Monday, June 30, 2008

Power of Attorney Reform – Please contact your NYS Senator today

POA reform was identified as a priority during the 2004 NYS Elder Abuse Summit, has been a focus of the NYS Coalition on Elder Abuse, and is something that many of you have been supporting for ten years or more.

Many of you have been asking, “What is happening with the legislation and what can I do to help?”

Here are the answers to those questions:

Assembly bill 6421-B – passed in the Assembly on June 11

Senate bill 4996-B – has not been voted on yet in the Senate

Apparently, there is some delay in the Senate – reason unknown at this time.

What you can do – Please call, fax or email your Senator. For contact info: Please also contact Senator Bruno, Senator Volker (the bill sponsor), and Senator DeFrancisco (Judiciary Committee Chair). Leave a voice mail message if necessary. Share your concerns about the need for POA reform.

You may think that one person can’t make a difference, but you are one of many – and many can make a difference! Coalition News Bulletins reach over 1,000 people throughout the state and many more when they are forwarded on to colleagues.

Each one of you can help educate the legislators by explaining why these reforms are necessary, even if you do so as a private citizen rather than in your professional capacity. Even if you have previously contacted your Senator regarding POA abuse and its impact on elderly victims, please do so again NOW.

There is still time to make a difference, but you must do so NOW.

As you all know, financial exploitation is the fastest growing form of elder abuse. It is an often hidden tragedy that affects many elderly victims with all its devastating emotional, physical, social and economic consequences.

Financial exploitation not only affects the financial security and physical and emotional well-being of an elderly victim, it also takes a toll on public finances. The impact is far reaching.

Please Support The Elder Justice Coalition =>>

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Justice For All

Websites to Visit ......=>>

Trauma: Emotional & Psychological

Trauma. The word brings to mind the effects of such major events as war, rape, kidnapping, abuse, torture, or other similar assault. The emotional aftermath of such events, recognized by the medical and psychological communities, and increasingly by the general public, is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Now there is a new field of investigation that is less familiar, even to professionals: emotional or psychological trauma.

Recent research has revealed that emotional trauma can result from such common occurrences as an auto accident, the breakup of a significant relationship, a humiliating or deeply disappointing experience, the discovery of a life-threatening illness or disabling condition, or other similar situations. Traumatizing events can take a serious emotional toll on those involved, even if the event did not cause physical damage.
Regardless of its source, an emotional trauma contains three common elements:
  • it was unexpected;
  • the person was unprepared;
  • andthere was nothing the person could do to prevent it from happening.
If we can communicate our distress to people who care about us and can respond adequately, and if we return to a state of equilibrium following a stressful event, we are in the realm of stress. If we become frozen in a state of active emotional intensity, we are experiencing an emotional trauma – even though sometimes we may not be consciously aware of the level of distress we are experiencing.

Symptoms should be taken seriously and steps should be taken to heal, just as one would take action to heal from a physical ailment. And just as with a physical condition, the amount of time or assistance needed to recover from emotional trauma will vary from one person to another.

Read The Rest of This Excellent Post by Barbara =>>

Friday, June 27, 2008

Casey, Kohl Introduce Bill to Help Protect Seniors from Investment Fraud

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, today introduced a bill to help protect seniors from investment fraud. The Senior Investor Protections Enhancement Act would increase penalties for those who commit securities violations against people who are at least 62 years old.

“Everyday, older Americans are targeted for investment scams and they see their life savings go down the drain” said Senator Casey “Pennsylvania has the second highest number of residents over the age of 65 and we must take care of them. This legislation will help better protect our older citizens from being targeted from fraud.”

“Many seniors are discovering that their life savings may not be enough to last them throughout their retirement. As they turn to investments to bridge the gap, seniors need to know that they can trust the people who handle their money,” said Senator Kohl. “This bill will ramp up the punishment for those who advantage of older Americans’ well-earned retirement savings.”

Americans over the age of 65 control an estimated $15 trillion in assets, a large portion of which are investable. Seniors have difficult and complicated decisions to make on how to stretch their savings throughout their retirement. Their assets remain at risk from traditional fraud and Ponzi schemes. Recently, seniors are increasingly offered many new but complicated investment tools such as reverse mortgages and various annuity products. While these products can be very valuable to Americans generally and seniors specifically, they can also be abused by unscrupulous actors.

Additionally, many older Americans are targeted by con artists who seek to exploit them through manipulation and fraud. Seniors already account for more than half of all investor complaints received by state securities regulators. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has reported that they are working to improve their ability to prevent fraud and abuse where possible and prosecute it where necessary.

Under the Senior Investor Protections Enhancement Act, penalties for existing securities violations could include an additional $50,000 civil fine for each violation that is primarily directed toward, specifically targets, or is committed against a senior. Under the legislation, seniors are defined as persons age 62 or older, the age at which most retirement savings become available for use and investment.

The bill would increase penalties for those who commit securities violations against seniors - violations could include selling them products that are unsuitable for their age, failing to disclose fees, lock-ups of cash or large penalty charges, switching investments sold with the one marketed or other material aspects of the investment. The bill would not interfere with legitimate investment advisors who recommend products and investments appropriate for their customers.

Last September, the Aging Committee held a hearing to examine some of the questionable practices used by so-called senior financial investment specialists in order to gain access to the retirement savings of older Americans. An investigation conducted by the Committee revealed that many seniors targeted by such unscrupulous salesmen have lost their life savings because they were steered toward investment instruments that were unsuitable for them, given their retirement needs and life expectancy.

Rohit Mahajan
Press Secretary
Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Tel: (202) 224-5653
Cell: (202) 489-8021

Kendra Barkoff
Press Secretary
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)
202-228-6367Mobile: 202-731-7778

Contact Senator Robert P Casey Jr and let him know you support his efforts to protect our elders :

Contact Senator Herb Kohl and let him know how much you appreciate his efforts :

High Court Preserves Second Amendment Rights...

According to the Associated Press:

"The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense and hunting - the justices' first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history. The court's 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment.

" The decision was 5-4. Justice Kennedy, taking over for the retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as the swing vote, thankfully sided with the conservative block of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito.

According to the Court's opinion written by Justice Scalia, "We start...with a strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans." Amen to that.

The Abduction of Amelia Lewis Gremlin

Highly recommended reading :

Compiled by Joseph M Quinn

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Value of Having a ‘Professional Will’ Stephen Ragusea

Professional associations have long encouraged their members to draw up a professional will. But so far, clinicians aren’t paying much attention.

Recently, we spoke with Stephen Ragusea, a clinician in Key West, FL, who has been promoting the idea in seminars. He says a survey of members of the American Psychological Association (APA) showed that only about 1% had a professional will.

He adds that the idea meets resistance among the therapists he works with--even when he offers a free template they can fill in themselves.

Why aren’t clinicians covering their bases? One reason is that like everyone else, therapists prefer not to think about early death or incapacity. They assume they’ll retire before it becomes an issue, giving them the opportunity to wind the practice down in an orderly manner.

"But winding down a practice in a planned manner is different from covering your practice in the event of death or incapacitation," Ragusea says. "It’s irresponsible not to provide for what happens after your death."

Beyond that, your personal estate could be at risk if you have no mechanism for tying up professional loose ends. Even if your practice is incorporated, he says, you may not be completely protected.

It’s not hard to get started, Ragusea adds. He’s provided a basic, three-page outline for a professional will--which you can read and print out at (Click on "Reader Services.")

