Elder Guardianships a Shameful ‘Racket’ in America

by Diane Dimond on February 22, 2016

Elizabeth “Betty” Winstanley

She is a well-spoken, elegant and wealthy 94-year-old widow. And as Betty Winstanley told me from her room at the Masonic Village Retirement facility in Elizabethtown, PA, “I feel like I am in prison. My life is a living hell.”

Welcome to America’s twisted world of court appointed guardianships for the elderly.

Quick backstory: Betty and her husband, Robert, were married for 72 years. They had three children, Richard, David and Betsy. For nearly 7 years the couple occupied a “lovely” independent living apartment at Masonic Village retirement home in Elizabethtown, PA.

In early 2014, Betty, who uses a rolling walker to get around, says she felt faint and seeing no staff nearby lowered herself to the ground.

“They said I fell,” she told me. “But that is a bad, bad word around here. Once you fall they decide you aren’t capable of taking care of yourself anymore.”

Robert & Betty Were Married For 72 Years

Betty was sent to the medical section of the compound for rehabilitation after a small fracture was found.

Robert, a doctor of ophthalmology with a keen interest in aerospace medicine, took ill shortly after and was also transferred to the medical unit. Betty stayed with him but longed to return to their apartment.

“They wouldn’t let me,” Betty said. Labeled as a resident who could no longer live independently Betty was transferred to a smaller room where nurses could keep better track of her. Sadly, on June 26, 2014, Robert died of heart failure.

Within three weeks, the eldest Winstanley son, Richard, was in court claiming his mother needed a guardian to make decisions for her. Betty believes Richard was angry because she had recently moved to transfer her power of attorney away from him to her other two children.

At this most important initial hearing Betty was without her hearing aids as the home had collected them “for cleaning” and had not returned them. Still deep in grief, Betty was unable to understand the proceeding and her court appointed lawyer never told her she had the right to speak before the judge made a decision.

Common Pleas Judge Hoberg, Lancaster Co, PA

Common Pleas Judge Hoberg, Lancaster Co, PA

On July 17, 2014, Common Pleas Judge Jay J. Hoberg of Lancaster County, PA heard testimony from one doctor and one nurse from Masonic Village and declared Betty was, “a totally incapacitated person.” This, despite the fact that two independent neuropsychologists who had tested Betty declared she was of sound mind. Depressed? Understandably, yes. Affected by dementia or Alzheimer’s? No.

Those conclusions didn’t seem to matter. Betty was appointed a guardian (two, in fact) and immediately felt cut off from the rest of the world. Her family visits were curbed, her check book taken and she was restricted from leaving the Masonic Village campus. The guardian, Patricia Maisano, did not even allow an outside Christmas visit.

“They make me feel like a piece of protoplasm on a deserted island,” Betty told me. “I just want to move to an assisted living home in Annapolis, Maryland so I can be near David and Betsy. I have no family around here except Richard who rarely comes to visit.”

Elizabeth "Betsy", Mrs. Winstanley & son, David

Elizabeth “Betsy”, Mrs. Winstanley & son, David

Interestingly, Betty has not been allowed to pay for her own lawyer from her $1.9 million estate. Her son David, a flight attendant, told the court he has spent his life’s savings trying to help his mother escape the grasp of a legal system that is supposed to help the elderly.

Groups fighting to change contested guardianship laws call the system, “A nationwide racket,” wherein an all-powerful judge appoints a guardian who in turn can hire a local attorney, any number of merchants and service people and, as in Betty’s case, the elder has no idea how their money is being spent. Betty only knows that her monthly apartment cost was about $3,300 and now she’s charged $8500 for her smaller, skilled nursing care room.

In the words of Dr. Sam Sugar, an elder advocate in Florida, “The mantra of the guardianship program is: litigate, medicate and take the estate.”

