CONFIRMED BY ILL. SUPREME COURT– YOU ARE VIEWING THE MOST DANGEROUS BLOG IN ILLINOIS. This blog warranted a 3 year suspension by the ARDC/Jerome Larkin! Mottos: "Sunlight is the best disinfectant". Justice Louis Brandeis ; "If the truth can destroy something, then it deserves to be destroyed" Carl Sagan; "Justice is Truth in Action" Benjamin Disraeli. Illinois uses the ARDC to quash dissenting attorney activist blogs ; "The freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic Governments" — (1776-First Amendment preamble adopted by 8 US colonies)
Amazingly, Justice Maureen Connors writes up a decision dismissing a case based upon lack of jurisdiction, but ignored service upon Mary Sykes in 09 P 4585
Johnson v. Platas, 2016 IL App (1st) 143468-U (Ill. App., 2016) see http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/r23_orders/AppellateCourt/2016/1stDistrict/1143468_R23.pdf
And how is this a “rule 23” decision that is not supposed to be cited. Now attorneys in Illinois cannot cite cases that fully support the 5th Amendment? I believe that violates the First Amendment. Rule 23 is clearly unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
This Johnson case that Attorney Denison refers is particularly galling as Justice Connors openly and notoriously ignored the jurisdictional requirements in the Mary Sykes case 09 P 4585 and Jerome Larkin, using the power of his office as administrator of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission attempted to silence protest.
ELDER CLEANSING/HUMAN TRAFFICKING is today a major business in the UNITED STATES. The Political and Judicial elite use organizations such as the attorney disciplinary commissions to silence lawyers (Rule 8.3 and 18 USCA 4 notwithstanding). The media is dead silence, and law enforcement impotent as they can ferret out the criminals who commit these dastardly crimes by judges (some corrupt and easily influenced by a share of wealth) are required to prosecute them. Using opioids and other chemicals to turn healthy vibrant senior citizens into zombies thousand upon thousands of VOTES are delivered to political fiefdoms by “nursing home operators” and whole elections are turned.
“The government is the potent omnipresent teacher. For good or ill it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that the end justifies the means — to declare that the government may commit crimes — would bring terrible retribution.” Judge Louis Brandeis, Olmstead v. US 277 US 438.
From DTH, regarding the estate of his father in Cook County Illinois, DH:
This is a letter in response to an assistant states attorney from the offices of Lisa Madigan advising me that my complaints against the Probate Court and its staff would not be investigated or prosecuted because they don’t do that.
If not the Attorney General of Illinois, then who will stop these crimes against me and other innocent Illinois citizens?
Dear Mr. Matulis;
This is in response to your assertion that the Attorney General of Illinois (Lisa Madigan) has no jurisdiction to investigate or prosecute public corruption or crimes committed by court staff, the clerk of court’s offices and judges and Cook County Sheriff’s department employees.
I vehemently and assiduously beg to differ with this assertion of yours.
You told me my only relief lies with the Illinois JIB. (Judicial Inquiry Board)
However, the Illinois JIB rarely prosecutes cases. Thousands of grievances against judges are filed each year in Illinois but only less than .5 percent result in any discipline.
In this case, Judge O’Malley changed a docket date to deny me my hearing. She did it in a conspiracy with her clerk and Attorney David Blocher. All of these persons have committed the crimes of docket tampering, file tampering, destruction or spoliation of evidence and each is a felony.
The JIB has no jurisdiction over criminal activities.
I note that Judge Jessica Arong O’Brien’s assistant just pled guilty in federal court to loan or bank fraud so she can testify against Judge O’Brien next month and get a lighter sentence.
The FBI is doing it.
Also, it is incorrect that “there are no problems” in probate.
In addition, I am attaching a PDF file of numerous cases in Illinois and from the US relating numerous tales of probate court corruption.
Finally, I would like to direct your attention to two instances where the Cook County Sheriff’s offices were complicit in corruption at the Daley Center.
During a first court date, I was told by Deputy Coughlin “this is my floor, I do what I want on my floor, and if you don’t leave the building immediately I will have you arrested.” This was after I was try to open my mother’s estate and the judge wouldn’t let me because I didn’t have an attorney. I told the judge there is no law and nothing in the Illinois Probate Act that requires me to have an attorney. That’s when the Judge (Malone) told the clerk to get the sheriffs on me. After Deputy Coughlin escorted me out of the Daley Center, she told me that if I came back (to court) for any reason, she would have me arrested.
During another court date, on my father’s estate, Sheriff Sanchez told me “if you don’t play the game the way the judges want, then you get to see ‘Big Bubba’”–implying a threat I would be beaten, arrested or abused. And she took me to see “Big Bubba” who held me up for a few hours telling me I did something wrong in court, when I did not. The judge was letting my sister steal about $300k from my father’s estate with impunity. The judge was mad that I told him that.
I would appreciate your investigating these crimes and keeping our courts safe, open and transparent.
A former associate of Cook County Judge Jessica Arong O’Brien pleaded guilty Friday to her role in a $1.4 million mortgage fraud scheme and is expected to testify at O’Brien’s criminal trial next month.
Maria Bartko, 50, of Streamwood, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud affecting a financial institution.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin put off setting a sentencing date until after Bartko’s anticipated testimony against O’Brien, who is scheduled to go to trial Feb. 5 on mail and bank fraud charges stemming from the same alleged scheme. O’Brien has pleaded not guilty.
Federal sentencing guidelines call for up to about three years in prison for Bartko, but prosecutors said they will recommend a reduced sentence of about a year and a half if she testifies truthfully, according to her plea agreement.
An indictment last year charged O’Brien with lying to lenders to obtain more than $1.4 million in mortgages on two South Side investment properties that she bought and sold between 2004 and 2007 when she owned a real estate company and worked part time as a loan originator for a Lincolnwood real estate company. She was then also working as a special assistant attorney general for the Illinois Department of Revenue.
O’Brien was elected to the bench in 2012 as the first Filipina judge in Cook County and had most recently presided over a small-claims courtroom. She’s since been reassigned to administrative duties pending the outcome of the criminal case.
At the time of the alleged scheme, Bartko was a loan originator at Amronbanc Mortgage Corp., where O’Brien was working part time, according to the indictment.
O’Brien allegedly used fraudulently obtained mortgage loan proceeds to buy an investment property in the 600 block of West 46th Street in Chicago and then lied on applications to refinance the mortgage on the property as well as on a second investment property in the 800 block of West 54th Street in Chicago.
The indictment also alleges that O’Brien fraudulently obtained a commercial line of credit to maintain the properties before selling them to Bartko and a straw buyer.
Asked by Durkin on Friday to put succinctly in her own words what she did, Bartko launched instead into a lengthy explanation about how she was simply following the direction of her superiors at the bank.
As a single mom, she said, she was looking to make extra money.
As Bartko continued, her attorney, Thomas Brandstrader, cut her off and asked the judge for time to confer with her in private. When they returned to the lectern, Bartko said simply, “I know what I said was false information.”
O’Brien, who is married to a judge, immigrated to the U.S. after high school, earning degrees in culinary arts and restaurant management, according to online biographies. She then made a career change and attended John Marshall Law School, graduating in 1998 and later serving on its board.
She was the first Asian elected president of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois and also served on the board of governors for the Illinois State Bar Association. The judge also co-founded a foundation in 2008 that awards scholarships to law students from diverse backgrounds.
Judge Jessica OBrien has been indicted, why is Timothy Evans keeping her on the payroll and burdening taxpayers?
Also, when is the FBI going to investigate all the funky property records of attorneys Jerome Larkin, Melissa Smart and other Judges who are making clearly biased rulings and I have a ton of information on those problems?
Who is looking into that?
Today I got a call from a client who sent off grievances to the FBI, the DOJ, the states attorneys, the OIG, the OIEG and other places. An attorney from Lisa Madigan’s offices called him up and says that Lisa Madigan will not prosecute a judge who helped an attorney and his client break a trust and steal $300,000+ from an estate and who changed a court date (docket tampering and file tampering, both felonies), he says he never heard of any probate corruption before. The client gave him this blog and NASGA blog and probatesharks.com so he will get an earful. How do these people get hired for $50k plus per year and they deny knowing anything about court corruption and deny it as if it does not exist? Un freaking believable. I will publish the name of the attorney soon as I get it.
To: “JOANNE@JUSTICE4EVERY1.COM” <JOANNE@JUSTICE4EVERY1.COM>
Subject: RE: From Office of Inspector General – 2018010278
Date: Jan 22, 2018 3:33 PM
Dear Ms. Denison:
On January 18, 2018, the Office of Attorney General forwarded your complaint to the Department of Children and Families Office of Inspector General concerning the handling of a case.
Your allegations fall within the jurisdiction of the Justice Qualification Commission. Therefore, you may contact that office directly at:
Address: Michael L. Schneider, Executive Director
Judicial Qualifications Commission
1110 Thomasville Road
Tallahassee, FL 32303-6224
Phone: (850) 488-1581
No further action will be taken by this office.
Anissa F. Southall
Operations & Management Consultant Manager
Office of Inspector General
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 6:09 PM To: JOANNE@JUSTICE4EVERY1.COM Subject: From Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
The Florida Attorney General’s Office received your correspondence regarding your concerns with attorney Roy Lustig and Judge Michael Genden in relation to a guardianship and criminal case involving Helen Stone and Barbara Stone.
We appreciate that you consider this office as a source of assistance; however, in Florida the state attorney in each judicial circuit prosecutes alleged violations of the criminal laws. The elected state attorneys operate independently and are not part of the Attorney General’s Office. Further, while our office is not generally involved in the prosecution of cases at the circuit level, by law the Attorney General’s Office represents the State of Florida in criminal cases on appeal. It would be, therefore, inappropriate to comment on a particular criminal case. You may find information about the role and function of the Attorney General on our website at http://myfloridalegal.com/pages.nsf/Main/F06F66DA272F37C885256CCB0051916F. Regarding this case, you may wish to contact the state attorney in the 11th Judicial Circuit to express your concerns:
The Honorable Katherine Fernandez Rundle
State Attorney for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit
1350 Northwest 12 Avenue
Miami, Florida 33136
Telephone: (305) 547-0100
If there are safety concerns for the welfare of a senior citizen or vulnerable adult in Florida, please contact the local law enforcement authorities and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) Abuse Hotline. The DCF operates the state’s Abuse Hotline which receives reports about abuse, neglect or exploitation of children, senior citizens and vulnerable adults (https://reportabuse.dcf.state.fl.us/). You may contact the Abuse Hotline at:
The Florida Bar
Telephone: (850) 561-5600
ACAP Hotline: 1-866-352-0707
Lawyer Referral Service: (800) 342-8060
In regard to the judge’s decisions, as part of the executive branch of government, our office cannot supersede or circumvent the actions of the judicial branch. If you have a complaint about a judge’s conduct, please contact the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC), the independent agency created by the Florida Constitution to review certain kinds of complaints involving judicial conduct. The contact information is:
Finally, because our office is not at liberty to give legal opinions to individuals, if you need legal guidance, again please consult a private attorney, The Florida Bar offers a Lawyer Referral Service toll-free at (800) 342-8011 or online at https://www.floridabar.org/public/lrs/.
Thank you for contacting Attorney General Bondi’s office. Please understand the Attorney General’s duties are prescribed by law.
Office of Citizen Services
Florida Attorney General’s Office
The Capitol, PL-01
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1050
Telephone: (850) 414-3990
Toll-free in Florida: (866) 966-7226
PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS E-MAIL. THIS ADDRESS IS FOR PROCESSING ONLY.
To contact this office please visit the Attorney General’s website at http://www.myfloridalegal.com and complete the on-line contact form. Again, thank you for contacting the Office of the Florida Attorney General.
INTERNET MESSAGE RECEIVED BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE ON 01/12/2018
5330 W DEVON AVE STE 6
Chicago, IL 60646
Phone: (773) 255-7608
Subject: Activist Alert–Lawyer Barbara Stone jailed for fighting corruption in MIami Dade
I am writing to you to demand the immediate release of Lawyer Barbara Stone.
Her mother was taken from her in an abusive guardianship. During this
proceeding, where Judge Michael Genden and Attorney Roy Lustig tried to murder
both Helen Stone and Barbara Stone, Mother Helen Stone actually spent 3 weeks
in the ICU for malnutrition, dehydrations, numerous infecions, lacerations and
contusions. After she was released she we returned to her abusers by both
Lustig and Genden. I and the readers of my blog are demanding the immediate
release of Barbara Stone and that Genden be removed as Judge and Roy Lustig be
disbarred for his crimes against Helen Stone, violations of her civil and human
rights and those of Lawyer Barbara Stone. Lawyer Barbara Stone is an attorney
activist and heroine of every probate victim across the nation. Thank you. see
my court corruption blog at http://www.marygsykes.com
From Courtney Lynn Blasiol, published with permission:
I fell asleep and woke up having a nightmare about the speech I am giving Tuesday going horribly wrong. Since it is a topic that I am passionate about I was just going to wing it but decided to jump up and prepare a speech.
Please tell me how it sounds. I don’t want it to sound formal or scripted, I want it to sound authentic and down to earth. I intend to add some unscripted conversation into it but overall I would like to follow this format. If there are typos or misspellings it is not because I am stupid or careless, it is because I am exhausted and I wrote this with a migraine so I can’t even hardly see what I am writing due to my visual aura disturbing my vision.
Please don’t be harsh. I wrote this in like 5 minutes. I have written anything important since I was in college, my writing skills are rusty to say the least, my public speaking skills are nonexistent. 😉
Hi, thank you for allowing me to speak to you for a few minutes about domestic violence from a survivior’s perspective. All of you are on the frontlines of this battle. You have the very challenging task of responding to these calls and responding in a manner that keeps women and children safe. I do understand that men can be abused as well but since 95% of interpersonal violence is perpetrated against women I am going to speak about that.
My brother used to be a deputy in Caroline County so I have been able to hear about the challenges of these calls. Not only are they difficult to evaluate but they are some of the most dangerous calls you can go on. I do not envy your position at all, and as a survivor I am grateful for the job you do. I am going to give you a little information that you may find helpful, you may not but as a survivor they are things we want you to know.
I think perhaps one of the most important issues is bias. We all have biases, we don’t even realize it sometimes, these biases frequently lay just below the surface of our concious thought and we do not intend any harm with them but they can be dangerous when trying to make a determination if dv did occur or not. When it comes to DV there are a few dangerous biases that can happen.
The first one is that false accusations of abuse are rampant. They aren’t. Women make false accusations less than 2% of the time, I believe the actual number is 1.8%. So if a woman is saying abuse occurred it is most likely true. On that same note many abusers will play the victim and accuse the real victim of being the abuser. This is a common tactic of DV abusers to silence their victims. To complicate the situation further, the victim may have harmed the abuser, there may be marks, but it was very likely self defense. To illustrate this, back in October of 2011 my husband at the time took my 4 children hostage when I was out of the house taking a breather. It had been a long rough day parenting my little 9 month old who had been extremely clingy and I had needed about an hour of time to restore myself. My husband did not like this, he wasn’t an active participant in parenting and he took offense to me getting some time to myself and leaving him to care for the children. As a punishment he locked them all inside our master bathroom and told them all that “mommy was coming back to kill them”. They knew the truth but they were fearful of him and kept quiet. When I returned home my house was quiet. WIth four kids it was usually loud and lively. I could not find the children. I searched everywhere calling their names. Finally I approached the master bedroom and the door was locked. My husband wouldn’t open the door and he wouldn’t answer me, I started to cry and beg. He finally came out and told me that I was “(insert expletive) insane and that I was a harm to myself and others”…remember this was all because I took an hour to drive to Starbucks and come back. For 45 minutes I called for my children to answer me. They didn’t. I finally gave my husband a warning that I would have to call the police if he didn’t show me that the children were okay. He knew that I was panicked. As I was dialing 911, he walked up behind me and hit me hard across the back of my head and took the phone out of my hand and threw it to the ground, shattering it. Our baby was in his arms and she kept reaching out to me crying “mama, mama, mama!” and he wouldn’t let me touch her, every time I attempted to he would slap my hands away. As he towered over me (he is 6’4) screaming at me and poking his finger into my forehead, he eventually had me cornered in our kitchen…within reach of our knives. I saw his eyes darting back and forth between me and the knives and at one point his arms reached towards the knives…I slapped him. I was NOT abusing him, this was self defense and I knew that it would startle him momentarily allowing me to push past him to run upstairs to my other children. I didn’t make it far, he set our daughter on the floor and pushed me to the hardwood floor and then turned my body around, slammed my head to the ground, restrained my wrist, spit on me, and told me he was calling the police. When the older children came out of the room crying he left me alone, I gathered up the children and left for a week. While I was gone he would send me harassing texts that the sheriff’s department was looking for me. During that week he told people we knew and posted on my facebook profile that I had “punched him in the face with our baby in our arms, just missing the baby’s head.” Had the sheriff’s office been called that night and a deputy responded it would have been a very confusing situation to walk in on. I am certain my husband would have told them the story he told his friends and posted on my facebook wall, but it would not have been true. Yes, I did slap him, with an open hand, but it was in self defense, not out of anger and/or aggression. These things are very, very different. Always be mindful of the potential of this happening when you respond to a call.
Another bias I have run into since leaving is the bias of socioeconoimic status. I never actually called the sheriff’s dept on my husband so I can’t say that the deputies responded with this bias but the court system has. I have been told multiple times by officials in the court system that affluent and educated men don’t abuse their wives or children. I am here to tell you that they do and it is easier for them to get away with it because most people think of an abuser as a guy in a “wife beater shirt” sitting in a lazy boy chair sipping beer after beer. This is a dangerous misconception! Just because there is a BMW parked in the driveway of the large fancy house of the call you are responding to does not mean that the well dressed and well spoken man who opens the door is not abusing his partner. Abuse cuts across all social classes! But because of this bias, women in higher socioeconomic classes actually have a harder time escaping from their abuser.
