Monday, April 27, 2015

Pro Se Filing Of The Day: ‘Notice To F*ck This Court And Everything That It Stands For’

Editor's note: The readers of this blog will note that this Shark is very polite and does not use bad language. Your ProbateShark after experiencing the corrupt ethics and lack of legal capabilities of the judges within the Probate Court of Cook County understands Mr. Clark's frustration, but does not condone it.  Lucius Verenus, Schoolmaster, ProbateSharks.com

Pro Se Filing Of The Day: ‘Notice To F*ck This Court And Everything That It Stands For’



AngryEvery now and then, a federal motion is filed that’s so beautifully written that we simply wouldn’t be able to do it justice by describing it in words. Instead, we’re just going to show it to you.
Prepare to feast your eyes upon pure eloquence and class. From the plaintiff calling the judge an “old, IMPOTENT geezer” and a “f*cking b*tch” to alleging that it only “took [her] about 1 month to study the history of the world and to learn the history and inner workings of American jurisprudence, literally,” this motion — entitled “Notice To F*ck This Court And Everything That It Stands For” — is simply amazing.
This is just a sample of the incredible legal rhetoric you’ll find in this legal pleading:
[J]ust in case you haven’t noticed—I couldn’t give two f*cks about you or what you have to say. F*ck you, old man. You’re a joke. Your court’s a joke. You take it up the a*s; and you suck nuts. Lol.
Behold, a legal masterpiece.
(Gavel bang: Sarah Jeong.)
Notice To F*ck This Court And Everything That It Stands For [Scribd]

Judge Guy Herman Insulting Battered Families of Judicial Abuse

Editor's note: This Shark believes that one does not have to travel to Texas to be insulted by a judge...we have our own boorish judges in the Probate Court of Cook County.  Lucius Verenus, Schoolmaster, ProbateSharks.com


Harris County Texas Judge Guy Herman's Testimony at the Senate Committee on State Affairs on SB1876

Source:
Judge Guy Herman Insulting Battered Families of Judicial Abuse

Miami will finally try to fix its crooked guardianship programs

Miami will finally try to fix its crooked guardianship programs (FL)

Last spring, New Times published the results of a five-month investigation into Miami-Dade’s guardianship system — the program set up by the courts to protect the assets of vulnerable people. Except in South Florida, it had become a politically-connected, un-regulated cesspool of abuse.
One year later, as Tallahassee works to overhaul the guardianship system statewide, Miami-Dade’s courts are finally taking small steps toward reform. But the most obvious change — a dedicated county watchdog to sniff out corruption — is still nowhere to be found.
For decades, Miami’s judges have been given essentially free reign to appoint anyone they chose to be a guardian — a position of tremendous power over a vulnerable resident, with wide leeway to control their assets, bank accounts and medical care. New Times investigation found that power was regularly abused, including:
• There were regular failures to file basic information. Guardians were often years late in filing financial forms, and until this month, Miami-Dade lacked any electronic system to track the programs.
• Guardians have given thousands in donations to the election campaigns of the same judges who appoint them to cases and award them their fees.
This week, Miami’s probate courts instituted a new system to at least start addressing that final point. Now, professional guardians must register and cases are assigned on a rotating basis from that pool .
That move comes as multiple bills are working their way through Tallahassee, including efforts to make it more difficult to declare someone incapacitated and to limit how much guardians can be paid for their work.
But there’s still one easy fix in Dade that hasn’t been funded: A dedicated watchdog. Despite the fact that Miami, as of last spring, had 7,000 guardianship cases — the most in the state — there was no independent oversight of those cases. Palm Beach started a similar program in 2011, and has uncovered more than $3 million in abuse since then; Broward, too, has uncovered millions in guardianship abuse since starting its watchdog program.
Legislators last year gave county clerks new power to investigate abuses, but didn’t fund that push; as a result, counties like Dade initiated almost zero new audits.
There’s little doubt that Dade’s most vulnerable residents are still at risk from unscrupulous guardians; this week’s changes will help, but when will a transparent watchdog program come to Miami?
Attribution:
Miami Will Finally Try to Fix Its Crooked Guardianship Programs
Tim Elfrink
March 27, 2015
Miami New Times
http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/miami-will-finally-try-to-fix-its-crooked-guardianship-programs-7554038

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Here's How The Great $41 Trillion Generational Wealth Transfer Is Intercepted By Probate Pirates

Here's How The Great $41 Trillion Generational Wealth Transfer Is Intercepted By Probate Pirates


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — It used to be that Theresa Lyons bartered with the elderly relatives in her family.