Court Appointed Guardian Patricia Maisano

Court App’ted Guardian Patricia Maisano

I’ve read hundreds of pages of court transcripts and documents about Betty’s case and while there is much more to her story — including brothers who no longer speak and the prolonged focus in court on son David who, reportedly, upset Betty in the past by yelling in frustration at his mother’s situation – there is really only one important takeaway.

Betty wants to leave the place where her husband died and live closer to her family in Maryland. The reason she can’t move? Pennsylvania won’t let her go, despite a state law that says a guardian must take into account what the ward wants. Judge Hoberg, the ultimate arbiter, has allowed Betty’s limbo to drag on for 18 months.

Candace Beckett, Betty's Attorney

Candace Beckett, Betty’s Attorney

“I get the impression they just plan to wait her out until she dies,” Betty’s attorney, Candace Beckett told me.

“I’ve watched my client decline during this prolonged fight…. she is like a flower who’s dying on the vine.” There is an appeal pending but that will take months to be heard.

This is what happens in America when the kids can’t – or won’t – agree on what’s best for Mom. Shameful, on many levels.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 8:23 am

Twitter Follower LexRoberts2 writes:

“@DiDimond here in the UK the elderly is forced to sell their homes to pay for nursing home care, most elderly are forced to take medication.//sadly Diane this is happening worldwide.”

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 8:26 am

ABQ Journal Reader Kelley Smoot Garrett of Austin, Texas writes:

“Why go to Pennsylvania to find stories of victims of judicial and legal guardianship abuse? There are many, many victims in New Mexico who have lost MILLIONS of Dollars to crooked attorneys and judges right here in NM 2nd Judicial District Court, where the judges ALWAYS favor their court-appointees, and never listen to the families or the elderly, because they are too busy allowing the “incapacitated” person’s property to be sold off – frequently without the appropriate court-order in place – for pennies on the dollar to the judges and their appointees associates.
What you didn’t cover in this article is that all guardianship cases are “sequestered” and absolutely no information is supposedly ever allowed to be discussed. Using sequestration of court records in this manner allows the court-appointee to steal with impunity and receive the judge’s blessing at the same time. There is no way to bring t hese abuses to public light, without being repeated threatened with arrest, threatened with Contempt of Court charges,have your elderly loved one isolated and keep from you, and legally harassed and intimidated by a court-appointed lawyer acting as Guardian, Trustee, or even Receiver.
Want your dead loved one’s credit cards to be used for up to 11 months after they’ve died? Be “lucky” enough to have one of NM’s 2nd Judicial District Court judges appoint a court-appointed attorney to become Trustee of your loved ones estate and you, too, can completely waste your breath trying to find out what happened to your mother’s b ank accounts after she died. Not one of my 3 judges ever allowed me to see bank account statements, review credit cards’ statements, cell phone, DISH TV subscriptions – all of which continued to be paid, and in the case of credit cards for up to 11 months after my mother died — with NO EXPLANATION ever given to me, despite my production of NMSA 46A-8-813: Duty to inform and report:
A. A trustee shall keep the qualified beneficiaries of the trust reasonably informed about the administration of the trust and of the material facts necessary for them to protect their interests. Unless unreasonable under the circumstances, a trustee shall promptly respond to a beneficiary’s request for information related to the administr ation of the trust.
That sure sounds good, but if a judge refuses to follow the New Mexico Code of Trusts & simple ignores the law, you are SOL, because reporting the judge to the Judicial Standards Commission results in ZERO action. I know, I did it – and my complaints, as were my documented complaints against the Court’s court-appointee were dismissed by Bill Slease of the NM Disciplinary Board, himself an estate planning attorney.
Attorneys and judges look after each other, because they are way to busy helping themselves to YOUR MONEY by means of the court-appointee putting 100% of your Trust funds’ (including $300K+ of funds from the sale of property) into their IOLTA accounts and keeping it there for months, or years, and refusing to distribute it. When an attorn ey misuses his http://IOLTA.org account in this manner, it not only has the effect of confiscating all Earned Interest Income from your account and paying it to the NM State Supreme Court, but it also has the effect of secreting however the money was used in the months & years it stayed in the court-appointees IOLTA account.
Under the rules of IOLTA, no one but Bill Slease of the NM Discliplinary Board and the attorney under question is ever allowed to view IOLTA bank records. That’s because IOLTA funds are co-mingled funds. If the judge won’t make their own court-appointee behave, you have ZERO RECOURSE. The ABA says it isn’t there responsibility to make sur e the IOLTA program they oversee is properly administered. The NM Bar washed their hands of all wrong-doing & actually told me to hire another lawyer and SUE my court-appointed Trustee, rather than their enforcing the law on one of their own attorneys!
In the end, my mother’s trust was terminated by Judge Valerie Huling on Aug 27, 2014 & the final amounts were ordered distributed by the Judge’s Order. Her court-appointee failed to send me my check – as he has promised to do in court on Aug 27th – and as he was ORDERED to do by Judge Huling. When my check did not arrive at my home i n Texas, I filed a pro se Motion to hold the judge’s court-appointed Trustee in Contempt of Court.
Once my Motion to hold this court-appointed attorney in Contempt hit the court & was filed of record, out popped my check, a few days later, with no particular rush, at my home in Texas. Judge Huling declined to discpline the attorney for his actions.
Bottom line: Don’t waste your time & effort seeking any justice in NM 2nd Judicial District. My & numerous other victims of that court’s appointed lawyers whom I’ve met as I sought justice can promise you: there’s no justice when there’s money to be had by the courts and their appointees.
My case number: D-202-PB-2013-00457.”

