Gretchen Rachel Hammond
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“June 27 was petition day at the Oakland County Court. As soon as people saw my press badge, I was approached by at least 15-20 different families all begging me to write about their case. It was as if I had carried a loaf of bread into a village of starving people. Midway through the morning, I was escorted out of the building by at least a half-dozen sheriff’s deputies who were acting on orders of the courts judicial attorney Ryan Deel’s claims that I had not been given permission by the clerk of the court to be there.”
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After the above article was published detailing elder abuse by professional guardians in Northern Michigan, I visited the Oakland County Probate Court to watch a June 27 hearing on a petition for visitation brought by Mimi Brun who has not seen her mother Virginia Wahab for the two-years since Mimi’s power of attorney was tossed out Wahab had been assigned a professional guardian Jon Munger.What is happening in Oakland County is systemic and in literally hundreds of pages of documents I have already collected, I am seeing the same pattern in multiple cases involving at least six professional attorney/guardians there and three out of the four judges.

The guardians are alerted to a new admission by a nursing home with whom they have a downstream relationship. The nursing home then files a petition for guardianship which is granted by an Oakland County judge regardless of an existing power of attorney or whether or not the senior or his/her/their family is represented by counsel. The guardian then immediately halts visitation by the family members. In complete control of his ward’s medical and financial life, he proceeds to strip the estate, sell the house at far below market cost and bill the ward thousands. Within months, the ward has been declared both incapacitated and destitute. The guardian then applies for Medicaid benefits on behalf of the nursing home. Both the guardian and the nursing home make a tremendous profit while the ward is left to rot, often in a substandard facility.

In the Wahab case, detailed in the article, the reason that Munger had been assigned was stated as a past due-bill owed Lourdes and a need for the organization to apply for Medicaid benefits for Wahab. There is no Michigan statute that allows for a petition to be made or a guardian to be assigned because a nursing facility is owed money. 

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