He notes that it’s written "in plain language, deliberately avoiding the arcane jargon sometimes used in legal documents." But of course, you should run the finished document past your own attorney.

Here are three other ideas Ragusea says you should keep in mind when it comes to a practice will:

Figure out who you’d like to be your executor--then go and ask. It should be someone within your own discipline who’s familiar with your particular code of professional ethics. This is not a job to be offered or accepted casually. "You’re asking someone to do a lot of work for free."
Keep your attorney aware of what you’re doing. "He needs to know about the will, so he can be prepared to defend it."
Tell your accountant, too. "He may have to answer questions about your finances."

You can contact Stephen Ragusea at 1901 Fogarty Ave., Ste. 5, Key West, FL 33040, (305)294-2500,

To download a copy of the living will, click here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Probate Injustice :From Bad to Worst

Rick Green

There is the unbelievable. Then there is the probate court.

Before we travel to Waterbury Probate Court, recall the case of Daniel Gross. You may remember the outrageous story of Gross, the elderly New York man who was held against his will in a Waterbury nursing home in 2006 by order of the probate court, merely because he happened to get sick in Connecticut. He was freed when a Superior Court judge intervened, calling the Gross case "a terrible miscarriage of justice."

On that day almost two years ago I sat in Superior Court Judge Joseph Gormley's courtroom in Waterbury and thought justice had finally been served. Gross subsequently left Connecticut — quickly — and lived in his home on Long Island until last October, when he died at age 87.

Gross has become a symbol for families across the country who believe the rights of the elderly and infirm are being violated by overzealous courts eager to appoint conservators and lawyers who earn fat paychecks "representing" the unfortunate.

Now, in a scene from a horror tale, Gross' former court-appointed conservator, Kathleen Donovan, has returned to Waterbury Probate Court — the place Superior Court Judge Gormley said had no jurisdiction and no business inserting itself into this old man's life. She is seeking $39,195 from Gross' estate for her work keeping this elderly gentleman locked up in a local nursing home. That consists of 261.3 hours of work at $150 per hour.

"The accounting speaks for itself," Donovan's lawyer, Thomas Riley, told Probate Judge Walter A. Clebowicz Monday afternoon at the scene of the original crime, probate court in Waterbury. At the hearing Clebowicz said he will rule next month on whether Waterbury probate has jurisdiction here.

That this filing suddenly and curiously pops up on the probate court docket again, years later, without warning, is provocative enough, but first let's review what Judge Gormley said about jurisdiction on July 13, 2006.

"The statute is absolutely clear that you can't appoint a conservator of someone's person unless that person is domiciled in the state of Connecticut or resides in the state of Connecticut," Gormley said. "This gentleman ... has never lived in the state of Connecticut, has lived and raised his three children in New York, his only assets were in New York, his house and his bank account, his driver's license is in New York, his registration is New York, his mail goes to New York. There is to me not a scintilla of evidence supporting residency."

"You can't appoint a conservator of the person for someone who lives out of state ... the man lives somewhere else," Gormley said. "This case has disturbed me from day one."

It is still disturbing. Donovan, Gross' former conservator, is trying to get paid, handsomely, for busywork that kept him here against his will for more than 10 months.

The Gross case led to limited reforms enacted by the state legislature. But in the dark corners of Connecticut's 117 probate courts, the old backslapping game continues, where lawyers and conservators are appointed under questionable circumstances. Most recently we saw this in North Haven where a German woman from New York City was held involuntarily in Connecticut until Legal Aid lawyers turned the lights on.

I called Judge James Lawlor, administrator of the probate court system, and asked whether he was concerned that a court with no jurisdiction was taking up paying the bills of a woman it had no business appointing in the first place.

"From my point of view it's wait and see how this is disposed," Lawlor said. "I think this one does need to get straightened out."

You've got that right. Some of us thought this was straightened out two years ago.

"It's unlawful that they are bringing this back to probate court, where they had no jurisdiction in the first place," said Carolyn Dee King, Gross' daughter, who fought valiantly for her father's freedom two years ago. "It's all devious."

"I am just appalled. There is no end," King told me, shortly before Monday's hearing. "They will try anything."

Some day, when we have a unified, properly supervised probate court system similar to our Superior Courts this will change.

Until then, it is wise to remember King's words.

Rick Green's column appears on Tuesdays and Fridays. He can be reached at

Open Letter to Chief Justice Roberts

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.
Presiding Officer of the Judicial Conference of the U.S.
c/o Supreme Court of the United States
1 First Street, N.E
Washington, D.C. 20543

Dear Mr. Chief Justice Roberts,

I am addressing you as Presiding Officer of the Judicial Conference, as I did last February 9 and March 27 to comment on the Rules for Judicial Conduct and Judicial Disability Proceedings. Thereunder will be processed my complaint against U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John C. Ninfo, II, WBNY, for bias, prejudice, and abuse of power in support of a bankruptcy fraud scheme and its cover up. I am sending you a copy of it below.

The complaint will provide the opportunity to determine whether those Rules and the Breyer Report that preceded them were only parts of the strategy of the Federal Judiciary to mislead Congress into believing that it was making an honest effort to exercise responsibly its Congressionally granted power of judicial self-discipline.

The complaint concerns the abuse by Judge Ninfo of unaccountable power on behalf of the other most insidious corruptor: money! Lots of it, for

1) Judge Ninfo has allowed the whereabouts of at least $673,657 of a debtor to remain unknown -$291,470 earned in just the three years preceding the debtor’s filing of his bankruptcy petition and $382,187 received in a string of eight mortgages-

2) the debtor was a 39-year veteran of the financing and banking industries and claimed in his bankruptcy petition to have only $535 in hand and on account and after filing it remained employed in precisely the bankruptcy department of a major bank with $65 billion in assets;

3) that bank and the debtor were represented by a partner of the law firm of which Judge Ninfo was a partner at the time of taking the bench; and

4) another lawyer for the debtor had taken before Judge Ninfo, according to PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records], 525 cases, which pale by comparison with

5) the 3,907 open cases before the Judge that the bankruptcy trustee had out of

6) the unmanageable 3,909 cases that the assistant U.S. trustee and the Trustee for Region 2 let him amass, both of whom

7) allowed the bankruptcy trustee, who had no time to request and review supporting documents from debtors, simply to rubberstamp the debtor’s bankruptcy petition to collect his 10% fee from every payment to the creditors by recommending its approval to

8) Judge Ninfo, who to cover up for them denied me every single document that I requested both to survive

9) the debtor’s artifice of a motion to disallow my claim at a sham evidentiary hearing, and prove what

10) this is: insiders of the bankruptcy system running a bankruptcy fraud scheme.

This complaint is based on incontrovertible facts found in the debtor’s bankruptcy petition and the evidentiary hearing transcript.[1] It is before Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [tel. (212)857-8500]-, which has an insurmountable conflict of interests, for Judge Ninfo is its reappointed appointee.

Now it is also before you [tel. (202)479-3023] and the Judicial Conference [tel. (202) 502-1100] so that when it is dismissed with no special committee investigating it, as were systematically 99.88% of the 7,462 filed in 1997-2006, you all can be shown to know what you have been doing: tolerating a judge engaged in coordinated wrongdoing with others.