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 8:29 am

Note to Readers: I would like to clarify that I am a nationally syndicated columnist. While I grew up in Albuquerque and am pleased that the ABQ Journal runs my columns every Saturday I do not live in New Mexico anymore. Mrs. Winstanley’s situation came to my attention – as do many other crime and justice issues — and I decided to write about it as an example of what is happening to seniors nationwide.
In my opinion, the whole system is broken and dominated by greed instead of the need to actually keep elders safe.
I plan to keep writing about this issue to help shine a spotlight on the need for legislative change — as has occurred recently in the states of Florida and Colorado. ~ Diane Dimond

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 8:28 am

Twitter Follower Chrisahull writes:

“@DiDimond Great read!! As an older grad. student seeking an MSW I hope to work with the elderly and make their years dignified and honored!!”

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 8:31 am

ABQ Journal Reader Berna Jones writes:

“Holding a person hostage in guardianship while taking away their civil rights should not happen – even if the children don’t agree! Some of the worst abusers come from within the family unit. The truth is – Each American is born to have inalienable rights – the constitution doesn’t differentiate between old, young, rich, poor, sick, or good health. It is the legal system that has made the differences. The youth find their guardianships overseen by family courts – while the elder is part of probate – they are dead to the courts! This has to change. Our Constitution is still in effect for America’s citizens unless we continue to allow the courts to strip groups of people’s rights from them because he/she is older. There are only two paths each person’s life will take – that of death or that of growing old with all its problems.

Next the written laws must be upheld, investigated, and prosecuted. Elder abuse happens because no state will fund, investigate, or follow up on reports. We uphold, investigate, and prosecute crimes against youth – why not our elders? The way a society treats its elders speaks volumes as to its morality. Ours is in a chronic state of decay and each person will suffer for that as we age.”

