December 2, 2019                    For Immediate Release


As both an advocate for victims of guardianship abuse and legislative change nationwide, the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse (NASGA) commends Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist’s decision appointing Katharyn Barron as State Public Administrator as a hopeful step in the right direction in a state which has been plagued with horrific abuses of constitutional, statutory and human rights of individuals under guardianship and their families allegedly committed by County Public Administrators and Probate Court Judges for the past 30 years.

Although the November 22 announcement by Attorney General Dana Nessel curiously omitted any mention of former State Public Administrator Michael Moody, who held the position for over eight years, NASGA Community Outreach Coordinator Gretchen Rachel Hammond says the decision to replace him is long overdue.

Prior to joining NASGA, Hammond was an award-winning investigative journalist who published an August, 2019 groundbreaking five-part series detailing alleged abuses by now-former Oakland County Public Administrators in over 2,000 cases. The articles noted that Moody had been consistently unresponsive to complaints by desperate families who reached out to him stating that public administrators, acting as guardians and conservators, were isolating, abusing and stealing from the estates of seniors and developmentally disabled individuals placed under Oakland County Probate Court guardianship often after petitions filed by agencies such as Michigan’s Adult Protective Services which were not accompanied by any corroborating medical evidence.

“I collected dozens of emails from Moody to these family members,” Hammond says. “His consistent response was that there was nothing he could do and that these families should hire legal counsel. However, numerous attorneys told me that they would not take cases at Oakland County because fighting a public administrator who had been appointed as a guardian or conservator by any one of the four judges was a losing proposition that would end up in the threat or sanctions against the attorney or worse.”

“The uniform response was that public administrators who take guardianship and conservatorship cases are acting as private attorneys and, therefore, not under Moody’s jurisdiction,” Hammond adds. “But, with no one providing any oversight, these families go around in circles with no resolution. It has meant that these alleged abuses have continued unchecked, even after Nessel’s formation of an Elder Abuse Task Force.”

On the same day Hammond’s series was published, Nessel announced the removal of three of the four public administrators featured in her stories. As with Moody’s replacement, there was very little explanation as to why.

“The hope is that this second quiet move will finally help provide some degree of relief for alleged victims and their families,” Hammond says. “Michigan ranks highest in the states where we have seen massive corruption in probate courts. It is long past time for an out of control cycle to end and for thousands of victims and their families to have redress.”

For the past 11 years, NASGA has been a leading nationwide voice to curb abuses by professional guardians through legislative change and awareness. It has been an invaluable resource for researchers and journalists seeking to shed light on a topic which has received scant media attention.

Elaine Renoire,

Gretchen Rachel Hammond,
Community Outreach Coordinator