Thus, I respectfully request that you use the Rules’ ‘informal means for disposing of complaints’ to cause

a) the appointment of a special committee,
b) its issuance of the proposed document production order [1], and
c) the publication of its report.

Meantime, I look forward to hearing from you.


Dr. Richard Cordero, Esq.
59 Crescent Street
Brooklyn, NY 11208
tel. (718)827-9521

[1] [with a Service List containing contact information useful to conduct phone interviews and send letters]

To find out what is at stake in pursuing the facts of this case through a Watergate-like Follow the Money! investigation, see the proposal at . It contains links to official complaint statistics and to graphs illustrating them.

Elder Abuse On The Rise In Florida

Email Address:

Florida is a popular destination for retirees. But in the sunshine state, the department of elder affairs says it has received 42,000 reports of abuse and neglect already this year. That's up nearly 15% from last year.

"They're becoming more and more common as our society ages. And a lot of it is care-giver related," says Elder Law Attorney Twyla Sketchley.

Experts say it's common for caregivers who work with people with dementia or other mental illnesses to become frustrated. But for some, the frustration turns to abuse. And sometimes there's a financial incentive.

"There's usually a motive for keeping someone captive or for physically harming them. The physical harm can be used to take their social security check or pension check. Physical harm or the threat of physical harm can cause someone to give over a bank account," adds Sketchley.

But new legislation will double the jail time for assault on an elderly person taking the offense from a second degree felony to first degree.And taking max jail sentences from 15 years to 30 years behind bars.

Officers say when it comes to catching the crooks there are sometimes red flags.

"There's checks written in large amounts to a person that's a care giver. That's a sad situation but a lot of times that's the person closest to them that's giving the care is maybe the one doing the most harm," says Detective Todd Chaires of the Leon County Sheriff's Office.

The bill will also require police to have special training to help officers spot elder abuse.

Officials say elder abuse is extremely under reported, so anyone who suspects a senior is being abused or if you are being abused yourself, you can contact the Department of children and Families at 1-800-96- ABUSE

Monday, June 23, 2008

Radio Show with Dr.Carley and Janet Phelan-The Many Facets of Destruction

Click here: Elderly and Conservatorship talk radio show The Many Facets of Destruction This might be one of the best of the best shows. Please call in or just listen (347) 838-8453

I will be interviewing Dr. Carley and Ms. Janet Phelan we will discuss a host of issues that are creating destruction among the citizens. Both Ladies have been highly requested. 5 PM Pacific Time or 8 PM ET

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What a Long Strange Trip it`s Been

I received a lot of calls and E mail over Willy's poem What a Long Strange Trip it Has Been !

The people who fought overseas so that we have the right to free speech deserve our gratitude and they have certainly earned the right to express themselves , seek closure and validation.

Related Articles :

Case Sparks Questions About Public Guardian
Kay Roberts a Story Worth Telling

Not Even the Dog is Safe from (IRA) Involuntary Redistribution of Assets

Contributed to by Estate of Denial

A Manhattan judge quietly reduced the notoriously ill-tempered canine’s $12 million trust fund and signed off on a deal to pay the late billionaire’s two disinherited grandchildren $6 million amid allegations that Helmsley wasn’t mentally competent when she signed her will.

In bombshell papers filed in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court, the siblings say the so-called Queen of Mean was not of sound mind or memory and did not have the mental capacity to make a will when she signed the document on July 15, 2005.

The highly unusual deal was signed off on by both the state Attorney General’s Office, which oversees charities, and Surrogate’s Court Judge Renee Roth.

We understand that $12 million was an excessive amount to leave in a trust fund designated for the care of Leona Helmsley’s dog, Trouble. And we certainly look at pet trusts as financial vehicles that can lead to serious abuse or looting of an estate. Read full story here.

It just seems wrong, however, for a court, some attorneys and disgruntled heirs to come in and dismiss Helmsley’s final wishes. Why not keep assets from Trouble’s trust in income generating investments through the last years of her life (probably five or less per the article) and then perform a final distribution as is likely specified in Helmsley’s estate plan?

Helmsley deserves her final wishes to be respected in the same manner as any other American. The apparent negotiation and non-disclosure of details regarding posthumous changes in Helmsley’s will are troublesome. Not that it is necessarily anyone else’s business, but the precedent that a decedent’s final wishes can be renegotiated upon their passing violates an individual’s right to direct the ultimate disposal of their property and potentially usurps the rights of inheritance for designated beneficiaries.

With “case law” as a basis for our legal system, we hope the Helmsley case doesn’t become a cornerstone for “anything goes” estate proceedings - so long as you have the social clout and money to influence the local judiciary - such that open season on the property of the dead becomes the norm.

The pooch "Trouble" is not without it's own (IRA) Involuntary Redistribution of Assets problems , the pampered pooch who inherited 12 million dollars from a late US hotel magnate earlier this year has fled to Florida under an assumed name after receiving death threats, a report said.

Trouble, a white Maltese who belonged to billionaire Leona Helmsley until her death in August, was flown by private jet under tight security two months ago after receiving around 20 such threats, the New York Post reported.It said the rich bitch was now living in Florida with Carl Lekic, the general manager of the Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel. in Florida, a favorite with retirees escaping the winter, without naming its sources.

The paper did not say who was suspected of being behind the threats, but Trouble is said to have earned countless enemies due to a penchant for biting.John Codey, who is in charge of the pampered pooch's trust fund, told US television network CBS last week that there had been threats to kidnap the dog.

He added that the cost of Trouble's round-the-clock security detail, medical care, chef-cooked meals and grooming were an estimated 300,000 dollars a year. The dog was previously living at a 28-room estate in Connecticut.

When Trouble dies, any remaining money from her trust will go to the charitable foundations that inherited the lion's share of Helmsley's estimated four-billion-dollar estate.Helmsley, dubbed the "Queen of Mean" by the tabloid press, cut two grandchildren out of her will while leaving five million to two others on the proviso that they visit their late father's grave at least once a year.Helmsley's will also stipulates that when Trouble dies she is to be buried beside her and her late husband Harry, who died in 1997.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

“Bad Weather’s Like Rape, You Might as Well Relax and Enjoy it.”

Article by Estate of Denial

For a slide show of the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma Please click on the picture:

Some of the world was recently back in a tither because Clayton Williams, the 1990 Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate who made this stupid attempt at bad humor, was hosting a fundraiser for John McCain. (McCain cancels fundraiser with controversial Texan). Fundraiser was cancelled, McCain campaign says it won’t return $300,000 already raised by Williams and the media is off to the next deal. At Estate of Denial, though, we’re glad this quote came back up because we think it has great context with regard to Involuntary Redistribution of Assets (IRA) cases which of course are cases in which assets of the dead and disabled are looted via probate instruments such as trusts, wills and guardianships.

A more updated version of this quote is simply “Can’t change it? You need to get over it, you need to let it go.” Sensitivities (we say with a smirk) in today’s world make it uncouth to say such a cruel thing to a victim of physical rape, but we hear too often of similar statements made to those involved with IRA cases.

Pardon our cynicism, but it comes naturally when you know people who go on tirades for having a few quarters taken from their desk yet are completely dismissive that others in their lives have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to financial predators with no legitimate claim to the money being looted. But back to the quote. The violation of a person - with sexual being the most heinous form - is a life altering experience. We would never place sexual assault on equal footing with other types of violations (physical, emotional, financial), but they can all be irreversible experiences with significant and far-reaching consequences.