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 8:32 am

ABQ Journal Reader Andie Skupaka writes:

“Diane, thank you for your article on guardianship. It is urgent that you and the Albuq. Journal educate your readers on the predatory nature of adult guardian / conservatorship also referred to as the “protection industry”. It is my belief that New Mexico elders with assets are being railroaded into spurious court ordered “for profit guardian / conservatorships”. Based on my experience and observation, I believe that a select group of elder law attorneys, guardian ad litems, court visitors, and “for profit guardian / conservatorship organizations are colluding and conspiring to prey on and financially exploit New Mexico’s disabled and vulnerable elders. In their efforts to secure and maximize personal profits, this cohesive group of individuals is intentionally manipulating the protective proceeding process and among other criminal acts are providing fraudulent court reports to insure that their elderly victims become wards of the state. Elderly New Mexican’s and their familys need to be made aware of the fate that awaits them. “For profit guardian / conservatorship” is now a big business with massive power. Profiteering guardian / conservators and their attorneys will stop at nothing and lie to any extent to keep a monied ward. No one is safe. The elderly are being denied their civil rights and due process. Their estates and legacies are being looted and their wills, advanced directives, and living trusts are being ignored and nullified. Family members are slandered, libeled, vilified, and driven into bankruptcy while trying to save their loved ones from this exploitation.

Again, this situation is urgent and needs an in-depth public investigation. Many states such as Florida and Colorado are stepping up to the plate and invistigating and rectifying what is often being referred to as “the crime of the 21st century”. Readers, just google “corrupt guardianships” and your computer will eplode with articles and information detailing just how serious and prolific this pernicious crime has become. Boomers, please educate your selves. This could happen to you.”

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 8:33 am

ABQ Journal Reader Darryl Steiner writes:

“This is happening much more often than the public is aware of. I didn’t know such a system existed until I got caught up in it. In my case there was no family dispute it was my lawyer of over 10 years. I was having some financial problems and went to my lawyer for some advice on how I could best handle it. There was also was a disagreement going on with my ex-wife on child custody. Our 12 year old son wanted to stay with me. My lawyer said he could help out and, in fact, he was looking at providing that kind of service to others. I was thinking financial advice; little did I know he was thinking of “plenary guardianship”. It wasn’t until he has me committed to a lock-down assisted living facility virtually incommunicado and would not tell my ex-wife and son where I was or how they could get in touch with me. My son and his mother desperately needed some funds for living expenses and schooling but, my lawyer turned guardian refuses to allow me to provide them any funds. The three of us want to resume our life together but my lawyer won’t even consider allowing it. Meanwhile, my financial situation is much worse than when he took over. Apparently, any funds spent on my family or debts will mean less money for him. He says he can no longer serve as my lawyer because it would be a “conflict of interest”. However, I’m not allowed to contact another lawyer. I am a highly decorated U.S. Army Officer (RETIRED). I do not have extensive savings and investments. But I do have a good monthly retirement income that disappears as soon as it comes in. I am desperately seeking help so that my son will have the benefit of a caring father and a good education.”

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 8:35 am

ABQ Journal Reader Marcia Southwick writes:

“Boomers Against Elder Abuse, a new Mexico organization, covers this exact form of elder abuse. http://www.facebook.com/boomersbeware. For 350 cases similar to this one, check out our notes page to find out how it works. https://www.facebook.com/notes/boomers-against-elder-abuse/victims-stories/503366076405648. This isn’t “America’s Dirty Little Secret” anymore, as Money Magazine called it. There is plenty of it going on in New Mexico but records are sealed here, and families gag ordered and made to sign no-sue agreements once the guardianship/conservatorship is over. We are working with the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse and the Catherine Falk Organization (the detective Columbo’s daughter) on a bill to help those trapped in isolation due to guardianships.”

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 8:36 am

Reader Julie London Ferguson of Florida writes:

“Outstanding article by prolific investigative reporter, Diane Dimond. As Fl Senator Nancy Detert stated, this is an issue that we’ll be seeing on 60 Minutes and other national news outlets. The only way to stop this crime of the 21st century against our elders is through exposure. People found it hard to believe that advanced directives can be nullified with the ease of a traffic citation, and a total stranger can completely take over someone else’s life. I will be giving seminars on how to prevent this from happening to your lived one. Perhaps the most chilling detail is that once an elder becomes a ward of the state, it is near impossible to get them out. Thank you for an article that tells it exactly like it is.”