“My aging mother and her sister were helping me pay the rent, gas and electricity bills and I would take them out to eat and drive them around to where they needed to go,” said the single mother of three children.

That was until 2011 when Blanca Tozzo, Lyons’s aunt, passed away and her mother, Carmen Hernandez Tozzo, was placed in a retirement home in Florida once the Department of Children and Families (DCF) stepped in.

“I have no access to my mom's finances,” Lyons told MainStreet. “The only way I can get any money is through a subpoena and blessings from the probate judge.”

Once Tozzo became a ward of the state under a professional guardian, Lyons said most of her mother's $100,000 in retirement savings was drained.

“The guardian isolated and drugged my mom, placed her in a lock down area with mentally ill and psychotic patients where she suffered dozens of falls, cuts, bruises and was almost killed by one of the male residents,” said Lyons, who is in her 50s. “When I complained, my visitation was taken away.”

Lyons’s mother is among the senior citizens losing some $36.48 billion each year to elder financial abuse, according to a True Link study called Friendly Grandparent Syndrome.

“These numbers indicate how the guardianship industry destroys the legitimate inter-generational transfer of wealth and in the process irreparably damages entire generations of innocent families,” said Dr. Sam Sugar, founder of the Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship (AAAPG) in Miami.

That’s 12 times more than the previously reported $2.9 billion, because elders are ashamed and humiliated and in some cases drugged while residing in a retirement home.

“They often refuse to report this crime,” said Jack Halpern, CEO of My Elder Advocate, a franchise that works with families to solve elder care-related crises. “Elder financial abuse is probably the most unreported crime in the country.”

Some $16.9 billion of these losses a year comes from deceptive but technically legal tactics designed specifically to take advantage of older Americans, according to the 2015 True Link Report on Financial Elder Abuse. “This crime is shielded from public view because the criminal is most often a lawyer in probate court,” said Kristi Hood, author of the book Probate Pirates (JKH Publishing, 2015). “The probate pirate attorney either directly or indirectly finds a way to pick the pockets of the elderly ward of the state, taking money that should be used to care for the person or charging their adult children exorbitant legal fees for help.”

Uncannily similar to organized crime defined in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970 (RICO), probate piracy can involve the involuntary redistribution of assets, which is also known as property poaching, with the elderly person becoming the enterprise that is defrauded.
"Unscrupulous charities, probate courts, home repair scammers, retirement homes, neighbors and even distant family members know that a friendly senior with cognitive issues is a potential gold mine,” said Kai Stinchcombe, CEO and founder of True Link.

Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers are reportedly expected to be the recipients of some $41 trillion from their World War 2 generation parents as they pass away.
 
"The transfer of wealth is going to last for the next 30 to 40 years," said Dan McElwee, certified financial planner and executive vice president with Ventura Wealth Management.
But an elderly adult who is extremely friendly is four times more likely to fall victim to high amounts of senior financial fraud.

“Those of us working in the field have long known that the United States is in the throes of an elder financial abuse epidemic,” said Shawna Reeves, director of elder abuse prevention at the Institute of Aging.

Adult Millennial and Gen X children who find their elderly Boomer and World War II-generation parents have been targeted with legal tactics designed to rob them can report the fraud to their local district attorney’s office, consumer protection agency, the state attorney general and even the local FBI office.

“We are all affected by these scams,” Halpern told MainStreet. “When an elder loses their assets to scam and they need care, they will have to look to welfare and Medicaid.”

Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Disbarred East Valley attorney sentenced to prison in probate theft case

Editor's note: Your ProbateShark would love to see the thieving Probate Court of Cook County attorneys, "sentenced to prison in probate theft case", but alas, they are protected by the corrupt legal system.  Lucius Verenus, Schoolmaster, ProbateSharks.com

 

Disbarred East Valley attorney sentenced to prison in probate theft case

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A disbarred East Valley attorney accused of stealing money from his deceased clients probate accounts has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison after his conviction on theft and fraud charges.
While sentencing Rodney Matheson, 70, on Friday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Bruce R. Cohen also ordered that Matheson repay more than $1 million to an attorney representing the Mayo Clinic, and ordered him to "not engage in any service or assistance in or related legal services for any purpose whatsoever.''
Cohen also placed Matheson on probation on a fraudulent schemes and artifaces conviction for seven years, a term that begins when he is released from prison.
Prosecutors accused Matheson of orchestrating an elaborate shell game by taking money from two estates to satisfy a court order for payment of $800,000 to the Mayo Clinic, the major beneficiary of a third estate, according to court documents.
PREVIOUS: Disbarred attorney accused of stealing from probate clients
The theft occurred between November 2005 and August 2013, while the fraud occurred between March and August of 2013, according to court documents. Matheson pleaded guilty in November 2014 to the theft and fraud charges in return for three other counts being dropped, according to his plea agreement.
Matheson, of Queen Creek, was disbarred in September 2013 after an investigation by the State Bar of Arizona and arrested by Gilbert police in February 2014.
At that time, he was charged with two counts of fraudulent schemes and two counts of theft, with investigators accusing him of misappropriating as much as $6 million.
Matheson also was accused of stealing $1.2 million from the estate of Dorothy Thomas, whose estate stipulated that the money be turned over to the University of Arizona Foundation for cancer research in memory of her late husband, David, according to court records related to the civil case. Documents said the foundation never received the money.
The case against Matheson started to emerge when Mayo Clinic filed a civil suit to collect $1.2million left to the hospital as a beneficiary by the Mary Jane Schalow Trust. Judges were not satisfied with Matheson's answers when they demanded to know what happened to the money.
A Gilbert attorney who traced the misappropriations while examining the probate accounts eventually was ordered to turn over the evidence to the State Bar and to the Gilbert police, leading to Matheson's disbarment and eventually to his arrest.

Threatened with estate tax, Israel's rich are taking precautions

Threatened with estate tax, Israel's rich are taking precautions

Lawyers say clients are asking what they can do if Moshe Kahlon makes good on pledge to tax inheritance.

