The completely legal, utterly grotesque system for undermining the rights of the elderly

At 92 years old, Virginia “Jean” Wahab hadn’t lost any of the vitality and health she maintained throughout her life. She raised two daughters as a single mom and made a home for them in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park, Michigan. Wahab worked on her feet and didn’t retire from her job at a local family restaurant until she was 88.

Fiercely independent, Wahab was quite happy living at home after retirement. She had a healthy social life. She did her own grocery shopping and chores. She so rarely needed to pay a visit to a hospital that her health insurance was barely touched.

Her eldest daughter, Mimi Brun, converted to Judaism at the age of 18. She went on to become a prolific Jewish artist, who sold her work all over the world. In 2010, she began to establish art schools for children under 12 in France and then Chicago. Although Brun was estranged from her younger sister, she and her mother were extremely close. Wahab was Catholic, but Brun noted that she had the fastidious nature of a Jewish mother.

Wahab’s legal affairs were in order including a durable power of attorney she had signed in January 2016 which named Brun as a patient advocate (the handler of her medical needs) as well as giving her daughter charge of her financial affairs should she ever become incapacitated. Wahab’s home was also registered in Brun’s name in a quit claim deed signed by Wahab on Dec. 29, 2014.

The two talked on the phone every day. Brun particularly relished visits with her mother during which she would gift her a piece of art. Wahab was an eager collector of Brun’s work.

That was two years ago. Everything has changed since then. Continue reading on TABLET here!

1) On June 6, 2016 a petition was filed for guardianship a Waterford, MI nursing home, Lourdes Senior Community, for a back-due bill owed by a short-term rehab patient there Virginia Wahab- there is no Michigan statute which supports this.

