would be punished for upholding his Hippocratic Oath and rewarded for violating it.
Such ethical dilemmas have already arisen for doctors practicing in other countries with government-run “universal health care,” such as Great Britain and Canada.
In 2008, a scandal erupted in Great Britain when the public learned that the government-run National Health Service had paid bonuses to family physicians who reduced the number of patients they referred to specialists. According to the Telegraph, “A leading surgeon said that patients’ cancers had already gone undiagnosed after they were denied specialist care under two such ‘referral management’ schemes.”
If you physician feels a suspicious lump in your abdomen during a routine physical exam, do you want him to hesitate — or even worse, ignore it — for fear of losing his bonus because he referred too many patients to an oncologist?
Similarly, nearly one in four British oncologists admitted to deliberately withholding information from their patients about treatments widely available in other European countries, but not allowed under the NHS system due to cost. These oncologists argued that “there was ‘no point’ in discussing treatments their patients could not have” and that such a discussions might “distress, upset or confuse” their patients.
But patients rely on their physicians for information about treatment options — including an honest appraisal of all the risks, benefits, and alternatives — so they can make fully-informed decisions about their lives. Failure to disclose such information is a serious breach of a doctor’s Hippocratic Oath.
Government-run medicine thus pitted doctors against their patients in an ethically perverse situation. Physicians, prohibited by the government from doing what they actually thought was best for their patients, had to decide whether they should conceal medically important information from their patients. Patients were placed in a position of not knowing if their doctors were being fully truthful with them. The result was rationing not only of medical care, but of medical information.
Canadian doctors have been placed in a similar ethical bind due to government control of scarce hospital beds and operating-room time through its infamous system of “waiting lists.”
One Canadian doctor told documentary filmmaker Stuart Browning that if a surgeon was too persistent in requesting operating-room time for his patients, he could be disciplined as a “disruptive doctor” and have his already limited operating-room time reduced even further. In other words, the surgeon would be forced to choose between upholding his Hippocratic Oath to his patient and maintaining his capacity to practice medicine.
Similar problems are threatening to develop in the United States as well.
Ever since Massachusetts adopted its “universal coverage” plan in 2006, state health spending has skyrocketed. In response, a special state commission has proposed controlling costs by eliminating the standard fee-for-service system of medical reimbursement and instead requiring the government or private insurers to pay doctors and hospitals an annual fixed fee for the medical care of each patient. Proponents claim this would give providers an incentive to improve efficiency and eliminate unnecessary tests and treatments.
But in practice, this would create an incentive for physicians and hospitals to provide as little care as possible. Under the Massachusetts proposal, if your care costs less than your annual allotment, then the providers would keep the unused portion. If your care costs more, then the difference would come out of their pockets. Such a system thus pits your doctor’s interests against your own.
Suppose the state had already paid out 90 percent of your annual allotment. You then see your doctor for a severe headache. He examines you, peeks at the balance on your allotment, and says, “No need for an expensive MRI scan of your brain. Just take two Tylenol and call me in the morning.” Can you be sure that he is giving you his best medical advice?
Even if a doctor conscientiously attempts to practice in his patients’ best interests, his decisions will inevitably be questioned by hospital administrators:
Does Mrs. Jones really need another ultrasound test? Can’t you use a cheaper antibiotic for her infection? Isn’t she stable enough to go home today, rather than spend another expensive night in the hospital? We’ve already burned through the money allotted to take care of her this year. Anything else we do for her puts us in the red.
Your doctor will thus be forced to constantly balance your interests against the demands of a government-beholden bureaucrat who might be deciding whether or not to renew his practice privileges.
Because the ObamaCare plan is closely modeled after the Massachusetts plan, the problems unfolding now in Massachusetts are a preview of what the rest of the country could soon expect under ObamaCare.
The great evil of “universal health care” is not that it allows a few bad doctors to cut a few medical corners. Instead, the evil is that it routinely punishes good doctors for their medical virtues and rewards them for their vices. Under ObamaCare, conscientious physicians will have to waste untold hours avoiding detection, arguing with bureaucrats, and defending their actions while their less conscientious colleagues will just follow orders, punch a clock, and go home.
Do we want a government-run medical system which forces doctors to choose between treating their patients in accordance with their best judgment or sacrificing their patients to keep their jobs?
Or do we want free-market reforms that will allow doctors to do what doctors are supposed to do — namely, uphold their Hippocratic Oath to take care of their patients to the best of their judgment and ability?
Our elected officials are deciding that question right now. If you value your life, let them know what you think.
[This essay is adapted from a forthcoming article in the Spring 2010 issue of The Objective Standard entitled, "Government-Run Health Care Vs. The Hippocratic Oath."]