Mar. 27, 2015 | 1:50 AM

Moshe Kahlon, January 8, 2015.
Moshe Kahlon, January 8, 2015. Photo by Moti Milrod
Moshe Kahlon, the presumed finance minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s next government, is at best weeks away from starting work, but already Israel’s wealthiest are taking precautions in case Kahlon makes good on his promise to impose an estate tax.
Faced with a large part of their estates ending up with the tax authorities, many have already begun approaching lawyers and accountants to find ways of circumventing any new tax.
“There are a lot of rumors and noise circulating about an inheritance tax. No one really know what will be and when but the pressure is already starting,” said Yair Benjamini, a tax attorney. “People already want to start transferring assets to their children today on the assumption that it’s the best way not to pay tax when they die.”
Kahlon gave the rich cause for concern in February at the height of his Kualanu party’s campaign, when he said in an interview with TheMarker that he would favor imposing a tax of 20% to 25% on estates worth 10 million shekels ($2.5 million) or more. “That’s a just tax that shows solidarity,” he said. “I think it’s good to both give and receive.”
“Some people won’t do anything even if they see that it’s going to happen, but that’s not the general rule: Most want to know what can be done with the time that’s left,” said Ziv Neufeld, who heads the tax practice at the Tel Aviv law firm Naschitz Brandes Amir. “Once an inheritance tax is in place, if that is what happens, it will be hard to avoid it.”
The Trajtenberg committee, formed in the wake of the 2011 social protest, rejected the idea of an estate tax, but Shelly Yacimovich, then the Labor Party leader, proposed a tax of 5% to 12.5% on estates of 15 million shekels or more.
“People took this less seriously than they are now,” said Yaron Mehulal, senior partner in the Herzliya law office Eitan, Mehulal & Sadot. “Everyone is much more alert. Clients are asking for advice and weighing options.”
The problem is that Kahlon has spoken about an estate tax only in the most general terms. No one can say with certainty what will be the minimum threshold for the tax or what the tax rate would be, whether it will be imposed on the estate or on the heir, or what kind of assets it will encompass.
Some experts warn it could be imposed retroactively or that it could apply to gifts parents give their children while they are still alive. Many experts say refraining from imposing a tax on gifts would make it too easy to avoid the inheritance tax.
But in many ways a gift tax would be more traumatic than an estate tax, said Pinhas Rubin, an attorney with Gornitzky & Company in Tel Aviv who opposes the estate tax. “A gift tax will have a major social impact because it will change social and financial practices beyond recognition,” he said.
Until 1981, Israel did have an estate tax without a gift tax. At the time, Rubin said, the government avoided floods of tax-free gifts by exempting estates from tax as long as the assets were transferred to the heir (or heirs) within three years of the owner’s death.
If the tax is imposed again, it will be much harder to evade than it was in the past, warned Benjamini. There’s much more banking transparency, making it easier for tax authorizes to identify assets and collect tax on them.
Netanyahu has not favored an estate tax, but Benjamini said he thought odds are pretty good Kahlon would succeed in passing an estate tax law anyway. “There will be immense political pressure [against such a law], but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens,” he said.
In any event, Rubin said it would take months of study before a law governing estate taxes could be written and that it would be even more complicated — and controversial — if it included a gift tax.
If that were to happen, the Israel Tax Authority would have to set up a special mechanism to impose the tax and hire staff, which would take more time, Benjamini said.
“I would recommend to Kahlon that he deal with other, more urgent, things first,” Rubin said.
Mehulal said winning Knesset approval for a gift tax won’t be easy, adding that if lawmakers do back an estate tax, it will probably be imposed only on estates worth far more than 10 million shekels. In the United States, the minimum is $5 million.
“It will be easy for the wealthy to transfer their money. The most widespread way is through a trust — in the U.S. there’s a whole industry built around it,” he said. “It’s hard to plan when there isn’t any law, but in most countries family trusts aren’t considered part of an estate.”
Mehulal recommends that people prepare but not actually create a trust. “Setting up a sophisticated trust is an undertaking,” he warned.
Benjamini adds that transferring assets now, before an estate tax is enacted, isn’t so simple either.
“You need to make a lot of arrangements around the transfer, such as agreements with your children’s spouses,” he said. “You can transfer assets to a trustee who will act in the children’s interests, but there is some risk, because legislators may decide that an estate includes assets given to a trustee.”

Police: Neglected woman, 82, dies after 6 months in chair

Police: Neglected woman, 82, dies after 6 months in chair

Associated Press 
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The caregivers of an 82-year-old woman allowed her to sit in the same chair, not moving for six months, until she died earlier this year in a home that smelled so bad that some of the first firefighters on the scene set up a fan by the door, authorities said.
Prosecutors are deciding whether to charge Barbara Beam's caregivers in her Jan. 2 death at her house in Greenville after the coroner's office ruled her death was homicide by neglect. She lived with her sister and nephew.
The officer called to Barbara Beam's home on Jan. 2 noted indentions on the back of her legs near her knees and body fluids staining the sunken seat of her chair, according to the police report.
The officer asked the sister about Beam's condition, and the sister said Beam "stays in the chair located in the bedroom and that she had not moved out of the chair for approximately six months," according to the report.
The sister told police that Beam refused to eat a few hours before her death and they watched a soap opera together in her bedroom before she went to the kitchen. When she returned, Beam was slumped in her chair and the sister and nephew could find no pulse, police said.
Paramedics took Beam from the chair and put the 200-pound woman on the floor. Her legs were still bent in a sitting position when the officer arrived and she was not wearing pants, according to the report.
The report doesn't give the caretakers' names. Beam's home phone is disconnected.
Police turned their file on the case over to prosecutors, who are reviewing it, Greenville Police spokesman Johnathan Bragg said Friday.
Beam died from a blood clot in her lung. She also had deep vein thrombosis, which are clots caused by sitting for long periods of time, and a serious infection that started in her kidneys, according to the Greenville County Coroner's Office.
___
Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP

Friday, April 24, 2015

Lawyer Dates Daughter’s Roommate, Gets Disbarred

Lawyer Dates Daughter’s Roommate, Gets Disbarred



Not a movie you're supposed to emulate.
Not a movie you’re supposed to emulate.
Have you ever met a girl that you tried to date,
But a year to make love she wanted you to wait,
Let me tell ya a story of my situation,
I was talkin’ to this girl from the U.S. nation.
Biz Markie isn’t the perfect stand-in for today’s tale of debauchery and benchslappery, but it sets the mood. It is about the unrequited love of a young co-ed — the Indiana Supreme Court opinion is silent on whether or not she possessed 9/10 pants and/or a very big bra — but instead of a lovesick hip-hop artist, we have a 40-something lawyer jilted by his daughter’s college roommate.
To the lawyer: Dude, I know it sucks to get disbarred, but this whole “affair with your daughter’s friend” thing could have ended so much worse. Have you ever seen American Beauty?
In any event, just hooking up with younger women, couldn’t be no crime. And that’s a fact. But things get way way more off-the-rails according to the Indiana Court’s decision.
The lawyer, R. Mark Keaton, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, was a 41-year-old married attorney when he took up with a sophomore at Indiana University (later a law student) who happened to be his daughter’s roommate.
To Daughter Keaton: Don’t you hate when your roommate’s having loud sex in the other room… with your dad.
The Supreme Court opinion characterizes the relationship as “tempestuous.” Can we get an example?
(Shouting) Call me the f*** back! I don’t know who the f*** you think you are. But I’ll tell you what, you better f***ing call me f***ing back now! You f*** with me one more time and this time you’ll really f***ing pay for it! And you need to think about it! Now you f***ing quit f***ing with me! I f***ing deal with your f***ing illness so f***ing long, don’t f*** with me another f***ing day! Not another f***ing day! You return my call right now!
That call was purportedly made by Keaton to his young paramour after she dumped him, and allegedly represented a pattern of abusive phone calls the lawyer made to the girl. That said, he had some reason to feel rage:
One form of leverage over JD [the sophomore] exploited by Respondent [Keaton] was financial. Respondent had borrowed about $8,000 from JD during their relationship, and JD needed this money repaid for her educational expenses. For several months after their break-up Respondent endeavored to condition repayment on JD’s agreement to communicate and meet with him.
You know when your law practice isn’t doing so hot? When you borrow money from a 19-year-old girl. The million-dollar law degree isn’t what it used to be. My question is how, after learning that an established lawyer needed to borrow money from a child, she still decided to go to law school? There’s a head-scratcher. Anyway, she didn’t respond to his entreaties, and he acknowledged this like a mature adult. Nah.
“You do not have class at noon. If you f*** with me this time, it will be the last time. Do you understand?”
It was a school day, I knew she was there.
But, enduring abusive phone messages isn’t the only thing this young woman had to deal with:
Unfortunately, Respondent repeatedly carried out these latter categories of threats, both through emails to others and through postings on various adult-oriented websites. Respondent frequently taunted JD afterwards. In one such instance, in April 2008, Respondent wrote to JD, “Just so you know, they’ve been up on one site since March 1, when you started this s***. 151 pictures to date; 209,748 hits! . . . The site permits people to mark their favorites and everyone loves you.”….
Additionally, Respondent has maintained and published for several years a blog about JD that identifies her by name and includes disparaging diatribes about her and explicit photographs of her.
Revenge porn, eh? How couldn’t these crazy kids make it work?
Despite the distance between Fort Wayne and Bloomington, Respondent’s unwanted post-breakup contact with JD was not limited to telephone and electronic communications. At least twice during the spring and summer of 2008, Respondent showed up unannounced at JD’s residence, and on one of these occasions JD discovered Respondent peeping into her bedroom window. In the fall of 2008, after JD had started law school, Respondent confronted JD in the school’s law library and demanded she have coffee with him, refusing her pleas that he leave, and Respondent later prevented JD from getting into her car by standing between her and her car door.
I went to a gate to ask where was her dorm,
This guy made me fill out a visitor’s form,
He told me where it was and I as on my way,
To see my baby doll, I was happy to say.
And then he allegedly lied during the investigation of all this, which I guess we should have expected.
God bless you, Indiana. You never fail to disappoint when it comes to the crazy. They’ve got lawyers demanding sex for legal services, breaching confidentiality for personal vendettas, and now this thing. I guess the word “Hoosiers” means “ethically challenged lawyers”?
The moral of the story, as always:
So please listen to the message that I say
Don’t ever talk to [or threaten, or revenge-porn] a girl who says she just [is your daughter’s] friend.
(As always, the full decision is available on the next page…)
Stalker Attorney Permanently Disbarred [Legal Profession Blog]
Earlier: Demanding Sex For Legal Services Frowned Upon In Indiana
Prominent Conservative Commentator’s Attorney Disbarred

