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Monday, March 16, 2009

Court-Appointed Corruption: A National Problem

Ahearn: How did it all go wrong?
The News-Record by LORRAINE AHEARN - November 2, 2008

"They treat me like I'm already dead."

We all get old; we all get sick. Lifelong factory worker Dorothy “Dot” Williams planned for that. She saved, signed a will with durable power of attorney, set up a $300,000 annuity and took out home health insurance to avoid having to go to a nursing home. Yet that’s where she was Friday — in a cramped, semiprivate room at Evergreens, where she shares a bathroom with three others and was hoping to be moved to her own room. Williams, 78 and widowed, built circuit boards for Western Electric and Lucent for more than 30 years. But now she is a ward of the state, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and declared legally incompetent at the request of her estranged daughter, who had been removed from the mother’s will. And because her court-appointed guardian decided it was for the best, she has been placed in a nursing home despite paying for round-the-clock coverage for home health care. “I have never seen somebody get the treatment she’s gotten,” said her last home health aide, Melissa Tilley. “It’s sad to know she worked all of her life, and this is what happens.” Until recently, Williams had a neat, well-appointed room with a private bath, sun porch and closed-circuit camera for security at the home of her son, Randy Clark.

In 2007, Williams had given her son power of attorney, and he hired home health aides to take care of his mother 24 hours a day. Clark saw no problem in providing for his mother. “She’s been frugal all her life, never hurt anybody,” he said. “She always took care of me, and it was my turn to take care of her.” But things grew complicated once the court system got involved, after Williams was declared incompetent. Instead of her certified nursing assistants being paid through health insurance claims, according to accounting records filed at the courthouse in September, the certified nursing assistants and the son were reimbursed sporadically by personal check through a court-appointed estate guardian.

According to Williams’ last CNA, the paychecks became so unpredictable that Clark often paid out of pocket, and in several instances, the bank records show backlogs of multiple reimbursement checks from the guardian written on single dates. The court-appointed guardian of the estate, Greensboro attorney Wanda Daughtry, said she cannot discuss finances of clients, and in September petitioned to resign from the case at the request of Guilford County Clerk of Court David Churchill. Churchill said Friday that it would be more convenient to appoint a guardian in High Point to watch over the estate. But in the meantime, according to the letter of resignation filed with the court, guardian Daughtry blamed delays on lack of cooperation from Williams’ bank and holding company, slow payments from Social Security and missing tax documents.

The letter does offer a solution: “Sufficient funds have been identified to allow the placement of the ward in a care facility in High Point as requested and anticipated by this guardian since June 2008,” wrote Daughtry, who received a $5,830 commission. “Said placement is needed since the care providers found it increasingly difficulty (sic) to offer continuing quality care for the ward.” The son reluctantly acquiesced, having little legal standing. When Williams’ last CNA left on maternity leave, the son could not hire a replacement, unsure of when the worker would get paid. “It would have been a piece of cake,” Clark said of his mother’s wish to stay at home. “But if they’re not paying for your wages or your supplies, they’re basically starving you out. I have to be there basically 24/7.” The social worker assigned to Williams’ case by the county Department of Social Services could not be reached for comment, and calls to his supervisor were not returned. According to Churchill, the court clerk, DSS had to approve the nursing home placement. The only matter before Churchill now is whether Williams herself will have to pay the $14,830 in attorneys’ fees, including the services of a private detective, that her daughter incurred in getting Williams declared incompetent. The daughter, Dawn Johnson, could not be reached for comment Friday. Williams’ old friend, Mable Phillips, said Williams would not have wanted to live in a nursing home. She felt the problem grew out of a family dispute over money.

“It’s not right. She has property; she has money. She worked so hard to save for her children,” Phillips said. “Dot was always energetic, a go-getter. She was hilarious.” And isn’t it typical: We’ve recounted this whole story without hearing from “the ward” herself. Since last summer, when she sat for an interview and a photo on the sun porch at her son’s lakeside house, Williams has grown more confused. At the nursing home Friday, she no longer talked about trips to her favorite lunch counter, Carolina Diner, or to her hairdresser at Studio 13. She didn’t talk about the years at Western Electric, scrimping and saving, tearing paper towels in half before that was the thing to do, staying a few rows back on beach vacations, because it was cheaper. As the jukebox in the nursing-home lobby played oldies, Dot Williams’ eyes danced. But not with joy. “They treat me,” she said, “like I’m already dead.” Contact Lorraine Ahearn at 373-7334 or lorraine.ahearn@news-record.com

16 comments:

in the know said...