And the last misconception/bias is the one that the victim/abuser dad gives off themselves by their emotional states. I can only speak from my own experience and the experience of many other victims that have shared their stories with me but let’s just say…not everything is as it seems. Odds are that when you make contact with the couple, the female is likely to be upset, crying, maybe even screaming in hysterics. She may be hostile as well. The other party is likely to be calm, charismatic, charming, maybe even using humor to laugh off his partner’s current emotional state insinuating that she is a “few cards short of a full deck” and prone to dramatics to get her way. He will have excuses for whatever she may have told you. He will seem believable, she may not. You will perhaps think that she is just one of those crazy women calling the police to manipulate or punish her partner. Tread cautiously. I urge you to please try to convince her to reach out to a domestic violence center, give her the number, you can even give her my number, she can text me, I will do everything in my power to get her help. She will probably not present well and will not be very likable but please don’t judge her credibility based on this. Victims live in a primal survival mode, in this mode we are operating off of our ancient reptilian brain, we don’t have higher thought, we are not very likable in this mode. But this is how we operate when we are in fear. This should actually be a red flag that something did occur.
While I have your attention I would like to talk to you about one more thing…strangulation/choking. If a woman tells you that she has been choked/strangled…PAY ATTENTION! Strangulation is the biggest predictor of future homicide. According to Casey Gwinn at the strangulation training institute “If a man strangles a woman once with his hands, he is 800 percent more likely to later kill her than a man who assaults a woman but does not strangle her.” There are other lethality risks (presence of stepchildren, presence of guns, suicidal threats, presence of substance abuse, presence of mental illness, etc) but strangulation is the primary one and something you all need to pay close attention to. I don’t know how it is here in Hanover but I was told in Caroline that they can only arrest for strangulation if there are marks…in 50% of strangulation cases there will NOT be marks but you can look for other indicators. One is a raspy/hoarse voice. Often victims may use the bathroom on themselves involuntarily. Also petechiae (little red pinprick marks) around the eyes or under her eyelids may be present. A victim strangled to unconsciousness suffers internal brain damage and often long-term health consequences but may have no external marks at all. Any observations you document will be key in prosecution if he is charged and goes to trial. Not only is it important for the victim for these men to be identified it is important for you, it is a matter of life or death for you as it has been found that 50 percent of all police officers killed in the line of duty are killed by men who have previously strangled women. please learn all you can about strangulation and its lesser known indicators, try to focus less on the presence or absence of bruises around the neck and on other indicators that may be present. Make sure to add any signs you see to your reports, the more the better. Make sure the victim receives medical help immediately, before you leave the call,
She may have survived but she can die hours or even weeks later from swelling of the tissue inside her throat or fluid build up in the lungs caused by the strangulation. It is important to let her know what grave risk she is at by staying with a partner who strangles her. To quote Casey Gwinn again: “Men who strangle women are the most dangerous men on the planet.” and to quote his colleague Gael Strack: “Strangulation is the last warning shot.” You can save many lives by being diligent in a case where a victim says she was choked/strangled.
Thank you for the work you do, it is important work, it is brave work. Thank you for risking your own lives to protect ours.
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) – Thanks in part to a Contact 13 Investigation, the state is stepping up to help protect our most vulnerable residents.
Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears has new information in her ongoing expose of a system that many say fails to protect those who need help the most.
Our series of reports prompted the Nevada Supreme Court to take a serious look at how the guardianship system was failing. One of the key recommendations – create a permanent Guardianship Compliance Office to support and protect the rights of people under guardianship.
Today the Nevada Supreme Court announced Kathleen McCloskey will run the new office. McCloskey previously worked for Nevada Aging and Disability Services.
Her first task will be hiring an investigator and forensic financial specialist to help courts overseeing guardianship cases.
Our investigation revealed heart-wrenching stories where loved ones were isolated from family. Houses were sold without court approval and entire life savings were drained away.
The Guardianship Compliance Office will also set up a toll-free hotline where anyone who suspects abuse or exploitation in a guardianship case can report those concerns.
Excellent new documentary on Guardianship has been released by award-winning filmmaker Billie Mintz (Jesus Town USA, National Geographic) Coming soon to a theater near you, and in real-life, guardianship is coming to you too, if you don’t protect yourself and your loved ones.
Exactly the same scheme found in Orange County CA. between hospitals in the area. Hoag Hospital, the newly privatized acute care facility, Shlomo Rechnitz’s Mesa Verde (that prescribed pain meds right before he was creatively transferred to Hoag that mysteriously disappeared, but that Medicare paid for without question), transferred to Kindred Hospital Westminster with an unnecessary tracheotomy which was purposely left in over 21 days to jack up remuneration and hold him captive, and finally the facility (Pacific Haven)whose Kindred employed doctor finally killed my Dad by reducing his blood pressure using black boxed, unnecessary antibiotic in the fluroquinalone group (not to be given to those with prolonged QT interval or naturally low blood pressure-both of which my Dad has), “he might be getting pneumonia” with unneeded tylenol to dehydrate. After he died, he was discovered after nearly a 2 week delay of his autopsy by Pacific Haven cooperative Omega Society to still have alcohol and Ritalin in his blood in “nontherapeutic” amounts. Of course that means they were once in therapeutic amounts. This was not reported to authorities by the new Regional Autopsy group because it was in nonthereutic amounts, even though he was flushed with enormous amounts of fluids at Pacific Haven after his kidneys failed, to wash him out. So much so, that while he was still alive, he was oozing fluids from every pore on his body, leaving him in a puddle at death. From A to Z this was a homicide coverup. And it was a RICO organised crime. Now we are being sued by Kindred Hospital for nonpayment of Dad’s illegal bill while he was in “captivity” at that hospital. They are now trying to assign the CEO of Kindred, Julie Meyer, to be the new trustee to handle my Dad’s probate (conflict of interest much?). They are also deposing my elderly 93 year old Mom in an attempt to assign a guardian to her and to remove her from the family. We can find no lawyer to go up against Kindred, and now we know why…it is a huge case of organised crime involving the most powerful people in Orange County. We finally filed murder charges after being told we couldn’t…since everyone is getting kickbacks it seems. My Dad left Hoag with a moderate amount of DRGs and the number exploded at Kindred. We can only assume his case was hung in the doctors’ lounge/office at Kindred, because he ended up having over 30 doctors seeing him (literally seeing him…leaning in the doorway and just looking at him followed by $180 to 250.00 bills for every doctor for every day he was there). Hundreds of thousands in doctor’s bills and millions in hospital bills. My Dad got Medi-Cal approved the day before he was murdered by Pacific Haven and we are still trying to get the cash back from them that my Mom paid back for months while awaiting approval. Even our lawyer seems to be part of the problem. This is not the way I had planned on spending my retirement, to be sure! My poor Mom is totally beaten up! We babyboomer kids are also elders in or 60s and 70s, so it is elder abuse on every level. I am hoping we can break up this evil bunch of scoundrels as well.
I have sent this person a corruption horror story form to fill out. I will let everyone know when I learn more about this case. I have asked him or her to fill out my guardianship/elder abuse corruption horror story form. You can find that here:
We will continue to send a synopsis of these forms out to the authorities, congress and the white house. Still no word from any of them. over 30 murders and persons at risk, but not a peep from the white house, the FBI, states attorneys, anyone. It’s sad.
Also, please pray for Barbara Stone and that she be immediately released. I will be contacting her friends for more information on her case.
while probate court is stealing lives and money and destroying families in many unresolved cases already published on this blog, some stories are on the other end==hope and love and life even into their 90’s.
now I want you to note it did take them 8 years to marry, and she did have to propose, but then again, for true love time stands still
Gertrude Mokotoff and Alvin Mann were introduced eight years ago at a gym in Middletown, N.Y., where they still work out twice a week.
“A mutual friend said to me, ‘I’d like you to meet a very nice young lady,’” Mr. Mann recalled after chopping wood one recent morning at his mountaintop home in nearby Cuddebackville, N.Y.
On their first date, he drove her to a restaurant in Middletown called Something Sweet. “He was a perfect gentleman,” she said, and he added, “There was something about her that made me want to keep on talking.”
In a heartbeat, they became an item, talking about dreams and goals and sharing a life together.
Mr. Mann, who had seen the world through the eyes of a young United States merchant seaman, returned from troubled seas and found enough peace and quiet in Cuddebackville to focus on getting a college degree. Ms. Mokotoff, five years his senior, had designed a home on a high ridge in Middletown and was eager to fill it with good company.
“I kept getting teased about dating a cougar,” Mr. Mann said, laughing. “But the age difference never really bothered me because we just hit it off, and I wasn’t about to let her go.”
He held on tighter with each passing season, and then in June, after one of their many late-night drives home from the Metropolitan Opera House in Manhattan, she decided to buck tradition.
“I asked him to marry me,” she said with a chuckle. “I was tired of chasing after him.”
He obliged her on Aug. 5 at Middletown City Hall, where they exchanged vows before Mayor Joseph DeStefano and 50 family members and close friends. (Fred Fox, the bride’s older brother, who lives in Los Angeles, could not attend but sent along best wishes to his little sister.)
When their guitarist began strumming “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Ms. Mokotoff, clutching a small bouquet of white roses, emerged from a side room and began walking slowly toward her future husband, his eyes welling with tears.
Everyone in the old courtroom was smiling, especially Father Time.
“This is like an early birthday gift,” Ms. Mokotoff said before joining hands with Mr. Mann.
She was looking ahead to Aug. 20, a day when the newlyweds will most likely have to work together to blow out the candles on Ms. Mokotoff’s birthday cake — all 99 of them.
“So I’m 99, 98, it’s just a number,” Ms. Mokotoff said. “But today, I’m still 98, right? So let’s not rush things.”
Mr. Mann, who is 94 and received a bachelor’s degree in history last year from Mount St. Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y., agreed that when it comes to being old as opposed to feeling old, the numbers don’t always add up the same.
“Age doesn’t mean a damn thing to me or to Gert,” he said. “We don’t see it as a barrier. We still do what we want to do in life.”
Long before they were introduced in the gym, the lives of Ms. Mokotoff, a former mayor of Middletown, and Mr. Mann, a retired businessman, had fully taken shape.
Both are widowed from previous marriages, and they have seven children, 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren between them.
“People always ask what it is that keeps us young,” Mr. Mann said. “Of course, one part of it is medical science, but the bigger part is that we live worry-free lives; we do not let anything we cannot control bother us in the least.”
Ms. Mokotoff, who was born in Brooklyn in 1918 to Anna Fox and Abraham Fox, a tailor, graduated from Brooklyn College and received a master’s degree in biology from Columbia.
As a 23-year-old in 1941, she married Reuben Mokotoff, a cardiologist from Manhattan, where they lived until 1952. She then persuaded him to relocate his practice to Middletown, where Ms. Mokotoff would become a wildly popular and well-regarded figure.
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For more than three decades, she was a biology professor, teaching medical technology and microbiology, at Orange County Community College, in Middletown, where she is now a trustee. She also started the first training program for electron microscopy technicians, all while raising four children.
Instead of simply retiring in her late 60s, Ms. Mokotoff decided to give politics a try and was twice elected an alderwoman in Middletown, winning her second election by a single vote.
She went on to become City Council president, and in 1989, at age 71, she became Middletown’s first female mayor, serving back-to-back two-year terms. (She later ran unsuccessfully for New York state senator.)
As mayor, she was credited with spearheading the creation of a modern library in town, and for refurbishing and revitalizing the old Paramount Theater, which was built in the 1930s.
She had been married for 61 years at the time of her husband’s death in 2002.
“My mother has always been a very bold woman,” said the bride’s oldest child and maid of honor, Susan Mokotoff Reverby, 71, herself retired after a 34-year career in women’s and gender studies at Wellesley.
“She always had an interest in helping other people,” Ms. Reverby said. “Despite being a Democrat in a largely Republican town, she was still elected mayor, which gives you a pretty good idea as to how people around here felt about her.”
Mr. Mann was born in Manchester, N.H., on May 24, 1923. The son of Mae Mann and Hyman Mann, an insurance executive, he joined the war effort in 1943 as a 19-year-old, eventually serving as a second engineer aboard cargo ships, tankers and troop ships during World War II.
“It was a scary time,” he said. “There were other ships sinking all around us. I was one of the lucky ones who was able to come home.”
Already married by the time he was honorably discharged in 1947, he opened a business in Manhattan, Temporary Office Services Inc., that provided short-term secretarial and clerical help to other businesses.
In 1960, Mr. Mann, who said he “could never stand living in the city,” purchased his country home in Cuddebackville, in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, which he calls “a little piece of heaven.”
Mr. Mann’s first marriage, which lasted 20 years before ending in divorce, produced his only biological child, Mark Mann, now 71, who served as best man.
His second marriage, to Maybelle Kart, an art historian and artist from Great Neck, N.Y., who had two daughters, lasted 45 years until her death in 2007.
Last year, Mr. Mann became the oldest person to graduate from Mount St.Mary College. The college also awarded him an honorary doctorate this past May. At 93, he drove 80 miles round trip twice a week for nearly two and a half years to accrue the 30 credits needed to obtain a degree he had started working on in his 70s, while he owned another home in Tequesta, Fla. He racked up 60 credits at nearby Palm Beach State College, and 30 more at Florida Atlantic University, before finishing up at Mount St. Mary.
“We studied many historical events like World War II and the Vietnam and Korean Wars, but this was stuff I had actually lived through,” Mr. Mann said. “No wonder I aced most of my exams.”
Keith Schuler, who has been Mr. Mann’s neighbor for the past 20 years, called him “an inspiration, and an incredible human being.”
“This man is 94 years old, and I see him outside chopping down trees, dragging logs out of the woods with his old Ford tractor, stacking firewood and cutting the grass,” Mr. Schuler said. “Then I see him and Gert running around like two high school sweethearts, holding hands and kissing, and driving to New York City on weekends. If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it.”
Mr. Schuler was on hand at City Hall for the ceremony, which he called “a once-in-a-lifetime event,” along with other guests who ranged in age from Ms. Mokotoff’s 7-month-old great-grandson, Jack Handman, to the bride herself. (Ms. Mokotoff would have been the second-oldest person at her wedding if her older brother, Fred, 103, had been able to attend.)
During the ceremony, the groom entertained his guests with several stories about his new bride, including her first-ever sleepover at his home.
“We had spent the whole day together, and at night, I set up the bedroom for her, and I was going to be in the next room,” Mr. Mann said. “She gets into the bed, and I say good night and start walking out, and she says, ‘Where are you going?’”
After exchanging vows and wedding rings, the couple were showered with applause, well wishes and hugs, as several of the guests began to cry.
“Their enthusiasm is contagious and their certainty of a destiny together is inspiring,” said Mayor DeStefano, who is Ms. Mokotoff’s political protégé. “We ask that the vision they have for one another always reflects the attraction that first brought them together,” he said before pronouncing them husband and wife.
After the ceremony, Mr. Mann managed to slip out a back door and, moments later, reappeared in front of City Hall, behind the wheel of his red Toyota Corolla. As the guests began spilling onto the sidewalk, he stepped on the gas pedal and zipped past them down the street, noisily dragging soda cans tied to the back bumper below a sign that read “Just Married.” He took it for a spin around the block before returning to pick up his new wife.
“This is fabulous,” said Charles Mokotoff, the bride’s son, an internationally known classical guitarist who lent his musical talents to the ceremony.
Shortly thereafter, the couple and their guests resurfaced at John’s Harvest Inn, a nearby restaurant where the reception was held.
Just before dinner, the bride raised the roof, and the groom’s eyebrows, when she sat in a chair and hiked up her wedding dress just above her knee to reveal that she was wearing a garter.
“Very nice,” Mr. Mann said, his cheeks turning as red as his Corolla. “I must admit I like it.”
The groom was then asked how his life might change now that he’s a married man, again.
“Nothing is going to change,” said Mr. Mann, taking his wife’s hand as he spoke. “We’ve already done so much together, and let’s face it, we both know that neither of us are likely to find anyone else,” he said with a grin. “So from here on out, it’s just the two of us, together, for the remaining days of our lives.”
SNF owner led record $1 billion Medicare fraud ring, authorities say
The owner of more than 30 Miami-area nursing homes and assisted living facilities has been charged with leading a national record $1 billion-plus Medicare fraud scheme. Also accused in the alleged sprawling conspiracy that involved fraudulent placement and billing for thousands of beneficiaries were a hospital administrator and a physician’s assistant.Philip Esformes
At the center of the storm is Philip Esformes, who is accused of illegally shuffling residents in and out of his facilities, even enticing drug addicts with illicit opioids to go where directed. Esformes, Odette Barcha and Arnaldo Carmouze were each indicted for conspiracy, obstruction, money laundering and healthcare fraud, federal prosecutors announced Fridaymorning.
“This is the largest single criminal healthcare fraud case ever brought against individuals by the Department of Justice, and this is further evidence of how successful data-driven law enforcement has been as a tool in the ongoing fight against healthcare fraud,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell (left) of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
The conspirators allegedly admitted unqualified individuals into Esformes’ skilled nursing and assisted living facilities and billed Medicare and Medicaid inappropriately for services, dating back to at least 2002. The trio also allegedly received kickbacks to send beneficiaries to mental health and home health care providers, who also allegedly performed medically unnecessary treatments. Kickbacks were hidden as charitable donations and sham lease payments, officials say.
Esformes, 47, is no stranger to authorities. He paid $15.4 million in 2006 to resolve civil federal healthcare fraud claims for “essentially identical conduct,” officials noted at a press conference Friday. The conspirators continued with more sophisticated means to launder money and at least temporarily hide Esformes’ identity from investigators, they added. Ultimately, advanced data analysis and forensic accounting techniques by the FBI and Office of Inspector General led to the unraveling of the alleged scheme, officials said.