Police Lt. Explains How Family Court Steals From Wards

Editor's note: This Shark believes that the "Guardianship Commissioner" may have learned his technique from the Probate Court of Cook County.  This is how the Estate of Alice R. Gore was pillaged by the court appointed "guardians".  Lucius Verenus, Schoolmaster, ProbateSharks.com


Police Lt. Explains How Family Court Steals From Wards
 
Published on Apr 22, 2015
LVMPD Lt. James Weiskopf tells Clark County Commission on April 21, 2015, how appointed "Guardianship Commissioner" Jon Norheim, Family Court Judge Charles Hoskin, and certain for-hire guardians rob the estates of wards of the court.

Watch the hearing in its entirety - scroll to 00:38:31 to 02:10:21 and then public statements again at 02:52.03

MLK heirs get more time to settle dispute over Bible, Nobel

MLK heirs get more time to settle dispute over Bible, Nobel (GA)

ATLANTA (AP) – A judge is giving the children of Martin Luther King Jr. more time to try to resolve a dispute over their father’s traveling Bible and 1964 Nobel Peace Prize without a trial.
King’s estate, controlled by his sons, last year asked a judge to order their sister to surrender the items. In an estate board of directors meeting, the brothers, Martin Luther King III and Dexter King, had voted against their sister, Bernice King, to sell the items.
Trial had been set for February, but the judge in January stayed the case at the parties’ request to allow them time to settle. In his order, the judge scheduled a hearing for Wednesday if no settlement had been reached.
In an order signed Tuesday, he extended that deadline to May 27.
Attribution:
MLK heirs get more time to settle dispute over Bible, Nobel
Associated Press
March 25, 2015
WRCBtv.com
http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/28615994/mlk-heirs-get-more-time-to-settle-dispute-over-bible-nobel

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Elder abuse cases on rise

Elder abuse cases on rise


Lincoln County has seen several cases in past couple weeks

 UPDATED 9:03 PM EDT Mar 24, 2015
IN THE WEEK WITH MY TOTAL FORECAST IN JUST A FEW MINUTES. STEVE: THIS EVENING, WE ARE LOOKING AT ELDER ABUSE, A CRIME AGAINST SENIORS GAINING THE ATTENTION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT. NOT JUST PHYSICAL ABUSE THAT FINANCIAL ABUSE AS WELL. LINCOLN COUNTY HAS SEEN SEVERAL CASES IN THE LAST COUPLE WEEKS ALONE. KYLE JONES WAS THERE AND JOINS US NOW TO TELL US WHAT INVESTIGATORS SAY CAN BE DONE. KYLE: OFFICIALS SAY LINCOLN COUNTY HAS ONE OF THE OLDEST POPULATIONS IN THE STATE AND ONE OF THE OLDEST POPULATIONS IN THE COUNTRY. THEY SAY ELDER ABUSE IN THE FORM OF FINANCIAL ABUSE IS SHOWING UP MORE FREQUENTLY. IT IS A CRIME THAT OFTEN GOES UNREPORTED, BUT PEOPLE ARE TAKING NOTE AND TAKING UP THE CAUSE OF THE VICTIMS. FINANCIAL ABUSE CASES COME ACROSS THE DESK OF SCOTT HAYDEN MORE OFTEN THAN HE WOULD LIKE. IT HAS BEEN MORE FREQUENTLY. I WOULD SAY A COUPLE OF MONTH ON AVERAGE. KYLE: THAT MAY BE A GOOD AND BAD THING. HE SAYS IT IS A CRIME THAT OFTEN GOES UNREPORTED. UNFORTUNATELY, THE ELDERLY ARE EASY VICTIMS. THEY MAY BE NAIVE ABOUT FINANCES GOING ON AROUND THEM. IT MAY NEVER BE DISCOVERED. KYLE: COORDINATION WITH OTHER AGENCIES LIKE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES ARE BRINGING THEM TO LIGHT, LIKE THE CASE OF DEBRA TOWNSEND, WHO WAS INDICTED ON CHARGES OF THEFT AGAINST HER MOTHER. THIS WOMAN AND HER HUSBAND AMASSED THIS WEALTH. THEY WERE ACQUIRING LAND AND ASSETS. KYLE: COURT DOCUMENTS ALLEGE THE THEFT IS A CLASS B FELONY VALUED AT MORE THAN $10,000. SOMEONE TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THEM. KYLE: THE NATIONAL CENTER ON ELDER ABUSE FOUND 13% OF MISTREATMENT ALLEGATIONS INVESTIGATED WERE FOR MENTAL EXPLICATION AND THAT CAN BE COUPLED WITH PHYSICAL ABUSE. PAUL DETECTIVE HAGAN SAYS HE IS SEEING IT MORE, HE SAYS PEOPLE SHOULD BE CAREFUL OF WHO THEY TRUST AND CHECK WITH OTHERS ON IMPORTANT FINANCIAL DECISIONS. DO NOT BE FORCED INTO SIGNING DOCUMENTS YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH. KYLE: IF YOU SPOT ANYTHING UNUSUAL FOR SOMEONE YOU CARE ABOUT, TELL POLICE. WE HOPE THAT THE OFFENDER HAS TO PAY RESTITUTION FOR WHAT THEY TOOK AT A MINIMUM. THERE COULD ALSO BE JAIL SENTENCES, FINES ON TOP OF THAT. KYLE: WE ALSO CHECKED IN WITH POLICE IN WALDOBORO WHO HAVE ALREADY HAD THREE CASES OF FINANCIAL ABUSE THIS YEAR, INCLUDING ONE INVOLVING SCOTT JORDAN, A LIEUTENANT AT CUMBERLAND COUNTY JAIL WAS RECENTLY INDICTED ON THEFT CHARGES. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT THESE
WALDOBORO, Maine —Elder abuse is a crime against senior citizens that is gaining the attention of law enforcement.
Click here to watch the report
Lincoln County has seen several cases in the past couple weeks.

