Elder Advocate, California
Part I: READ HERE
Part II –
Public Guardian imprisons & isolates Gisela Riordan
In 2010, Santa Clara County Public Guardian Donald Moody petitioned for conservatorship of Gisela Riordan. Based on false allegations by Court Reporter Herlinda Acevedo, Judge Thomas Cain approved the petition. With the stroke of a pen, Moody had complete control over Gisela’s life.
Moody immediately seized Gisela’s bank accounts. He evicted her son and sold their home the following year. Gisela languishes in isolation. For two and a half years, Moody has denied Gisela’s right to visitation, phone calls, and mail. Consistent with his wholesale violation of civil rights, Moody denied Gisela’s right to vote in 2012.
Moody imprisoned and isolated Gisela at Villa Fontana, a secured residential care facility that will violate the law in exchange for payment. Villa Fontana blatantly violates personal rights of residents. They refuse to discuss those violations with elder advocates.
April 27 – 30, 2012: Jennifer Lan & Violation of Resident’s Personal Rights
This reporter temporarily established contact with Gisela by arriving at Villa Fontana on a Friday evening, shortly after a visit by Deputy Public Guardian Rebecca Pisano-Torres. The Villa Fontana night staff assumed I was with the Public Guardian’s office, and they allowed me to enter.
When I first approached Gisela, she was bewildered that anyone would come to see her. She was horribly lonely and sobbed for over an hour, clutching my arm and begging me not to forget her. She demanded I promise that I would visit her again. Sadly, the Public Guardian has prevented my keeping that promise.
On Monday, Villa Fontana staff recognized me as an elder advocate. Employee Jennifer Lan, accompanied by four male staffers, entered Gisela’s room and ordered me to leave. I guided Lan to a poster of the residents’ rights located in the facility lobby.
I read Personal Right #11 aloud.
To have his/her visitors, including ombudspersons and advocacy representatives permitted to visit privately during reasonable ours and without prior notice, provided that the rights of other residents are not infringed upon.
Lan responded, “She doesn’t have the right to make decisions for herself.”
April 27, 2012: Rebecca Pisano-Torres & Violation of Conservatee’s Rights
Notice of Conservatee’s Rights states on page 2:
Unless the court has limited or taken the right away, the conservatee also retains the right to:
Receive personal mail;
Receive visits from family and friends;
This reporter met briefly with Deputy Public Guardian Rebecca Pisano-Torres and suggested that California law gives Gisela the right to have visitors. Pisano-Torres expressed her willingness to violate the Conservatee’s Rights.
Torres: “Actually, it’s my choice.”
Kincaid: “Are you sure about that?”
Torres: “It is. I’m positive.”
A few days later, Pisano-Torres denied Gisela visitation with her son, Marcus Riordan.
May 2, 2012: Carlotta Royal & Violation of Conservatee’s Rights
During a phone conversation with this reporter, Deputy Public Guardian Carlotta Royal expressed her willingness to violate the Conservatee’s Rights. Royal also expressed befuddlement as to the contents of California’s
Responding to my request to visit Gisela:
Royal: “…No. You won’t be able to.”
Kincaid: “And what authority do you have to restrict visitation?”
Royal: “We’re the conservator. The court appointed conservator.”
Kincaid: “…you are stating that you have authority to restrict visitation.”
Royal: “Based on the information I have been provided. Yes.”
Kincaid: “Are you familiar with the conservatorship handbook?”
Royal: “Yes, I am. I have a copy here at my desk.”
Kincaid: “Are you familiar with the section that states the conservator does not have the right to restrict visitation?”
Royal: “What? What page are you referring to?”
The section that eluded Royal is on page 61 of California’s
When a person becomes a conservatee, he or she does not lose the right to visit with friends or family. Encourage the conservatee to keep in touch with family members, friends, and neighbors.
Do not isolate the conservatee by keeping friends or family away. (emphasis added)
The Handbook for Conservators was developed by the Judicial Council of California. The Handbook is provided to all conservators and is intended to guide conservators in complying with Probate Code.
