Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Maine court hears oral arguments as justices consider sanctions against former probate judge

Maine court hears oral arguments as justices consider sanctions against former probate judge

 
Editor's note: This Shark wishes we had a Maine type high court in Illinois to punish all those crooks in the Probate Court of Cook County.  Lucius Verenus, Schoolmaster, ProbateSharks.com


Posted Feb. 10, 2017, at 7:45 p.m.
PORTLAND, Maine — The state’s highest court heard oral arguments Friday morning as the justices consider issuing a $10,000 fine and barring former York County Probate Judge Robert M.A. Nadeau from sitting on the bench again.
The Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability recommended the sanctions, the harshest the Maine Supreme Judicial Court could hand down short of disbarment, for what it says are five violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
Cabanne Howard, executive secretary and counsel to the committee that investigates and recommends sanctions for Maine judges, outlined the five violations to start the hearing.
Nadeau faces the proposed sanctions for actions he took in November 2012, when he directed probate court staff not to appoint certain attorneys to litigants who qualified for indigent legal service, for ordering a lawyer to destroy an email deemed a public document, and for ordering the removal of a lawyer from three cases to which she had been assigned.
The committee also found that in April 2015, Nadeau changed the entire probate court schedule without consulting staff just hours after the commissioners turned down his request for more court days and a raise. During subsequent probate court hearings, he also told litigants who complained about scheduling to contact the County Commissioners to urge them to increase funding for the court.
“The motive was retaliatory to the County Committee for denying his raise,” Howard said. “This was all the cases pending in his court. Everybody got hurt in these delays.”
Nadeau, 62, who lost his bid for re-election in a three-way race last year, has been sanctioned twice previously for violating the code of conduct for judges.
He first was suspended from the bench in 2007 for a week without pay for lying about his opponent in his 2004 re-election bid. He was suspended for 30 days without pay last year for statements he made in a 2013 letter to the attorney representing his former girlfriend in a protection from harassment matter.
The Biddeford lawyer was first elected to be the York County probate judge in 1996 and served a total of 16 years on the bench.
“You have done some great good in your time as a judge,” one justice told Nadeau during questioning. “Yet, we see intemperate behavior. After all those years of judging, why is it that you didn’t have something in place to avoid … intemperate behavior?”
Another justice also commented on Nadeau’s “good work” on the bench but added that she has noticed a pattern of angry responses over the years and “that anger-based response keeps getting you into trouble.”
In addressing the allegations, Nadeau said that he had asked for a review of the indigent lawyer appointments, but that he reversed course when he learned his decision was wrong. He also said he had been given a legal opinion saying it was OK to destroy the public document in 2012.
He also said the committee did not consider two emails about remaking the probate court schedule, issued about a year and about two weeks before he made the 2015 changes, which he said were to make his schedule more efficient.
“Regardless of the circumstances and my efforts to right the wrongs … I fell short,” Nadeau said.
Howard ended by saying the committee is recommending Nadeau’s license to practice law be suspended indefinitely but that the suspension be suspended, to be put into effect only when and if Nadeau seeks election to the probate court again.
All judges except those who serve in the probate courts are appointed by the governor and subject to confirmation by the state Senate. It is highly unlikely a lawyer who had been sanctioned more than once for violating the Judicial Code of Conduct would be nominated for a judgeship let alone be confirmed.
“The committee is very concerned that Nadeau never become a judge again,” Howard said.
The high court’s decision could take several weeks or months to be finalized.
BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Company wants to void indicted lawyer Robert Graham’s malpractice insurance


Company wants to void indicted lawyer Robert Graham’s malpractice insurance

 


The company that issued a $2 million malpractice insurance policy to indicted probate lawyer Robert Graham wants to void the policy and not pay out hundreds of claims, U.S. Bankruptcy Court documents show.
Lawyers for the Virgina-based Markel Insurance Co. allege in the documents that Graham, 52, lied when he filled out an application for the policy in December 2015 saying he knew of no professional liability claims against him.
Since Graham abruptly shut down his Lawyers West office in Summerlin on Dec. 2, he has been charged with stealing $2.1 million from clients in three of his cases. An investigator with the Clark County district attorney’s office testified before the grand jury that indicted Graham that the thefts went back at least three years.
“The criminal indictment against Mr. Graham and other publicly available information indicate that Mr. Graham began misappropriating client funds long before Dec. 10, 2015, when Mr. Graham signed and submitted his application for the Jan. 1, 2016, MIC Lawyers Professional Liability Insurance Policy,” the lawyers wrote last week.
 