Esformes defense attorneys Marissel Descalzo and Michael Pasano issued a statement Fridaydeclaring his innocence.
“Mr. Esformes is a respected and well-regarded businessman. He is devoted to his family and his religion,” the statement said. “The government allegations appear to come from people who were caught breaking the law and are now hoping to gain reduced sentences. Mr. Esformes adamantly denies these allegations and will fight hard to clear his name.”
Prosecutors filed papersFriday in an effort to detain Esformes before trial. His detention hearing is set for Aug. 1, according to the Miami Herald.
“The conspirators were ruthlessly efficient,” the Justice Department’s Caldwell said. They allegedly paid bribes and kickbacks to keep patients nearing Medicare stay limits rotating to other corrupt providers, she added (see government graphic at right).
“Among the thousands of people cycled through the fraudulent network were, for example, drug addicts who were allegedly prescribed opioids – including OxyContin and Fentanyl – and other narcotics in order to entice them to stay in facilities where they didn’t belong,” Caldwell said.
Esformes is charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly trying to fund another co-conspirator’s flight out of the United States so that he could avoid trial in Miami, authorities said. They claim he wrote numerous checks to help fly the individual to Israel.
In a separate case, Esformes and his father, Morris Esformes, agreed to pay $5 million to settle a federal whistleblower lawsuit just six days before it was to go to trial in 2013. They were charged with accepting a multi-million dollar kickback from pharmacy giant Omnicare in 2004. The kickback allegedly came as part of a $32 million payment for Total Pharmacy, which was partially owned by Philip Esformes. In exchange for the money, Omnicare secured pharmacy contracts with two dozen nursing homes affiliated with the Esformeses, the suit charged.
Barbara is a true heroine and should be reinstated with honors as an attorney in both New York and Florida.
She showed what the system was–money grubbing, despicable and onerous.
From Ken Ditkowsky:
The Barbara Stone case is representative of the ELDER CLEANSING/HUMAN TRAFFICKING SCANDAL and illustrative of the corruption and total disregard for America’s core values that has become an epidemic amongst our ‘ruling class! The elite are so used to ignoring us – the great unwashed – that the South Florida POLITICAL ELITE fresh from victories over the public in the condominium scandal feel empowered to run roughshot over any who oppose their dictates.
Like all scandals the ‘power players’ all have ‘warts’ and some of the good guys do and say things that are bad strategy, bad form, and downright stupid. The Political elite HAVING THE UNDYING LOYALTY of their knee jerk supporters and the media thus frame the aggreived in the worst possible light. So obnoxious and amoral are the elites that they and their supporters have no compunction and no conscience – they can even rationalize the killing for profit of 12 elderly residents of the Hollywood Hills nursing home and blame Governor Scott for the carnage. The fact that that so as to rob Medicare of a few dollars these miscreants nursing home operators could not transport (or call 911 for the town of Hollywood Florida to transport) the helpless elderly a few yards across the street to safety. The fact was that transporting the victims across the street to a safe environment would have cost the operators of the nursing home a few dollars and THEY HAD TO WEIGH the safety of their human commodities over the dollar loss – the dollar loss won! 12 people died.
We have the very same situation in the guardianship of Helen Stone and the persecution of Barbara Stone. We just do not approve of overt discourtesy toward our revered institutions, its servants, or law enforcement. We believe we are a NATION OF LAWS and even though every one else is a ******, we have to uphold a STANDARD. Dissenting – does not mean descending into immaturity and they very type of conduct that is exhibited by the corrupt Political elite. We, the great unwashed are better than that!
Now let’s look at the facts. Helen Stone, an elderly human commodity, became an object of profit for a corrupt guardian and jurist who were actively pursing ELDERLY HUMAN TRAFFICKING. She (Barbara Stone) interrupted the isolation and dehumanization process of her mother and did so openly and notoriously. As has been disclosed on numerous blogs once a human trafficking victim falls under the control of the ELDER CLEANSERS that individual has to be stabilized. To obtain maximum HEALTH CARE DOLLARS and the greatest Medicare payment the most efficient warehousing technique is the goal. Opioids are routinely employed to induce a ‘zombie’ effect, but while these chemicals are performing their function i is necessary to address nutrition and delivery of services.
Routinely therefore the opioid serviced individual is fitted with a feeding tube and a Cather so that bodily functions do not require too much human attention. Thus, nutrition and excretion require minimum costs are substantially reduced and other services also reduced to their lowest common denominator. For instance, physical therapy does not require a technician – wheeling the elderly person into the hallway meets the criteria and a hours PT can be billed to Medicare at full rates. The cost to the facility is nominal.
Barbara Stone, interrupted the orientation of her mother. She without warning and permission removed her mother from the feeding tube routine and demonstrated the falsity of the medical authorizations for the same. She took her mother out to a restaurant and enjoyed a meal with her. The entire orientation process approved by the Court was demonstrated to be FRAUDULENT and by her action Barbara Stone jeopardized the economic prospects of the Judge, the guardian and other members of the Political elite. The entire guardianship for profit scenario was placed in jeopardy!
This aforesaid act by Barbara Stone was so reprehensible that the Judge was duty bound to extract the most harsh penalties against Stone and make an example of her so that such travesties would not occur in the future. Ms. Stone resisted and worse yet formed alliances with the some of the most radical individuals – these individuals lost all sense of proportion – some demanded HONEST INVESTIGATIONS and one of said individuals exposed on her blog (MaryGSykes) judicial corruption.
As I personally am one of the miscreants who objects to the HUMAN TRAFFICKING in the Elderly by those who prosecute Barbara Stone and other who object, Governor Scott, President Trump I as a member of the great unwashed demand an HONEST INVESTIGATION and the restoration of the Equal Protect of the Law to all citizens including the elderly and the disabled.
It turns out there is absolutely no evidence, no clinical study that a feeding tube and catheter is better than feeding a patient who so desires, any food they want. (see prior blog post on this). But it is routine in nursing homes to plunk down a tray and pick it up 15 minutes later. Joy Ketelhut, in observing the feeding of her mother at Warren Barr Nursing Facility in downtown Chicago, noted one day she was late to feed her mother. So she asked one of the nurses there about her mother’s meal and why wasn’t she being fed? The answer, a huge lie, “oh she ate earlier”–but then she found her meal on the cart, untouched with her name on it.
Every years thousands of elders in nursing homes are admitted to hospitals due to malnourishment and dehydration, my nursing friends tell me. Sometimes it’s on purpose because the hospital needs to fill beds. If a nurse complains or files a complaint, they are fired on the spot and blackballed. No one ever investigates the malnourishment and dehydration of an elder in a nursing home.
Similarly, I am told they often die. Funeral directors must fill out a “condition of the body” report. These reports are filed and no one does anything with them, I am told by funeral directors.
No one cares about the elderly and disabled, if it weren’t for the blogs.
The sad part is, the ARDC is fighting this blog. See my prior post where they claim this blog is a lie, I make judges and attorneys cry when I call them on the carpet for perfidy and mendacity in the probate courtroom.
This is not my job. I’d love to return to engineering and patents and all that fun stuff, but I will not and cannot when there are seniors and disableds at risk and attorneys at the ARDC like Larkin, Opryszek and Smart patently allow our elders and the disableds to be abused.
Barbara Stone is a heroine. She showed how her mother did not need a feeding tube.
She took her mom out for shopping and a meal and the two were happy.
But this interfered with the state’s plan to medicate, isolate and then terminate her for her money. Go look at the Stone dockets I recently posted. It’s all about the money. All the money items are sealed. Reported the brother stole some $600k from Mom, and I see that’s not resolved either, tho it was years ago.
Barbara Stone must be immediately released and Roy Lustig and the crooked judges who put her there should be disbarred and removed from office.
I just found this on the internet. I had heard about it, but didn’t find anyone publishing it yet–I know I would. To the ARDC, you can run, but you cannot hide. Someone will rat your out. When the ship is sinking, the rats sing.
I gotta tell you I am proud that they did so many many pages on me. A nobody blogger, no money, mother of 4, I live on donations, up against a $17 million enterprise and they are CLEARLY AFRAID OF THIS BLOG.
Recently Lawyer and Activist Barbara Stone was told she could avoid 30 months in prison by giving up her “blogging co conspirators”. Too funny. I am told she said “shove it” and “bring it on”.
Me too ARDC. the Sykes Case has not been investigated. Judge in probate have not been disbarred or even investigated. $3 MILLION IS MISSING AND UNACCOUNTED FOR IN THE MARY G SYKES ESTATE and you publish this nonsense and waste tax payer/attorney money on this crap you call CLE. I note you don’t mention the fact you have not investigated the Sykes case, you quashed all discovery and so did the Judges in the Sykes case and you don’t mention $3 million in assets MINIMUM are missing from all inventories filed.
Not so Smart, isn’t that?
Shame on you.
Go get some ethics yourself.
I am not giving into your lack of moral compass and neither is Barbara Stone, Kenneth Ditkowsky or Lanre Amu.
You want to make us martyrs and put our heads on poles in front of your offices, go right ahead. Us bloggers of truth and justice are here and we are NOT going away.
You can jail us, take away our licenses, malign us in your fake CLE on (lack of) ethics and we don’t care.
You can’t buy us off or bury us, so why not take the safe harbor and relicense us and admit you were wrong. I am demanding your apology for the 100th time. And then go investigate the Sykes case. I will be glad to help you and draft those subpoenas. In fact, I’ll do it again on this blog for you. Just file them, please.
Sooo many people are begging you and imploring to investigate corrupt probate cases where people are MURDERED and their estates looted by judges, attorneys and court room vendors and you do NOTHING but send out form letters telling the bereaved widows and orphans to get f’ing lost.
Go look here to see what the ARDC is so afraid of: (pages 47+)
And btw, you DONT’ have my permission to use my image, my blog or anything for you alleged “training session.” All of that is copyrighted. And you have now absconded with my image rights. (As for my home address, which you pretended to censor, I don’t care, it’s 5700 N Natoma Ave in Chicago. Everyone loves me there).
And here’s a rule for you: you’re all a bunch of shameless liars, thugs and goons. Go FORGET yourselves. And you can quote me on this ENTIRE POST with a date in your CLE. Why do I have to require a date? because I don’t know if you have changed my text, you have no morals or shame about what you do to MURDER and KILL and COVER UP.
I have absolutely no need to get a license or get back a license from a bunch of shameless psychopathic goons and thugs. I’d rater slit my own throat.
15 elders died in an abusive nursing home in Hollywood Fla. I bet plenty of those patients at that nursing home were in guardianships and forced to live in that slum and ghetto for the elderly. That’s the type of housing the ARDC protects for senior citizens. They allow judges and attorneys to force disabled persons into nursing homes, loot their etates and then narcotize them in the end. They write horrid letters to victims’ families that they don’t care. (Sykes, Gore, Drabik, Brouckmeersch, Frake, and many others–all abused in nursing homes and murdered there, ARDC complaints all dismissed–complaints on this blog never investigated)
244 Fifth Avenue # B 296 New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212.994.5482 Fax: 212.994.5481
Chief Justice Jorge Labarga; Justice Barbara J. Pariente; Justice R. Fred Lewis; Justice Peggy A. Quince; Justice Charles T. Canady; Justice Ricky Polston; Justice James E.C. Perry
Florida Supreme Court 500 South Duval Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1925
Re: Attorney Whistleblower of Corrupt and Criminal Activity of Judges, Prosecutors and Attorneys that are all Members of the Florida Bar, Retaliation by The Florida Bar against Whistleblower Member of the Florida Bar and the need for whistleblower protection
Dear Chief Justice Labarga and Judge Pariente, Judge Lewis, Judge Quince, Judge Canady, Judge Polston and Judge Perry:
As a Florida Bar member, I am mandated under Rule 4-8.3 to report misconduct by attorneys and judges. Under the Jud icial Canons 3, Judges have the same duty and obligation.
With this letter, upon information and bel ief, I am summarizing the vicious retal iation to which 1, as a Member of the Florida Bar have been subjected as a resu lt of my acting as a whistleblower and exposing the rampant corruption in the probate I guardianship enterprise in the court of Michael Genden and the horrific abuse, terror and torture to which he and the highly corrupt “guard ian” enterprise he has installed to humanly owned my mother.
The attached letter documents the crimes perpetrated against my mother by Michael Genden, ajudge in the probate comt in the 1 1•h Circuit and member of the Florida Bar and Roy Lustig, an apparent criminal disguised as an attorney and other Judges and attorneys who are Members of the Florida Bar who hold my mother hostage and subject her to unimaginable cruelty and crimes against humanity to stop me and retaliate against my mother and against me, a mandated reporter of wrongdoing as an attorney and a member of the Florida Bar from reporting and exposing the heinous criminal activities and racketeering ring engaged in human trafficking, money laundering, wire and mail fraud, extorting the assets and personal property of elderly adults who are being preyed upon by this criminal enterprise that operates out of the courthouse under the guise of “guardianship.”
Media from all over the country are exposing this criminal guardian racket including Susannah Frame, Chief Investigative Reporter at King TV and Janet Christensen Obrien who flew in from Seattle to make a prominent film that received a prestigious IMDb ranking documenting my mother’s story and others.
I am a whistleblower to the criminal and racketeer activity by Michael Genden, Roy Lustig and other judges and attorneys who are members of the Florida Bar. Michael Genden is an accomplice to repeated attempts to premeditatively murder my mother by drugging her into a stupor with chemical restraints that carry black box warnings, isolating her by illegal court “edicts” denying me my right to the court and covering u p the fraud, perjury, extortion and felony crimes of Roy Lustig, Jacqueline Hertz, Blaire Lapides and Alan Stone, each who are guilty of felony crimes as set forth in the attached letter.
This will seek whistleblower protection for me and on behalf of my mother and her emergency admission to the hospital as she is in grave danger. I fear for my safety and the safety and life of my mother.
And if you think that Illinois is any better, all of lawyers Kenneth Ditkowsky and Lanre and myself were suspended for long periods (3 to 4 years) for reporting corruption to the Judicial Inquiry Board of Illinois and the Illinois ARDC wherein they shot the messenger! That’s right, in Illinois, a lawyer cannot complain about corruption, run a corruption blog or they risk facing a trial where (no kidding) and ARDC lawyer named Melissa Smart will claim that a corruption blog is like yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.
I am not making this stuff up.
I submit it is only possible if the theater is filled with crooked cops, judges and lawyers, but apparently Melissa Smart is saying that’s what we have a plethora of in Illinois.
I have many times said the U.S. prisons are packed with innocents. Here’s proof.
○ When a real estate attorney discovered her mom was rapidly deteriorating due to neglect at a nursing home, she took her mom out for a meal at Denny’s (where she was arrested) because a prior court order stated her mom HAD TO stay in the nursing home.
Barbara’s saga began in 2013, when, alarmed at the condition of her mother in a facility into which she had been remanded by her court-appointed guardian, Jacqueline Hertz, Barbara took Helen out of the facility and to lunch at a nearby Denny’s. Barbara was then arrested and charged with a multitude of crimes, including custody interference, elder abuse and kidnapping.
Barbara, who was a real estate attorney in New York, had no prior criminal history before she took her Mom to lunch and has accumulated over 500 in-jail days since the “Denny’s debacle.”
SO GET THIS: They let crack heads, car thieves and murdering illegals run amok, and jail a real estate attorney for taking her mom to Denny’s just because a court said she had to stay in a particular nursing home and never leave.
I have said numerous times here that a majority of the people in America’s prisons are highly productive law abiding people that are in there for the sole purpose of feeding work into the prison labor system. They don’t want anyone who is actually worthy of jail in jail because that dilutes down the quality of the prison labor force. So the cities are cesspools and illegals run amok, getting acquitted after they shoot and kill people on a pier or wherever else.
THE PUNCH LINE
WHAT I SAID ABOVE IS TRUE:
This woman has gone on to blog against nursing home abuses, and is part of a group of bloggers that are trying to change the corrupt situation of abuse in nursing homes, AND SHE WAS TOLD SHE’D WALK COMPLETELY FREE RATHER THAN FACE THREE ADDITIONAL YEARS IN PRISON IF SHE GAVE UP THE NAMES OF THE OTHER BLOGGERS, SO THEY COULD BE JAILED FOR ONLY TRYING TO STOP THE CORRUPTION IN THE NURSING HOMES BY POSTING ABOUT IT TO THE INTERNET
Speaking from Florida, Dr. Sam Sugar, who is the head of Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianships, a grassroots advocacy group, had this to say about the recent actions in Barbara’s case:
○ The reports that a defendant in a criminal pleading was offered a reduction in sentence in return for unmasking the identities of Americans exercising their First Amendment Rights online with comments about abusive guardianship courts are a chilling reminder that the Gestapo tactics of Nazi Germany have found a new home in Miami Dade courts – the real secret society!
HERE IS SPECIFICALLY WHAT THIS WOMAN WAS BLOGGING AGAINST:
The nursing homes have become an industry which seizes the assets of the people who are put in them, (houses and whatever else). They then liquidate those assets, and price their care at astronomically high levels, until the total value of the assets is used up. Once they are used up, they then cause the death of the people they are supposed to care for.
Her mom’s assets ran out, and they were trying to kill her with neglect. So she took her mom to eat elsewhere, and because the court ordered that the nursing home now owned her mom, the police went to Denny’s and threw her in prison. She has now lost everything, including her career as a real estate attorney.
