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NASGA Press Release: National guardianship abuse awareness organization applauds Michigan Lt. Governor’s decision to replace State Public Administrator

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December 2, 2019                    For Immediate Release

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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. More

Judge: Guardian must return $3.8 million in Gadsden case

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By William Thornton
An Etowah County woman will end up returning more than $3.85 million to her mother’s estate as the result of a judge’s ruling.
The case, decided last month in Etowah County Circuit Court, dealt with the conservatory and custodial duties of a woman appointed co-conservator of her mother. Circuit Judge George Day Jr., ruled that the woman, who has not been charged with any crime, “breached her fiduciary duty to her mother’s Conservatorship estate, has failed to properly account for her actions and the funds and assets under her control, all of which has caused substantial damage” to the estate.
Additionally, the Court awarded a judgment against the daughter in relation to the custodial accounts for the incapacitated woman’s granddaughter, totaling $393,509.
Chris Hamer and Rebecca Wright of the Hamer Law Group represented the incapacitated woman’s conservator, an attorney who was appointed after the daughter resigned as conservator. The case has also generated a federal court action.
“This case represents the most egregious breach of fiduciary duties we’ve ever seen,” Hamer said in a statement. “Cases involving misappropriation and misuse of assets by family members appointed as fiduciaries are especially distressing for all involved.”
As a result of the decision, all money in the estate has been accounted for, attorneys said. According to court documents, the daughter of the incapacitated woman became conservator of her then-77-year-old mother in 2014. The woman, who died earlier this year, had 12 children.

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Police ‘Involvement’ in Conservatorship Issues?

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Janet Phelan 

Police arrests in fragile environments, usually involving seniors, violate everything from moral sense to the UN Human Rights Declaration…

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Photo courtesy: chrisbrownlaw.com

(SAN BERNARDINO) – I stood at the Probate clerk’s window at Redlands court, craning my neck to read the top sheet of a thick stack of papers which faced away from me. The page was stamped in large, bold letters “CONFIDENTIAL.” That alone was enough to get my attention.

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And the clerk was in the back, digging through boxes to find a file I had requested, and had left me alone with the documents, albeit somewhat out of my reach. As I read upside down, I realized that this was a police notification concerning escaped “human property,” a conservatee. A conservatee is someone with no legal rights, and one had just escaped the confines of his genteel prison and was on the loose.

I read on. The conservatee in question was fifty seven years old, a bit young for dementia, I thought, and was described as wearing a baseball cap, T-shirt and shorts. An APB had been put out on the escapee.

For those who are unaware of the gaping legal loophole in “equality and justice for all,” a conservatee (in some states referred to as a ward) is someone who has been stripped of all his rights and all his assets through a legal proceeding.

Conservatorships are generally launched through an action in probate court, when there are allegations that a person may be becoming forgetful or otherwise demonstrating that they are lacking capacity. Often these are ex parte hearings and the person under scrutiny may not even be in the courtroom. More

The State of California and Failure to Protect

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Janet Phelan
November 19, 2010
San Bernardino County Sentinel

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“A recent board meeting found the members focused on concerns about raising more revenue for the bureau, which has taken out two loans totaling over a million dollars in order to stay solvent. The bureau reported that $357,000 for the current year covered only two staff positions and that a mere $50,000 was allotted for enforcement. The minutes reflect concerns that “one big case would break the budget.”

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When Janis Schock learned that her complaint of conservator wrongdoing, submitted to the California Professional Fiduciaries Bureau, had been closed without an investigation taking place, she was dumbfounded. The communication from Angela Bigelow, analyst and sole full-time employee of the Professional Fiduciary Bureau (PFB), stated that the court must first make a determination of wrongdoing before the PFB could take action. Janis Schock wasn’t so sure this was true.

As it turns out, Schock was correct.

The Professional Fiduciaries Bureau is a relatively new addition to consumer oversight agencies and is lodged in the Department of Consumer Affairs. The PFB was established by an act of law in 2006, following public outcry engendered by a 2005 Los Angeles Times series which revealed questionable practices by California conservators, who were at that time unlicensed. The bureau, as written into law, is mandated to license professional fiduciaries, to investigate complaints and, where appropriate, to refer complaints to law enforcement.  The bureau is also empowered to revoke a license based on complaints and to take action on unlicensed activity.  The Professional Fiduciaries Act defines a professional fiduciary in this manner:

“Professional fiduciary”means a person who acts as a conservator of the person, the estate, or person and estate, or guardian of the estate, or person and estate, for two or more individuals at the same time who are not related to the professional fiduciary or to each other.

Conservators are generally appointed through court proceedings when there are allegations that a person is lacking capacity; in other words, becoming forgetful or otherwise unable to handle his or her affairs.  These allegations need meet no standard of proof, which provides an opening for abuse of process.  The Government Accountability Office recently released a report citing multiple instances where a conservator had abused his powers to the detriment of the conservatee.  Several grassroots groups have sprung up to address the issue of abusive conservatorships, which are reported to be taking place countrywide. More

Guardianship Abuse: How The California Justice System Covers Up Crimes

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 Janet Phelan  Live link: Reporter at large

Copyright © 2009, 2010, 2011 All Rights Reserved.

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Note: The following report does not constitute what we have come to call “journalism” or “reportage.” Rather, it constitutes witnessing. As defined in our culture, journalism mandates the creation of a fiction, the “objective” reporter. In this paradigm, the reporter would be a camera, devoid of involvement or input in what she reports. As we know from physics, however, the very act of witnessing changes that which is witnessed. To the best of my ability, the following constitutes my witness—that justice in the United States of America is, with calculated and savage indifference, being dismantled by the very parties pledged to protect it.

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I first became aware of how the California justice agencies were finessing crime reports against “protected parties,” including the C.A.R.E. conservatorship cabal, a few years back. This group is plundering the life savings of its elderly and disabled clients, as well as delivering a great number of them into a premature grave, through the denial of appropriate medical care. In 2006, Russell East and I had joined our separate reports, alleging criminal misconduct by Melodie Z. Scott (President of C.A.R.E.), her attorney J. David Horspool and others in the cabal, and sent the reports to the California Department of Justice.

The report was received by that agency on March 6, 2006 and put back into the mail to us the very same day. The letter by Senior Assistant Attorney General Mark Geiger (Special Crimes Unit) is attached below. While the Senior Assistant Attorney General of the Great State of California confessed to inadequate “criminal expertise” (didn’t he mean “legal expertise?”) to respond to the reports, he actually violated the procedures of his public office by failing to supply a complaint number. More

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