The company, which says roughly 390 parties have put in malpractice claims, wants permission from a bankruptcy judge to pursue legal action against Graham in state court to nullify the insurance policy. All civil litigation against Lawyers West was automatically put on hold when lawyers for former clients filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against the firm in December.
A hearing on the insurance company’s request is set for March 14 in bankruptcy court.
In bankruptcy court last week, Lawyers West filed papers listing $8.7 million in liabilities and only $438,100 in assets, mostly unpaid bills the closed company no longer can collect.
The firm also acknowledged that it made a $2,500 contribution to the Boy Scouts of America, an unknown donation to Boys Town of Nevada and a $15,000 contribution to Colorado State University in 2016.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported last month that Graham had donated to Boys Town and the Colorado State athletic department.
Grand jury transcripts obtained by the Review-Journal also show that Graham’s firm made contributions to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Neither Boys Town nor Mormon church officials would disclose the amount of the donations.
Tim Schultz, a financial expert with the district attorney’s office, told the grand jury that Graham poured an average of $187,000 a month from his client trust fund into an operating account to run his law practice and pay personal bills.
Schultz testified that he believed Graham used his clients’ money as a “piggy bank.” Records showed he funneled money into the operating account to pay a $244,000 IRS debt and $700,000 to $800,000 a year on advertising, Schultz said.
In all, prosecutors have alleged in court that Graham may have stolen more than $15 million in client funds, and they expect to file additional criminal charges. He is in the Clark County Detention Center on $5 million bail.
 
Last week, his lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Bryan Cox, filed a motion to reduce his bail, arguing that it is excessive and that Graham is not a flight risk or danger to the community. Cox also filed court papers challenging the indictment against his client.
A hearing on the bail motion has been set for Feb. 28 before District Judge Kerry Earley.
Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Americans Unprepared To Transfer Trillions, Report Says

Americans Unprepared To Transfer Trillions, Report Says

February 2, 2017

Editor's note: Your ProbateShark says, "no worry heirs". The crooked lawyers, judges, caregivers, bankers and insurance companies will trim that wealth down into their own pockets.  Yo won't have to worry about your wealth...because you will not have it.  Lucius Verenus, Schoolmaster, ProbateSharks.com 
Americans are "woefully" unprepared to transfer trillions of dollars from the older generation to their heirs, something that will happen in the near future, says Royal Bank of Canada Wealth Management in a new report.
Only 30 percent of Americans have a full wealth transfer plan and another 30 percent have nothing in place to implement the transfer of the nearly $3.2 trillion that baby boomers will pass to the next generation in the United States alone, according to the RBC Wealth Transfer Report 2017. The rest may have just a will or a partial idea of what they want to pass to their heirs, the report said.
Baby boomers who are getting ready to pass on trillions of dollars did not have conversations with their elders when they inherited money and most are perpetuating that behavior, authors of the report said. Only 37 percent of those who will inherit money have discussed it with their benefactors, the report said.
"It's a trend that appears to repeat itself generation after generation," said Tom Sagissor, president of RBC Wealth Management-U.S.
But the situation may be improving, he added.
“Parents today are educating their children about wealth at an earlier age and doing a better job of engaging them in conversations about the inheritance they will one day receive," stated the study of 3,105 people in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
“If benefactors do not communicate with the next generation, they miss the opportunity to tell them what you want to do with the money and what you want the family legacy to be,” says Bill Ringham, vice president and senior wealth strategist of RBC Wealth Management-U.S.
Although vast improvements in communication and preparedness still need to be made, U.S. residents in the study are more proactive than Canadians and residents of the U.K. in reaching out to their children.
Knowledge appears to build confidence. Almost half of U.S. respondents who have had a conversation with their heirs said they are confident their heirs will be able to grow their wealth, compared to just 39 percent in the U.K. and 42 percent in Canada.

