From Ms. Theresa Lyles, another probate victim in Florida, for being terrorized by the probate court system there, and I believe Judge Genden, Barbara Stone’s abusive judge:
IN THE COUNTY COURT OF THE 8’h JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR ALACHUA
I, Teresa A. Lyles, after being duly sworn deposed and states to the best of my own personal knowledge and belief hereby state the following:
1. I am an interested party in the matter of the Guardianship of Carmen Tozzo, (hereafter referred to as “My Family Member”) who is my mother and who currently resides in Ocala, Florida. and is currently being held at Memory Lane (a lock-down facility).
2. My Family Member, was placed into a court ordered guardianship on the date 6th day of June 2011 ( emergency temporary gship- Bonnie DiVito), November, 2011 (1 51 plenary – Marilyn ‘Lynn’ Belo), 16th day of August, 2013 (2nd plenary – Carol J. Preiss), and (Andrea Wolfkill, 2nd emergency temporary and 3rd plenary) in April 2014 in the City of Gainesville Probate Court by Judge Victor Hulslander (! 51 temporary). Judge Stan Griffis (! 51 plenary). Judge Mary Day Coker (2nd temporary and 2nd and 3rd plenary). [Preiss and Wollkill were appointed though they did not have the proper guardianship credentialing at the time of appointment.]
* My Family Member’s home was paid for, she had great care in her home, and sufficient assets to continue care as such. She did NOT need a guardian, but was the target of an attack on her assets.
3. PARTIES INVOLVED IN THE GUARDIANSHIP:
a. The Guardian(s) appointed were: Bonnie Divito (] 51 temporary); Marilyn ‘Lynn’ Belo (! 51 plenary); Carol J. Preiss (2nd plenary), and Andrea Wolfkill (2nd temporary and 3rd plenary).
b. The attorney(s) for the Guardian(s) was/were Monica Brasington (DiVito), Judith Paul
(Belo), Virginia Griffis (Belo, Preiss, and Wolfkill).
c. My Attorney(s): Joshua Silverman (fust and current); Nancy Baldwin (my second attorney), Zena Dupee (my third attorney).
d. Judge(s) were: Judge Victor Hulslander, Judge Stan Griffis. Judge Mary Day Coker
e. Others involved in the case were. John Ramsey. attorney appointed to my mom (not present and not notified of competency hearing); Carmen Julian and Elena Clark (sisters) – retained M. Brasington to file for mental competency hearing.
4. PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL AND PSYCHOTROPIC CHEMICAL ABUSE:
a. My Family Member suffered the following physical abuses:
* trauma bruising to face/head, cuts/abrasions to right hand/left hand;
* bruising on left arm (above elbow)/left knee/right knee;
• un-bathed for long periods of time, left unkempt and in dirty diapers (dirty/stained clothes);
* left with UTI (infection/fever);
* dehydration (multiple times);
* more than a dozen falls in two facilities;
* refusing to provide proper medical attention after falls/head injury;
* multiple visits to Emergency Room with overnight hospital stays (North Florida Regional
Medical Center, Gainesville, FL, and West Marion Community Hospital, Ocala, FL);
* withholding/discarding dentures and prescription glasses.
[I contacted DCF and Ombudsman on first facility, but My Family Member continued to
experience injuries and visits to the ER – all 3 guardians FAILED to investigat/be proactive
about continuous injuries and lied to me, and had the staff provide inconsistent information to me, about cause(s) of My Family Member’s injuries].