And that, dear folks, is precisely why America has the world’s highest prison population, all the while the real thugs continue to rape rob and murder unabated. They’ll throw a real estate attorney in jail for protecting her mom, and let an illegal who shot and killed a woman on a San Francisco pier be totally acquitted and walk free. There is no question that the real motiviation for this is to feed high quality people into a prison labor system, which happens to be the largest prison labor system in the world. THAT IS EXACTLY HOW THEY GET THE PRECISION GUIDED BOMBS, DRONES, AND CRUISE MISSILES MADE BY QUALIFIED PEOPLE. Those are mostly made by a prison work force. That’s f^**ed UP.
Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing, and BAE Systems all use prison labor to manufacture military equipment. Prisoners are often forced to labor under sweatshop style conditions, and when they are paid they often receive meager wages like 23 cents an hour.
They are jailing high quality people on the most spurious of charges and using them to manufacture high tech weapons. Maybe that’s why all the software companies had to hire people from India – too many of America’s white male engineers were stuffing the prison labor system on horse shit charges usually related to the family court system. That way, the people who are seeking to destroy the United States can wipe out families and the best of people in ONE WHACK – at the same time they get the weapons built which they intend to destroy much of the rest of the world with. And they get that done via virtually free skilled labor. A WIN WIN WIN for disgusting low life tyranny.
Just about every other docket entry (other than Barbara Stone complaining about how her mother is being abused in probate) is about Atty Roy Lustig and his cash cow firm getting paid. AND MANY OF THE ENTRIES ARE SEALED.
Now you all know from this blog, the courts are supposed to be open and democratic, nothing is supposed to be sealed unless it is of the utmost dire urgency. Not even state secrets can be sealed more than a few days after being declared a state secret well, because, that’s just old news someone’s got someplace on the internet.
More important, where is the constitutional requirement that every document be examined and there be a hearing and findings of fact and conclusions of law placed on record as to why the document was sealed and that must be public information on file with the clerk of court. WHERE THE F IS THAT?
So the real question is, why are attorney fee petitions and fees granted illegally and unconstitutionally sealed in Miami Dade?
Because the judge is corrupt, the attorney is corrupt and both need to be disbarred, that’s why.
Both put Helen Stone in an abusive situation where she ended up with malnutrition, dehydradation, lacerations, contusions and broken bones and multiple infections in ICU for THREE WEEKS. NONE OF THEM WENT TO JAIL FOR THAT–JUDGE GENDEN, ATTY LUSTIG GUARDIAN BLAIR LAPIDES OR THE 2 HATIAN CAREGIVERS–BUT THEY SHOULD HAVE.
Meanwhile, Barbara Stone is rotting in jail for crimes she did not commit.
please cut and paste the below and write all these authorities
To the above Miami Dade Officials:
It is my understanding that a trial was recently held in Miami Dade wherein a Ms. Barbara Stone, attorney activist for the poor, elderly and disabled, was held in contempt of court for a wide variety of non cirminal activites.
This is to advise you that any criminal prosecution of her is wrongful and detrimental to the health, welfare and safety of the disabled persons and senior citizens of Miami Dade and across the nation. Barbara is a tireless advocate for all of them, many of whom have been targeted for abusive guardianships, much like Helen Stone, where seniors and the disabled are targeted, isolated, chemically and physically restrained for months on end, forced to have abusive, dangerous caretakers or forced in to dangerous abuse nursing homes (nursing homes are nothing but slums and ghettos for the elderly/disabled and must be abolished).
Helen Stone’s case is typical. While Barbara initiated a guardianship proceeding, little did she know how hopelessly abusive they are. Barbara frequently visited her mother in Miami for weeks at a time every month or so. She had Mother Helen set up in condo where she could work out at a nearby health club, grocery shop and socialize. At the beginning, Mother Helen was in relatively good health and ambulatory and rarely sick. Then the court appointed an abusive guardian who hired 2 Hatian caregivers who barely spoke English. By court order, Barbara was moved out of the home and the 2 abusive caretakers moved in where they ate all the food, drank everything, and in 2 or 3 months Mother Helen was admitted to the ICU with the following: severe dehydration, malnutrition, contusions, lacerations, broken bones and infections. The States attorneys offices and FBI were immediately alerted by Helen and they did nothing. Immediately upon release, Mother Helen was returned to the same abusive situation with the same abusive caregivers and guardian by Judge Michael Gender and Attorney Roy Lustig (who should be imprisoned and disbarred for crimes against humanity and the violations of both Helen and Barbara’s civil and human rights). The probate court then proceeded to put Mother Helen in a string of nursing homes where she did not want to be, she wanted to be back at her condo with her daughter Barbara.
In the end, these seniors are typically murdered by narcotizing them to death and then quickly cremating them to destory all evidence.
Barbara is innocent of all crimes. She needs to be immediately released and treated as the heroine she truly is.
Please advise me of anyone else I can contact to quickly get this matter resolved. I would like all the emails and fax numbers for all judges and attorneys involved.
They need to be disbarred and indicted.
So far I have: Judge Tim Baily, Judge Jorge Labarga, Michael Genden, and attorneys Roy Lustig
Please advise me of whatever contact information you have and I will post. They all need to be removed IMMEDIATELY
Send her this email or a similar email demanding the immediate release of Barbara Stone under the First Amendment.
She has done nothing wrong.
I am writing to you to demand the immediate release of Lawyer Barbara Stone. Her mother was taken from her in an abusive guardianship. During this proceeding, where Judge Michael Genden and Attorney Roy Lustig tried to murder both Helen Stone and Barbara Stone, Mother Helen Stone actually spent 3 weeks in the ICU for malnutrition, dehydration, numerous infections, lacerations and contusions. After she was released she we returned to her abusers by both Lustig and Genden. I and the readers of my blog are demanding the immediate release of Barbara Stone and that Genden be removed as Judge and Roy Lustig be disbarred for his crimes against Helen Stone, violations of her civil and human rights and those of Lawyer Barbara Stone. Lawyer Barbara Stone is an attorney activist and heroine of every probate victim across the nation. Thank you. You can see how there are numerous blogs about corruption in guardianship These are very popular blogs: http://www.marygsykes.com, probatesharks.com, http://www.aaapg.com, and the nasga blog.
“Chicago FBI Civil Rights” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Fax to Director Wifredo Ferrer US DOJ Miami FBI” <email@example.com>, “George Piro Miami FBI” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Wilfredo Ferrer US DOJ Miami FBI” <email@example.com>, “ADA complaints USDOJ.gov FBI” <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
I believe the White House has shut down the human rights and civil rights emails to the FBI, so if you know of others, please email me and I will post.
Another evil judge to remove is Jorge LeBarga, I don’t have contact info for him yet
Judge Tim Baily was brought in from Broward County and is the Presiding Judge there. He was brought in because Barbara apparently (and rightfully) has ticked off far too many of the Dade County Judges due to her vigorous advocacy of the abused elderly they just wanted to sweep under the carpet (poor babies–go buy a spine and do your jobs!)
I am waiting to hear from Barb’s Rabbi, Ed Farber as to getting his congregation and the local synagogues to write letters of support for this brave heroine of the elderly.
Pray for her and her Mother.
Now that her mother has passed, I pray she starts up all her blogs again. What these people do is only worthy of a prized child of Satan.
Today I talked with RS and EB and they informed me that guardianship activist Barbara Stone has been taken into custody and is at the Miami Date Metro Lock up for a probation violation. This is BS, she is an innocent woman.
this woman is a saint and has spent countless hours on the phone helping gship and disabled persons and their families when faced with the highly corrupt Miami Dade court system–a system where prosecutors openly run to the judge’s chambers and twitter ex parte over a criminal defendant. You can’t possibly get more corrupt than that.
As you may recall, Barbara Stone was an attorney (her licensed was ripped away for blogging honestly and revealing massive corruption in Miami Dade, Fla.). She worked tirelessly and had to endure the heartbreak as a guardianship was filed (she requested it, little did she know how abusive these were in Fla), then she was told she could not stay any longer at her mom’s house and visit with her (Barbara had arranged a condo for her mom to live in where she could easily grocery shop, go to the health club, socialize). It was a 3 bedroom condo. What the abusive guardian and Judge Michael Genden did was move Barbara out, move in 2 Haitian caregivers who barely spoke English into the 2 other bedrooms, they ate all the food, and after 2 or 3 months, Mother Helen Stone was found malnourished, dehydrated, with massive infections, lacerations, contusions and even broken bones. Mother Helen then spent 3 weeks in ICU. What did Judge Genden do about this? Return Mother Helen to the abusive caregivers and guardian until she was again hospitalized for the same (malnutrition and dehydration) then she was put into a series of nursing homes, places where she never wanted to be.
Next, at the first nursing home, Barbara is granted visitation. But Mother Helen is on a feeding tube and diaper. No matter, Barbara puts her in a wheel chair and they proceed to Dennys to get a burger and forget about the feeding tube. Mother Helen is estatic because she is always hungry. No one has fed her enough in months. She has no problem eating and chewing up happily a burger and she loves the shake.
Then they go shopping and check into a hotel for a nap. Next thing you know, police are at the door charging Barbara with kidnapping and interfering with the care and custody of an elder. WTF is that?
Barbara then creates numerous blogs and petitions online to expose the perfidy of Judge Michael Genden and Atty Roy Lustig (who is in on the gship scams) and next thing you know, Barbara is hung out to dry.
This was a couple of years ago. I understand Helen has now passed, bless her soul, she loved Barbara very much, and Brabara was and is devoted to justice for her mom.
I am told at the trial, her PD did not put on any favorable character witnesses. But Judge Genden and Roy Lustig showed up with blood on their fangs, ready to protect their precious cash cow–abusive guardianships where people are forced into nursing homes, psychotropic drugs and restraints, a feeding tube at one end and a diaper at the other and when the money runs out, the elder is narcotized to death while food and water is with held. Then a quick cremation.
Barbara did nothing wrong, nothing criminal. Soon as I can, I will get the emails of people to write to and demand justice for Barbara.
Judge Michael Genden needs to be removed.
Attorney Roy Lustig needs to be disbarred for his role in all of this.
Please pray for Barbara as she languishes in jail for crimes she did not commit.
Are legislators really concerned about the (lack of) ethics of Family Law lawyers? Maybe. Are legislators concerned about the ARDC’s (Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission) failure to investigate? Probably not.
Attached is a letter from the then House Judiciary Committee to the ARDC regarding their concerns. It is signed by EVERY member of the Judiciary Committee.
Yet, what has the ARDC done? Nothing. They just ignored it. Why? Because Family Law is the biggest revenue generator for attorneys: so no one wants to touch it, even if there is a “call” to look into it.
I know, some can argue that this letter is concerning GALs and Child Reps. True, but what are GALs and Child Reps? They are lawyers selected from Family Law Attorneys. (I have a lot to say about GALs and the GAL program, but that would take another several weeks of emails to get out that I will save that for the time we reintroduce legislation regarding these low-lifes.)
During the time of this letter, what else happened? Nothing, except the members of the Judiciary Committee feigned concern before the Advocates while they give a wink and nudge to fellow attorneys knowing that nothing would happen. At least we have this letter to waive around when we are challenged as disgruntled people who are attacking those hard-working attorneys.
So, if you are in a position where you have to speak negatively of attorneys, waive the letter and let them know that EVERY member of the Judiciary Committee signed this letter, and yet, nothing has changed regarding investigation of the practice of Family Law.
Hopefully, with 50/50, we will see a drop in GALs. When/if we reintroducing legislation regarding GALs, you’ll be hearing a lot more on the subject.
From: An Illinois Lawyer. Name withheld upon request.
The DT administration — reversing guidelines put in place under President Barack Obama — is scaling back the use of fines against nursing homes that harm residents or place them in grave risk of injury.
The shift in the Medicare program’s penalty protocols was requested by the nursing home industry. The American Health Care Association, the industry’s main trade group, has complained that under Obama inspectors focused excessively on catching wrongdoing rather than helping nursing homes improve.
“It is critical that we have relief,” Mark Parkinson, the group’s president, wrote in a letter to then-President-elect Donald Trump in December 2016.
Since 2013, nearly 6,500 nursing homes — 4 of every 10 — have been cited at least once for a serious violation, federal records show. Medicare has fined two-thirds of those homes. Common citations include failing to protect residents from avoidable accidents, neglect, mistreatment and bedsores.
The new guidelines discourage regulators from levying fines in some situations, even when they have resulted in a resident’s death. The guidelines will also probably result in lower fines for many facilities.
The change in policy aligns with DT’s promise to reduce bureaucracy, regulation and government intervention in business.
Dr. Kate Goodrich, director of clinical standards and quality at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), said in a statement that unnecessary regulation was the main concern that health care providers raised with officials.
“Rather than spending quality time with their patients, the providers are spending time complying with regulations that get in the way of caring for their patients and doesn’t increase the quality of care they provide,” Goodrich said.
But advocates for nursing-home residents say the revised penalties are weakening a valuable patient-safety tool.
“They’ve pretty much emasculated enforcement, which was already weak,” said Toby Edelman, a senior attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy.
Medicare has different ways of applying penalties. It can impose a specific fine for a particular violation. It can assess a fine for each day that a nursing home was in violation. Or it can deny payments for new admissions.
The average fine in recent years has been $33,453, but 531 nursing homes amassed combined federal fines above $100,000, records show. In 2016, Congress increased the fines to factor in several years of inflation that had not been accounted for previously.
The new rules have been instituted gradually throughout the year.
In October, CMS discouraged its regional offices from levying fines, even in the most serious health violations, if the error was a “one-time mistake.” The centers said that intentional disregard for residents’ health and safety or systemic errors should still merit fines.
A July memo from CMS discouraged the directors of state agencies that survey nursing homes from issuing daily fines for violations that began before an inspection, favoring one-time fines instead. Daily fines remain the recommended approach for major violations discovered during an inspection.
Dr. David Gifford, the American Health Care Association’s senior vice president for quality, said daily fines were intended to prompt quick remedies but were pointless when applied to past errors that had already been fixed by the time inspectors discovered them.
“What was happening is you were seeing massive fines accumulating because they were applying them on a per-day basis retrospectively,” Gifford said.
But the change means that some nursing homes could be sheltered from fines above the maximum per-instance fine of $20,965, even for egregious mistakes.
In September 2016, for instance, health inspectors faulted Lincoln Manor, a nursing home in Decatur, Ill., for failing to monitor and treat the wound of a patient whose implanted pain-medication pump gradually slipped over eight days through a ruptured suture and protruded from her abdomen. The patient died.
CMS fined Lincoln Manor $282,954, including $10,091 a day for 28 days, from the time the nursing home noticed the problem with the wound until supervisors had retrained nurses to avoid similar errors. An administrative law judge called the penalties “quite modest” given the “appalling” care.
The fines were issued before the new guidelines took effect; if the agency had issued a one-time fine, the maximum would have been less than $21,000.
Lincoln Manor closed in September. Its owner could not be reached for comment, and his lawyer did not respond to an interview request.
Advocates for nursing home residents say that relaxing penalties threatens to undo progress at deterring wrongdoing. Janet Wells, a consultant for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said the changes come as “some egregious violations and injuries to residents are being penalized — finally — at a level that gets the industry’s attention and isn’t just the cost of doing business.”
In November, the DT administration exempted nursing homes that violate eight new safety rules from penalties for 18 months. Homes must still follow the rules, which are intended, among other things, to reduce the overuse of psychotropic drugs and to ensure that every home has adequate resources to assist residents with major psychological problems.
Rodney Whitlock, a health policy consultant and former Republican Senate staffer, said health inspectors “are out there looking for opportunities to show that the nursing homes are not living up to some extremely tight standards.” He said while the motivation for tough regulation was understandable, “the fines don’t make it easier to hire people and doesn’t make it easier to stay in business.”
In June, CMS rescinded another Obama administration action that banned nursing homes from pre-emptively requiring residents to submit to arbitration to settle disputes rather than going to court.
“We publish nearly 11,000 pages of regulation every year,” the agency’s administrator, Seema Verma, said in a speech in October. That paperwork is “taking doctors away from what matters most: patients.”
Janine Finck-Boyle, director of health regulations and policy at LeadingAge, a group of nonprofit nursing homes and other entities that care for older people, said the group’s members had been struggling to cope with regulations.
“If you’re a 50-bed rural facility out West or in the Dakotas,” she said, “you don’t have the resources to get everything done from A to Z.”
I think we all know the answer to that is a resounding “no”. The use of chemical and physical restraints, the smell, bed and chair alarms, never seeing the light of day again, bad unhealthy food, no exercise or fresh air, all the residents are done for.
Part 3: California falls short in disclosing nursing-home ownership
BY MARJIE LUNDSTROM AND PHILLIP REESE
NOVEMBER 10, 2014 10:00 AM
UPDATED NOVEMBER 12, 2014 01:15 PM
Last of three parts.
Ten years ago, Pat McGinnis took the state of California to court.
As head of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, McGinnis was peeved that state officials failed to follow the law and collect complete and accurate nursing-home ownership information. What the state did collect, her group charged, was “often outdated and so poorly organized” it was virtually inaccessible to the public.
The advocacy group won its lawsuit, but the fight was not remotely over.
Today, McGinnis’ group is back in court with a new complaint about how the Department of Public Health is overseeing the complex, multilayered nursing-home industry in California. And she is spitting mad over what she calls the department’s “contempt” in keeping its promises to ferret out and fully disclose the identities of California’s nursing-home owners.
“The state doesn’t know who the hell owns nursing homes,” said McGinnis, CANHR’s executive director.
“They haven’t done diddly-squat.”
The lawsuits, along with tense legislative hearings this year and harsh reports, reflect a growing discontent with how the state regulates nursing homes.
California has more nursing homes than any other state, and one of the country’s highest percentages of facilities owned by for-profit interests. Yet, as more private investment groups acquire skilled-nursing facilities, and ownership structures grow ever more layered and complex, the department has not kept pace with industry changes to help consumers evaluate chains – or even to identify the principals behind them.