"Discussions around estate and succession planning can be emotionally charged, so families tend to shy away from them," Ringham said. "But for families that want to leave a legacy and ensure the nest egg they have built is protected across generations, communication and planning are key and the earlier it starts, the better.”
 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Another installment

Another installment

kenneth ditkowsky

7:20 PM (13 hours ago)
to Naomi, Ditkowsky, Ben, Deborah, Benjamin, Elizabeth, Elenna, Keith
Naomi - indeed, rebooting the computer cleared up the problem.  It looks like I got everything back   -  any way, your mother this morning got me thinking about the O'Leary case.    That case still ranks as one of the biggest fixes that I was ever involved in.   On the elevator of the Daley Center, after oral argument I met several of the Supreme Court justices that I argued the case before.   Justice Shaffer (sp) had some very laudatory comments to make concerning my brief and oral argument; however, I lost 7 - O on both Appeals before the Supreme Court of Illinois.    I knew in advance I was going to lose as my spy - Pearl F furnished me a copy of the decisions drafted by a staff attorney at the IDR well in advance of the decision being handed down.   Just co-incidence!  

The IRS closed down the manufacturer of the cigarette revenue stamps very quietly and sent some people to jail.   You of course know that Governor Walker went to Federal Prison (on charges unrelated to this scandal - maybe!)   Anyway - here is the next installment:

The men in my family were not wimps.       My material grandfather homestead land in North Dakota, and ran cattle from Texas to the stock yards in Chicago.    My paternal grandfather had the quiet manner that is associated with a man who had great confidence.    He had the aire of a man who looked meek, but if you stirred him up you had a hurricane to address.    His quiet accomplishments spoke to such a conclusion.    Ditto for my father’s older brother.    I learned of his reputation quite by accident.    
 
As a young man,  I was taught to defend myself.   To me an opponent’s nose was put on his face as an escape value.    Ergo, if someone wanted to test my pugilistic skills, the test was usually short lived as it was not too hard to deliver a blow to the nose, the solar plexus, or the genitals.    I preferred the nose, but, beggars cannot be choosers – and my violent streak was usually short lived.     It therefore follows that few of my colleagues desired to mess with me; however, from time to time I was required to demonstrate the lack of wisdom that such an endeavor entailed.
 
Senn High School a bad choice of schools for me.      I liked playing ball and had some ability.   Thus, it was not usual for me to desire to participate in the pick up games that always permeated the lunch hour.    As luck would have it, I drew a schedule that made my personal lunch period coincide with those of the upper classman.     Socialization required my participation in the pick up games and it was not long before I was a regular.     However, to become a regular I had to distinguish myself.    I was gifted with ‘speed’ and thus on offense I played a “half back” and on defense a “safety.”   
 
Within the First month of school familiarity set in and I became a fixture.    In one game,  I went out for pass and a much larger lad than I knocked me down.    On the next play he repeated the feat.    On the following play he collided with my elbow and broke his nose.     My elbow was not injured.    I also was not knocked down again but I remained a little pugnacious.      This attitude lead to some disagreements with others and a few altercations.    My parents learned of my social life and were not pleased.   Thus, I found myself a student at a quiet suburban school  = Niles Twp High School as a tuition student.  
 
At Niles, on day one I had a dispute with another student in a gym class and to my absolute delight the teacher suggested that we settle our dispute with the “gloves on.”     My style lacked something, but I made my point relatively quick and found a new friend.     
 
Once I married Judy, it occurred to me that laughing at an insult was a better approach than my adolescent approach to disputes.     Thus, as long as an adversary did not threaten me physically he was safe from testing his physical skills against mine.    However, this did not mean that I became Casmer Milktoast or I became meek.    My anger manifested itself in my voice becoming deep and my face reflecting my displeasure.    Few did not know that I was not happy.
 
Early on in my career, I ran across a situation in which the Judge was influenced by facts that were not in the record – i.e. the clout of the opposing party.    It did not take me long to know that I was a loser and no matter how the facts supported my case or how well they were presented – the Judge was going to rule against my client.    I was furious!    How dare anyone ‘fix’ a case against one of my clients.     As I was thinking terrible thoughts I heard the Judge say to me:
“Hy, calm down – I’m not going to ‘hurt’ your client!”
Indeed, he ruled against my client and afterwards explained his circumstance as if I would understand.   I did not understand, but I listened politely and then walked away listening to the words:
“Hy, I am sorry!’
Interestly I rarely lost a a motion, a hearing, or any other proceeding that required ruling.    My name was not Hy – though I did not correct the Judge.
 