IRA cases are a financial violation, financial rape if you will, and many people offer no consideration as it’s too easy to take the mentally simplistic position that it’s “just a petty squabble about money.” When hearing of someone getting divorced or having some other negative life experience, “what did they do wrong?” isn’t generally the first question that comes up and doesn’t seem like good form, but we have heard it asked regularly with IRA cases. If asked in a thoughtful context, fair enough. Too often, though, it’s a mechanism attempting the speedy conversion of this topic from meaningful discussion of a substantive issue to gossip fodder. And of course, these are the folks confident that it can’t happen to them! In more ways than one - little do they know.

Education is the key to changing this perception and we have our work cut out. Estate of Denial ( works to present news stories that depict IRA actions or have some tie-in. We hope our story analysis and original commentaries provide other thought-provoking content. Readers of this site are asked to forward on to others information they deem pertinent. Exposure of IRA cases, we believe, is an important component in combatting the looting of liberty and/or property of honest, hard-working Americans. This web site is a portion of our efforts and we hope you will join us in trying to stop this evil practice.

Case Sparks Questions About Public Guardian

By LARRY MITCHELL - Staff Writer

Kay Roberts and her friends and relatives shake their heads in bewilderment when they talk about their experience with the Butte County public guardian and courts.

They wonder why things happened as they did and whether their experience is typical or a fluke.

Nevertheless, to a degree, the experiences Kay and her family and friends relate seem to fit a picture some reformers paint of a public guardian/conservatorship system fraught with potential for abuse.

"The system is out of control and ends up causing abuse rather than stopping it," psychologist and author Diane Armstrong told the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging earlier this year.

* Did Kay really need to be in a conservatorship? Could she have returned home instead of continuing to reside at an assisted-living facility?

Her family and friends seem to agree Kay is in a good environment at Prestige Assisted Living. Her old friend Mel Jones maintains she could have gone home and lived there successfully before all the troubles of the past months took their toll on her.

* Why did the public guardian file to put Kay in a conservatorship?
Was it... assumed Bill was using Kay's money inappropriately.

* Should the complaint to the public guardian have been made?

Kay's friends say her son, Bill, wasn't abusing his mother even though he might have appeared harsh with her at times. That's just the way he is, said longtime family friend Ruth Hetherington. Sometimes he raises his voice and carries on, but he's devoted to his mother and never would harm her, she said.

Bill denied being abusive to his mother. He said at times the nursing home staff might have seen him and Jones talking excitedly with Kay about the problems created by the public guardian.

Bill and Jones say they wonder if there weren't other reasons Riverside staff wanted Kay in a conservatorship. Bill said he thinks financial reasons were behind Riverside's complaint - that the facility's administration hoped the public guardian would keep Kay at Riverside, and the nursing home could continue collecting Kay's private-pay fees, which are considerably higher than Medi-Cal rates.

* Was there an adequate investigation of the reasons Kay supposedly needed to be in a conservatorship?

Bill, Jones and Hetherington say no investigator ever talked to them.

Judge Darrell Stevens said while he could not comment on a continuing case, such as Kay's, he could speak generally about the conservatorship process.

* Was some of Kay's money wasted after the public guardian took charge of her affairs, as Bill and Jones allege?

In early May, Jones looked over an accounting of how much of Kay's money the public guardian spent during the temporary conservatorship, between Aug. 12 and Nov. 13. He estimated about $40,000 had been spent.

Was Kay Roberts and her family's experience with the Butte County Public Guardian's Office typical?

Nevertheless, some of the things Kay and her family experienced seem consistent with an ugly picture certain advocates for the elderly paint of the public-guardian/conservatorship system across America.

A multitude of abuses are described by psychologist Diane Armstrong of Santa Barbara in her book "The Retirement Nightmare."

In February, testifying before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, which was looking into contested conservatorships and guardianships, Armstrong declared that "hundreds of thousands of men and women have had their retirement years destroyed by court proceedings (involving) money, power and control."

However, she noted, more than a quarter of the cases she described in her book "involved proceedings that were initiated by social workers and members of the social welfare community. What motives drive these individuals and agencies to file petitions? A desire to control the increasingly independent elders and their money, and a need to expand the numbers of persons 'helped' by the agency in order to increase agency funding."

Armstrong's testimony continued: "What motives drive members of the court? Judges and their favored professional conservators and guardians, expert witnesses and court investigators have unspoken agendas: money, power and control."

After the hearing at which Armstrong testified, Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who chairs the Special Committee on Aging, requested a Government Accounting Office investigation and report on guardianships.

In a letter to the Enterprise-Record last December, Ruth Hetherington expressed her disapproval of the county's actions concerning Kay Roberts, in particular the limitations on her son's visiting rights.

"The county has still denied her the right to have her son visit her without supervision and will not allow him to take her out for errands, doctor appointments, or just for a ride. This is ridiculous and is the cause of heartache, depression and tears for Kay.

"Those of us who are close to Kay and her son, Bill, feel that they should be allowed to spend time together in her final years and that the takeover and domination by (the public guardian) is unfair, possibly illegal and certainly wrong."

Bill, a Vietnam veteran, lived with his parents most of his life county officials, without examining the facts of Bill's relationship with his mother, assumed he must be preying on her when they learned he had access to her bank account.

"I can't imagine anything like this ever happening to me, but then I couldn't imagine it ever happening to Kay either."

Enterprise-Record intern Robert Hernandez contributed to this story.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final story in a three-part series.

Abridged and edited for E.A.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Genocide of an Elder Nation

Written By Dr. Mark Stengler submitted by William Roberts

It's absolutely heartbreaking. All over America, nursing homes are filled with frail, feeble residents suffering from dementia. In many cases, these folks are so far gone they don't even recognize their own children.

But I'm going to let you in on a dark, dirty secret: Many of these patients do not have dementia at all. Their memory loss, confusion, and delirium are caused by prescription drugs!

And so are many of their other problems.

This is not just speculation on my part. It's fully documented in the medical journals. In fact, it's so common that there are even medical terms for it. Like "polypharmacy," which means giving a patient too many different drugs. And "iatrogenic illness," which means any illness caused by doctors.

According to the medical journals, polypharmacy and iatrogenic illness are rampant in this country.

One study concluded that one of the major causes of falls in nursing homes is the side effects caused by medications.
Another study found that 97% of nursing home patients take at least one drug, with 17% taking 5 or more!
Yet another study found that many drugs can cause Parkinson's-like symptoms and concluded that "drug-induced parkinsonism is frequent."
And still another study listed 22 different categories of drugs that can cause symptoms that mimic Alzheimer's... plus 14 different over-the-counter drugs that can cause those symptoms!
Here's a typical scenario. A healthy person goes to the doctor for a checkup and is told his cholesterol or blood pressure is high. So he starts taking medication, which causes side effects. This leads his doctor to give him a second drug to treat those side effects. But, of course, that second drug causes new side effects. So the doctor prescribes a third drug to treat the side effects of the second one!

Before you know it, the person's health is spiraling downward and he soon needs people to take care of him. And everyone just chalks it up to "old age."

Except for the insurance companies. They know better. Recently, I spoke to a 72-year-old woman who was turned down by THREE different long-term care companies, even though she passed her physical with flying colors. The reason given? She was on too many prescription drugs.

Yes, the insurance companies know that if this woman continues to take her meds, it's only a matter of time before her health deteriorates. And they don't want to be the ones footing the bill when that happens.