Elder abuse is a crime that often goes unreported, but people are starting to take note and officials are taking up the cause on behalf of victims.

Financial elder abuse cases come across the desk of Detective Scott Hayden more often than he'd like.

"Unfortunately pretty frequently. I would say a couple a month, sometimes more, sometimes less," said Hayden.

But, coordination with other agencies, like Health and Human Services, are bringing the cases to light. Like the case of Debra S. Townsend-Sokoll, who was recently indicted on charges of theft, allegedly against her mother.

"This woman and her husband through their life amassed this wealth, you know, they were acquiring land and assets," Hayden said.

Court documents allege the theft is a class B felony, valued at more than $10,000.

"And in the end, someone took advantage of them and took those things they worked so hard to get," Hayden said.

The National Center on Elder Abuse found 13 percent of the mistreatment allegations investigated were for financial exploitation and it can be coupled with physical abuse.

Hayden said he's seeing it more, and people should be very careful about who they trust and check with others on important financial decisions.

"Don't be forced into signing any documents you're not comfortable with," Hayden said.

And if you spot anything unusual for you or someone you're caring for, talk with police.

"In the end, we hope the offender has to pay restitution for what they took, at minimum. And then there could also be jail sentences and fines on top of that also," Hayden said.

Waldoboro police said they've already had three cases of financial elder abuse this year, including one involving Scott Jordan, a lieutenant at the Cumberland County Jail who was recently indicted on theft charges.

Officials said sometimes it can be hard to tell the extent of these crimes, but it's estimated to cost U.S. victims almost $2.9 million a year.

Family fights attorney getting millions from client's will

Family fights attorney getting millions from client's will

Attorney Mark Papazian says he may be guilty of misconduct, but that shouldn't nullify the will and keep him and his kids from receiving more than $14 million from a client he says was a dear friend.