The state says it does assemble ownership information turned over by companies, and that the law requires owners to report any changes. A spokesman for the Department of Public Health acknowledged that this detailed ownership information is not included on the public website, but said it is available upon request.
The convoluted nature of nursing-home ownership – often a tangle of interrelated limited liability companies and partnerships – has confounded other state agencies charged with oversight.
The Department of Health Care Services, for instance, which audits all nursing homes that receive Medi-Cal money, recently stated in court documents that auditors had never seen a complete list of facilities owned by the state’s largest nursing-home owner, Shlomo Rechnitz of Los Angeles, until March of this year.
The federal government also has stumbled in its efforts to increase nursing-home transparency, though officials recently announced changes to help consumers find quality care.
At the heart of the issue is a problem Charlene Harrington, an academic researcher and registered nurse, has been hammering on for years: getting regulators to monitor the performance of nursing-home chains – not just individual homes.
“They need to be focusing at the chain level,” said Harrington, professor emerita of sociology and nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, who has researched the nursing-home industry for more than three decades.
“These (facilities) are micromanaged at the chain level,” she said. “The problems usually exist throughout the chain.”
Data still incomplete
In California, the complex ownership structures of many nursing-home companies – and the resulting lack of transparency for consumers – is a matter state lawmakers resolved years ago.
Or so they thought.
In 1997, the Legislature began requiring the Department of Health Services (now the Department of Public Health) to collect “accurate and up-to-date” ownership information on nursing homes, and to make it readily available to the public.
Fed up by a lack of progress, McGinnis’ San Francisco-based advocacy group took the state to court in 2004 and forced officials to sign an agreement two years later saying they would follow the law. Among many things, the department agreed to list the names and addresses of each person having a beneficial ownership interest of 5 percent or more. And, the state agreed to provide the names and addresses of parent organizations, if the nursing home was a subsidiary.
A decade later, the department’s online “Health Facilities Consumer Information System,” which allows viewers to look up individual nursing homes, falls short of these requirements. The listed data remain incomplete and frequently misleading.
In entry after entry, the confusing nature of many nursing-home organizations plays out on the state’s website. The names of many well-known parent companies are missing from the site, and there is no attempt to catalog identities of owners with more than a 5 percent stake. Some of the state’s largest nursing-home chains – including Plum Healthcare and Mariner Health Care Management Co. – are nowhere to be found in the public database.
For instance, a consumer trying to research the Sea Cliff Healthcare Center in Huntington Beach would see on the state’s website that the licensee is HB Healthcare Associates LLC.
What the consumer wouldn’t learn is that the facility’s parent company is The Ensign Group Inc., a publicly traded national chain based in Mission Viejo. In a highly publicized case, the corporation agreed last year to pay $48 million to the federal government to resolve allegations that six of its Southern California facilities had knowingly submitted inflated Medicare bills for therapy services that were medically unnecessary or never provided. The company denied wrongdoing in the case.
Want to know more about Saylor Lane Healthcare Center in Sacramento? According to the state’s website, the licensee of that Folsom Boulevard nursing home is S.L.H.C.C. Inc., a for-profit corporation. What the site doesn’t tell you is that Saylor Lane and five other nursing homes in the Sacramento region are owned by John Lund, a Montecito businessman charged in 2008 with 18 felony counts of defrauding Medi-Cal, filing false cost reports and perjury.
According to the state attorney general’s office, Lund tried to get Medi-Cal to pay for family vacations in Hawaii and Colorado, season tickets to the Sacramento Kings, tennis lessons for his children and construction and remodeling costs at homes in Granite Bay, Santa Barbara and Montecito. In 2011, Lund agreed to plead guilty to one misdemeanor count of failing to file tax returns in exchange for the state dropping all felony counts. Court records dated January 2012 show he completed his community service requirement.
In some cases, there are outright omissions in the state’s database. McGinnis recently typed in Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation on 19th Street in San Francisco, then scrolled down to the section titled “ownership information.” The entry read: “None found.”
The Bee determined that the “ownership information” section often names a facility’s property owner, who may not have any ownership interest in the actual nursing-home operation.
“Every single step the department has made in terms of disclosure of ownership information has not only been against the law – but also against the settlement agreement,” McGinnis said. “We’re discussing our next steps to get the department to comply with the law.”
In Los Angeles, Molly Davies, the head of a countywide nonprofit ombudsman program, said that she and her staff had to resort to basic Google searches and Corporation Wiki charts to track a large owner in her region whose homes had been the target of complaints.
Davies is vice president of the WISE and Healthy Aging program, which attempts to resolve consumer complaints involving long-term care facilities. It was not until fairly recently that the Department of Public Health supplied her office with a detailed list of that owner’s facilities and his maze of interrelated companies, Davies said.
“It’s very difficult to hold someone accountable when you don’t know who to hold accountable,” Davies said.
‘An enormous loophole’
In its new lawsuit against the state, McGinnis’ group alleges that the Department of Public Health fails to dig deeply enough into the ownership structures and “permits and even encourages large skilled-nursing chains to create multiple levels of ownership and control.”
The suit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, contends that the department is not adequately investigating ownership groups before proposed sales and acquisitions, as required by law. The lawsuit says the state is investigating ownership structures only at the nursing-home facility level or one ownership level above, thus “creating an enormous loophole for all multilayer nursing-home organizations.”
By limiting the scope of their review, state officials are not fully vetting the individuals “entrusted the care of elderly and disabled individuals,” the suit states.
The case is pending.
The Department of Public Health said it could not comment on pending litigation.
The department responded to The Bee in writing about how it collects nursing-home ownership data. According to an email from spokesman Corey Egel, the department routinely verifies ownership information during surveys and complaint investigations but “must rely on facilities to self-report (ownership) changes.”
Egel acknowledged in the email that the department displays only the licensee and facility information on its public website, omitting specific ownership information.
The department keeps the ownership data in an in-house “licensing database,” he said, and will make it available to citizens who file a California Public Records Act request. “… (A)nd under some circumstances the information may be subject to redaction based on mandated confidentiality requirements,” he wrote.
An individual also may visit a district office to view ownership data in the facility’s public file, he said.
McGinnis said she is outraged that the department requires a Public Records Act request before releasing ownership information from its database.
“That’s public information,” she said. “It’s under the law that it has to be available to the public. They are completely wrong.”
Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, outgoing chair of the Aging and Long-Term Care Committee, said that lawmakers must continue to press for transparency and accountability within the nursing-home industry. Yamada helped lead a joint oversight hearing in January to examine allegations that complaints of abuse and misconduct were piling up at the department, and that investigations were being opened and closed haphazardly.
“This is a multibillion-dollar private industry that is drawing down public dollars,” said Yamada, who is completing her final term in the Assembly. “There shouldn’t be anything proprietary.”
Feds cite progress
While statewide ownership information is not available “at this time” through the state’s public website, Egel stated, he did note that California consumers can obtain detailed ownership data for individual facilities from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
But the federal government’s database of nursing homes and their owners is not a one-stop, full-service solution for consumers, either.
Federal lawmakers passed the Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act of 2009, which increased demands on nursing-home operators to report detailed information about their ownership, management and financing structures. The reform package, which became part of the Affordable Care Act, followed congressional hearings in 2007 and 2008 that examined transparency issues and care problems within the industry.
But challenges remain.
The Bee found that ownership data in the updated database were “unavailable” for about 8 percent of the nation’s nursing homes. That number was higher for California, with 12 percent of the ownership data missing.
The cumbersome federal database includes more than 12,000 entries for California alone. Some homes list multiple directors and officers but no owners. Others list more than 20 separate people or organizations as having at least a 5 percent ownership stake in a single home, a mathematically dubious proposition.
Additionally, hundreds of ownership records in the federal database show individual names or a quirky mishmash of licensing companies – not the parent chain that owns each facility. Sometimes Jacob Wintner, who along with business partner Ira Smedra owns one of the state’s largest nursing-home networks, is listed as an owner along with others with the Wintner family name, usually through a licensing company called Win Win Enterprises; sometimes he is listed as an owner along with licensing companies with names such as KF Ontario Healthcare; sometimes he is listed as a “managing employee” or “director” of a home that is licensed to a company in which he is a partner.
Jack Cheevers, spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said his department has made progress on implementing reforms and bolstering its website.
“CMS continues to evaluate the most appropriate way to require reporting of nursing-home ownership information,” Cheevers said.
Last month, the agency tackled a controversial problem with its consumer website.
A hallmark of the federal government’s website is its five-star rating system, created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to help consumers assess the quality of individual facilities and link homes to their owners.
But the rating system has been widely criticized for relying on facilities to self-report some crucial data, such as staffing levels, leaving it vulnerable to skewed or even falsified reporting.
“Garbage in, garbage out,” complained veteran elder-abuse attorney Lesley Ann Clement of Sacramento.
CMS announced in October that it will overhaul the system, including a provision that facilities’ staffing levels be verified through payroll data. The agency also plans to revise its scoring methodology used in determining a facility’s rating.
Harrington, the UCSF nurse who has researched the industry, said she’s pleased the federal government is finally going to collect verifiable staffing information.
But a glaring gap remains, she said.
“They’re still not looking at anything at the chain level,” she said. “Each survey is done at the individual facility level.
“As long as they don’t think that’s important – either the state or the feds – then I don’t think it’s ever going to get taken care of.”
Marti Oakley does a great job in working on proper care for our elderly and disabled–not what they are relegated to now–abusive court proceedings, forced placement in dangerous nursing homes, removal from their own home, sale of all assets which go to nursing homes, lawyers and court room vendors and “evaluators”.
This must end.
Getting the word out can shut down the nursing home racket and keep people in their homes or the homes of loved ones until they are ready to transition.
Open Mic Night
Join Marti Oakley, Luanne Fleming, Robin Austin……and whoever else wants to join in!!
Join us this evening as we discuss the growing genocide of the elderly and the disabled. We will also be discussing the use of electric shock not only on the elderly, but also on children and young adults with autism.
Hospitals now employ on-staff guardians to prevent second opinions or to discharge patients when the medicare/medicaid time clock is exhausted. doctors now employed directly by the hospital (hospitalists). These hospitalists are not concerned with patient safety or care. Their primary job is to increase hospital profits.
Children are particularly vulnerable to this system. Valuable for genetic research, they are also the guinea pigs for medical research and experimentation. The elderly are simply viewed as disposable and something that needs to be gotten out of the way.
One nursing home chain operating in California racked up abuse complaints last year at a pace seven times the statewide rate.
A large competitor placed one in every 15 of its long-term residents in restraints.
Still another corporate giant whose nursing homes dominate the Sacramento region experienced high nursing staff turnover at 90 percent of its facilities.
If you’re a consumer anguishing over the placement of a loved one needing full-time nursing, how would you know this?
The short answer: You wouldn’t.
As the population ages, and more families face the daunting task of choosing long-term care, consumers remain largely in the dark about the ownership of many California nursing homes – and their track records.
While industry officials contend they are intensely regulated by both the state and federal government, no single agency routinely evaluates nursing-home chains to gauge the overall care provided by their facilities.
Data are available for individual nursing homes, as federal, state and nonprofit groups keep records that chronicle staffing levels, bedsore rates and use of antipsychotic drugs, among many issues. But in California, the agency charged with overseeing these skilled-nursing facilities, the Department of Public Health, makes no effort to measure quality of care throughout a chain, or determine whether corporate policies and practices are contributing to any patterns.
Some companies doing business in California go to great lengths to create complex business structures, building layers of limited liability companies and partnerships with curious relationships to one another. The tangled corporate webs make it difficult for consumers and government regulators to identify who’s running the operations – and who should be held responsible when things go wrong.
“It’s a huge maze to try and figure out who owns what. And that’s deliberately done.”
– Charlene Harrington, professor emerita of sociology and nursing at the University of California, San Francisco
“It’s a huge maze to try and figure out who owns what,” said Charlene Harrington, professor emerita of sociology and nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, who has spent 35 years researching the nursing-home industry.
“And that’s deliberately done.”
Yet knowing who owns what can be critical for fragile patients seeking long-term care, according to a Sacramento Bee investigation, which analyzed thousands of federal and state records detailing the ownership of the state’s 1,260 nursing homes.
In addition to identifying owners with at least a 5 percent stake in any California-based facility, The Bee also examined government and industry data to determine how the largest owners and their facilities performed on 46 measures, including quality-of-care indicators, staffing, complaints and deficiencies found during inspections. The analysis took into account the federal government’s star-rating system, as well as rankings determined by the nonprofit California HealthCare Foundation. State and federal inspectors logged most of the measures, although nursing homes self-reported patient care and staffing data.
Clear differences emerged among the state’s biggest operators. In the same way that restaurant franchises or department-store chains deliver similar experiences to consumers – for better or worse – The Bee found that some large nursing-home companies also produce systemic results.
Among the findings:
▪ In California, 25 for-profit nursing-home chains control about half of the state’s 120,000 licensed beds. The Bee found 10 of those chains – including the two largest, Plum Healthcare Group and a network owned by Shlomo Rechnitz of Los Angeles – performed below statewide averages last year in more than half of the examined quality-of-care categories, which gauge the incidence of problems such as pressure sores, infections and falls. Twenty of the top 25 chains fell below state averages in at least three out of five staffing measures.
▪ Some large chains have facilities suffering from the same care issues, despite being located hundreds of miles apart. For instance, within Plum Healthcare Group, which operates more nursing homes in the Sacramento region than any other company, 90 percent of the company’s 42 homes statewide last year had higher than average nursing-staff turnover. About 65 percent of the facilities owned by Longwood Management Corp. have higher than average rates of patients in restraints.
▪ Among the 25 largest chains doing business in California, the lowest performing in The Bee’s analysis are EmpRes Healthcare Management LLC and LifeHouse Health Services.Facilities owned by these chains consistently fell below state averages on most measures, and both owners were more likely to log complaints and federal deficiencies than most of their large competitors.
▪ Below-average staffing or high turnover were issues in nine out of 10 of the state’s largest nursing-home chains in 2012, the most recent year staffing data are available. The state’s largest chain, headed by Rechnitz, earned poor or below-average staffing ratings from the nonprofit California HealthCare Foundation in about 80 percent of its 54 homes. Even so, Rechnitz recently was given a federal judge’s blessing to purchase 19 more facilities.
Oversight of California nursing homes, and their owners, has waxed and waned over the years. In 2001 and 2002, under then-Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the state aggressively pursued chains by prosecuting two of the largest nursing home owners: Sun Healthcare Group of Irvine, and the California subsidiary of Beverly Enterprises Inc. In both cases, the state got permanent injunctions requiring that they improve care.
By contrast, the Department of Public Health was hauled before legislative leaders earlier this year amid charges it was dismissing hundreds of nursing-home complaints without adequate investigations. Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, grilled health officials at the hearing and requested an audit of how the department regulates long-term care facilities.
“The state is not doing its job in protecting its most vulnerable residents,” said Carole Herman of the Sacramento-based Foundation Aiding the Elderly, who filed a lawsuit last year against the Department of Public Health charging it failed to promptly investigate nursing-home complaints.
Mark Reagan, legal adviser for the California Association of Health Facilities, the industry’s trade group, disagrees that there is any shortage of government oversight – or that chainwide performance is overlooked.
Reagan’s organization can recite at least 17 local, state and federal entities that oversee some aspect of nursing homes in California, from licensing to funding to food safety to criminal investigation.
“Government regulators do look broadly,” Reagan said, describing how government oversight of the industry has mushroomed over the past 10 to 15 years.
“You have a very robust range of investigative entities that look at every element,” he said.
Government oversight, though, does not necessarily help consumers connect the nursing-home dots. A family wanting to examine chainwide quality patterns faces a herculean task.
The Bee, for instance, spent months untangling federal Medicare and state records to identify owners and assess their facilities’ performance as of the end of 2013. Even then, the findings continued to shift as chains consolidated and transferred ownership of individual homes, and glaring gaps in government data collection became evident.
The reality is, most average consumers – in the midst of a family crisis – are unlikely to slog through voluminous public records and cumbersome statistics when hunting for a nursing home, said several elder-care advocates.
“People make relatively uninformed decisions in a lot of cases,” said Eric Carlson of the National Senior Citizens Law Center.
“That’s not to blame them,” he said. “It’s just the situation in which they find themselves.”
The bottom two
In California, more than 100,000 people live in skilled-nursing facilities, often transitioning from the hospital. Most of them are women, and most are older than 75. They come for a variety of reasons: a broken hip that requires care and rehabilitation; recuperation from serious surgery that needs daily monitoring and pain management; a chronic heart condition that leaves an individual too frail to dress or use the bathroom; the helplessness that comes with the final stages of Alzheimer’s.
From the outside, the facilities look similar: typically beige, low-slung buildings tucked into quiet neighborhoods or perched alongside busy urban thoroughfares, American flags flapping from tall poles.
What happens inside varies dramatically.
Among the top 25 players, two nursing-home chains stand out as the lowest performing in The Bee’s analysis: EmpRes Healthcare Management LLC, based in Vancouver, Wash.; and LifeHouse Health Services, headquartered in Culver City.
Together, the two companies operated 20 homes statewide last year, including 11 in Northern California, and consistently fell below the state average in numerous measures The Bee considered. Over the last 31/2 years, LifeHouse lagged state averages in 40 out of 46 measures, which gauge such critical aspects of care as staffing levels, patient welfare, complaints and deficiencies. EmpRes fell below in 39 of those measures.
Formerly known as Evergreen Healthcare, EmpRes was sold to its employees in 2008 and became one of the country’s first long-term care companies to be 100 percent employee-owned, according to its website. The chain had 11 nursing homes in California last year, the majority in Northern California, including Tracy, Vallejo and Chico.
No one from EmpRes responded to phone calls, a letter and emails from The Bee, directed to the Vancouver home office.