But you can fight back against this system of medicine run amok. First of all, make sure you always try natural remedies first. Pharmaceuticals should be a last resort, not a first option. Secondly, if you have a loved one in a nursing home, talk to a naturally minded physician about possibly weaning them off the drugs. This single step may make a huge difference in their health and well-being.

Are we prepared for “Saving Our Parents”?

A new DVD called “Saving Our Parents” provides important information regarding the pitfalls and predators facing our aging American population and their families. While this presentation is in no way “preachy,” it astutely and fairly addresses the reality that, left unattended by family members and friends, today’s elderly population is ripe for exploitation and victimization by a host of predators.

To get a sense of the magnitude and dollars involved, think about these “Saving Our Parents” concepts and statistics:

* If you’ve taken care of yourself, age 60 is the new 30 while age 90 is the new 60.
* In the next 25 years, the number of Americans 65 and over will double.
* Americans similar in age to Art Linkletter (born 1912) have seen life expectancy jump 30 years.
* By 2030, 71.5 million Americans will be over 65 and represent nearly 20% of the population.
* People over 50 currently control 70% of the nation’s household net worth.

At Estate of Denial ( we focus on Involuntary Redistribution of Assets (IRA) cases that revolve around looting assets of the dead and disabled through probate actions and/or instruments such as wills, trusts and guardianships. Our concentration is to address IRA as a property rights issue affecting a cross-section of Americans while recognizing the elder abuse components of the issue. Having said that, “Saving Our Parents” does a great job describing common lead-ups to IRA looting scenarios. The DVD aptly explains that there is no shortage of predators who view the elderly as a license to steal.

Chayo Reyes, an LAPD Specialist in Elder Fraud (ret.), describes today’s older population as “the Greatest Generation - the Greatest Generation to exploit.” This DVD puts forth a message that Americans of all ages need to hear - from detailing how elders can be duped into signing over assets to financial predators disguised as caregivers or even love interests - after all, nothing warms a heart like cold cash in the bank! - to more nefarious “walker stalkers” who may gain control of an elderly person’s life and property by physical/psychological manipulation or even more stringent means such as poison.

We don’t want to give away the entire DVD as we want people to watch it! “Saving Our Parents” does a great job warning of potential nursing home neglect, hoarding disorders and other situations that can occur as an individual ages. The actions offered to hopefully avoid some of these scenarios are sensible as well as practical.

The true strength of this effort, however, lies in its presentation of the predatory dangers that surround America’s aging population. And to add our own editorial note: don’t think that older Americans aren’t quite capable of abusing each other. While it is easy to suppose that asset looting or property poaching is exclusively an action of younger people taking advantage of their elders — think again. “Hell may have no fury as a woman scorned,” but we maintain that a penniless aging woman (or man) can be as dangerous a beast as there is when faced with the prospect of old age and no money.

The “silent epidemic of the 21st century” is becoming a common characterization for elder abuse and it was put well in context with Elder Abuse Attorney Marc Hankin stating his belief that “half of all Americans will have suffered some form of elder abuse before they are dead.” But don’t take our word for any of this. More information on this important DVD is available at

Forewarned is forearmed.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Jacqueline Salazar & Nellie Lopez : The World is Watching!

by Janet Phelan from Americans' Bulletin

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 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. on logo for website


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 .

Florida Guardianship Laws -A Strong Dose of Reality!

How is suppossed to work!

Least Restrictive Alternative Requirement F.S.§744.331(6)(b)

One of the major substantive changes to Florida Guardianship Law which was brought about by the October 1989 legislative revisions, was the requirement that there be no least restrictive available alternative to guardianship, before the court could appoint a guardian.The obvious advantage was to allow the court to consider factors other than whether or not the alleged incapacitated person was incapacitated, in determining whether or not to appoint a guardian.

Prior to the 1989 revisions, once a judge determined a person to be incompetent, the only remaining decision was who to appoint as guardian of the person and/or property.Since the 1989 legislative revisions, the court must take testimony and other evidence as to whether any least restrictive alternatives to guardianship exist, and if so, whether they are, or will, adequately meet the ward's needs.

If the court finds that there is a least restrictive alternative to guardianship which will sufficiently address some of the alleged incapacitated person's problems, the court cannot delegate rights to a guardian for the areas covered by the least restrictive alternative.

Proper planning by attorneys and guardians requires the recommendation of any least restrictive alternative to clients who need assistance. Before making such a recommendation, however, it must be determined that said alternative is appropriate under the circumstances and in the client's best interests.

How It Really Works!

If you are daughter or anyone acting in behalf, defense of the targeted ward; have a DPOA(Durable Power of Attorney); are legitimately entitled to information, etc.;__ YOU ARE AN OBSTACLE TO THE STRATAGEM. You will be demonized; accused of the exploitation the predators are perpetrating or the criminal actions of those who victimized you. Accusations of mental illness(ordered to get psychological testing from predator's associate_ fairly common tactic); drug addiction, etc.; no proof is necessary. Maybe the (covered)criminal will testify against you. You are not charged with anything; therefore you have no right to face your accuser and get evidence in your defense. Accusations are made off the court record, in the court hallway.
Elders are 'expected' to get ill and die, hence; this stratagem has been practiced on them for years. Death_ Terri style is without a court order; no public exposure; disabled now publicly initiated.

Felony crimes committed against you are suppressed, covered up, authorities will not prosecute the crimes against you because the predators are likely to use alleged criminal against you as witness(es), etc. The acknowledgment of crime might be obstacle to gaining guardianship over the targeted ward, which is the lock down of the "takings". Any and all 'obstacles' are removed with no regard for laws, crimes, human rights, abuse and exploitation. Obstruction of justice is a predator specialty. No law enforcement, remedy, recovery from the crimes committed against you_ allowed.

The ward's mail, finances, health care or lack, complete existence is taken over by the emergency temporary guardian/permanent guardian. Her family advocate, will be allowed no information at all. Family advocate becomes non-existent. The ward has no family, for all practical purposes. If family makes a complaint about the facility; they are not allowed to know the results, etc.; all information goes to the guardian.

Family has rights_ on paper; in reality, must know them; your attorney probably won't tell you. When you exercise them, you will be considered angry, aggressive or something equally negative. Sometimes you are punished and can never see your beloved 'ward' again.

This "war" goes on for years if you persist toward remedy. Your health is negatively effected from the constant stress and you have difficulty functioning as well as you did before HELL, which compounds the stress. Depression, anxiety, ulcers, cancer, or other chronic illnesses affect the ward and family.

Your financial losses are not recovered and you can easily become totally broke. A great deal of time is required for "pro se" litigation. Your family relations are difficult or shredded, due to abuse, loss, despair, extreme disillusionment, etc. This recipe is from my experience and many others; life changing .

The ward( your mother, daughter, family member) is held hostage while you spend most of your time and resources attempting to free her/him.
If you cannot free the ward, when she/he is no longer a profit producer(about the time limited medical treatment produces diminished health/illness) she/he will have a "duty to die". First, no food or water, when organs start to fail, some morphine, which hastens death by reducing respiration. "The above stratagem without truthful media exposure is silencing of the lambs".

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Our Thoughts and Prayers are with You

Doris Denny , all our prayers are with you.
E.A. took your post down because we want to give you the privacy you deserve during these moments.
We are all very private persons, who have been thrust into the spotlight in order to highlight the abuse and exploitation of the elderly that has decimated our elderly population.