The Era of the 1960’s was quite different from today and the Courts were no exception.    We had fun and we were almost all friends.    We ate together, socialized, travelled together, and literally enjoyed comradeship.       It was not unusual for the attorneys and the Judge to go out to lunch together or share a ride home.    There were exceptions.     The biggest group of exceptions were lawyers who were short knowledge of the law and got along by trying to intimidate an opponent.     I was raised in a Ditkowsky home so someone yelling and screaming at me was more the usual than an intimidation.     Suggesting in very nice words that I was dummer than a rock only encouraged me.     I called upon the court in such a circumstance accept by apology for being such a dunce and  to indulge me as I agreed with my opponent that I was challenged.     
 
The tactic usually worked; however, on occasion it induce the intimidator to act violently.     During one oral argument before a cafeteria court judge ( I believe it was a building court proceeding) my opponent got so angry with me because of the words and phrases of my apology to the Judge in relation to my stupidity, he took a swing at me.    I saw it coming, moved half a step back and threw a right.   I inadvertently missed driving my punch into his nose and carelessly hit him square on the jaw.   He collapsed like stone.    The sheriff held up my hand as a signal of victory and the Judge laughing remarked  - “he missed – you did not!”    My opponent did not take me out to lunch – or even supper.
 
Violence was frowned upon in the Courtroom, and fisticuffs between lawyes was rare.    However, lay people sometimes got very angry, especially during cross examination.     In one instance, I infuriated a witness when I asked him a particular question and he literally jumped out of the witness box and made for me.    My opponent, screamed at him – “get back in the box!” and to my absolute surprise he did.   I judge looked at me to see if there was anything I wanted – I said nothing, and then demanded an answer to the question as if nothing had occurred.    The case was over.
 
During a hearing on a juvenile manner, a witness became agitated by a question during my cross, pulled out a knife and came after me.    I do not remember what happened from the millisecond of my seeing the knife until the altercation occurred.   The bailiff told me he never saw anyone react so fast.     The altercation ended with me hold the knife and my assailant pinned against the wall – my arm pushing against his throat.    
 
In the 1970’s with the Court rooms moved to the 30 floor Daley Center (Civil Center) two changes occurred.     We had air conditioning and a flood of female attorneys.     Physical disputes amongst the male attorneys became very rare.    Impolite verbiage might occur, but nothing beyond that.    During the O’Leary case, tensions ran very high.     The Chicago Tribune referred the case to me and paid my fees.     The Attorney General’s office was informed by the Department of Revenue and the Governor’s office that this was a MUST CASE and all the stops were to be called out.      I knew that there was a problem when a routine appearance in Federal court was interrupted by my opponent – an Assistant Attorney General of the State of Illinois telling Judge Lynch that I swore at him!
 
You cannot make this stuff up – he told the Judge that I swore at him.     Judge Lynch tried to put on a stern face – but could not – he was having too much trouble keeping from laughing.     Finally, the judge turned to me and said:
“ Mr. Ditkowsky – did you swear at Mr  M***?
I answered in the affirmative, and the Judge further inquired:
“did you finish saying what you wished to say to Mr. M***?
I answered in the negative and the Judge ordered me to take Mr. M*** into the hallway and finish my conversation with him.     I did exactly that.   The words and phrases I used would have removed the paint from the walls.    We then returned to the Court room, the Judge asked me if I had said everything I wanted to Mr. M**** and I answered in the affirmative.   Thereupon, the Judge granted the relief that I had previously requested and continued the case until the disposition of the Circuit Court Action I filed was adjudicated.    Mr. M**** never appeared in against my client in any other case.    I had the distinct impression that he did not enjoy my company.
 
