Assisted living connections highlighted inSenate hearing on guardians
Sen.Susan Collins makes a point during her opening remarks at Wednesday’s hearing.
Cases of financial exploitation of older adults by their legalguardians, including cases indirectly involving assisted living communities,“highlight shocking breaches of trust by people who obtained positions of poweror influence over vulnerable seniors,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), chairman ofthe Senate Special Committee on Aging, said Wednesday at a hearing on thetopic.
Connections to assisted living communities were mentioned byCollins and one of the hearing witnesses.
The senator recounted astory published in the New Yorker last year about howa woman obtained guardianship over an older couple, unbeknownst to theirdaughter, after she “allegedly showed up at the house … and informed them that she had an order from the local court to ‘remove’ them from their home, and that she would be taking them to an assisted living facility.”
The guardian, April Parks, “allegedly sold their belongings andtransferred their savings into an account in her own name,” Collins said.Parks, who was the guardian of more than 400 people over 12 years, later was indicted on more than 200 felony charges.
Collins also shared a case from her home state. In that case, apastor who volunteered at an assisted living community befriended a residentthere.
“According to police, the state determined the woman to beincapacitated and assigned her a guardian and a conservator. The pastorallegedly took the woman to her bank, withdrew money to have the locks changedon her former home, which had been on the market, and took down the ‘for sale’sign,” Collins said. “The police say that the pastor told the woman that hewould help her return to her home, even though it was not equipped for the wheelchair access she required. He suggested his daughter could live with the woman to care for her.
“Police said that his goal was to ingratiate himself and have access to this woman’s financial accounts and property,” the senator continued. “Fortunately, in this case, the conservator, who was legally responsible for protecting the woman’s assets, identified and reported the suspected criminal activity to the police.”
The pastor was charged with exploiting an incapacitated elderly woman, Collins said.
Witness Pamela Teaster, a professor and director of the Centerfor Gerontology at Virginia Tech, shared a positive story of a guardian thatinvolved an assisted living community.
“In 2016, the Virginia Public Guardian & Conservator Programwas asked to serve as guardian for a patient at a mental health institute and began visiting him to get to know him in anticipation of becoming his guardian,” she said. “Upon appointment, he was moved to an assisted living facility. The public guardian program employee had monthly visits with the individual and oversaw his medical treatment and benefits. Through working with him, the public guardian realized that he was capable of managing his own affairs and that he should be restored to capacity. The program secured a new capacity assessment for the individual, including an attorney to bring a restoration of rights proceeding on his behalf. Less than two years after the appointment of the public guardian, a Virginia Circuit Court judge restored the individual to capacity, remarking that it was the first time that she had ever restored an individual to capacity.”
Efforts to improve the guardianship system have been hampered by a lack of data, said Teaster, one of four hearing witnesses. She recommended that reforms “take the form of greater clarity and training when persons assume the role of guardians.”
Indeed, more data are needed to solve issues related toguardianship, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), ranking member of the Senate Aging Committee, said in his opening remarks.
“We don’t even have basic data on guardianship itself,” hesaid. “We don’t know how many people are subject to guardianship, who their guardians are, if a guardian has been thoroughly vetted and how many people are possibly being abused or neglected by their guardians. We should be able to agree that finding answers to these questions is the least we can do to protect our loved ones.”
David Slayton, executive director of the Texas Judicial Council,said that last year, the state passed legislation to create a state wide registration system and database that will require all guardians to register, complete an online training course and undergo a criminal background check. The 50,748 active guardianship cases in the Lone Star State are valued at as much as $5 billion, he said.
Watch the hearing here .
The guardianship scam that is fostering the trafficking inthe elderly is only one aspect of the problem. The Sheltered care facility is a vehicle for fraud. The Seth Gillman, Philip Esformes***** cases are the tip of the iceberg. They present another aspect to the human trafficking in the elderly.
How do you legitimatize a criminal enterprise? Adding well known and “respected” political elite (and Judicial elite) is no longer the functional equivalent of Ivory Soap. Here in Illinois it is difficult to name five recent governors who did not go to jail. Local Cook County political who are not caught with the hand in the till are rare. However, common people, such you and I, are available to be the ones lured into investment and bilked. Like lambs to the slaughter *****:
LoisA. Bowers, Senior Editor
November 16, 2015
Sentencing today inassisted living CEO fraud case
Sentencing today in assisted living CEO fraudcase
A two-day sentencing hearing begins today inthe U.S. District Court in Portland, OR, for Jon Michael Harder, the former CEOof Sunwest Management, which at one point owned about 300 assisted living communities.
Harder is accused of defrauding investorsof more than $130 million in what the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Districtof Oregon is calling the largest investor fraud prosecution in the state’shistory. U.S. prosecutors are seeking at least 15 years in prison for Harder, as well as three years of supervised release and full restitution forhis victims. Defense attorneys are asking for a five-year prison term.
In January, Harder pleaded guilty to one felony count of mail fraud and one felony count of money laundering. He admitted to lying to more than 50 investors to obtain more than $5 million from late 2007 through February 2008. “Harder promised the investors that their money would go towards specific assisted living facilities when in fact the money was going to pay Harder’s personal expenses and the business expenses of other Sunwest entities,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release at the time.
The government believes that, between 2006 and 2008, Harder defrauded more than 1,000 investors out of about $130 million in a Ponzi scheme. He originally was indicted in 2012 on 56 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and other charges.
Harder left Sunwest in 2009 as part of a company restructuring. The remaining ownership turned the company around , and the Blackstone Group, in a joint venturewith Emeritus Senior Living and Columbia Pacific Advisors, bought several Sunwest properties in 2010 for more than $1 billion. HCP acquired the majorityof those properties from Blackstone in 2012, and Emeritus continued to operate them.
The time for an HONEST INVESTIGATION has arrived. The time for HONEST PROSECUTIONS of the criminals who prey on the elderly is long overdue. The time for the Honest prosecutions of the POLITICAL AND JUDICIAL co-conspirators is more than overdue, and the time for the political and judicial elite who render aid and comfort to the criminal enterprise to fact the consequences of their perfidy has more than arrived. Here in Illinois, our State is on the verge of Bankruptcy. We have an income tax. The Democratic candidate for Governor has made it clear that he is going to suggest to the legislature to increase the Illinois Income Tax. Of course he i swell aware that co-conspirators (18 USCA 371 on the Federal level) have joint and several liability for the income taxes. As an example, Jerome Larkin is well aware that his actions in prosecuting the attorneys on disciplinary grounds for complying with 18 USCA 4 and Rule 8.3 is an overt act in furtherance of the criminal schemes of ELDER CLEANSING. Why is the Illinois Department of Revenue not seeking to collected the income taxes due as the result of the theft of $3 million in Mary Sykes’ fund, $1.5 million in Alice Gore’s funds ***** from the thieves and their co-conspirator?
It appears that EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAW is no longer part of Illinois’ RULE OF LAW — Illinois’ credo is – exploit the elderly for fun and profit!