Sharon our prayers are with you during this difficult time.

Paradise Costs - A Victims Daughter Fights Back against Elder Abuse

now contains lists used by professionals through much of the Western Hemisphere provided by Bennett Blum, MD, an internationally acclaimed forensic and geriatric psychiatrist, who has developed the PARADISE-2 and IDEAL model for assessing undue influence and diminishing capacity.

Also included in Paradise Costs are over 25 factors that make seniors high risk. There is also a list of 14 factors that profile elder exploiters and abusers. Additionally, there is a list of almost 20 “red flags” commonly indicative of elder abuse and exploitation as well as six tips for hiring health care aides.

Irene A. MasielloAuthor: Paradise Costs-A Victim's Daughter Fights Back Against Elder AbuseAfterword by: Bennett Blum, M.D.
Contact: 718.776.5644

Guardianship Laws Being Violated in Florida

Sarasota,Florida .USA

It appears Florida has corralled several devious people connected with the law - this time guardianship judges and some members of the bar that are elder law attorneys. Laws apply to everyone BUT some that do not feel they must abide by the laws.

By violating Amend XIV, U S Constitution and Article I, Section 23, Florida Constitution they have removed the dignity of one elderly citizen and ordered guardianship when the required documents to prevent guardianship were prepared while this elderly citizen was of sound mind. This violation is now depleting the elderly citizen's funds at an alarming rate.

Related Stories: Guardianship Laws being violated in Florida

Urgent Action Alert ! Inmediate Action Warranted

Thanks to : Marguerita Ludwig SpotLight On Elder Abuse

Laws to protect seniors and dependent adults from abuse by court-appointed conservators are under threat as California lawmakers seek painful cuts to close the state's $15.2-billion budget deficit.

By Jack Leonard Los Angeles Times


We all need to Contact Our Calfifornia Lawmakers and head this off, we all need to act Now!

The automated letter writer that is used by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce , it composes your letters in a professional format, addresses your letter, and then you write the body of the letter and it then fills in your return address, pertinent information, and then gives you the choice to print a hard copy or email to recipient.It give you the ability to effortlessly write several dozens letters in a few minutes and make your voices be counted.

All We need for Evil to Prevail is for Good People to Remain Silent

Senator Kohl to Chair Joint Judiciary Subcmte,Aging Cmte on Nursing Home Arbitration

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, June 18, U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) will chair a joint hearing on S. 2838, the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2008. The legislation, introduced in April by Kohl and Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL), is a narrowly targeted measure that would protect nursing home residents, one of our nation’s most vulnerable populations, from losing the right to hold long-term care facilities accountable in court for negligent and abusive care.

Currently, many facilities require residents or their responsible family members to sign contracts that include pre-dispute mandatory arbitration agreements, meaning that any dispute between the resident and the facility will automatically be subject to arbitration. By agreeing to the contract before a dispute ever arises, they are unwittingly signing away their constitutional right to have their case heard by an impartial judge or jury. Additionally, arbitration agreements require that all parts of the legal process remain confidential. As a result, long-term care facilities are often not held publicly accountable for their substandard care.

Ashley GlacelPress SecretarySpecial Committee on AgingSenator Herb Kohl, ChairPh: (202) 224-5364 Cell: (202) 340-3299

Related Articles

Patients hoping to get into nursing homes increasingly are signing away their rights to sue over poor care.

That's a problem, a number of lawmakers say, and they're pushing legislation to make such agreements unenforceable.

The nursing homes say the arbitration arrangements that many families agree to actually lead to dispute resolutions that are more fair than court cases. Lawmakers, however, urged on by consumer advocacy groups and trial lawyers, say families shouldn't be giving away their ability to hold the homes accountable for poor care

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Story That Must Be Told of Nursin Homes and Fires

by William Roberts

A long time advocate for elder rights received a phone call from a young CNA! A young CNA that had just begun working at a nursing home in the same area. And she needed the job.

The CNA explained that every night it was the same: After the residents had dinner all the staff would leave! She was the only one there! (except for a maintenance guy that was always outside, for some reason) She said there were people on the floor, crying, wetting themselves..... and she, alone, could not lift them. She was afraid to complain the nursing home
administrators for fear of losing her job!

My friend drove to the nursing home and found it just as the CNA had described! She told the CNA that she would be right back.

She, then, walked across the street to the 7-11, bought a few packs of cigarettes, and returned to the nursing home. She went to the dining hall, which was closed, put the cigarettes in a bowl and lit them on fire! And opened all the windows!

She walked back across the street to the pay phone and dialed 911. She told them that she could see smoke coming out of the windows from across the street.

The fire department sent a drive by and guess what? They didn`t find a fire but they found people on the floor laying in their dinner, urine, crying ............

The nursing home was fined, and put on notice!

What a class act! She is my friend and all of ours!

PS. And, by the way, the CNA kept her job!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Elder Abuse a Growing Crime Nationwide

Elder abuse division of district attorney's office trying to help

By Matthew Penix St. Tammany News Covington,LA,USA

When an elderly Slidell couple opened their front door to Annette Torregano in 2004 they thought an angel had arrived.

She was a charming, wide-eyed, smiling woman and proved to be an stellar home health caregiver as she catered to somewhat demanding commands from Louis Polizzi, a retired Slidell doctor whose health was declining. Louis’ wife Jane, who had recently suffered a stroke that left her debilitated and on oxygen and feeding tubes, also posed challenges.

But Torregano fetched food, ran errands, bowed to sometimes barking orders and changed Jane’s tubes for $15 an hour, family members said. She quickly became part of the family, knowing intimate details of their lives. She built a trusting bond. She was a friend, they thought.

Then, when Louis was 82, just three months shy of his death, she swindled at least $46,000 from his frail grasp. He never saw it coming.

“She was on a path,” Louis’ daughter, Antonia “Toni” Polizzi, said. “At that point she had my dad’s trust completely.”


The Polizzi case is one of dozens of elder abuse cases reported in St. Tammany each year and one of millions reported nationwide involving the felony crime punishable by 10 years in jail under Louisiana law.

“We’re suppose to be living in the most affluent community in the state, and the bad guys go where the money is,” said Ralph Oneal, president of Seniors and Law Enforcement Together, a St. Tammany advocacy group for elder rights. “We are just primed for it.”

And with seniors among the wealthiest age group in America, more and more are moving to St. Tammany, where home caregivers rank among the top five fastest growing jobs locally, according to the parish’s District Attorney’s office.

Coupled with the fact most caregivers don’t submit to rigorous background checks and only 7 percent of cases are ever reported, it’s become a seemingly free ride for all for criminals, Oneal said.

“It’s probably one of the most unreported felonies in the country,” he said.

But it’s growing in scope. Elder abuse cases increased almost 20 percent between 2000 and 2004, according to the Delaware-based National Center of Elder Abuse, an advocacy group for elder rights.

And the same organization estimates that anywhere between 1 million and 2 million Americans older than 65 “have been injured, exploited or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depended for care.”



For many, the Polizzi case was elder abuse pure and simple. For prosecutors, however, the case wasn’t as cut and dry.

While Louisiana has a law to battle elder abuse, exploitation of the infirmed, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, the law is rarely used. Only one such case has been successfully prosecuted in the 22nd Judicial District Court.