The O’leary case was an experience for me that I never anticipated.     I believed the all that stuff that I was taught in law school and literally believed that law enforcement was not corrupt.    I got a civics lesson for the ages.     Of course I heard all about corruption in Chicago and the influence of the Mafia.    I even knew people who were “Mafia!”     This stuff happened to other people.    I knew that ordinary people sometimes ran into difficulties and injustice occurred.     I knew all about the ‘fix’ and corrupt judges.     I had even been approached several times by Judges soliciting extra circular compensation.    One Judge even told me how much a judgment for my client was going to cost me/my client.    Indeed, I was aware that in Cook County if you were not a good Democratic Party member you were not going to be successful in the practice of law and I was also aware that the mafia rule applied – if you asked for a favor (or something) you were a debtor and you owed the organization   Once you made the compromise, you were IN and on the horizon stood a clear path.   
 
I was an observer as many of my law school classmates sold out principles in an effort to “move up the ladder.” .     It was not lost on me that T.B was working the “wards” paying alcoholics to go to the polls and vote, WS was essentially a bag man for Judge L*** (who would go to jail in  Operation Greylord), *****.       Opportunities abounded, but, I was married to the love of my life and her vision of life did not include the initiation fee that my classmates and others were paying.     With my clout, derived from my father’s family, I had a clear path.     Indeed, it was not an accident that I was surviving as a lawyer and I my caseload was unique.
 
In the O’Leary case I was confronted with a clear conflict with the ‘establishment!’     Cigarette taxation was a massive fund raiser for certain political elements who operated in what was a hybrid relationship between organized crime and the political establishment.     It funded both.     The cigarette habit created a multi billion dollar cash flow in cigarette taxes and a virtual monopoly for the unsavory elements of society.     Foreign States such as Indiana had independent political operations and their funding was also independent.    Thus, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kentucky, and other surrounding States had taxes on cigarettes were substantially less than that Illinois.    As the political and “outfit” greed reached a critical mass, ordinary Illinois citizens started to make purchasers in Interstate Commerce.     This event caused political and outfit coffers to have a lesser yield.    Thus, revenue agents were sent to the border to deliver a message.    This message was made clear when on Labor Day 1973 the agents watched sundry shops along Indianapolis Blvd at the Indiana/Illinois border.    The agents seized “likely examples” expecting the mainstream media to set up a hue and cry concerning TAX CHEATS!    
 
Every deed is properly punished.    A Chicago Tribune employee was caught in the sweep.    He and his young family were actually left stranded as “Revenue Agents” seized his vehicle, his luggage, and the couple of cartons of cigarettes that he had purchased in Indiana.    There were no ILLINOIS STAMPS on the cigarettes!      Fortuitously,  Tom O’Leary, called his friend and Tribune columnist **** and asked for help.    (At this point in time the Tribune was a ‘big family’ or a fraternity – being a Tribune employee meant that the organization and its other employees went the extra mile for you).    I received the call for help and I responded.   
 
My response was unexpected.    As Tom and his family were back home in Elmhurst,  I was outraged at the tactic and was not going to meekly negotiate a fine for my client and retreat into the hills.    This high=handedness needed to be addressed.    Thus, I filed a Civil Rights lawsuit in the Federal Court and a separate lawsuit in Circuit Court to challenge the enforcement effort.    The Tribune brass apparently “loved it!”    The Establishment became livid.   The judges  enjoyed the effort and were more than sympatric.      My examination of Investigator Jeffery K was a classic.
 
Mr. K***,  did you observe the O’Leary vehicle breaking any laws when first saw it cross the Illinois border from Indiana?
Ans:  No Sir
Why did you stop the vehicle?
Ans:  I saw some suspicious people in the vehicle.
Were all the people in the vehicle suspicious?
Ans:  Yes, all of them.
 
I thereupon picked up five year old Mary, who was wearing a red dress, placed her on my arm, walked to the front of the courtroom and asked:
                Mr. K*** what did you see suspicious concerning this young lady?
The Courtroom erupted with laughter.    The Judge lead the chorus.    The gallery rolled in the aisles.     More was to come.     The enforcers of the public morals were literally being laughed out of the Court house.      
The Director of Revenue and the Governor were beyond livid.    The political establishment was rocked by defections and was the butt of many jokes.     
 
A day later the Daley Center foundations were again shaken with laughter.     The State was putting on its defense and trying to justify its enforcement procedure.      Investigators were groomed by Assistant Attorney Generals to give cogent and precise testimony as to the enforcement procedure and the urgent need of the State of Illinois.    To bolster their testimony the investigators spent much of the night rewriting their reports and in particular their reports that related to the Labor Day massacre.      
 