b. My Family Member suffered the following emotional abuses:
* isolation from family for long periods of time (children, grandchildren, niece, nephews,
* restriction from church/church members/pastor/prayer group members;
* verbal abuse by guardian (Belo) in front of paid caregivers and other family;
* locking bedroom doors/limiting access to room/bathroom at Harbor Chase;
* restriction from mom’s normal diet (food/drink);
* verbal abuselharassment toMy Family Member children/grandchildren in front of My Family Member; changing locks on home door (more isolation);
* changing/cutting off telephone; restriction of communication on any phone in either facilities;
* hiring an abusive caregiver while still in home;
* restricting My Family Member and other family with use of native language and threatening loss of visitation if not compl iant;
* isolating My Family Member in hospital, refusing to allow others to see her in hospital;
restricting any touchinglhugginglpbysical contact (cburch);
* deception about moving My Family Member from her home (“we’re going to a hotel while
we paint your house”) and moving My Family Member from first facility (“we’ re going to
* not allowed access to mail on a regular basis;
* not allowed access to finances/any of her money to spend;
* allowing abusive man (David D. Clark, Ms. Julian’s boyfriend) to be in close proximity to
My Family Member despite a ‘no trespass’ order on home/property.
c. The My Family Member suffered cruel and abusive isolation, overmedication and chemical restraints as follows:
* as of May 2012, My Family Member was on the following medications – Amloclipine,
Atorvastatin, Citalopram, Metropolol, Lisinopril, Hydrochiororthiazide, multiple narcotics. My
Family Member has only one kidney, with most of these drugs being potentially lethal were to her health. My Family Member has appeared to be heavily medicated, incoherent, and with slurred speech on numerous occasions since May 2012. [NOTE: I have been kept completely in the dark as to her medication regimen. My Family Member continues to be on two anti-depressants, and to my knowledge has NEVER been diagnosed with depression.];
* blocking the phone number of The Family Member’s nephew and his family in Miami;
* disconnecting phone number and not providing new number to My Family Member’s
• changing locks on My Family Member’s home and hiding the key;
* removed My Family Member’s bed and replacing it with a small and constrictive hospital bed where she suffered bruising to her arms and head on this bed) in her home;
• placing My Family Member in a ‘lock down’ mental section offsite nursing home without
EXPERT medical diagnosis of dementia (criteria for placement in the unit was dementia,
mental illness, and/or flight risk);
* not allowing visits for holidays (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthdays) with children and grandchildren; PROHIBITING My Family Member from attending her own church;
* isolation from prayer groups/spiritual leaders;
* changing My Family Members medical providers (primary care) of 13 years to someone
handpicked (friend) of guardian.
5. FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION/ABUSE:
a. My Family Member’s estate suffered the following financial abuses/loss/dissipation:
* The estate was valued at approximately $250,000, including savings/checking/value of the house and husband’s social security/law suit settlement with current value at less than $30,000;
* guardian did not have real estate license, but sold home well below market value without the knowledge or consent of My Family Member (house not flipped to my knowledge);
* sale of the home without the consent of beneficiaries;
* frivolous motions/expenses filed by Belo to drain My Family Member’s account;
* hiring a “private” sitter from June 2012 to November 2012 (employed by Belo) to sit in first facility after the My Family Member was removed from her home;
* demanding multiple emails weekly on visitation time/visitors when the schedule was the
same (done to charge $75 + to read each email);
* guardian’s fees varied from reading emails to filing bogus motions/petitions in court (making mistakes, then refilling);
* guardian filed a motion to restrict family to grave sight of My Family Member’s deceased
husband (paid herself to file motion);
* to date, I have not seen or been allowed to see any financial statements/spending ledgers either via the guardian or the courts;
* My Family Member has NEVER been in possession of Or allowed any of her money to
b. The family and rightful heirs of the My Family Member suffered:
* slander, harassment/threats of arrest and call DCF on me (at my daughter’s wedding, which My Family Member attended with guardian’s permission);
* slanderous and libelous law suit filed against me (February 2013);
* violation of civil rights (free speech/religion);
* malicious persecution and target of malfeasance;
• severe stress, loss of sleep, depression, loss of income;
* physical restriction from seeing My Family Member without court hearing;
* isolation from My Family Member with restricted visits in home (always in the presence of a caregiver) and in the first facility (only allowed to sit in a limited area and rarely allowed in My Family Member’s bedroom/outside);
* not allowed to take My Family Member outside for fresh air or walks (first and second
* restricted my visitation after seeing mom in church and hugged/kissed her (guardian claimed this was a “violation” of visitation);
* harassing a business associate (sending a threatening letter by mail) claiming My Family
Member owned stock in associates company (did not have a public company).