“If you asked district attorneys around the country if they use (the law) they will say no,” said Harold Bartholomew Jr., a prosecutor with the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Covington.

The reason is, he said, many elderly victims are reluctant to prosecute loved ones, 50 percent of which are the perpetrators. This dispels a misconception that the majority of violations are in nursing homes.

Many times the elderly who are abused also have dementia, routinely forgetting they were beaten or that they loaned hundreds to thousands of dollars and were never repaid, leaving prosecutors without a witness. Others are afraid of retaliation or worried that, since they’ve been swindled, it signals a loss of independence, Bartholomew said.

“It’s much more complex than somebody stuck a gun in somebody’s face and stole money,” he said.

That, coupled with the fact that many law enforcement officers aren’t adequately trained to recognize elder abuse, leaves the exploitation charge rarely used. Instead, theft and battery charges are often levied.


That’s when Bartholomew steps in.

In 2005, before hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Bartholomew was tapped by District Attorney Walter Reed to head a new elder abuse division. At that time Reed’s was only the second such office in the state to offer such specific services. Now there are 41 statewide, largely piggybacking Bartholomew’s tiring crusade to spread the message.

“They really spearheaded the campaign to get elderly abuse prosecution on the map,’ said Trent Garrett, a staff attorney at the Louisiana District Attorneys Association.

It’s that association Bartholomew has given seminars through, with 400 district attorneys in the audience. He’s spent countless hours consoling victims, not necessarily to get convictions, but to solve the problems. In the meantime, he’s become one of the nation’s foremost experts in the field, Oneal said.

“He’s really breaking some new ground,” Oneal said. “There is fertile ground here, and many now realize this is an area that needs to be filled. You can take a lot of that back to Harold’s doorstep.”

For Bartholomew, the drive is much simpler. He wants results.

His own grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease, and he wonders how he would feel if a family member stole her life savings, or worse, pummeled her to death.

“We all get old if we are lucky,” he said. “What if this was you?”

So Bartholomew spends his hours consoling victims who are scared of retribution or of sending a family member to jail. Instead, he looks for the easiest solution – blame the criminal prosecution on him.

“So now grandmothers are off the hook,” he said. “And now I’m the bad guy…. They come in afraid but leave with hope.”

He admits it’s not always easy to tell a grandparent he’s going to prosecute their grandchild. But it’s part of sending a message to would-be criminals: This crime won’t be tolerated, he said.

“Part of me feels like an ogre, but at what point do you draw the line?” he asked. So instead “we’ve moved the line.”


Polizzi give thanks to that notion.

Although court records reveal Torregano stole $46,000, Polizzi believes it was more likely between $75,000 and $100,000, including a new 2005 Honda Accord Louis bought her with promises she would one day repay him.

That day never came, Polizzi said.

Polizzi’ suspicions soon ran high. She continued to fly back to Slidell from her New York home once a month to check on her parents, and more importantly, the caregivers.

It’s then she started noticing small things missing – guns, narcotic painkillers and more that she can’t pinpoint on anyone. Then on Father’s Day 2007, while rifling through her father’s checkbook, she noticed the check numbers skipped in sequence. Someone, she realized, was stealing money.

“That was the beginning of knowing something was wrong,” she said.

She called the bank and noticed six checks totaling an undisclosed amount had been debited from her father’s account, three of which were written and forged by Torregano.

She presented her father with the evidence, and a criminal case snowballed. Police were called. Interviews were conducted. And a search of Torregano’s home produced Louis’ missing painkillers, resulting in a drug possession charge that Polizzi said was later dropped.

Three months ago, under Bartholomew’s prosecution, Torregano pleaded guilty to theft and was given a seven-year suspended sentence. She only spent one night in jail.

But the message was sent, Polizzi said. Meanwhile, on Jan. 25, Louis passed away, some of his last memories likely of a caregiver’s betrayal.

Now Jane is left a widow and in a nursing home. Polizzi moved home to help out and is renovating her parents’ home, the home she grew up in, wondering how the fiasco ever happened.

“You have to trust somebody, but who?” she asked.

“I just hope this story brings some light to others.”

The American Dream, By Hook or by Crook

The American Dream is a desirable goal for many in this country. However, as attainment by “hook” or some fair, legitimate means becomes more of a challenge, “crook,” or by any means necessary, appears to be gaining ground.

Bitterness and entitlement in America are on the rise and are factors contributing to the increase of Involuntary Redistribution of Assets (IRA) cases, those actions in which unscrupulous individuals use the age and/or incapacitation of a person to gain control of their personal assets and “redistribute” them in a manner contrary to what the person intended.

These incidents can happen during the person’s lifetime or posthumously. Family members, friends or even “trusted” associates like a lawyer or caregiver are potential IRA practitioners.

With manipulation, IRA can be "lawfully" accomplished as these cases often occur within legal frameworks such as guardianships, trusts or wills. And through these means, the American Dreams of many are being lost to financial predators who feed off the efforts of others.

An annual “Attitudes in the American Workplace" poll conducted by Zogby International for The Marlin Company ( recently found more than half of U.S. workers say the American Dream is unattainable and nearly half blame the political system for the deterioration in their economic circumstances.

Per a company press release, the workplace poll, conducted in May 2008, found that nearly three quarters of U.S. workers (74.7%) say the American Dream is not as attainable today as it was eight years ago; 52.4% say it is simply unattainable for the average American. The survey defines the American Dream as “the opportunity to have a nice home, financial security for you and your family, and hope for the future.”

The workplace poll also found that nearly half (45.1%) of U.S. workers admit to being “bitter” because “the political system has caused a deterioration of [their] economic circumstances.” Nearly half (47.5%) of 30-49 year-olds surveyed report feeling bitter, while only 38.4% of 18-29 year-olds feel bitter.

While the American political system is certainly no friend to many honest, hard-working taxpayers, the impact of personal responsibility (i.e., good decisions v. bad judgment) is an equally important determinant with regard to success (or lack of) in attaining the American Dream. Too many people sadly have a sense of entitlement and would rather blame government than themselves when they fall short of expectations.

Many responsible Americans believe in the civic duty of paying taxes to fund our country’s defense, border security, transportation systems and other functions that surpass the capabilities of a private individual. They do not, however, condone the culture that demands more government and less individual responsibility.

Other people increasingly want to be taken care of them. They are “entitled.” They want a nice, secure standard of living, but too often aren’t willing to follow a responsible life course in order to provide such opportunity for themselves. These days, it’s easy to paint oneself as some breed of victim. And there’s usually a government bureaucracy nearby to help solidify that tag and redistribute the hard-earned dollars of responsible taxpayers to fund imprudent behavior as well as the bad decisions of our nation’s “disadvantaged.” Don’t get us wrong — that whole safety net deal is an important concept for a civilized society, but does the net have to be sized to meet the needs of the Northern Hemisphere? Especially as decreasing numbers of us are paying for it!!

And how does this tie back into IRA cases? Very simply, people these days aren’t exclusive in wanting government money. A more realistic view indicates that many just want other people’s money - from wherever the best prospect for success arises. Whether via government, from a spouse, through an employer or by “redistributing” assets from the dead or disabled, identifying and making the most of available opportunities is key. IRA cases are actions of opportunity most often perpetrated by those with a seriously inflated sense of entitlement.