One investigator was so outraged by the subordination of perjury that was being promulgated that she called had a message delivered to me to inform me of the events that were transpiring at the Offices of the Illinois Department of Revenue.   She also furnished me with copies of the original reports that she clandestinely obtained.    Thus, the next morning commenced with the lead investigator testifying according to his script.    On cross-examination I pulled out a copy of the incident report that was furnished that morning by the Attorney General and matched it with the report that my “spy” at the IDR had provided.     
 
My cross was benign as I led him through his report and the “undercover” investigation that led to the mass arrests of labor day travelers such as Tom O’Leary and his family.        To the uninitiated observer it appeared that I was frustrated by the detail and clarity of the report, until,  I stopped dead in my tracks, looked at the witness and asked:  “When did you write this report?”   The answer was:
“last night”
The Judge exploded!     He screamed  “LAST NIGHT!!!!!”     Morrie Bromberg, the assistant AG jumped from his chair, knocked over the pitcher of water sitting on the counsel table, looked at the irate judge literally screaming and froze!   
 
As If turning a page, the Judge turned to me and said, Mr. Ditkowsky prepare a Petition for a Rule as to Why the Director of Revenue ought not be held in criminal contempt of Court.
 
The Establishment having been caught trying to maneuver the Justice System did not take their being caught in a criminal enterprise quietly.    
1.       A special form suggesting that I was a tax cheat was delivered to the Department of the Treasury (IRS).      I received that usual gut cleaning audit, but,  I honestly reported my income and expenses and passed.    The IRS was not deaf, dumb or blind and after the audit was complete I had conversations with the public corruption unit.
2.        a criminal investigation was commenced by the DuPage County Sheriff as to something or other.    It was fortuitous that I except for a previous run-in with a bigwig in the Republican Party and a major shopping center developer that had all be resolved,  I had no contacts with DuPage County.    They could investigate till the cows came home.
3.       A break in occurred at my office.  What was unusual about this event was the fact that nothing (except of light blub) was stolen, and
4.       I discovered that my older daughter was a radio personality – her telephone conversations were being broadcast at the far end of the radio dial.     In fact a sweep revealed that a target of the KGB investigation had more privacy that my family had.   
5.       It appeared that a “mail cover” was also imposed as communications took an extra day and ½. To reach the office.

Having H H as a friend proved very helpful.     On one of our weekend bike rides I disclosed to him the events that we occurring and the options I was considering.     After I unburdened myself, he looked me square in the eye and said:  “Ruby Andrews!”    The Achilles heel had been revealed.    A few days later another explosion erupted!       One of my Sauganash neighbors suggested that it would be nice if I would put my name in to be appointed a Judge by the Supreme Court of Illinois.     He suggested that there were some important people who felt that it would be very nice if I was elevated to the bench and he could arrange it.
 
What he did not tell me, but I knew from the IRS unit was that Illinois tax stamps were mass produced at a Chicago plant.    This plant just happened to be owned and operated by another neighbor of mine.    The State purchased a certain number of tax revenue stamps and out a back door the outfit purchased the balance.    Thus, in Illinois we had three levels of cigarettes sold at your local store.    Cartons of cigarettes for which the 14% cigarette sales tax was actually paid,  Cartons of cigarettes that were furnished by an outfit related distributor, and those that bore either no stamps or those bearing stamps from a foreign State – such as Indiana.     The IDR brass were in essence protecting the outfit product from competition from foreign States such as Indiana merchants.
 
A few days after two plus two (i.e. the relationship between the enforcement efforts and the government) several of the investigators resigned, Investigator Bill Benson was fired, and hell was burning.     The Governor ordered that all revenue stamps have serial number on them and the IRS agents swarmed over the plant producing the stamps.    Tina L*** looked out her kitchen window and noticed that for several days a vehicle with a man sitting in it was parked behind my garage.    She called the Police.     My cousin and another police commander  assigned to the local police station paid a visit to the man in the parked vehicle.    They were hostile to my visitor and he confessed that he was waiting for me and had been commissioned to make me repent for my meanness to his employer -= the Director of Revenue of the State of Illinois.
 