Cross posted from Blackfive
While I served to protect the principle of free speech, I detest when people choose to follow perceptions rather than reality and attempt to rewrite history. Especially when those people equate the honor and sacrifice displayed by the members of the U.S. military with the evil perpetrated by the Taliban.
To those who cast aside reason in this manner, I ask: What do you stand to gain by taking the position that the U.S. is no worse than the Taliban?
Read it all here=>>BlackFive
You can delete if you feel compelled to hold back the truth to protect the criminal ruling class that no longer represents the 'people' I say the truth because these are real letters from real people who are suffering from having their families separated, their doors kicked down and their relatives led away often never to be seen again! To follow up on my posting please allow me to post one of the hundreds of letters like this I received everyday which overwhelms me, makes me sick, is this what our fathers sacrificed for?
----- Original Message -----
From: rudy bush
To: Ray Fernandez
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2010 2:59 PM
Subject: To see my mother
Ray, do you have an idea of a way to see my mother?
Though I talk to my mother nearly every day on the telephone, I have not seen my mother in nearly 6 years, since the hearing of October 27, 2004 and I need to see for myself if my mother has gained weight due to the elderly killer drug Zyprexa. At that hearing, the last hearing, my mother was ordered out of her home instead of honoring her demand for her right to honest evaluation by a real doctor. The judge, Judge Munsinger, stated during his ruling that day, that he would deny all my mother's or my future pleadings.
The guardian has threatened me with false arrest several times, the most recent in spring of 2009 claiming my request for medical records was a crime. The guardian has ignored the "encouragement to discuss medical" with me, that is part of the guardianship orders.
The guardian's lawyer threatened me with a harassment charge for my leaving a very polite message on the guardian's voice mail asking to see my mother for Christmas 2004 stating my message was "an attempt to circumvent the rules for visitation."
Those rules were written up by the guardian's lawyer, built on false accusations and for me to sign them would be signing a confession. Among those rules was a rule that states that I cannot bring up the "events of May 8, 2003." On that day the guardian brought police and broke down my mother's door, dragged her out of her chair when she could not get up fast enough, handcuffed her and took her to emergency mental ward on false pretenses. You have the story of this day and the recording my mother left on friend of the family Frank Sampson's answering machine.
The Judge rubber stamps everything the guardian wants.
Just what can I do to see my mother?
Have you ever lived with this? All your close friends and family
have died? You have no trust or confidence in our government?
Man, that is an empty feeling!
Have you ever lived with this?
One day blurs into the next. And you keep thinking.........
something will change, some one will change it......... but it
never happens! It`s like a sad lament or even a soap opera,
"to be continued!" And continued and...........
Look, I'm am no crazier than you are (well, maybe I am) I all ways
thought that the cavalry would ride in on their white horses
and save us.......
But as I am sure you will agree.......WE ARE the cavalry!!!!!
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Clara G. Fernandez at 87 years old un-wittingly got caught in the biggest Medicare Fraud that has been reported on this website.
Clara who had been together with her husband for 58 years was starting to enjoy the fruits of their life long labor and were planning to retiring to Orlando near the Flea Markets and the Parks that the enjoyed visiting so much to a new Ranch style home that her younger son, a General Contractor was building for them.
Un unbeknown to Clara or the family her oldest son had been secretly planning and patiently waiting for the opportunity to plan his revenge.
Adalberto Jose Fernandez or Al as he was known was harboring a deep resentment from his childhood years and had always maintained his distance from the family...
His opportunity came when Clara was diagnosed as having developed Alzheimer, Dementia, and short term memory loss by her Doctors. Setting in motion an unbelievable tale of revenge, Medicare Fraud and Elder abuse as has ever been documented.
Up the the time that Clara was kidnapped Medicare had only been billed sporadically for routine Doctors visits to the Neurologist,Cardiologist and GP..
Perhaps in the past three years there had been one Hospital visit.
From the time that she was removed from her home for the next six months while she was being held secluded,medicated while her Trust Account,CD's, Real Estate,Jewelry,and other valuables were being liquidated Medicare was billed hundreds of times, there were multiple Hospitalizations, Medicare was billed for 4 Nursing homes stays, and numerous mobilizations some involving air travel with cost of over $22,000 per incident. Medicare was billed for an abundance of over medications, surgical procedures, equipment rentals, and things that Clara never even remotely was involved with such as Colostomy procedures and equipment.. Was remarkable that even after Clara left the country Medicare continued to get billed!
All this for a person that in June 2004 her Doctor remarked that Clara was in excellent health!
Clara was recovered on August 5th, 2005 after this date the Medicare gravy train slowed to a crawl and although the billing continued it slowed down to substantially, from over a hundred billings for 2004-2005 to less than 25 from 2005 to the present.