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 8:36 am

Reader Elaine Renoire writes:

“Betty Winstanley said it perfectly. Guardianship is designed to protect, not oppress. When wards of the state are trapped in abusive guardianships, they feel like they’re incarcerated and they’ve committed no crime. And they are exactly right!

Join the national movement for reform of unlawful and abusive guardianships and conservatorships. Join NASGA!”

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 8:39 am

Reader Sam J Sugar (of Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship) writes:

“AAAPG.net has uncovered this playbook of judicial abuse all over the country. We have had laws passed in Florida to fight this racket, but until law enforcement does its job, elder abuse will continue protected the by the judicial ruling class.”

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 8:43 am

Reader Sharon Bode writes:

“Diane, your article was a very clear picture of what happens to the elderly. It is however incomplete. I hope you will continue to pursue this issue in your writing. As Andie Skupaka points out it is surely “the crime of the 21st century” and one that a concerned journalist could expose at length.”

Sharon Bode
South Florida University

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 9:56 am

Facebook Friend Mary Garofalo writes:

“Diane I did this story a few years ago! Its shameful …truly shameful. And, what’s more reprehensible is that it is legal. Judges hand out patronage cases to their favorite lawyers and they bill 400 dollars or more an hour until the estate is cleaned out. It’s American’s dirty little secret.”

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 9:56 am

Facebook Friend Marilyn Kaskel writes:

“A very important subject. Not sexy, I know, but important nonetheless. You should be pitching this to 60 or another outlet!”

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Nancy February 22, 2016 at 11:06 am

This really makes me angry. My husband used to arrest people for elder and fiduciary abuse in California. Preying on the vulnerable elderly is like taking candy from a baby because they usually won’t stand up for themselves or are too embarrassed to say anything. Wrap a legal (I cringe to call it that) system around them that encourages this type of fraud and the problem goes rampant. And the children who can’t wait for their parents to die before they come up with a scheme to collect? They should rot in prison. Stay on this Diane! They need a voice and protection.

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 3:51 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Mary Darnell writes:

“Diane, Thank you for taking an interest and having the courage to write about the horrible cottage industry of Conservator/Guardianship. It is alive and well in NM. What is shocking to me is that our Politicians, our Attorney General and several , if not all Judges know about the corruption that is going on and choose to do nothing about it. Please tell me where do families turn to if everyone who could make a difference won’t step in and do their jobs. There is something seriously wrong with this system, when court appointees who hold families lives in there hands, get away with lying in court reports, write contracts in bad faith , code bills to appear as something they are not, sell property for pennies on the dollar without ever marketing it, change irrevocable trusts without notice, the list goes on and on but basically these people don’t appear to be accountable to anyone. This State has serious problems and it is devastating families emotionally and financially. Shameful for a State that has always supposedly placed great value on families. The complete lack of oversight of these professionals is astonishing.”

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Facebook Friend Carmen Matthews writes:

“This is why conversations and written agreements need to be made amongst family members long before their aging parent is deemed to be “too old to be honored.””

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 4:03 pm

But, you know what, Carmen. Even advanced directives are tossed out once the court system gets involved. A guardian is appointed and THEY make all the decisions – no matter what was the elderly person wrote earlier – in a will or other document. It is, literally, mind-boggling. ~ DD

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Facebook Friend Melissa Exelberth writes:

“This is horrific, Diane! And all the more shameful that the children allowed this to happen.”