The company faced negative publicity this year following allegations that a 93-year-old woman was sexually assaulted by a certified nurse assistant at Evergreen Arvin Healthcare, a skilled-nursing facility southeast of Bakersfield.
In May, two of the woman’s grandchildren filed a lawsuit against the facility, three associated limited liability companies and 11 company officials, alleging that the elderly woman “died an agonizing and horrible death” last year as a result of her injuries, according to court documents. The lawsuit claims the facility administrator and others knew of accusations that the nurse assistant had sexually assaulted another resident days earlier, but that he was not suspended or disciplined.
“Defendants, and each of them, failed to staff the facility appropriately and allowed a situation to develop where a known sexual predator was on premise(s) in the guise of caring for the residents,” the lawsuit states.
The California Department of Public Health investigated the Arvin facility and issued a $20,000 fine, determining the facility had failed to protect its residents from sexual assault. The facility also was given a Class A citation, a penalty reserved for violations that pose imminent danger to residents.
Within the EmpRes group, The Bee found, the rate of complaints from patients and family members was above the statewide average. The rate of federal deficiencies cited by inspectors related to patient medication also ranked high: Nine of the company’s 11 homes had more deficiencies related to drug administration for each patient bed than the statewide average over the last 31/2 years.
The impact of medication errors on fragile patients can be devastating, as evidenced in records kept by the Department of Public Health.
Earlier this year, an EmpRes nursing home in Oroville was fined $50,000 by the state after failing to give a resident daily antibiotic injections in March 2012, as ordered by her doctor. The patient’s infection worsened and she developed septic shock, dying two days later. “We might have been able to prevent it if she had gotten the first shot,” the physician was quoted as saying in a state report.
The facility, Olive Ridge Post Acute Care, was cited for failing to protect residents from serious medication errors and was issued an “AA citation,” the most serious penalty the state can level against a nursing home.
Another medication error resulted in an AA citation at a different EmpRes facility in Lake County. Last year, Evergreen Lakeport Healthcare was fined $100,000 after a nurse mistakenly gave methadone to a patient in August 2011. The nurse, who had confused one patient with another, realized her mistake 15 minutes later, but the staff did not call 911 for another eight hours, state inspectors found. The patient died shortly thereafter.
In issuing the AA citation, the state determined that the mistakes were a direct cause of the woman’s death. It was the third time the Lakeport facility had been cited for medication errors since 2009. The Oroville facility also had been cited previously for making a medication mistake.
The Bee found that, for each patient bed, EmpRes’ ratio of registered nurses was about 13 percent lower than the statewide average.
Harrington, the UCSF scholar and registered nurse who has studied nursing-home chains, said repeated medication errors within an ownership group suggest the chain doesn’t have enough nurses. They also may lack the right mix of nurses, she said.
Many companies slash costs by reducing the number of RNs, relying instead on lower-paid licensed vocational nurses with considerably less training to handle medications, Harrington said.
“They do it to save money,” she said. “… LVNs don’t have the expertise to be taking care of these complex residents.”
Two ends of the spectrum
The home page for LifeHouse Health Services, headquartered in Culver City, features a smiling celebrity spokeswoman – actress-singer Shirley Jones – pictured alongside a bubble of text: “Warmth. Comfort. Experience. Professionalism. That’s so rare these days, but that’s LifeHOUSE!”
There’s another side to the LifeHouse story.
Nursing turnover at LifeHouse’s nine California nursing homes was nearly double the statewide average in 2012. About 1 in 8 of its long-term patients was reported to be in moderate to severe pain last year, also double the statewide average. And the chain had persistently high rates of complaints and deficiencies compared to state averages.
The company’s San Jose Healthcare Center was fined $30,000 last year by the state for failing to meet minimum levels of nursing staff care.
Its sister facility in Paradise, the Cypress Healthcare Center, also was fined $15,000 last year for missing state-ordered staffing minimums. The Paradise facility was fined another $10,000 last year and picked up a Class A citation after an unsteady 76-year-old resident was brain-injured in a fall while going to the bathroom unassisted.
Joseph M. Earley III, a Paradise attorney who has filed lawsuits against both EmpRes and LifeHouse, said in an interview that LifeHouse is “woefully inadequate,” especially in the area of staffing. Between January 2012 and December 2013, Earley filed four lawsuits against Cypress Healthcare, all alleging problems with staffing or quality of nursing care. In each case, the patient had died.
“Their focus is far too much on profit,” Earley said. “They’re taking money out of the facilities that could be used to add staffing or increase pay rates.”
Bruce Ward, chief administrative officer at LifeHouse, said such criticism “is unfair and ill-informed.” He said LifeHouse “uses an organization structure highly similar to the organization structures used by virtually all middle- to large-size organizations with multiple health care facilities” and that it “delivers consistent, high quality of care.”
“It is far easier for plaintiffs’ attorneys to criticize health care, and secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to do so, than it is to deal on an ongoing basis with the actual demands of skilled nursing care,” he said.
Ward said the company specializes in taking over and improving bankrupt or near-bankrupt homes. Those homes tend to have “high turnover, deferred maintenance and a range of other challenges,” he said.
“LifeHouse has worked hard and spent millions of dollars to improve those facilities,” he added.
Ward said the state’s method of measuring nursing turnover captures a large number of temporary and occasional employees who are hired to meet short-term needs. LifeHouse performs better on maintaining permanent employees, he said, pointing to a separate state measure that tracks long-term employee retention.
The high average rate of residents who report being in pain at LifeHouse facilities, he said, reflects the company’s practice of accepting more patients with debilitating conditions. He said the company has appealed the state’s findings at its Paradise and San Jose homes, and that subsequent state audits of the homes have found no similar problems.
Homes owned by Shlomo Rechnitz, the state’s largest operator, fell below state averages on 35 of the 46 measures The Bee considered. Rechnitz did not respond to interview requests. However, in written responses, his legal and public-relations advisers emphasized that Rechnitz and his principal company, Brius Healthcare Services, have taken over numerous troubled facilities suffering significant patient-care issues.
“This should be taken into account when looking globally at the performance of all Brius facilities,” the advisers wrote.
They also noted that the federal government gave Brius high marks, on average, for meeting several quality-of-care measures.
At the top of The Bee’s analysis, three large nursing-home chains – the Ensign Group, North American Health Care Inc. and Generations Healthcare – consistently performed at or above the state average in numerous categories over the last 31/2 years. All three are based in California.
Generations Healthcare, for example, had one of the lowest rates of nursing turnover among the large chains. And it had fewer complaints and deficiencies than most of its large competitors.
Headquartered in Newport Beach, the company was started in 1998 by Thomas Olds Jr., who was a founding partner of another chain, Covenant Care Inc. Generations began with one 89-bed nursing home and has expanded to own 19 facilities in Northern and Southern California, 17 of them nursing homes. Nine of its 17 skilled-nursing facilities earned five-star ratings from the federal government for excellence in 2013, the highest stamp of approval, while another six facilities received four stars.
Olds attributes low nursing turnover and other successes to his intimate involvement in operations, treating employees well and a clearly stated operating philosophy that “expects extraordinary results.”
“Once your employees see you doing the right thing, then they’re committed to being a part of that,” he said.
Did Plum deliver?
In February 2011, as Sacramento continued its slow climb out of the recession, an announcement rippled through the state’s nursing-home world.
After 50 years in business, Rocklin-based Horizon West Healthcare Inc. was being acquired by a relative newcomer, Plum Healthcare Group LLC. The San Marcos company, founded in 1999, was about to become the Sacramento area’s predominant nursing-home operator – assuming control of 12 Horizon West facilities in the four-county region, and another 15 elsewhere.
At the time, Horizon West was in trouble: hefty regulatory fines. Accusations of Medicare fraud. A stunning $29 million jury award in the death of a 79-year-old resident of an Auburn facility.
A 2011 news release stated that Horizon West had “hand-picked” Plum because of the company’s “excellent track record of mobilizing facility staff to achieve quality patient care and regulatory compliance …”
Plum co-chief executive Mark Ballif told The Bee in February 2011 that his company would bring “a really strong compliance record … We’re eager to bring that to the table.”
Did Plum deliver?
Yes and no, according to The Bee’s investigation.
While Ballif recently stated that Plum facilities provide quality care, a deeper dive into the company’s performance record reveals an uneven pattern. A few of the homes ranked among the region’s best, but the chain also was hit last year with higher-than-average rates of complaints for alleged abuse, quality-of-care and patient-rights issues.
Last year, Plum operated 12 of the 62 homes in the four-county region, more than any other provider. But the shadow of Horizon West looms. Eight of those homes ranked in the bottom 24 regionally in 2013 in terms of performance measures analyzed by The Bee – and all but one of those are former Horizon West properties. At the opposite end of the spectrum, three Plum homes ranked in the top 25.
A theme emerged among the poor performers: high staff turnover. All but one of the eight lowest-performing Plum homes saw nursing staff turnover above 80 percent in 2012. Plum’s Lincoln Meadows Care Center in Placer County reported nursing staff turnover of 144 percent that year, the highest rate in the region, with multiple positions turning over more than once.
Concerns over patient safety also emerged as an issue. Plum’s Westview Healthcare Center in Auburn logged 11 abuse complaints last year, more than any other home in the region. Its Auburn Oaks facility saw 41 federal deficiencies related to the life and safety of patients during the last 31/2 years, also more than any other facility in the region.
In an email response to The Bee, Ballif pointed to the federal government’s rating system as evidence that his company overall provides quality care to patients. The federal government uses a five-star system to rank nursing homes based on inspection reports and data self-reported by facilities.
The system, Ballif said, “helps residents and families see a single measure for total quality to inform their choice of facility … The average score across all Plum-affiliated facilities is four stars.” The company has 50 facilities in California, Utah and Arizona.
Locally, two Plum facilities that once were owned by Horizon West – Lincoln Meadows and Westview – each received only one star at the end of 2013 from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a designation that means the federal government considers performance “much below average” based on staffing, deficiencies and quality-of-care measures.
But several Horizon West homes have improved since Plum took them over, Ballif noted. Some of those changes are evidenced by improved federal ratings, while other improvements will take longer to become evident because the federal government uses roughly three years of data when compiling its rankings, he said.
Six of the 11 local homes Plum purchased from Horizon West in early 2011 improved their federal rating between 2010 and 2013, according to government data. The newest federal ratings for 2014 show that Lincoln Meadows upped its status to three stars this year; Westview remains a one-star facility.
And, the latest ratings show, seven Plum facilities in the Sacramento region earned the coveted five stars.
A notorious distinction
In addition to Plum, eight more of the 25 largest chains in California have homes in the four-county region.
One Carmichael home owned by Genesis HealthCare Corp. has been singled out by federal regulators with a stern message: Improve or else.
Carmichael Care & Rehabilitation Center on Fair Oaks Boulevard, recently renamed Eagle Crest, was added this year to a government watchdog list as one of the nation’s most troubled facilities. Only five other homes in California appear on this “Special Focus Facility List” maintained by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Special Focus Facilities are surveyed more frequently and, if problems persist, are subject to possible fines and other penalties, including termination from the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
The Bee found that Carmichael Care/Eagle Crest ranked near the bottom in performance measures among the Sacramento region’s 62 nursing homes, falling below state averages in 31 out of 46 indicators. Its owner, Genesis HealthCare, has its own badge of notoriety: Last year, it was slammed with complaints of abuse at seven times the statewide average.
The chain, privately held and based in Kennett Square, Pa., recently was ranked by Provider Magazine as the nation’s largest nursing facility company. Genesis acquired Sun Healthcare Group Inc. and its subsidiary, SunBridge Healthcare LLC, in December 2012, picking up Carmichael Care/Eagle Crest in the deal, among many others.
Genesis spokeswoman Jeanne Moore did not respond to specific questions about Carmichael Care/Eagle Crest. She noted that the majority of abuse complaints in the company’s other California facilities came at two of its behavioral-health centers, which house mentally ill patients. She said it is unfair to include those centers when comparing Genesis with other companies.
“Behavioral-health centers are licensed as skilled-nursing centers but cannot be compared to a traditional skilled-nursing center,” Moore said. In behavioral-health centers, she explained, “combative behaviors and resident-to-resident altercations may be more common than in a traditional skilled-nursing center.”
Genesis has “a zero-tolerance abuse policy at all of its centers,” she said.
While for-profit facilities dominated the ranks of bottom performers in the region in 2013, the top-25 list looks remarkably different: Ten are operated by nonprofits or hospitals.
Eskaton, a Sacramento-based nonprofit, has two of the top-performing facilities in the region, and none of its four facilities had any serious citations over the last three years.
All four are well-staffed compared to most nursing homes in the state. Eskaton’s turnover rate in its skilled-nursing facilities, for instance, was about 21 percent in 2012, compared with more than 70 percent for LifeHouse and Plum.
Todd Murch, Eskaton’s president and chief executive officer, said the company’s ability to retain high-quality staff is “really at the core of excellence.” At Eskaton’s nursing home in Fair Oaks, which recently received the highest five-star rating from the federal government, three of the top administrators have collectively worked at that facility for 22 years, he said.
“Even in today’s world, there’s still a value of nonprofit ownership in nursing homes,” Murch said. “Statistically, history will show that nonprofits typically staff higher, typically have longer-tenured staff and typically offer better pay and benefits than for-profit nursing homes.
“The tendency of nonprofits to have longer stability and continuity in a community is a big thing.”
Lost in a fog
Up and down the state, consumers who are unhappy with nursing-home care often lay the blame on overworked, undertrained and poorly supervised staff. In civil actions and in complaints filed with the state, patients and family members describe the sometimes-chaotic conditions inside California’s nursing homes.
Unnecessary falls. Soiled diapers that go unchanged. Unanswered call lights. False entries scribbled into charts. Pressure sores that turn deadly when patients are not repositioned.
“Staffing – that’s the thing it almost always comes down to,” said Earley, the Paradise attorney who specializes in elder abuse and neglect.
“If they’d just increase staffing, a lot of these problems wouldn’t happen,” he said. “It always, always comes down to staff.”
The Bee’s analysis found that among California’s 10 largest chains, nine fell below state averages in three out of five key staffing measures in 2012, the latest data available.
The five measures examined by The Bee were nursing turnover and four staff-to-patient ratios, which look at the facilities’ levels of registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, physical therapists and aides. Overall, the state requires a minimum of 3.2 nursing hours per resident day, but the statewide average in 2012 was actually higher, at 4.1 hours. To earn a superior rating from CalQualityCare.org, the nonprofit industry watchdog, facilities must have somewhere between 4.1 and 6.5 nursing hours per patient day, depending on case mix.
Among the 25 largest operators, three ranked lowest in terms of staffing performance: Rechnitz and his principal company, Brius Healthcare; EmpRes; and LifeHouse. The Bee found that these three chains fell below statewide averages on all five staffing measures.
Ward cited numbers from the first six months of 2014 that showed nursing staffing at LifeHouse’s homes on average exceeded government requirements. Rechnitz’s legal team made a similar argument: “Every single facility has met or exceeded state staffing requirements on a monthly or even weekly basis since acquisition,” they said in a written statement.
EmpRes did not return calls for comment.
In California, elder-abuse attorneys have successfully argued that bad corporate practices – especially in the area of staffing – can spread like an infectious disease throughout a nursing-home chain.
In Humboldt County, a jury in a class-action lawsuit ordered Skilled Healthcare Group Inc. to pay a jaw-dropping $677 million in damages in 2010 after finding the national chain had violated state staffing regulations in all 22 of its California facilities. The amount later was negotiated down to $50 million.
Emails introduced at trial in Humboldt County illustrated pressure from corporate administrators to keep staffing costs down. After one staff person reported that four out of five facilities fell below state staffing minimums for a week, the president of Skilled replied: “Thanks again for sending this. Nice hour controls. Keep on that overtime.”
In another case, a federal judge in Oakland issued an injunction in 2012 against Evergreen Healthcare, now EmpRes, for chronic understaffing. The judge overseeing the class-action lawsuit ordered that the chain be monitored for 21/2 years to ensure that the homes comply with state staffing requirements.
Earley, the Butte County elder-abuse attorney, argued in court that a management decision about staffing in a LifeHouse facility ultimately contributed to the death of an 88-year-old Paradise man, a fixture in his small community north of Sacramento.
LifeHouse did not respond to questions about the case.
The story begins, as these matters often do, with a calamity.
In early 2011, Eugene and Bonnie Nidiver – married for 60 years – had just returned from a 17-day cruise to Hawaii, and were planning their next cruise to Alaska.
The couple’s plans were upended when Eugene missed a step on a friend’s new deck and fell, breaking his pelvis and left wrist.
Bonnie Nidiver, now 86, describes her husband as a fit and active man who could be seen walking daily, working out three times a week at the Elks Lodge and sharing lunch on Tuesdays with his buddies. A retired Navy veteran who served on the aircraft carrier USS Cowpens in World War II, he was a 50-year member of the Masons and active in the Shrine Club, American Legion and Moose Lodge.
Eugene’s broken bones were treated at the hospital, and on April 6, 2011, he was admitted to a nursing home for rehabilitation. What he got, according to family members and court documents, was an unrelenting series of powerful drugs for sleeplessness and pain that left him confused and disoriented.
Bonnie, who visited the Cypress Healthcare Center daily, said she alerted staff – constantly – to the deteriorating condition of her husband.
“They changed his whole personality,” she said. “He was a non-pill-taker. He wouldn’t even take an aspirin unless he was desperate.”
On May 3, 2011, Eugene fell from his wheelchair but was not immediately reassessed for fall risk, nor was he given any preventive devices or alarms, the complaint states.
Three weeks later, on the night of May 23, 2011, Bonnie recalled how she gave her husband a “good old mushy kiss,” and he told her how much he loved her. It would be their last coherent conversation.
The next day, Eugene fell again, toppling from his wheelchair in the main lobby and breaking his right hip. He was hospitalized and rapidly declined, lost in a fog of pain and medication, attorney Earley said.