Even though a panel found Clara to be incapacitated, this did not stop Adalberto Jose Fernandez and William A Hart from liquidating Clara's wealth and transferring it over to themselves in the form of bank drafts,Quit Claim Deed's and other liquidations to many to mention all here.
I am happy to report that Clara now 93 years young has recovered fully and except for the blows that she received when she was left alone in hotels rooms around the State of Florida while her captors were on the run with her, the abuse and injuries she received that left her in a wheelchair for life however she has partially regained her memory and is able to carry on limited conversation.
A sample of the many instruments that Willam A Hart and Adalberto J. Fernandez of 525 Lake Howard Drive,N.W. Winter Haven Florida 33880 used to get Clara's money after her incapacitation, notice that the Bank also named Clara as a Payee however Clara signature is missing from the endorsement as she is being held over-medicated and in strict isolation during the entire time her assets were taken, a period that took over 12 months due to Clara substantial assets.
And that trait served her and her family well as she pushed to have a cousin charged and ultimately convicted of stealing her 89-year-old aunt's life-savings.
Marc Jeffery Hawk, a 54-year-old former county maintenance supervisor, pleaded no contest to four counts of embezzlement and one count of exploitation of an elder for taking $53,438 from his aunt's bank account.
He spent Earla Mae Cowan's life-savings at Harrah's Cherokee Casino, according to court testimony.
He is the first person in Western North Carolina to go to jail under a law aimed at protecting the elderly from financial exploitation.
But the conviction wasn't easy for Cowan's family.
At first, authorities didn't want to prosecute the case, and throughout the process, Buchanan said, officials suggested it should be handled in civil court.
Now she's hoping others will take notice of potential elder abuse and use a 2005 law aimed at protecting North Carolina's oldest residents.
“Be persistent,” she said. “And don't take no for an answer.”
Convictions for exploiting elderly or disabled adults are rare but on the increase
Investigators statewide brought 12 charges in 2006, the year after the new law hit the books, but prosecutors made no convictions, according to records from the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts.Last year, investigators brought 84 charges and prosecutors won 19 convictions.
To win a case under the law, prosecutors must show that the defendant was in a position of trust and confidence with a person older than 60 who isn't able to take care of responsibilities that can include finances.
And the state must show the defendant used deception or intimidation to get access to the elderly person's money or property.
And the victims often aren't good witnesses because of disabilities such as Alzheimer's or dementia.
In the Hawk case, he had power of attorney over the victim at one time so it put him squarely within the statute's obligations for a caregiver.And, because of Cowan's age and declining mental capacity, she fit the statute's requirement for a victim
The Jackson County Sheriff's Office, at first, didn't want to investigate, citing a potential conflict of interest because Hawk had cleaned offices there in his job with the county maintenance department.Sheriff Jimmy Ashe asked District Attorney Michael Bonfoey to request the State Bureau of Investigation take the case.In the meantime, the family took their complaint to the Jackson County Department of Social Services, said Ann Buchanan, one of Cowan's nieces.
Investigators there, after looking at checks Hawk had written to himself from his aunt's account, requested a criminal investigation, Buchanan said.
The SBI declined to take the case. The Sheriff's Office started its own investigation about four months after the family tried to make the initial complaint.
The nature of exploitation makes winning a criminal case hard, said Michael Rich, director of the 30th Judicial Alliance, a group that advocates for victims of abuse in the state's seven western counties.
Often, he said, family members are the criminals and families don't want to bring charges against their own or spend the time it takes to get through the criminal court process.
He spent five days in the county jail and faces five years of probation. He also has to repay the money.
Buchanan said throughout the process, officials suggested the case should be handled in civil court. But that's not what the family wanted.
“We weren't after money for us,” she said. “We were after justice for Aunt Mae. We were just so afraid that this case was going to be eventually dismissed.”Rich said her experience is common.
“When it comes to financial issues, it appears to many in law enforcement and in the court system that these are civil rather than criminal issues,” he said. “Criminal charges mean an investigation that might involve hard work. A civil case means that the victim and his abuser are responsible for following through
The crime devastated Cowan, her family said in a victim impact statement filed with the court.
“To have her bank account depleted was indeed financial ruin for our aunt,” they said. “However, the shock, disbelief, stress, disappointment, embarrassment, humiliation and loss of dignity wreaked devastation on which there is no monetary value.”
Cowan, a widow with no children, had always prided herself in staying out of debt.
When bills started piling up after Hawk drained her bank account down to just $18, she was humiliated, her family said.
Her family said she started to decline after the crime and blames the stress for taking her sprit.
She's now in a nursing home.Buchanan said without help from DSS and Rich's organization — and hard work from her entire family — her aunt might not have seen justice.