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When Robert (Bobby) Mardigian wanted to put his substantial financial affairs in order, he turned to his longtime friend, Troy attorney Mark Papazian.
The will and trust that resulted left the bulk of Mardigian's fortune — more than $17 million after taxes when Mardigian died in 2012 — to Papazian and his two children.
The problem is, Mardigian wasn't related to Papazian and the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct are clear in saying attorneys "shall not" prepare a will for a non-related client that includes a substantial gift for the attorney.
Mardigian's survivors want the gifts to Papazian and his children disallowed, and a county judge has ruled in their favor. The case is now before the Michigan Court of Appeals and a ruling could come soon.
"For over 100 years, the Supreme Court has 'bluntly warned' lawyers not to receive gifts from clients under wills they themselves have drafted," Gerald Gleeson, an attorney for Mardigian's brother Edward, said in a court filing which argues that Edward Mardigian of Bloomfield Hills and his two children are the lawful heirs.
"Mark Papazian did it anyway ... in flagrant disregard of his ethical duties as a member of the bar," the filing said.
Papazian, a divorce attorney and partner with Detroitin Troy, declined to talk about the case Friday. In court filings, he says he may be guilty of attorney misconduct, but that shouldn't nullify the will and keep him and his kids from receiving bequests of more than $14 million from a client he says was also his dear friend of 30 years.
Mardigian, who was born in Detroit but later became a resident of Florida and Charlevoix County in northern Michigan, was 59 when he died of lung cancer at an Ann Arbor hospital in January 2012. He was divorced with no children.
In November 2013, Charlevoix County Probate Judge Frederick Mulhauser threw out the June 2011 will and 2010 trust, which Papazian admits he drafted at the direction of Mardigian. Papazian appealed Mulhauser's ruling to the Court of Appeals, which heard oral arguments in March and is expected to issue a ruling soon.
The will and trust named Papazian as Mardigian's personal representative and awarded Papazian all of Mardigian's personal property. The documents also created $5-million trusts for each of Papazian's two children, and left Papazian the residual value of the estate after expenses and specific gifts to other beneficiaries, which totaled less than $1 million.
Under the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct, which the Michigan Supreme Court adopted in 1988, attorneys can only receive gifts through wills they drafted if the client is a relative. Papazian is not related to Mardigian, though he testified they were so close Mardigian often called him "cousin."
Papazian argues the will should only be nullified if there is evidence he exerted "undue influence" on its drafting. There's no evidence of that, he argues.
The Michigan Supreme Court "has held that the proper way to address an attorney's alleged violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct is by filing an attorney grievance," Papazian attorney Rodger Young said in a court filing.
Papazian "presented evidence that Bobby consulted repeatedly with both an independent attorney, and with Comerica Bank wealth management officials, about his estate documents in the six months after he executed the contested will and trust," Young's filing said.
"Even after consulting these independent professionals, Bobby made no changes to the documents which Mr. Papazian had participated in drafting."
Young said that if the Michigan Legislature wanted to ban bequests to attorneys in such cases, it would have passed a statute that explicitly said so, as a handful of other states have done.
Just as Edward Mardigian challenged the will, so did two of Bobby Mardigian's nieces, Susan Lucken and Nancy Varbedian, and his girlfriend, Melissa Goldberg. They say courts can't enforce a will that violates the public policy of Michigan, and the attorney rules of professional conduct express public policy.
"Papazian ducked and weaved for months in the probate court," where he first asserted one of his then law partners drafted the trust documents, attorney Gleeson said in a court filing.
But when that attorney, Roy Luttman, was deposed in the case, he denied any role in drafting the will or trust, court records show.
"Absolutely not, unequivocally no, never, did not do it, and I told Mark that and I ... can't believe I'm sitting here answering these questions, it's ridiculous," Luttman testified.
Five days before the case was set for trial in probate court, in November 2013, Papazian admitted through his attorneys that he prepared both the will and trust, according to pleadings in the case. That's when the Charlevoix judge revisited an earlier decision and ruled in favor of Edward Mardigian, saying there was no need for a trial.
It's not the first time Papazian has been personally involved in an estate fight before the Court of Appeals.
In 2007, a three-judge panel ruled against Mark Papazian and in favor of Papazian's father and sister in a fight involving control of his father's estate and the Hunter House restaurant in Birmingham. In that case, Papazian's father Albert Papazian, who owned the restaurant, accused Mark Papazian of fraudulently obtaining a deed to the restaurant property, an allegation Mark Papazian denied.
"That (case) has no relevance whatsoever," Mark Papazian told the Free Press on Friday. "The parties don't even know each other."
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or pegan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4.