[Until October 2013, visits were always in the presence of a staff member/guardian’s employee who constantly interrupted and oftentimes harassed me and my children. When My Family Member left Harbor Chase, and when asked about the harassment by her and her staff, the assistant director (Edith) stated that she was ‘just doing what she was told to do by guardian’].
6. FRAUD, PERJURY:
a. The fraud that commenced the guardianship proceedings included:
* inappropriate filing of court documents (motions/petitions);
* removing My Family Member from home and the first facility without notification to
• no hearing to revoke the privileges of the legal health care surrogate (Lyles-Harris);
* not allowing My Family Member to view her mail/financial statements on a regular basis
* filing law suit against me on behalf of My Family Member (against provisions of mental
competency) – and guardian placed herself as My Family Member’s attorney with fees paid to herself for filing law suit;
* perjury in court as to “misconduct” of family members daughter;
* failure to provide consistent medical/medication information about My Family Member to
her children/legal health care surrogate;
• sale/removal of My Family Member’s personal belongings
(furniture/clothes/jewelry/pictures) from home and first facility without consent and
knowledge, and without the knowledge and consent of the children/beneficiaries;
* failure to act in the best interest of the My Family Member (all 3 guardians);
* failure to PROTECT the My Family Member from abuse/neglect (at facilities and in home);
• moving My Family Member to a facility without court order/permission (from home to
Harbor Chase and Harbor Chase to Memory Lane).
7. JUDICIAL ABUSE OF POWER, VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS, VIOLATION OF
CIVIL AND CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND COLOR OF LAW ABUSE:
a. Judicial abuse of power included:
• no legal representation present for My Family Member at competency hearing (or ever);
* not given the opportunity to be at the hearing or be heard in a timely fashion;
* no evidentiary hearings;
* rarely given the opportunity to testify/speak in court, and ignored when I was able to speak;
* not following proper courtroom procedures (timely submission of motions/petitions);
* physical restriction of My Family Member’s children without any legal or medical
* allowing sale of My Family Member’s home without consent/notice to My Family Member
and legal beneficiaries;
* allowing guardian to make health care decisions without hearing to investigate terms of legal will or My Family Member’s preferences;
* judges giving guardian(s) power to abuse/sequester My Family Member and to isolate family (via terms of visitation);
* no audit performed by Court Clerk or by court monitor;
• appointing guardians Preiss and Wolfkill without the proper guardianship credentialing in
place (Judge Coker);
* violation of guardianship statute in Florida;
* violation of constitutional right to worship;
• violation of constitutional right to free speech (speak our native language);
* violation of the right to have a say in health care/health care providers;
* violation of the right to legally reside/maintain residence in My Family Member’s own home;
* violation of civil and constitutional rights of parties were: Carmen Tozzo, Teresa Lyles,
LLH, BL, ML, AH, RH,
members of St. Patrick’s Church, Pastor Fr. Roland Julien;
* to my knowledge, My Family Member was never served with the “Petition to Determine
Capacity” nor were her rights read to her by any process server. I was never properly served with the “Petition to Determine Capacity”, and received paperwork in the mail shortly before the competency hearing;
* refusal of Judge (Griffis) to grant me the guardianship of My Family Member (filed by Mr.
