Tuesday, February 22, 2011


-by-Angela V. Woodhull, Ph.D. © 2011, AV Woodhull

What would you do if you were walking through the woods when suddenly a booby trap blew off your legs? Would you forewarn others? Of course you would!

Those of us who have been harmed by the United States guardianship system are like wounded individuals who have accidentally stepped upon booby traps.

Take the typical guardianship story -- Marie Sandusky. Marie, a woman of Italian descent, was busy living her life and caring for her mother, who lived two doors down. Marie owns her own beauty shop. She fixes her mother’s hair, takes her shopping, delivers her home cooked Italian dishes. Life was fine. Mama and daughter were inseparable. They were in and out of each other’s houses every day. Marie also paid her mother’s bills and hired a full time housekeeper to assist Mama.

If Marie had looked into a crystal ball with a fortune teller who could have told her “Beware! There’s going to be an Italian judge who removes you from your mother, spends all of your mother’s assets, sticks your mother in a nursing home, and soon thereafter your mother will die from being over medicated and you won’t even be allowed to see your mother without the guardian watching you,” would Marie have believed such an incredulous story?

The Marie Sandusky story is currently in progress. Maybe it won’t happen exactly as described, above, but those of us who have already had our “legs blown off” can look into that crystal ball and see what is coming.

Imagine Marie’s typical day—out shopping at Wal*Mart with Mama. They stop for lunch, chat about current events and perhaps gossip a little about the neighbors. They stop at the bank, drop off some items at the dry cleaners. Then, at Marie’s Beauty Shop, she styles her mother’s hair and then asks one of her employees to give Mama a manicure.

Suddenly, a sheriff appears in the doorway of the beauty salon. “Are you Marie Sandusky?”

“You are hereby served.” He hands Marie some court papers and leaves.

The papers tell Marie that her “dear brother” attempted to see Mama but the security guard at Marie and Mama’s gaited community wouldn’t let him in. More than a decade ago, Mama left Connecticut with her daughter and son-in-law to get away from Mooching Son.

After ten years of peace and harmony with her daughter and son-in-law in Florida, Mooching Son had been all but forgotten. Mooching Son, however, has suddenly and unexpectedly appeared in Florida.

He wants to be his mother’s guardian.He has hired an attorney.

For those of us who have already fallen into the booby trap, we need not read any further. We already know the rest of this story.

The Court Hearing

At the first court hearing, Judge John D. Galluzzo decides that since there is a squabbling son and daughter, it is best to appoint a “professional” guardian (yes, a stranger) to “care for” Mama and her assets.

But there’s more to this twisted and unexpected travesty. To Marie Sandusky’s surprise, it has been alleged by Mooching Brother and his attorney that she has been “robbing” her mother for many years. Judge Galluzzo therefore mandates that financial records be entered into the court record.

The Scapegoat and The Allegation

Marie is now “on trial.”

And that is Step Number One for all predatory guardianships.

All predatory guardianships need a Scapegoat.

The Scapegoat is that person that all others in the courtroom can turn to (while the money is going, going, going, gone) and point at and say, “AHA! If it wasn’t for YOU, these strangers wouldn’t have to step in and care for your poor mother!”

The allegations need not be real. And the allegations need not be verifiable.

However, The Allegation is the Check Point that gives the guardianship players the right to their first move--$$$$$$$$.

Topsy Turvy

Suddenly, Marie Sandusky (and her mother) are thrown into a much different life. Marie and her husband are now suddenly checking the Yellow Pages, shopping for attorneys. No longer is there time to read the morning newspaper, take an afternoon stroll with Mama , or bring Mama a bowl of fresh pasta fazool.

Weeks are spent going to various banks, obtaining records as proof of innocence.

“This will stop soon! Soon things will be back to normal when they see I am innocent!” Marie tells her friends, astonished employees, and dumbfounded customers at the beauty shop.

The records are filed in. Yes, Marie is innocent! There was no financial exploitation whatsoever.

Meanwhile, “Mooch” has dropped out of the guardianship race because he couldn’t afford the attorney’s bills.

“My attorney will make sure this whole thing comes to an end any day now!” Marie tells her associates.

They believe her. How could they not believe her? The “whole thing” is too preposterous to comprehend.

It is now more than three years later.

The “Court” has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees for “services rendered” to the “ward.”

Marie has spent hundreds of thousands of her own money trying to get the whole guardianship nightmare to stop.

The guardian has petitioned the court to have the housekeeper removed. Mama needs to be in a nursing home, according to the guardian.

Each petition filed is filed to “benefit the ‘ward.’” Each petition means more $$$$$ for the guardian’s attorneys.

Mama is so sad. “Why are they doing this to my daughter and me?”

In January 2011, Judge John D. Galluzzo, who made this turbulent nightmare and court-sanctioned financial exploitation of an elderly person possible through his Seminole County, Florida courtroom, turned and asked Marie Sandusky, “WHY ARE YOU MAKING ALL THIS TROUBLE??! YOU HAVE CAUSED ALL OF THIS TROUBLE BY HIRING ATTORNEYS TO FIGHT THIS GUARDIANSHIP!!”

Judge John D. Galluzzo then awarded another $120,000.00 to the guardian for her attorney’s fees.To benefit the “ward.”

On January 31, 2011, Judge John D. Galluzzo recused himself from this case.

But Judge Lester will be stepping in at the next hearing.


And the next hearing.


And the hearing after that.


*This cynical story is mostly true. As a guardianship-in-progress, this story represents what could happen to you. Those of us who have already experienced the trauma of guardianship fraud can see down the road. We don’t need a crystal ball. We have experienced what’s in the crystal ball. We author these stories as a forewarning to others. Please protect yourself and your assets. Please watch out for The Guardianship Booby Trap.



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