He was persuaded to seek another type of employment, and a Chicago Tribune reporter was contacted.   This reporter delivered a message.     The Director of the IDR promptly sought employment in another State.      He was advised by the reporter that he (the director) was to be henceforth a health insurance policy for me.     I was grateful.     The Director accepted employment in Pennsylvania.       We had lunch several times thereafter.       The O’Leary case was “fixed” in the Supreme Court of Illinois.   Willard Ice, an attorney for the IDR was careless and his drafts of the Supreme Court decision found their way to me.   The Court in entering its decision did not change a word.    
 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Vote set on dealing with Hunter Management on Lancaster Manor

Vote set on dealing with Hunter Management on Lancaster Manor
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The Lancaster County Board plans to vote Aug. 27 on whether to continue negotiations with Hunter Management, an Illinois-based company that wants to buy Lancaster Manor, the county-owned nursing home.
Board chair Bernie Heier said Tuesday he has asked commissioners to review all information they have received so far about Hunter Management and be prepared for a lengthy discussion in executive session on that date. That's when all five commissioners should be present. The public cannot attend.
By state law, governing bodies can meet in executive session - behind closed doors -to discuss the sale of property and other sensitive matters.
After the executive session, Heier said, he will ask the board to vote on whether to "proceed or not to proceed" with talks involving Hunter Management, the only company to express interest in buying the nursing home at 1001 South St. when proposals were sought earlier this year.
With Lancaster Manor facing with a projected $3.5 million budget shortfall this fiscal year, the county board is considering selling it, despite opposition from employees, their union, people who have family members there and other citizens.
Hunter Management and its owner, the Rothner family, have come under fire for the quality of care they have given residents in their nursing homes.
The Save the Manor Coalition and Local 2468 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees say the Rothners have a bad track record of running nursing homes, including: low Medicare ratings, fines totaling $835,000 and criminal indictments against several family members.
Tuesday morning, the union's president, Kim Kaspar, leveled more allegations regarding the Rothner family, Hunter Management, and two men who share ownership with family members in eight nursing homes.
Citing an Internet and court records investigation by Lincoln attorney Gary Young, who represents the coalition and the union, Kaspar said the two men, Bryan Barrish and Michael Giannini, have been convicted of using nursing homes to defraud Medicare and Medicaid.
The two men allegedly were involved in a scheme in which nursing homes made false claims for incontinence supplies. In 2002, Barrish and Giannini were assessed civil penalties of roughly $2.2 million for Medicare fraud associated with the scheme. In 2000, both pleaded guilty to money laundering.
"This is really beyond anything we expected. We are very surprised that the county board would be willing to negotiate with them in light of this record," Kaspar said.
Anna Polyak, a corporate compliance attorney representing Extended Care Clinical LLC, which is affiliated with Hunter Management, wrote in an e-mail to the Journal Star: "Neither of these two individuals are either owners, officers or employees of Extended Care Clinical/Hunter Management. No members of the Rothner family or officers of Extended Care Clinical/Hunter Management have ever been indicted or otherwise investigated on any charges related to Medicare or Medicaid billing."
In a telephone interview, Young said the coalition and the employees union are not claiming that Rothner family members or Hunter Management were involved in the scheme that led to the Medicare settlement with Barrish and Giannini. "We're not claiming that at all," Young said.
The attorney said he does not know when Barrish and Giannini became partners with the Rothners. "It doesn't matter to us. They are now," Young said.
A Journal Star Internet search could not confirm or refute the statements by either Young or Polyak.
The newspaper's search did find at least three instances in which Eric Rothner, Barrish and/or Giannini were listed among the owners of Illinois nursing homes in 2007 or 2008:
* Greenwood Care, Evanston, Ill. (2008 Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services report) -Eric Rothner, 51.22 percent ownership; Barrish, 30.55 percent; Giannini, 3.45 percent.
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    * Bryn Mawr Care, Chicago (2007 report) - Eric Rothner, 46.55 percent ownership; Barrish, 13.5 percent; Giannini, 1.44 percent.
    * Wilson Care, Chicago (2008 report) - Eric Rothner, 20 percent; Barrish, 11.11 percent.
    During Tuesday's meeting, Commissioner Bob Workman challenged Kaspar on some of the earlier information put forth by the coalition and the union about the Medicare ratings of Rothner-owned nursing homes. Workman said 60 percent of the Rothner-owned homes have a two-star or better rating on Medicare's five-star quality care rating scale and Lancaster Manor's rating is also two stars.
    "Can't we say that Hunter Management has a higher quality rating than Lancaster Manor on average?" Workman asked Kaspar, who immediately disagreed with the statement.
    Workman then accused the union and the coalition of "distorting" information. "You have pulled out what you want," he told Kaspar.
    Workman later told Melvin Moore, past president of the union, to "sit down" and not respond to his remarks after he made them.
    In an interview, Heier said he was not aware of the allegations made by Kaspar and the coalition. "If it's substantiated, it's not good information for Hunter Management," he said.
    Heier said the county board has been conducting its own investigation of Hunter Management and the Rothner family; however, that information will not be made public until the investigation is complete.
    "We're looking at everything and I don't like what I heard this morning - if it's true," Heier said.
    In a related matter, Mark Vasina of Lincoln submitted a public records request to the county board seeking budget information for Lancaster Manor for fiscal year 2010. The request asked for all work papers, memos or correspondence, including e-mails. The request was signed by Vasina and four University of Nebraska-Lincoln economics and accounting professors: F. Gregory Hayden, Kung Chen, Hendrik van den Berg and Linda Ruchala.
    Commissioner Larry Hudkins asked Vasina about his motives for filing the request.
    Vasina, who is the treasurer for Nebraskans For Peace, said he has been following the manor controversy and has been "puzzled" by the financial explanations, so he decided to examine them himself.
    "It bothers me when powerful people are acting in such a way to disregard public concerns, and, particularly, when less-powerful people are hurt by that," Vasina said.
    Heier said he would forward Vasina's request to the county attorney and the county budget director.
    Meanwhile, State Auditor Mike Foley's office is conducting its own audit of manor financial records.
    Reach Algis J. Laukaitis at 402-473-7243 or alaukaitis@journalstar.com.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2017