Silverman on my behalf June 2011), without any substantiated reason/cause;
* refusal of my request to meet/interview appointed guardians;
* retaliation from the court/attorneys included restricting visitation (i.e., 6 weeks from June -July 2012);
* restrictions of where My Family Member and family could sit/visit;
* restricting My Family member and family from touching/bathing her or attending to
* restricting My Family Member from leaving facility with her family (needed attendant if
* allowing guardian to place restrictions without substantiating accusations against My Family Member’s extended family;
* approving “no objection” motions to appoint guardians (April 2014) without my knowledge
* complaints against Belo were sent to Judge Griffis and Hulslander (by myself, Mr.fMrs.
Hernandez in Miami, and by Mr. Silverman) and were answered with further
retaliation/isolation from My Family Member. [NOTE: numerous objections in court were
made to Judge Griffis and Coker, but were denied any resolution regarding selection of
guardian and visitation restriction].
* the Advance directives in place were not honored and there was no statutorily required
hearing (Fl St 765) to rule on the Advance Directives even though they were known to the
court. [My Family Member’s legal and signed WILL was dated October 30.2007. in which
granddaughter named as health care surrogate, and myself as Executor, but courts/guardians did not adhere to document. Advanced directives were prepared by Belo and signed in 2013.]
* attorneys hired by me were ineffective or possibly complicit – Nancy Baldwin and Zena
Dupee (who literally took $3500 + for doing NOTHING) were useless, did not defend my best interests, and tried to negotiate/force me to negotiate with the guardian against my wishes and knowledge; [although he got Belo to resign, Mr. Silverman was not responsive to many of my requests.]
* The examining committee (May 24, 2011) consisted of Brian Cooke, MD (psychiatrist),
Arlene Nichols, RN, and Gerrie Scully, RN, and Carlos Rodriguez, MD (Fellow, observer. did not participate)’ who are licensed as MD and RNs. Each examiner spent approximately
~minutes with My Family Member (total time was I hour and 5 minutes). [NOTE: My
Family Member was never evaluated/tested for illicit drugs in her system or delirium.
There were no Geriatric/Neurology MD’s present, and diagnosis of ‘dementia’ is
inconsistent with proper diagnosis pattern for this condition, According to Alzheimer’s
Association – “diagnosing dementia is difficult. Becoming forgetful does not necessaril y mean that you have dementia, and could be a sign of stress or depression. Diagnosis is made through a complete assessment that considers all possible causes, including medical history, physical exam, neurological exam, mental status tests, brain imaging, and diet patterns.”
8. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST:
* Ms. Brasington was hired by my sisters (Julian and Clark), but Brasington was also the
attorney for Ms. DiVito;
* Ms. DiVito was personal friends with Ms. Clark – not revealed until September 2011
hearing, but Judge Griffis did nothing;
* continued personal letters and emails from Belo to Clark and Julian regarding status of My Family Member;
* personal emails and letter to Julian from Ms. Virginia Griffis – this is professionally unethical and constitutes bias;
* Belo continued to be copied on emailslIetters after her resignation as guardian in June 2013;
* Ms. Griffis being the attorney for all three guardians;
* allowing some family members visitation and travel privileges with My Family Member
(violation of court order) and restricting other family members from doing so.
* Abusive stay away court orders were issued at the request of Marilyn Belo without due
process or evidentiary hearing, and the only person that was threatened with suspension of all visitation was me and my children.
* Preiss sent a letter to Memory Lane (November 2013) restricting ONLY me from seeing my mom, and did not see my mother until Christmas Day.
This affidavit is based on personal knowledge, court documentation, letters and emails from 20 I 0 to current date.
SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN TO
BEFORE ME, a notary public in Dade-Miami Florida
Theresa Lyles, signature
I would like to thank Ms. Lyles personally for sharing her story on this blog, the affidavit being published with her permission. It is very, very difficult to get these probate victims to share their horror stories publicly, even if I offer to publish anonymously. Theresa deserves our kudos today. Her story is also well documented and the affidavit she prepared is an excellent enumeration of the stripping away of the human and civil rights and liberties of the elderly and concerned family members who should have been a part of all of this.
Thank you so much Theresa for all your brave work. You are a heroine to others.