Our IRA perpetrators, the financial predators hoping to claim your American Dream are fondly known as asset looters, property poachers, grave robbers and/or walker stalkers. Regardless of what they are called, they bring to mind a great quote by Dr. Walter E. Williams:

“The act of reaching into one’s own pockets to help a fellow man in need is praiseworthy and laudable. Reaching into someone else’s pocket is despicable and worthy of condemnation.”

Enough said.

Lou Ann Anderson is producer of The Lynn Woolley Show, a Texas-based talk radio program. She also is an advocate working to create awareness regarding the Texas probate system and its surrounding culture ( Lou Ann may be contacted at

Sunday, June 15, 2008

WEAAD Today ! Thank an Elder

World Elder Abuse
Awareness Day
Annually on 15 June!

Show the world you care
about ending elder abuse and neglect.

"Wear something purple"
on World Awareness Day - every June 15th.

get your WEAAD materials here:

A Victim’s Daughter Fights Back Against Elder Abuse

Re-release of Paradise Costs—A Victim’s Daughter Fights Back Against Elder Abuse Marks International Elder Awareness Day; June 15, 2008

NEW YORK, NY: Bennett Blum, M.D., internationally acclaimed forensic and geriatric psychiatrist and an expert in undue influence, has added his pioneering work to that of author Irene A. Masiello in Paradise Costs-A Victim's Daughter Fights Back Against Elder Abuse, the heart-wrenching story of an infirm, 80-year-old man with Alzheimer's who was taken from his family, stripped of his assets and exploited despite the pleas of his next of kin.

Driven by grim statistics from national elder advocacy groups indicating there may be more than 25 million cases of elder exploitation in America, Dr. Blum and Ms. Masiello have joined forces to inform readers via a compelling true story while providing professional assessment guidelines that are used internationally.

Masiello supports her father's tragic story with his suspicious forensic report exemplifying a terrifying reality facing the elderly in America today. Mario Masiello, a hearing-impaired, honorably discharged, World War II veteran, retired from the NYC Transit Authority and relocated to the quaint town of Walterboro, SC. Twenty years later, his blissful life was ravaged by the death of his wife and by several illnesses including diabetes, Alzheimer's and depression. Paradise Costs tells the chilling true story of the last years of his life when he was "grandpa-napped" from his family by neighbors and "friends."

The American Psychological Association estimates that approximately 2.1 million senior citizens are victims of physical and psychological neglect and abuse every year. Many cases go unreported. Ms. Masiello's objective is to provide a voice to the millions of silent or ignored victims. "I never thought this type of betrayal and brutality could happen in my family," says his daughter. "My experience has made me realize how little people know about the deadly American pandemic that is elder abuse."

Created in a workbook format, Paradise Costs shows Americans how to take action in support of federal legislation to stop elder abuse now. The sample letters and petitions (which are also available at are designed to help readers voice their concerns to federal officials. "I'm urging participation via our interactive book and web site to lobby legislators to pass the Elder Justice Act now on the floor of both Houses of Congress," says the author. "Hopefully, others will be spared the suffering my father was forced to endure, and their families will not have to look on helplessly in horror as mine did."

Dr. Blum states, "Paradise Costs is a tragic, true-life tale. Unfortunately, the behaviors depicted in this book are all too common. No one knows how often criminals, 'brand new best friends' or family members exploit the elderly…Money has always been associated with the worst of human behavior. Elder financial abuse is no exception. Some of those taking assets from the elderly have been tied to gang violence, prostitution and drug trafficking. Their elderly victims are often subjected to physical abuse, neglect, abandonment, sexual abuse and murder."

Recognizing the difficulty of the aftermath of this tragedy, Ms. Masiello is determined not to let her father's death be in vain. "My goal now is to take my story to the nation and raise awareness of this deplorable social ill that's plaguing America," she says.
Dr. Blum and Ms. Masiello are Members of the Elder Justice Coalition
Revised book includes Dr. Blum's PARADISE-2 & IDEAL models for assessingundue influence and diminishing capacity.

CONTACT: Irene A. Masiello
CONTACT: Bennett Blum, M.D.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Take Action Alert With Dr. Phil

Just received this: A friend called to tell me that she heard Dr. Phil mention on a recent program that he did not think the government nor agencies should get involved with families.

Evidently, he has not heard about guardianships! I've suggested to the people I know experiencing or experienced this to write a short note to make him aware of this nationwide problem.

Please send some e-mails to him:

So, let's start emailing Dr. Phil!!! We all know that these guardianship abusers are all involved at SOME government level, then REAL abuse and exploitation starts in the government courts.

Please contact But please, contact the show via their web site:

You wanted an ACTION plan? Here's a perfect opportunity. Be sure to sign any emails with your name and your affilation with A.N.G.E.R., E.A. , Estate of Denial, and Advocates for National Guardianship Ethics and Reform.

Related Articles:

Maureen McCormick speaks about Abuse'

Maureen McCormick Faces Real-Life Family Issues on a Very Un-Brady Dr. Phil

U.S.A. Life Expectancy Lags Behind Other Western Countries

By Steve Sternberg, USA TODAY

"We're two to three years behind most Western countries at this point,"

U.S. life expectancy has reached 78 years, a record high driven by declines in all but one of the major causes of death, the government reported Wednesday.

Despite the good news, the USA ranks 29th in life expectancy among the United Nations' member nations. Tops is Andorra, which has an average life expectancy of 83, followed closely by Japan, Sweden, Australia and Switzerland.

"We're two to three years behind most Western countries at this point," says University of Pennsylvania demographer Samuel Preston, a member of a National Academy of Sciences panel that convened for the first time last week to try to explain the lag. "We may be gaining, or not, depending on the rate at which their life expectancy is increasing."


Help Link Forces For Positive Change Today

Those of us who have been victimized by the guardianship system know the frustrations we've experienced in our efforts to find assistance and obtain justice in a seemingly unjust legal system.

Legislative statutes are totally ineffective when judges and law enforcement agencies ignore them. Government organizations are understaffed and underpaid and the majority of Elder Law attorneys are inexperienced in this fairly new area of law. Most are unable or unwilling to take on a futile endeavor especially when the client has little or no money to pay their fees while the guardian is draining the same family's assets to pay for their own legal representation.

State Bar Associations defend the attorneys. Elected officials seize the opportunity for a new campaign issue to appeal to voters by signing their names to ineffective legislation. Judges turn a deaf ear to the pleas of elderly victims who are being "legally" robbed of their life savings, their dignity and sometimes their very lives. Loving sons, daughters and other family members exhaust themselves emotionally and financially trying to fight a legal system which is suppose to protect the very people it's destroying.

If you, or a loved one have been victimized by a court appointed guardian or conservator, or if you are interested in helping others who have been, and are ANGRY enough to do something to help, please become an
Advocate for National Guardianship Ethics and Reform and turn your ANGER into a positive force for CHANGE!

Are you ANGRY enough to make a difference?

Are you ANGRY enough to change the WORLD

for your Parents, for your Children, for Yourself?

Refocus your ANGER into a force for POSITIVE ACTION!

Contact A.N.G.E.R today!
Robin Westmiller, JD founded the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse back in 2006, following her own experiences with guardianship and what happened to her father under this system. Following a "hostile takeover" of NASGA, she formed, and is dedicated to reforming the guardianship/conservatorship system.

Advocates for National Guardianship Ethics and Reform
44 Summerfield Street
Thousand Oaks, California 91360

(805) 402-7106 - Fax: (805) 493-4332