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Betsy Winstanley February 23, 2016 at 1:53 pm

Dear Melissa

2 out of 3 of our Mother’s children, David and I, are committing their entire brain power, lives, family and finances to fighting these injustices the best we know how. And the injustices keep mounting with every week. David and I support whatever Mum wants, and that is to move to Annapolis to be near us. We want to give Mum loving and caring support in the least restrictive environment with people of her own intellectual abilities, yet my eldest brother Richard wants to lock Mum away for someone else to care for her. Many people involved are mislabeling a person’s aging with dementia… and this is a great misnomer that needs to be addressed. The Court, the guardian, my eldest brother Richard, my nieces, not even Masonic Village Staff where Mum resides, will listen to Mum’s wishes – in fact they all have testified against Mum’s wishes. That is shameful. Mum, David and I are all totally disregarded by the Court, the Guardians and Masonic Village Staff. It has been nothing short of devastating and heartbreaking for 22 months. We aren’t giving up. So you see, it is not ALL the children who should be shameful… if you know of anything else we could do to help Mum get her life back, let us know.

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Diane Dimond February 22, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Facebook Friend Frani Stone writes:

“This issue will become more and more topical everyday now that the baby boomers are reaching their golden years. Would make a great documentary.”// My mother just died at 98 years old with every brain cell she ever had, and every time she wanted to change her codicil, her “attorney” who just happened to be one my siblings’ attorneys, called to question my mother’s competency. I think it’s going to happen more often now that people are depending on their parents’ money.”

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Diane Dimond February 24, 2016 at 10:39 am

Noozhawk Reader Frania writes:

“Bless you for bringing this out ! My immigrant , hard working all her life , mother has been shanghaied into a nursing home , drugged ,assets disbursed . People, doctors , lawyers , friends who have known us since coming to the US are in shock . The guardian of property is like God. Does not have to explain or give back what he knows is mine , the daughter , an only devoted child . . And the judge is cocky , completely sure , confident , arrogant ,does exactly what she wants knowing nothing will happen to her . Total immunity .!!!!!! Baltimore Maryland has been under the radar . The same names appear on boards of hospitals , nursing homes , communal organizations ,BAR associations . I pray my mother will outlive what she has been forced to endure in the last years of her life . Thank you for your article and good work . http://www.freepaula.com

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Diane Dimond February 24, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Facebook Friend Annalisa Campbell writes:

“This is so sad. I am very happy that my Father lived with me, the last 16 years of his life. He died in Aug 2014 @ age 97. He did not want to go into assisted living. He was able to ride a 3-wheel bicycle up to the last month of his life. I took care of him, & let him live his life as independently as possible. I was his only child, so there were no issues with siblings. Still, it wasn’t easy, but there was no way I was going to put him in a care facility, just because it wasn’t easy for me!! He deserved to live out his life the way he chose, with family caring for him. I truly feel for everyone who is in this awful situation where they aren’t allowed the dignity they deserve. For the family members who want to give their elderly parents a good place to live, & see that they are cared for in the best way, & fulfill the wishes of their parents. It’s such a travesty that the system is allowed to get away with all of this. I hope that Mrs. Winstanley & her two Adult children who are fighting to win this awful legal battle, will ultimately prevail, so she can be free & happy in her remaining years.”

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Sheri February 27, 2016 at 10:04 am

Thank you so much for your article in the ABQ Journal on elder guardianship. I sent you a private email today and hope you will read it!