Eugene Nidiver died in hospice care on June 16, 2011, 10 weeks after being admitted to Cypress Healthcare Center.
The widow and her son, Scott Nidiver, filed suit in Butte County Superior Court in a case their attorney says revealed the facility’s lack of sufficient, qualified registered nurses “who had the time to actually do the nursing.” Instead of analyzing why Eugene Nidiver was having trouble sleeping, or was agitated and experiencing pain, they simply medicated him with a lineup of sedatives, antidepressants and narcotics, Earley said.
The nursing home agreed to a $400,000 judgment in the case. Earley also had sued the parent company, LifeHouse Health Services LLC, but a judge threw out that case last month. LifeHouse argued it had no liability because it doesn’t hold a health care license and does not provide day-to-day care for individual patients.
The case highlights an issue playing out in courtrooms up and down the state: Who’s really in charge of these facilities? Who calls the shots? And who should be held responsible when things go wrong?
Police said Mendoza shot and killed 75-year-old Major Langer, and shot and wounded 64-year-old Ronald Beck, during the holiday party at Perona, Langer, Beck, Serbin, Mendoza and Harrison in Long Beach.
In a statement on its website, the firm wrote: “We are shocked and saddened by the tragedy that occurred at the Law Offices of Perona, Langer, Beck, Serbin and Harrison yesterday, leaving one of our partners dead and another injured in a senseless act of workplace violence. On behalf of our entire firm, we wish to extend our deepest condolences to the family of Major Langer, who was killed in this tragic incident. Major was a big part of the Law Offices of Perona, Langer, Beck, Serbin and Harrison’s success. Major leaves his wife, children, and grandchildren a legacy that was truly as special as he was. Our thoughts and prayers are with Major’s family, as well as with the family of Ronald Beck, who was injured and remains hospitalized at this time.”
Langer helped build the firm, according to Michael Waks, a lawyer who spoke with the Orange County Register. Waks has offices in the same building as Perona Langer Beck. According to the law firm website, Langer joined the firm in 1966 and was instrumental in developing its commercial business and in expanding its civil litigation department.
Beck is a managing partner at Perona Langer Beck and an affiliated law firm, the Larry H. Parker firm. Beck and Langer represented the group Motley Crue, Tommy Lee and his then-wife Pamela Anderson in several cases, according to the firm website.
Waks told the Press-Telegram that Mendoza had worked at the law firm for about 10 years, and he didn’t have details of why he was asked to leave the firm. Mendoza handled workers compensation cases, according to CBS.
Perona Langer Beck has 11 offices, nine of them in California and two in Arizona. The firm handles serious injury claims, wrongful death cases, employment disputes, workplace injuries, business litigation, construction defect claims, landlord/tenant issues and appellate work.
Marisa Conover of Fair Oaks built her career dealing with complicated people and problems. As a former executive with CBS Records International, she handled worldwide distribution of video and merchandising for such artists as Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand and The Rolling Stones.
Then she encountered a challenge closer to home.
Conover believes that questionable care at a Roseville nursing home – and the injection of a powerful antipsychotic drug – contributed to the death of her mother in December 2012. Genine Zizzo, a 5-foot-1 widow who had lived in the same Orangevale home for 50 years, died at age 82 following a 10-day stay at Roseville Point Health & Wellness Center.
Conover filed a complaint with the state through a Sacramento-based advocacy group. She researched the controversial use of “chemical restraints” in nursing homes to subdue and control patients. She gathered her mother’s medical records and coroner’s reports, highlighting in yellow the apparent inconsistencies and contradictions.
But when Conover began poking around the Internet to research the ownership history of Roseville Point, she hit a wall.
Despite her business acumen, she gleaned surprisingly little about the individuals behind the 98-bed nursing home on Sunrise Avenue.
“Who are these people?” asked Conover, 56, nearly two years after her mother’s death.
Conover had bumped up against one of the most complicated ownership groups in the state.
As it turns out, Roseville Point is part of Shlomo Rechnitz’s expanding universe of homes across California.
Rechnitz, a 43-year-old Los Angeles entrepreneur, has rapidly become the state’s largest nursing-home owner with about 75 facilities from San Diego to Los Angeles to Roseville to Eureka. His homes have been the target of more complaints and federal deficiencies per bed than most other large chains in California, according to a Sacramento Bee investigation.
Consumers would be hard-pressed to know that – or even to link Rechnitz to any particular nursing home using the state’s website. Some of the state’s leading elder-care advocates said they had never heard of Rechnitz or his principal company, Brius Healthcare Services.
Rechnitz’s history in California is a case study in the evolving nature of nursing-home ownership, and the complexity of the industry’s corporate structures. As private investment groups scoop up an ever-larger share of the nation’s skilled-nursing care market, it has become increasingly difficult to decipher who owns the nation’s largest chains.
Elder-care advocates will tell you this is no accident: A convoluted ownership structure, they say, is a way for owners to hide assets and shield themselves from civil and criminal liability when patients are abused or neglected in their care. Confusing lines of ownership also make it harder for regulators to detect worrisome patterns of care among facilities within a chain.
Congress felt so strongly about improving nursing-home transparency that the Affordable Care Act now includes strict new reporting requirements for owners. But the government’s ability to untangle the ownership web has been slow and inconsistent.
A 1997 California law requires state officials to make detailed ownership information publicly available, but the state’s health facilities website continues to provide scant and often misleading information.
In the absence of complete government databases, The Bee spent several months sifting through federal and state records to piece together ownership structures for California’s 25 largest skilled-nursing-home chains. Among the findings:
▪ Company structures can be extraordinarily elaborate. Rechnitz has crafted a network of nearly 80 separate entities that oversee 54 nursing homes up and down the state; he recently acquired 19 more facilities in a bankruptcy case. Another large player, Longwood Management Corp., has built a different corporation for each of its 32 homes. The corporations have names like Tzippy Care Inc. and SGV Healthcare Inc. that are difficult for consumers to link without poring through public records.
▪ Many nursing-home chains create management companies to provide administrative services to their homes. Owners say the model creates efficiencies. Critics, including a Glendale lawyer who has filed suit over the practice, contend it’s a ploy to skim off nursing-home revenues to line investors’ pockets.
▪ Ten of the 25 largest chains in the state make it hard for consumers to see what facilities they own. In addition to their complicated business structures, the large chains of Brius, Plum Healthcare Group, Country Villa Health Services and Sun Mar Health Care have no websites. Other large ownership groups, including Longwood Management and North American Health Care Inc., offer bare-bones websites with no specific facility information.
▪ California nursing-home owners and executives have widely diverse backgrounds, with many lacking health care experience. One Los Angeles-based owner, Sol Majer, spent 20 years in the cosmetics industry, manufacturing a line of nail polish, hair removal wax and false eyelashes. Another large ownership group is led by two high-powered Los Angeles developers, Jacob Wintner and Ira Smedra, officers in the ARBA Group whose ventures have included upscale shopping centers.
Mark Reagan, legal adviser for the California Association of Health Facilities, said complex business structures are a necessity for nursing-home owners – and the health care industry in general.
Nursing homes rely on Medicare reimbursements, along with Medi-Cal money on the state level, he said. If all the facilities and assets are held by only one corporation – and just one of its facilities gets into serious trouble, such as a criminal elder-abuse conviction – the entire group of sister facilities also is at risk of losing government funding, Reagan said.
“No responsible health care company will hold all of its assets in a single corporation. ”
– Mark Reagan, legal adviser for the California Association of Health Facilities
“No responsible health care company will hold all of its assets in a single corporation,” said Reagan, describing the multilayered structures as a “sound business practice.”
Reagan said he does not believe consumers are harmed by the approach, and that elder-abuse attorneys are savvy enough to sort out the pieces in a civil lawsuit.
Not every nursing-home chain in California that blurs its ownership delivers bad care. Not every chain that puts it all out there, on websites or in marketing materials, has a stellar record.
Still, elder-care advocates contend that some nursing-home operators strive to keep things murky, at the expense of consumers. And, they point out, unwitting consumers could wind up transferring their loved ones from one troubled facility to the next, without ever realizing they’re part of the same chain – and the same set of problems.
“People don’t really know who owns nursing homes,” said San Francisco elder-abuse attorney Kathryn A. Stebner, who has filed class-action lawsuits against several large chains.
“If I’m buying a product,” she said, “I want to know who makes it.”
‘A crazy web’
If Rechnitz is a mystery figure in some corners of the nursing-home world, he is certainly well-known in select Los Angeles social circles.
Rechnitz is described as a businessman and philanthropist who has donated millions to Jewish institutions and charitable causes, according to articles in the Jewish press in Los Angeles. Details of his oldest daughter’s lavish wedding in February at the Beverly Hilton Hotel are scattered across the Internet.
He appears to have entered the nursing-home business through a side door. He and his twin brother, Steve, co-founded a medical-supply company in 1998 called TwinMed, which services nursing homes with such items as exam gloves, glove box holders and incontinence briefs.
Rechnitz founded Brius in 2004, and soon was buying up facilities at a rapid pace. By early last year, his homes across the state were grossing $600 million a year, he said in a Jan. 24, 2013, deposition in Orange County.
Elder-abuse attorney Michael Moran quizzed Rechnitz that afternoon about his complex corporate network, contending Rechnitz had given away a nursing home to escape a $4.5 million judgment. At one point, Moran asked Rechnitz why he was associated with more than 100 different businesses.
“… (T)hat has to be the stupidest question I’ve ever heard,” Rechnitz replied, according to a transcript from the ongoing case. “… It’s possible there are dumber questions, but it ranks high up.”
The question never was answered. The contentious back-and-forth between Rechnitz and Moran – whom Rechnitz suggested was “an ambulance chaser” – reflects the persistent tension between nursing-home owners and the attorneys who sue them, unraveling their structures in the process.
Using several state and federal databases, The Bee identified 130 business entities tied to Rechnitz’s nursing-home chain – and that was before he added 19 facilities in a bankruptcy proceeding this year, as well as three others. The data show that he shares ownership in some facilities with 26 individuals.
A corporate pattern soon emerges, one shared by other nursing-home chains operating in California: a nursing home owned by a limited liability company, which is owned by another limited liability company, which is owned by another one after that, with the primary owner at the top of the pile. Some chains structure the various entities as general partnerships, others as corporations.
Picture a giant, elaborate wheel, with the owners at the center, then dozens of spokes splaying out toward subsidiaries that in turn connect to other wheels, with more spokes connecting to individual homes.
One of the state’s most complex chains was dissected recently in federal bankruptcy court in Santa Ana. Country Villa Health Services filed for Chapter 11 protection in March, blaming a bevy of class-action lawsuits. The case involved 18 nursing homes and one assisted-living facility, though the company had “concurrently managed 50 nursing facilities within the state,” according to court papers.
For consumers, the real confusion lay in the name: Country Villa owned only some of the more than 30 nursing homes in California that carried its name. Others were owned by someone else, but Country Villa exercised “operational/managerial” control, federal records show.
Other homes were owned or managed by Country Villa but did not carry the Country Villa brand. And still other homes carried the Country Villa name but, at least according to federal ownership records, no longer had a relationship to the company.
In 2012, 27 nursing-home licensees that had contracted with Country Villa for administrative services sued the company, alleging mismanagement. Two of those licensees carried the Country Villa name, giving the strange but false impression that Country Villa was suing itself.
Stephen Reissman, CEO of Country Villa Health Services, did not return phone calls for comment.
Following Country Villa’s bankruptcy declaration, Rechnitz this year won approval from a federal judge to buy the company’s 19 facilities for $62 million cash.
Even before the deal, Rechnitz’s business setup was elaborate. Each of his 54 homes was licensed under a separate limited liability company or general partnership. All the names are different, though some are similar sounding.
Rechnitz did not respond to interview requests for this series. But in a lengthy written response to Bee questions, his legal team said he structures his company in a way common in the health care industry. By establishing smaller groups of facilities under local management and oversight, they wrote, the system actually “provides for more individualized monitoring of the facilities.”
As the organization has grown, they added, “it has often acquired facilities in groups with different sets of investors. … This necessitates establishing different companies.”
The philosophy proved to be a challenge for Conover. When she began researching the Roseville facility that housed her mother, she found that the “licensee” was identified by the California Department of Public Health as Solnus Three LLC. That branding is shared by seven other nursing homes owned by Rechnitz and his various business associates in California, beginning with Solnus One (a facility in Alameda) on up to Solnus Eight (a nursing home in Oakland).
But nothing on the state’s website links the 54 homes to any common ownership. Neither Rechnitz nor Brius Healthcare appears anywhere in the department’s public “licensed facility listing report,” which allows viewers to see all nursing homes in the state.
The same is true for Plum Healthcare, the chain with the biggest presence in the Sacramento region. All 42 homes owned by Plum last year, including 12 in the Sacramento region, were licensed to separate limited liability companies.
And like Brius, Plum has its own inventive branding for its licensees, generally invoking flowers and trees. In Sacramento, Plum nursing homes are licensed to Crocus Holdings, Gladiolus Holdings, Jonquil Holdings and Oleander Holdings, among others. Elsewhere in California, Plum licensees include Douglas Fir Holdings, Norway Maple Holdings and Golden Oak Holdings.
Nursing-home owners make no apologies for the business structures. In fact, they have been explicitly advised to do it this way.
In 2003, the Journal of Health Law published an article directing nursing-home operators to create elaborate, multilayered structures to help immunize themselves from costly lawsuits and loss of government funding.
“More than a few judgments against nursing homes have been based on specious allegations,” the authors wrote. “Nonetheless, the reality is that nursing homes are unsympathetic defendants.”
The authors detailed how “restructuring can reduce the unnecessary risks,” specifically by creating a web of separate entities.
Nursing-home operators have long complained that their work with elderly and medically fragile patients makes them easy prey for personal-injury lawyers looking for swift settlements and big payouts. In California, experienced elder-abuse attorneys routinely take a contingency fee of 25 percent to 40 percent.
A 2013 study by a risk-consulting firm found that the frequency of claims against nursing homes is rising nationally. In California, claims cost facilities an estimated $2,790 per occupied bed last year, the study showed.
Elder-abuse attorneys counter that lawsuits – and the financial awards that result – help uphold standards for care in an industry that is woefully underpoliced by government agencies.
“Good cases with good verdicts are a significant tool to help fix bad nursing homes and to educate the public,” said Moran, the Santa Ana attorney.
Lesley Ann Clement, a Sacramento attorney specializing in elder-abuse cases, said that lawyers who sue nursing homes have had to develop expertise in following the paper trails and piecing together the ownership puzzles to identify potential assets.
Clement teamed up with Sacramento attorney Ed Dudensing in 2010 on an elder-abuse case in which Dudensing devoted 11/2 years to deciphering the labyrinthine corporate structure of former nursing-home giant Horizon West Healthcare of Rocklin. The company, which had a history of licensing violations and run-ins with regulators, sold its nursing homes to Plum Healthcare Group in 2011.
The case revolved around the treatment of Rebecca Bush, who was 79 and suffering from mild dementia when she entered a Davis nursing home in 2007. During her stay, Bush became severely dehydrated, developed pressure sores that required hospitalization and was left for long periods of time in wet or soiled briefs, the lawsuit states. She died in January 2013 at age 85.
The legal team eventually identified 27 defendants in the case, including 13 inter-related business entities and 13 key individuals associated with the nursing home, Sierra Health Care Center of Davis. Twelve of the 13 individual defendants, Clement said, were family members.
“It was a crazy web,” Clement said of Horizon West, which resisted disclosing to the plaintiffs the intricacies of its corporate structure and finances.
The company’s legal team vigorously pushed back against giving up that information, citing privacy concerns for the family of owners. The real issue, the lawyers argued, was the care that Rebecca Bush received, not the “highly personal financial information of individual defendants,” court filings state.
The civil lawsuit dragged on for more than three years until it was dismissed in February of this year, after a confidential settlement was reached. A family member declined to discuss the case because “the wounds are so fresh.”
In the case of Roseville Point, and the death of Genine Zizzo, Conover said she chose not to pursue civil action over what she considers to be a “medical assault.”
The California Department of Public Health found no evidence of wrongdoing at the facility in connection with Zizzo’s death, according to an August 2013 letter to Carole Herman of Foundation Aiding the Elderly, which filed the complaint on Conover’s behalf.
In that letter, the department wrote that the allegations of elder abuse, improper drugging and other violations had not been substantiated by an unannounced visit to the facility. Asked about Conover’s accusations, Rechnitz’s legal team referred to the state’s decision to close the books on the case and declined to comment further due to privacy laws protecting patients.
Herman promptly requested an “informal conference” to protest the finding, as allowed by law, but has heard nothing more than a year later, she said. The state’s Health and Safety Code does not spell out a time frame for the state to respond to conference requests.
Conover also received a letter last year from a Tustin law firm representing Roseville Point. The attorney expressed “sincere condolences” for Zizzo’s death – then cautioned Conover that she was to “cease and desist” all contact with nursing-home employees or “a restraining order will be sought.”
Follow the money
Glendale attorney Russell Balisok has spent nearly 40 years suing nursing homes, chronicling an array of grievances and human tragedies. Now he’s taking on the business model itself.
In 2012, he filed a lawsuit on behalf of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, accusing Country Villa of charging its facilities exorbitant management fees, then pocketing the profits. The suit contends the chain is not investing in adequate care – and that the state is letting them get away with it.
At issue is the chain’s use of a “management company,” Country Villa Service Corp., to oversee its facilities, a practice that is common in California and elsewhere. Under this business model, a separate entity – often created by the owners – extracts a percentage of the facilities’ gross revenues in exchange for a variety of management services.
Nursing-home operators say there is nothing wrong with the practice. Reagan, the industry legal adviser, said the arrangement actually positions chains to provide better care, as it is cost-effective and lightens each facility’s administrative load.