What problem?!? This lady had money that corrupt legal insiders wanted. There's no problem. They used and abused a legal system to get money- that's what our legal system has been about, and it worked perfectly here.

Anonymous said...

First they steal your money and property, and then they silently steal from the taxpayers by forcing you onto the the social safety net with their fraud...

Anonymous said...

And the Department of Social Services is where in all of this???

LoriView said...

Guardianship is bad for your health and your wealth!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if qui tam actions are possible to reveal the fraud and recover taxpayer monies...

Anonymous said...

to LoriView..

I just saw your website..

what an American tragedy..

Elaine Renoire said...

NASGA is an organization of victims and families working to expose and end unlawful and abusive guardianships/conservatorships -- a growing national epidemic.

Guardianship wards are stripped of all rights: the right to decide where to live and whom to associate with, how to spend (or save!) ones own money, to accept or refuse medical treatment -- or even ask for a second opinion, marry, vote, etc. Most important, wards are stripped of the right to complain.

With the fox guarding the henhouse and the hens muzzled, guardians and their attorneys can easily unjustly enrich themselves at the expense and to the detriment of the very person they have been court-appointed to protect.

And where to the victims go for help? Many go to the AG, only to be turned away because the abuse has been court-sanctioned.

Visit NASGA at StopGuardianAbuse.org or NASGA’s blog at http://NASGA-StopGuardianAbuse.blogspot.com for more information.

Forewarned is forearmed!

Yours,
Elaine Renoire
NASGA

Anonymous said...

I had a receiver unlawfully appointed in a divorce action. The Judge who appointed him had already recused himself for bias and prejudice against women..

Somehow this Judge continued to act.. When the recusal was finally brought to the attention of the Court, all motions were rolled over as if they didn't exist.

With eviction eminent..

The matter was brought to the attention of the Sheriff"s department. The Sheriff was offered paperwork from my bank showing where they concluded that there was a defect in the Judicial proceeding..

The Sheriff refused any additional evidence and evicted me by way of the defective papers he had in his possession.

My home was robbed the very next day...

The police refused to take my complaint, and needless to say my complaint to the district attorney's office fell upon deaf ears...

The New York Judges could care less what the Supreme Court will say about recusal...

I know this because they refuse to follow the rules even after the fact..

Imagine a Judge recusing himself and still disposing of assets..

Anonymous said...

To the above..were you an employee of OCA...that is what they do to you if they want to intimidate and especially if you are female.
You will rarely get action from law enforcement or the AG or anyone local like the sheriff's, if you dare try to expose OCA'S judicial operations that exude criminal activity.
It takes your personal time, some connections and the contacting of several federal agencies that you must get involved in, to push to correct and expose what has been done to you.
I am familiar with a lot of what you state is going on and I sympathize...just don't give up..there are people that are willing to go after OCA's crimes...you can find them in unusual places.

disgusted lawyer said...

This is an area of the law that has disgussed me personal for a long time. This is the new honey pot for the ambulance chasers and shysters with the willing help of the courts.

Anonymous said...

Lippman or OCA has not done anything to stop this untoward practice and never will since its a gold mine for lawyers. Yet another way to steal money, legally of course from the suckers.

galison said...

There will be a Public Hearing, held by the New York State Senate Judiciary Committee on the nomination process of the Chief Justice of New York State on Friday, March 20 at 10:00 AM at the Brooklyn Bar Association, 123 Remsen Street, Brooklyn New York. (inquiries: contact Senate Judiciary Counsel, Timothy Spotts: 518 455 2788)

Anonymous said...

To the above..

No, I'm not an employee of the Court.. I was merely a litigant looking for a fair and impartial proceeding..

I remember one day at the courthouse when a guard warned/threatened me in a veiled manner. He told me that.. my Judge is good when he gets going.. and that I should cooperate. He then asked if I owned anything of value, because if I didn't cooperate, I could lose everything...

Anonymous said...

p.s. my case came complete with an Affirmation that the Judge threatened my Attorney... and still the CJC did nothing...

Anonymous said...

the post about the hearing tomorrow is interesting...this should be a banner story on this blog...so why isn't it? What's the problem here? What's going on?

have a buddy and his mother had a guardian...from what I saw they are all dirty rotten scoundrels...this lawyer was a real douche bag.

Anonymous said...

its a good old boys system in Guilford County. I was part of a special proceeding in the Clerk of Superior Court's office yesterday where the appellant called the Asst. Clerk of Court by her FIRST NAME several times. The clerk asked her to stop, but tell me that's not suspicious. If you're on a first name basis with the Clerk, I think that's a conflict of interest. DUH!

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               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
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