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Leroy Martinez February 27, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Diane
I live in Albuquerque NM. My Mother-in-law, Fern Griego was placed in a court-appointed Guardianship and given a Conservator by the NM 2nd Judicial District Court. Your correct in saying every lawyer who showed up at court was paid by Thomas Griego Trust Fund. A conservator was paid $58.000.00 after he was removed for spending violations.
Because of in fighting between family members this action was taken.
Mrs. Griego husband ” Thomas Griego” left her everything to her and set-up a Trust Fund just for her with a worth of over 1 1/2 million dollars.
During the last 6 years the Guardian and Conservator has been spending over $150.000.00 a year on her care and other expanses. Fern’s daughter “Marjory” has tried to make guardian reduce the cost and their reply is “She has plenty of money don’t worry”.
Mrs. Griego was living at the Woodmark a Long Term Memory Care Unit in Albuquerque, living in a double-occupancy room at “$9.000.00 + a month, Guardian wouldn’t allow anyone else to move in because they claim she had behavioral issue at 94 years old “No Doctor’s report “. She was also assigned a 24 hour full time caretaker to sit with her in case she fell at $24.00 a hour 24/7 that lasted 3 years. The Woodmark had it’s own medical and caretakers on duty 24/7.
Mrs. Griego was moved to THE RETREAT in Rio Rancho, NM in Nov. 2015 into a Dementia unit. Here she was placed into a double-occupancy room at $6.500.00 a month. It is believed that one of the Guardians co-owners is also the owner of The Retreat.
Fern case is not sealed by the courts and if you want to look at the complete trial records and expenditures, finance account reports please contact myself or Marjory Martinez daughter of Fern Griego
Marjory would like to fight the court system here, only problem is she would have to spend her own money, while the Guardian and Conservator have the pockets of the Thomas Griego Trust money to use and fight any court action.

Please contact us at:
Leroy Martinez / Marjory Martinez
leroy_martinez_sr@msn.com
H 505-298-7613
C 505-702-2062
Wife 505-715-0531

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Theresa Ledoux April 5, 2016 at 6:09 pm

It’s interesting that the original story is one that involves the Masons. My mother is a resident of the Masonic Home (Overlook) in Charlton, MA. Currently, they claim that my 97-year old mother refuses to allow them to speak to me, and that she is competent to make this decision. Her competency evaluation was done exclusively by people who work at the the facility. The social worker on her floor referred her to a lawyer that my mother believes works for the Masons. Since hiring him, she has revoked my power of attorney, removed me as her health care proxy, and changed her will. I am her only child.
We believe that this facility has made a determined effort to keep my mother there as a private pay – her bill exceeds $15,000/month. Under their influence, they have encouraged my mother to dissociate herself from her family. My husband and I, and our children live in the Boston area, at least an hour away from Charlton. We have made numerous attempts to move her closer to us, but she refuses. The last time that I spoke with my mother was mid-January, the day before the closing on her family home in Shrewsbury, MA. She was unwilling to even listen to me as I attempted to tell her, yet again, of the misguided and terrible decisions that she was making. Despite numerous efforts to reach out to the staff at the Overlook regarding these issues, my concerns have been repeatedly ignored.

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Pat Royalty April 6, 2016 at 2:27 pm

This story is typical. Check what’s been going on in Florida and the laws just passed. It’s a national scandal. See website freernestine .com

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Nancy April 6, 2016 at 3:29 pm

Hello Diane,
Thank you for taking on this grave injustice against our most valuable citizens. I just can’t believe the level of disrespect people all over have for the elderly. Instead of cherishing our older population and helping each other care for them the greed of those who have no heart permeates our society.
My mother was in a nursing home for the last year and one/half of her life. She was of very sound mind but because she had suffered a fractured hip injury she had to stay at the home where she had rehabilitation services. My daughter or myself visited daily of if we couldn’t we would call or some other close relative would visit with my mother.
The nursing home staff did a good job of caring for my mom but I was very happy to be able to be her advocate. She needed someone to check what medicine she was taking and just make sure everything was going well. I also had to take care of her finances as well.
Our elderly citizens no matter where they live need serious advocates such as yourself. I hope you will follow up this story and will keep the public aware of what is going on in our nursing homes and in our courts.

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Doug Franks April 7, 2016 at 6:02 pm

My Name is Doug Franks and my Mom is Ernestine K. Franks who has been in a for-profit guardianship in Pensacola, Fl. for the last 4 years. She is isolated from the outside world and even must pay $100 to $60 per hour to see her own sons. They have run through 1.5 million dollars with little to no oversight. Please go to this website to read more http://www.FreeErnestine.com

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