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TENNESSEE COURTS OK’s HIDING LEGAL & FINANCIAL DOCS

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Attorneys & Fiduciaries hid Legal, Accounting, Securities and other Records from Trustees

Nashville, Tennessee­­ | Team Reporting by SPF

Tennessee is now the only the only state in the nation that allows attorneys and financial principals to hide and destroy legal and financial records from others involved in a legal and financial transaction.

Tennessee’s appeals court has upheld a lower-court ruling in a breach of fiduciary duty case involving the accountings for an estate out of Williamson County. The ruling wipes out centuries of black-letter law and makes it legal in Tennessee for attorneys, bankers, brokers, realtors and other fiduciaries to hide legal and financial records from clients, beneficiaries—and the courts.

Williamson County Tennessee Judge James Martin III

The original ruling was made by Judge James G. Martin in a claim involving the accounting for an estate and trusts based in the small town of Leiper’s Fork.

At the federal level, and in all other states, if an attorney or fiduciary hides or destroys legal and financial records, or hides records from their client-beneficiaries, it is considered a breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and/or obstruction of justice.

The ruling from Tennessee’s courts is a seismic shift in their laws and alters what people can expect from the legal and financial professionals they employ—and are subject to—when doing business in the Volunteer state.

A DRILL-DOWN: BIG NAMES TIED TO A SMALL CASE

The case was a simple one with a common theme: The widow of a Tennessee man wanted more money than she had agreed to when she signed the pre-nuptial with her spouse. To get more money, the widow teamed up with her attorney to hide and destroy the records of those assets from the man’s sons, who were trustees and beneficiaries of the estate.

Court records show that the estate itself was relatively small, with less than $200,000 subject to probate. (Many of the family’s assets had been placed into trusts.) More

Ohio Confronts Elder-Fraud 

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StopProbateFraud.com

October 18, 2019 —For immediate release.

Steubenville, Ohio

Team Reporting from www.stopprobatefraud.com

 

Facing the glare of the elder-fraud spotlight, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (left) is sending his top experts to address the problem in a  Steubenville public forum.

Titled “Protecting the Unprotected” the forum will be held from 12:30  pm to 4:00 pm on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at the Towers Building, 500 Market Street, in the 2nd floor conference room.

Ohio has battled elder-fraud for years, and the state is again in the hot-seat due to a racketeering case brought by Dr. Mehdi Saghafi from Cleveland. A racket is a crime at both state and federal levels and can be spotted when the those billing to “fix” or “manage” a  problem are the same people that caused the problem in the first place.

Dr. Saghafi’s claim is that his family was the victim of financial exploitation when his 80-year old wife was trapped in the legal maze of a court-ordered guardianship. The family claims that once  “captured” in the court system, attorneys and accountants targeted the family’s assets and  billed the family hundreds of thousands of dollars for the ”care” of his wife.

Just months before that racketeering suit was allowed to proceed,  there was the FBI investigation of Ohio Judge Diane Vettori-Caraballo (shown   left). The judge was indicted and pled guilty to charges stemming from her theft of over $100,000 from an estate for which she was the court-appointed administrator. For more on that story, go here: https://wp.me/p9585T-gD

Ohio is not alone in the fight against fraud. Weeks ago, Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel fired four of her state’s probate administrators after complaints that the attorneys had used their court-power to drain the assets of estates they controlled. See this link for  details: https://wp.me/p9585T-fH

Over the summer, Florida’s probate system made national headlines when court-appointed guardian Rebecca Fierle (right) was accused of causing the death of a man who was in her care by issuing a “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) order—without informing or getting the consent of the man who was “not to be resuscitated.” For more on this fraud story, go here: https://wp.me/p9585T-gt

Yost’s Steubenville event features nearly a dozen speakers including four with state-wide experience in elder-fraud investigation and prosecution: Sylvia Pla-Raith; Kevin Barbeau, CFE; Michael Kaizar, CPA CFE; Kelly Igoe, JD. The session offers residents of the region a place to meet and learn about the “red flags of fraud” from Ohio’s experts in elder financial fraud.

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) calls fraud “theft by deceit,” and “theft with a smile and is prosecuted every day across the USA. But in cases where the “mark” or victim is an incapacitated and/or elderly person, the issues can expand from simple fraud into a RICO and civil rights cases.

“Many people don’t know that there are thousands of people in guardianships in Ohio,” says Rosanna Miller (shown right  with her father, Clair) who is a member of the advocacy group  “Ohio Coalition to End Probate Corruption” (OCEPC). The Ohio coalition is just one of nearly a dozen grass-roots groups across the United States who  fight guardianship and elder financial abuse including  NASGA,  AAAPG and VGPR.

New federal elder-care legislation (U.S. H.R. 4174) details that there are approximately 1.3 million elderly adults in the United States who have their lives controlled in a guardianship.  These vulnerable adults have amassed roughly 50 billion dollars in assets. These figures will get bigger with the aging of the “boomer” generation and the rise in life-expectancy.

The Steubenville forum is designed to help people learn how to spot and stop fraud from the best and brightest in the area of elder fraud prevention and prosecution. The speakers will detail the warning signs of elder financial exploitation and financial crimes and give attendees tools and strategies to assist victims of financial exploitation.

In addition to the state-level experts, there will be local Jefferson-County speakers as well, including Sheriff Fred J. Abdalla; Jefferson County Attorney Jane Hanlin; Marie Holt, Ericka Kirkpatrick and probate Judge Joseph Corabi.  The forum is designed to give people in the community a local contact when they need expertise in the elder financial fraud area. Q&A sessions are expected, time permitting.

The event is free but the room holds only 125 people. Please use this link to pre-register:

https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Elder-Financial-Exploitation-Symposium

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www.stopprobatefraud.com is a news and information site focused on helping people spot and stop fraud in probates, trusts, estates and guardianships. Contact our team at: stopprobatefraud@gmail.com

 

Follow us on Twitter: @StopFraud4

 

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