Besides Country Villa, some of the biggest chains in California rely on management companies, among them EmpRes, North American Health Care and Genesis.
“It makes more sense to centralize services,” Reagan said.
Balisok, on the other hand, derides the practice as the “scheme du jour” in California. His lawsuit, filed in Alameda County, contends Country Villa’s nursing homes are “enslaved by the management agreements and will never make any money.” The management company effectively strips away the authority of the on-site nursing-home administrator, Balisok said, violating state requirements that the licensed administrator retain operational control.
The arrangement leaves each nursing home with little money, or any real ability to funnel resources into patient needs, he said.
Clement, the Sacramento elder-abuse attorney, said some chains take the model further, creating all kinds of spinoff companies that service a nursing home. These in-house entities – known as “related parties” – may be set up to supply pharmaceuticals, underwrite insurance, handle bookkeeping, provide therapy or oversee worker’s compensation.
“They’re charging above-market rates for everything,” said Clement. “And it’s all the same people.”
Whether the entity is a management company or a pharmacy, she said, the idea is the same: extracting money from the nursing home for investors and keeping the facility underfunded.
“When you look at the facility itself, it’s losing money every month,” said Clement. “So that’s telling you the building is underfunded. Every penny that comes in the door from the patients … gets swept up to corporate headquarters. And they have control.”
Sacramento elder-abuse attorney Chris Buckley said there is great incentive for operators to “siphon it all up to the mother ship,” leaving the cash-strapped facility essentially judgment-proof.
The unusual nature of such arrangements has tumbled out in court.
“When you look at the facility itself, it’s losing money every month. So that’s telling you the building is underfunded. Every penny that comes in the door from the patients … gets swept up to corporate headquarters.”
– Lesley Ann Clement, a Sacramento attorney specializing in elder-abuse cases
In one elder-abuse lawsuit, filed in 2006 against a former Horizon West facility, attorney Dudensing demonstrated that the nursing home – Colonial Healthcare in Auburn – had paid its in-house insurance company annually for a liability policy. The catch? The $1 million policy came with a $1 million deductible, according to court documents obtained by The Bee.
In court, the former director of financial management at Horizon West Healthcare Inc., Dennis Roccaforte, explained that the liability insurance company was wholly owned by Horizon West and, he believed, was based in the Cayman Islands, according to a transcript of the first trial in March 2010, which examined Horizon West’s complex corporate network.
Yet even Roccaforte said he was “surprised” by the policy limit and deductible when Dudensing presented him with the policy on the witness stand.
The jury in the case ultimately slammed Horizon West with a $29 million verdict in connection with the death of 79-year-old Frances Tanner, a retired public servant.
These “related party” transactions are common in California, as evidenced by nursing-home cost reports filed annually with the state. Are they overcharging? Or just efficient?
Charlene Harrington, a professor emerita of sociology and nursing at UC San Francisco, said it is difficult to know because California does not require related parties to file cost reports, or to say exactly what services are provided in exchange for payment.
Roseville Point Health & Wellness Center, for instance, reported $812,000 in profits last year to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. It also paid out nearly $1 million to companies that service the home that also are owned by Rechnitz.
Roseville Point paid Rechnitz’s company Twin Med LLC about $130,000 last year for medical and other supplies, according to reports submitted by the facility. It paid Eretz Roseville Properties LLC about $800,000 in lease payments. The registered partner for Eretz is SYTR Real Estate Holdings. The registered partner for SYTR is Shlomo Rechnitz.
Lincoln Meadows, owned by Plum Healthcare, reported $821,000 in profits last year to the state. The facility also paid out $523,000 in administrative services fees to Plum Healthcare LLC.
Carmichael Care & Rehabilitation, owned by Genesis and recently renamed Eagle Crest, reported a net loss of $1.35 million last year. The cash-strapped facility paid $400,000 to Genesis Healthcare for “home office services”; $500,000 to Genesis Eldercare Rehabilitation Services for physical, occupational and speech therapy; and $40,000 to Genesis Eldercare Staffing Services for “contract nursing.”
The problem with the state’s reporting system, said Harrington, is that “all you see is the amount that was spent.”
“They don’t have to show how they spent the money,” she said. “Unless there’s a lawsuit, you’re not going to see it.”
Because they are effectively paying themselves, she said, there is a built-in conflict of interest. “They have every incentive to pay as much as possible to their related companies, rather than to keep the costs low.”
Connecticut took on the issue this year with a new law being watched closely by other states. The legislation requires for-profit nursing homes to disclose the financial status of any related-party businesses that contract with the facilities. The law followed the bankruptcy of a Connecticut-based nursing-home chain in which the CEO diverted money from his facilities for personal use, including the purchase of a yacht, apartment buildings, a lakefront home and a Nashville, Tenn., music company.
Rechnitz’s legal team defended the use of related parties to provide services, saying that the practice is “highly regulated by the Medi-Cal program and typically results in significantly lower costs to the state.” They cited government regulations that prohibit owners from skimming profits by transferring money to related parties.
Reagan, legal counsel for the industry trade group, said that concerns over related parties have been whipped up by trial lawyers. “The whole profit-over-people argument is a well-worn trial tactic,” he said.
Reagan said that management costs and payments to related parties are neither excessive nor inflated. The Department of Health Care Services conducts yearly audits of nursing homes that receive Medi-Cal money to ensure that expenditures are reasonable.
“There’s a lot of scrutiny,” he said, noting that state auditors are “very diligent about their work.”
The state is aggressively fighting Balisok’s Country Villa lawsuit, which specifically names Dr. Ron Chapman, director of California’s Department of Public Health. In a series of letters to Balisok before he filed the suit, department officials rejected the lawyer’s contention that management agreements are improper or contrary to state or federal law.
Balisok is pressing on. He has asked the Department of Public Health to disclose all such agreements. A victory with Country Villa, he said, could lead to legal challenges up and down the state against other companies using this business model – with the potential that money could be returned to facilities.
“This could be felt throughout the industry,” Balisok said.
PUBLISHED: 13:51 EST, 12 January 2014 | UPDATED: 13:51 EST, 12 January 2014
‘Joe Kegan’s’ Facebook page featured pictures of himself strutting his stuff in bondage clothing — wearing chains across his chest and black leather chaps, but no pants.
Another photo of a sign hanging from a balcony during one of his parties read, ‘It’s snowing!’ — generally a reference to cocaine or meth in use.
And a flyer for his birthday party was entitled ‘The Dysfunctional Family.’ It promised, ‘BB (bareback) anal sex with strangers following the event!’
Day job: Dr. Joseph Kenan, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist and child custody evaluator
For his day job, Kegan was actually Dr. Joseph Kenan, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist and child custody evaluator. He charged thousands of dollars to determine whether parents were fit to care for their children.
This sordid story is among the multitude of shocking revelations in the new documentary ‘Divorce Corp,’ now playing in selected theaters. The film is scheduled to run through January 16.
Kenan’s double life was discovered by Deborah Singer, a mother whom the psychiatrist evaluated, and her attorney, Dennis Braun.
In ‘Divorce Corp,’ Singer and Braun relate how Kenan showed up at Singer’s home in an Aston Martin sports car to interview her.
‘He was dressed very well,’ Singer says. ‘But he didn’t know my name, and didn’t know my husband’s name.’
By night: His Facebook page featured pictures of himself strutting his stuff in bondage clothing ¿ wearing chains across his chest and black leather chaps, but no pants
His birthday flier: It promised, ‘BB (bareback) anal sex with strangers following the event!’
Singer says Kenan seemed anxious and was sweating.
‘I sat down with him; he put a microphone in front of me and said, tell me about birth to 10 years old,’ Singer says.
‘My instinct was that something was wrong.’
Afterwards, Kenan took Singer’s check for $7,500 and went directly to her bank to cash it.
Shortly after that, Braun says in the film, he had lunch with a friend. They happened to run into Kenan.
The friend knew Kenan — and knew that he had a Facebook page full of lewd images.
Shocked: Deborah singer was evaluated by Dr Kenan and couldn’t believe what she discovered when she dug a little deeper than the surface
Undone by Facebook: Dr Kenan’s Facebook page led to his being removed from Singer’s case
‘There was one after another of shocking photos of sex, porn stars and cocaine,’ Singer says in the film. ‘If I had one image like that on my Facebook page they would take my child away from me.’
Singer and Braun filed a petition with the court to have Kenan, who at the time was also president of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, removed from her case.
In court documents quoted by the Los Angeles Times, Kenan said his Facebook page was not meant for public viewing and was shut down.
‘Ms. Singer misunderstands the bawdy humor I occasionally present to my friends, as evidenced by some of those pictures,’ Kenan wrote, according to the Times.
‘I do NOT promote what she is concerned I promote. My comments are entirely in jest. In fact, my comments serve to educate the community’s problems through satire.’
Kenan’s lawyer said his private life did not affect his professional performance.
In a hearing on August 3, 2010, Kenan was removed from Singer’s case, according to the Times. However, another mother who wanted Kenan removed was not successful.
‘You’re saying Dr. Kenan should be disqualified because of a goofy Facebook page,’ said Commissioner Mary Lou Katz. ‘What on earth does it have anything to do with this court?’
Bound: There was a seeemingly endless stream of shocking images
No limits: The pictures showed a man who appeared to have very few boundaries in his personal life
The Los Angeles Times reported in 2011 that Kenan had been involved in at least 250 custody cases over the previous 10 years, and court officials said they had received no complaints about him.
‘I found it somewhat disingenuous that the court would say they had not heard that Dr. Kenan was one of the questionable evaluators,’ attorney Braun says in the film.
When the story went public, attorney Braun says in the film, he received calls from 100 or more other women who felt they’d been mistreated by Kenan.
‘They were crying on the phone,’ Braun says.
Singer also filed a complaint against Kenan with the Medical Board of California.
But on Sept. 2, 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that the state medical board had found insufficient evidence to bring disciplinary evidence against Kenan.
Singer received a letter from the board that stated, ‘A complete investigation was performed, including a subject interview. We then retained an expert witness to review the case, which resulted in a conclusive finding that there was no evidence of professional misconduct.’
Kenan’s attorney, Joel Douglas, said the photos did not reflect fairly on Kenan’s work.
Not fit: He was removed from at least one case, but another woman who tried to remove him from her case failed
Also profiled: Mark Byron detailed the horrors of his divorce in the film
‘Everybody is entitled to their private life, and the medical board, to its credit, was able to get away from the hue and cry and look at it objectively,’ Douglas said, according to the Los Angeles.
Kenan himself was interviewed in the Divorce Corp movie. He admitted that he was ‘able to hide things.’
He also said that becoming a child custody evaluator was easy. ‘It took my attending a two-day seminar that one could basically sleep through,’ he says.
Why did Kenan agree to participate in the documentary?
‘I think there are wrong things going on in the family court,’ Kenan said in an interview with the Daily Mail. ‘And my perspective … I thought would be helpful to people to help create change.’
Kenan says he is not free to discuss his involvement in Singer’s divorce or any particular case.
But he says, ‘I’ve done 350 cases. And I’ve learned that if you dig into anyone’s life far enough you find things that you don’t like.’
‘When you find out people have a sexual side, or have a life outside of what people are in court … what do you do with this information? You throw out all the custody evaluators?’
‘If you don’t know this side of humans, you may get shocked when you find stuff.’
In the film, Singer, the mother who booted Kenan from her case, says, ‘Do whatever you want in your private life, but you do not get to determine what is best for my child.’
The case of Dan Brewington: His child custody background check came up normal, but an unusual series of events landed him in jail
The ‘Divorce Corp’ documentary exposes the dirty secrets of the $50 billion per year American divorce industry.
‘Our objective was to do an expose on the family court system in the United States,’ Joseph Storge, the film’s director, says.
The film is narrated by Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of the TV show ‘Dr. Drew’ on HLN. It includes interviews with divorce lawyers, mediators, judges, psychologists, journalists and people who have gone to court for divorce.
‘Divorce Corp’ takes direct aim at unscrupulous judges, lawyers and family court professionals, and the incestuous system that enables them to feed each other business and get rich.
‘Follow the money,’ says celebrity attorney Gloria Allred.
Every year, according to Storge, the director, two million Americans go through divorce. The average uncontested divorce costs $15,000 to $25,000.
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Contested divorces can easily cost more than $50,000, and custody battles are even more expensive.
The documentary is ‘about the money and what drives the business,’ Storge says.
‘How do these lawyers and custody evaluators and forensic accountants make money? Why is there so much money? Where is money made in the system?’
David Hoffman, a lecturer at Harvard Law School, says, ‘You have lawyers who are in it for the money, who are greedy and who milk a case.’
For example, Ulf Carlsson, of California, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his divorce. ‘The attorneys don’t want to settle the cases,’ he says, ‘because once they do, their income stream has been cut off.’
‘Basically what the court does is it creates a battleground in which each side hurls the harshest accusations they can come up with because they’re desperate to win,’ Hoffman says.
The film explains that basic American rights enshrined in the Constitution do not exist in family court. There is no right to an attorney if a litigant can’t afford one, no right to a speedy trial and no right to a trial by jury.
Also divorced: Ulf Carlsson claims basic rights granted by the constitution are thrown out the window in divorce courts
Judges alone make decisions. And they do whatever they want.
Boston attorney Gerald Nissenbaum explains, ‘All judges have the same middle name — God.’
Ulf Carlsson found this out the hard way. During testimony in his divorce trial in Sacramento County, the judge, Peter J. McBrien, abruptly stood up and walked out of the courtroom. He did not return.
A few days later, Carlsson explains, his attorney was notified that the trial was over. The judge ruled against Carlsson on every single issue.
Carlsson appealed the judge’s decision. He says McBrien retaliated by having him fired from his state job.
The California Commission on Judicial Performance issued a scathing order imposing public censure on McBrien.
The commission said McBrien engaged in serious misconduct so that Carlsson’s trial was fundamentally unfair, denied Carlsson his due process rights and investigated Carlsson without disclosing his actions.
However, citing McBrien’s long tenure in family law, the commission did not remove him from the bench.
Jailed for obstruction: Dan Brewington criticized the judge in his custody case on his blog and ended up in jail for more than two years
For the director, Storge, the most shocking thing he learned about divorce was that people do not have the right of free speech. ‘A judge can put a gag order on you,’ he says.
‘Divorce Corp’ profiles the case of Dan Brewington, a father of two girls in Dearborn County, Indiana.
After being separated from his wife for two and a half years with no complaints or allegations of abuse, Brewington went through a custody evaluation. His evaluation was overwhelmingly normal, but the custody evaluator said he was only looking for ‘the bad stuff.’
Brewington felt he was being railroaded, and started a blog called ‘Dan’s Adventures In Taking On the Family Court.’ The judge, James D. Humphrey of the Dearborn Circuit Court, didn’t like it, and ordered him to take it down.
Brewington, believing he had a First Amendment right to criticize a public official, refused. So two and a half months later, the judge took away Brewington’s visitation with his daughters.
A year after that, according to the film, Brewington wrote on his blog, ‘One of the biggest child abusers is wearing a black robe and holding a gavel.’
The judge had him arrested. Brewington was convicted of intimidating a judge and attempted obstruction of justice, and sentenced to five years in prison. The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the verdict. He served two and a half years.
Welcome home!: The picture that welcomed Dan Brewington home after his prison sentence
Brewington was released for good behavior on September 5, 2013. A week later, the case was argued before Indiana Supreme Court, with many civic and news organizations supporting Brewington’s case because of its First Amendment implications. A decision has not yet been announced.
‘Divorce Corp’ uncovers conflicts of interests among judges and attorneys, how the system creates incentives for parents to fight over child custody, and how frustration over court rulings sometimes leads to violence.
The film contrasts American adversarial divorces with what happens in Scandinavia.
‘What we found there was pleasantly surprising,’ Storge, the director, says. ‘They don’t use lawyers. They don’t get the court involved. They don’t fight over child support.’
‘I hope our film can at least raise awareness and expose a system that so many people are injured by,’ Storge says. ‘I hope it gets people interested in reforming it.’
From SK today: She went to court, a custody/divorce case where a good mother lost custody/visitation because her former (bad) attorney made a deal and threatened her that unless she acceded to supervised visitation (where a bad therapist was making money off a wrongful court order), the police were going to arrest her. Of course, she did nothing wrong, and that turned out to be a lie, but the damage was done and she could not see her kids for months.
But wait, it gets better. Last court date when our savvy smart pro se mom used the words constitution, due process, bar complaint, she ended up quickly with 5 deputy sheriffs in the court room. Bit of gang banging there. This time, she had several of them show up when her case was called and one followed her out, asking her questions about who contacted a certain state agency alleging corruption in the court. She was smart enough to tell him nothing, but the tone of the statements made by the bailiff was clearly intimidation. The bailiff said the sheriff’s department was “trying to figure out” who was alleging corruption in the court and they had narrowed it down to certain cases and litigants. It didn’t seem to her they were concerned about cleaning up the corruption in this cases, rather than how to figure out how to cover it up and harass and intimidate anyone who happens to mention the “C” word. Way to go crooked bailiffs.
From AP tdoay: Last month his case was (get this one) DWP’d because he filed his courtesy copies early. That DWP was ruled without prejudice. This month he files a motion to reinstate and this time it is DWP’d again with prejudice (meaning the order is final and appealable). The reason? According to opposing counsel, he received a notice from the US courts efile system something was filed, but there was no attachment. So the computer glitched. The judge should have set a short date of 7 to 10 days to return to give him 10 days to study the motion. She didn’t. She just dismissed the motion with prejudice. AP is suing certain judges and attorneys for civil rights/due process violations. Do you think that has anything to do with the dismissal of his case? For sure. Good going Judge Moira Johnson, our special needs judge of the day.