June 6, 2012: Yara Ruiz & Violation of Conservatee’s Rights
Court Investigator Yara Ruiz visited Gisela and prepared a report for the court. That report stated:
…she was clear in expressing a desire for continued visitation with both Mark and Kelly.
The report confirmed that visitation had been largely denied.
The Public Guardian has denied visitation to Mark during periods of time when his concerning behavior and his hostility toward the Public Guardian has escalated specifically when the Public Guardian evicted him from Gisela’s home and then sold the home. (emphasis added)
The reader can decide whether hostility is warranted when a loved one is imprisoned and isolated, family is evicted, and the home is sold to fund the abuse.
Ruiz suggested a mechanism for the Public Guardian to obtain legal authority for the ongoing isolation. Her recommendation is truly frightening for any person that values personal rights and due process of law.
There appears to be a need for better defined parameters surrounding visitation challenges that might include specifications such as frequency, duration, what topics will not be discussed, etc. Furthermore it also appears the Public Guardian should request expansion of the current visitation order to include non-family members. (emphasis added)
As part of her visit, Ruiz had Gisela complete an Affidavit of Voter Registration, and Ruiz confirmed that Gisela completed the Affidavit correctly. However, Ruiz did not submit the Affidavit to the Registrar of Voters. That failure is a misdemeanor punishable by up to $1,000. That failure also denied Gisela’s right to vote.
Gisela’s estate was billed $600 for Ruiz’s report.
June – July 2012: Elder Advocates & National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse
Eighteen elder advocates called Villa Fontana over a two-week period, asking to visit with Gisela Riordan. All requests were denied.
Date Time Villa Fontana Employee Response
6/23 afternoon Refuse to state Refuse
6/24 2:08pm Refuse to state Refuse
6/23 5:37pm Refuse to state Refuse
6/24 6:12pm Jenny Refuse
6/24 6:55pm Refuse to state Refuse
6/24 7:07pm Refuse to state Refuse
6/25 10:15 Adrien Refuse
6/28 10:59am Adrien Refuse
6/28 12:17pm Adrien Refuse
6/28 12:41pm Lulet “Fuck”
6/28 1:05 Adrien Refuse
6/28 2:33 Adrien Refuse
6/29 2:25 Adrien Refuse
7/2 1:53pm Adrien Refuse
7/3 3:40pm Adrien Refuse
7/3 4:00 pm Marife Deuwel Refuse
7/5 9:19am Adrien Refuse
August 14, 2012: Bruce Thurman & Violation of Conservatee’s Rights
In a voicemail for this reporter, Deputy Public Guardian Bruce Thurman added his willingness to violate the Conservatee’s Rights.
“My name is Bruce Thurman with the Office of the Public Guardian. I’m the assigned Deputy Public Guardian conservator for Gisela Riordan. This message is for Linda Kincaid. You had called me yesterday and asked to visit with Gisela Riordan. My response to you is that that’s going to be a negative. No. If you have questions, you can call me at 408-755-7676. Thanks.”
October 2012: ABC 7 I-Team & Dan Noyes
Investigative reporter Dan Noyes visited Villa Fontana and asked to visit Gisela. Villa Fontana employee Steve Hooker denied the visit and called Deputy Public Guardian Bruce Thurman. Thurman instructed Hooker to call 911.
Noyes introduced himself to the officer who responded — he didn’t really understand why he was there. He gave Noyes an incident card and left.
Noyes’ interview with Department of Aging and Adult Services Director Lee Pullen was equally perplexing.
Dan Noyes: “Why call the police on me? What danger did I pose to anyone at the nursing home?
Lee Pullen: “I think you and the public should feel good about that because that means the public guardian, acting as the conservator of individuals in any kind of residential facility, is thinking first of protecting that person’s interest.”
Dan Noyes: “Oh come on, what about me was a danger to anyone?”
It should be noted that Noyes has clearance to be in the oval office with the president. See the full story and associated video at Public guardian under fire for isolating elderly by the ABC 7 I-Team in San Francisco.