2) The ward’s daughter Ms. Mimi Brun, who had had been given a durable power of attorney, was not properly served the petition. The nursing home sent it to an address that was not Ms. Brun’s and was not listed on the POA provided to the organization.
3) As a result, Ms. Brun told the presiding Judge Linda Hallmark that she did not have the time to procure legal representation for the subsequent hearing on June 29, 2016.
4) The hearing proceeded anyway even though Ms. Wahab was not present.
5) At the hearing, Ms. Wahab was declared incapacitated by her then-GAL Mathew Brown. No medical records were offered to substantiate this claim. In fact, they contradicted Ms. Wahab’s own HMO insurance statement of two months earlier that Lourdes staff had declared her fit to return home. Ms. Brun was neither questioned by Judge Hallmark or an attorney of the court but by Mr. Brown. Both at the hearing and in subsequent correspondence to Ms. Brun, Mr. Brown stated that a court-appointed guardian had been requested in order to secure Medicaid payments to the nursing facility.
6) During the hearing Judge Hallmark tossed out the power of attorney offering no reason under law for doing so. Ms. Wahab was assigned to a professional guardian Mr. Jon Munger.
7) After Ms. Brun procured an attorney and contacted Lourdes then-CFO to try and make payment herself, Mr. Munger immediately cut off her visitation rights. According to his own accounting, Mr. Munger then completed a new admissions form moving Ms. Wahab from short-term rehab at Lourdes to long term residency and completed a Medicare application that was three-month retroactive.
8) Over the next two years, Ms. Brun was denied visitation to her mother who was effectively isolated by Mr. Munger and Lourdes staff.
9) A series of ex-parte orders were issued against Ms. Brun. These orders were issued off the court record. Again, Ms. Brun was not properly served with these orders. Court records and electronic copies of utility bills show that Mr. Munger had filed a change of address form for Ms. Brun using the mailing address belonging to his own office. Ms. Brun therefore received no correspondence at all including notice of the following ex-parte orders:
a) That Ms. Brun pay Lourdes $25,000.
b) An injunction against Ms, Brun barring visitation.
c) An ex parte bench warrant issued for Ms. Brun’s arrest.
10) In correspondence to Ms. Brun, both the attorney for Lourdes and Mr. Munger told her that she would not be able to visit her mother unless she paid the $25,000.
11) Mr. Munger billed Ms. Wahab over $6,000 in a three-month period including line items for hearings he never attended or were never held.
12) Mr. Munger and his attorney Joseph Ehrlich were granted another ex parte order to seize Brun’s home and it’s contents therein.
13) There was no hearing prior to this order at which Ms. Brun could be present.
14) According to a police report, Mr. Munger and his associates broke into the home on at least five separate occasions. Subsequent correspondence from Mr. Munger to Ms. Brun stated that he was holding her possessions as collateral for the $25,000.
15) In May of this year, Ms. Brun’s attorney was able to successfully argue to Judge Hallmark that the $25,000 order, arrest warrant and injunction were illegally issued. All were subsequently vacated.
16) Ms. Brun’s property has still not been returned, she is still denied visitation to her mother and she is still locked out of her home.
17) In a series of 2018 reports, Ms. Wahab’s new GAL Lisa Orlando stated categorically that Ms. Wahab wishes to leave Lourdes and return home with her daughter. Ms. Orlando stated she believes it is in the best interest for Ms. Wahab to be returned to her daughter – something she added that is also in keeping with Michigan statute.
18) Ms. Wahab still remains in isolation at Lourdes.
Following the article’s publication, I visited Oakland County Probate Court for a June 27, 2018 hearing on Ms. Brun’s petition to be permitted visitation.
Ms. Wahab was present at the hearing, in a wheelchair surrounded by at least five employees from Lourdes including their attorney and the organization’s CEO Maureen Comer.
Mother and daughter had not seen each other in two years. Their reunion was tearful. I asked Ms. Brun if I could film a more private reunion at the main entrance to the Probate Court. She agreed. Within two minutes, Mr. Ehlrich (who was neither Ms. Wahab’s guardian nor an employee or representative of Lourdes) appeared from inside the court and, for no stated reason other than words “my turn”, violently snatched the wheelchair carrying Ms. Wahab away from Ms. Brun while a Lourdes employee took Ms. Wahab back into the building. Ms. Brun was injured during the altercation.
The incident was caught both on mine and Oakland County’s own security cameras and was witnessed by at least six people.
Oakland County Probate Court sheriffs asked the witnesses to write out and sign statements.
In subsequent inquiries to Oakland County Probate Court, Ms Brun and her attorney have been told that the Oakland County security cameras were not functioning for the 15 minutes during which the altercation took place and all the witness statements are “missing.”
Mr. Munger was not present during the subsequent hearing which I was able to capture on tape, Mr. Ehrlich delivered a 20-minute deposition to Judge Hallmark that is inaccurate and, given the documentary evidence, dishonest. He even misstated the date of the first petition hearing as June 19 2016. It actually occurred ten days later.
Despite the pleas of both mother and daughter, whom she threatened to hold in contempt, Judge Hallmark ruled that an evidentiary hearing be held on July 30. Ms. Wahab was transported back to Lourdes.
Ms. Wahab is now 95-years-old and her condition is deteriorating.
This is not a case in isolation. My subsequent investigation has uncovered the following thus far:
1) Mr. Munger presently has 1,600 wards.
2) He still declares himself as a public administrator despite being fired from that role by the Michigan AG’s office late last year (no reason provided) nor listed as one by the Oakland County Probate Court.
3) I have discovered court documents which demonstrate similar actions in violation of Michigan statutes, questionable billing and financial exploitation of wards by at least six guardians employed by the Oakland County Court: Mr. Munger, Ms. Barbara Andruccioli, Mr. John Yun, Mr. Fraser Thomas Brennan and Ms. Jennifer Carey. These actions have all been rubber-stamped by three out of the four judges there: Judge Linda Hallmark, Judge Jennifer Callaghan and Judge Daniel O’Brien.
My srequest for comment both to the Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, Governor Rick Snyder and State reps and senators have gone unanswered.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also declined to comment.
This is one of the most shocking cases of systemic misconduct by a court that I have ever seen which raises at least one important question:
In articles written by my peers in the media, numerous legal experts have been cited each of whom suggest a family creating a durable power of attorney which specifically denies the appointment of a professional guardian.
However, if such a document can be dismissed by a Probate Court (as in Ms. Brun and Ms. Wahab’s case) what sort of protections remain on which seniors and their families can rely?