    Murray Probate Court employee placed on leave as GBI investigates missing funds

    Murray Probate Court employee placed on leave as GBI investigates missing funds

     
    CHATSWORTH, Ga. — The Murray County Probate Court employee at the center of a Georgia Bureau of Investigation inquiry into missing money has been placed on indefinite paid leave, according to Probate Judge John Waters.
    Waters said he would not release the employee’s name while the case is under investigation.
    GBI agents along with members of the Murray County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office searched the Probate Court offices last week.
    “That was the first time I knew that there was an investigation,” Waters said.
    The investigation began last year with a request from District Attorney Bert Poston. Saying he did not want to talk about evidence while the investigation is ongoing, Poston declined to discuss why he requested the GBI to look into the Probate Court. A GBI special agent said an update of the court’s computer software triggered the investigation.
    “The company that provides the software to the county was getting ready to do some updates,” Special Agent Greg Ramey said. “They were looking at ways to improve the way they were doing things, and they started noticing some improprieties. As they looked into it closer, they found that it was just one particular individual. They alerted us. We looked at it, discussed it with them and were able to put what we call a trigger on it. It notified them when that individual was doing something inappropriate in there.”
    “Both the current and former Probate judges were shocked at what had been happening, and they have both been very cooperative,” Ramey said.
    The search came about a year after the initial allegations were brought to the GBI’s attention.
    “Unfortunately, there are 159 counties in Georgia, and our financial investigative unit has a limited number of people,” Ramey said. “When we initially gathered records and took the records to them, it took them a while to get to us. They are still not through with the case. But we did have a mechanism in place to allow us to continue to track what was going on there.”
    Ramey said the investigation is still focusing on one employee. He said he could not reveal that employee’s name while the investigation is still underway.
    Waters, who took office on Jan. 1, says the GBI did not tell him how much money is involved.
    Former Probate judge Dale Adams said the GBI informed him of the investigation but did not give him much information.
    “We had just a brief conversation letting me know there was an investigation,” he said.
    Waters said the staff in the court are “a family.”
    “We want to support our family member in this, and we hope that she is proved innocent and can come back and be with us,” he said.