As in Terri's Case, Guardians Have All the Power, and the Wards are Victims....Florida is a HOTBED of ABUSE!
This person was not incompetent and was able to see she was getting robbed and killed! In 2004 nothing has changed, except the media's reluctance to tackle this issue. This robbing and killing is happening now.
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September 19, 1995
Miami Herald: Senior's court-appointed Guardian was Robbing and Starving her.
Guardian Charged with Cheating Client Elderly Woman's Savings used for Spending Spree
APRIL WITT Herald Staff Writer
Elderly Ethel Hill begged for help, telling anyone who would listen that her court-appointed guardian was robbing and starving her. But no one believed her and no one helped.
On Monday -- more than a year after Hill, 94, died an emaciated pauper -- Fort Lauderdale police charged her former guardian with stealing $287,480 of Hill's life savings in a four-year spending frenzy.
"Martha Wright had a free-for-all," said Fort Lauderdale detective Joseph B. Roubicek. "Ethel Hill's funds were depleted in a blatant manner, and nobody seemed to catch on.
"In a perfect world, the court system should have caught this, the bank should have caught this, and the police should have moved in a year ago."
Wright, 50, of Lauderhill, was charged with felony grand theft and jailed under a $200,000 bond.
According to police, Wright raided Hill's checking account. She wrote $207,000 in checks to herself or cash and more than $50,000 to her daughter. Wright even paid her cellular phone bill and made donations to her church with Hill's money, Roubicek said.
A former maid, Wright talked Broward judges into placing nearly a dozen elderly people and their assets -- a total of more than half a million dollars -- under her control although she had no experience in social work or financial management.
A June 1994 article in The Herald documented how Wright abused her power as a professional guardian: She made Hill a pauper, emptied out other old people's bank accounts, leased herself a car in the name of an elderly man who couldn't drive and sold the home of another ward to her own brother.
Police and prosecutors are still investigating whether Wright committed a crime against any of her other elderly clients and whether she had accomplices who should be charged.
"It's a pending matter, and I can't comment on it," Assistant State Attorney Lee Cohen said Monday.
Before a judge fired her from all her guardianship cases last year, Wright made a living watching over elderly or disabled people declared incapable of taking care of themselves. Professional guardians, acting on tips from people like social workers, neighbors and nursing home operators, can go to court to try to have anyone declared incapacitated.
Many of the elderly people Broward judges placed in Wright's care were extremely frail, confused and had no close relatives to help them. They belong to a fast-growing population that is straining South Florida's public social services and fueling the growth of a private guardianship industry.
In 1990, when Wright applied to be Hill's guardian, the former nurse insisted she was still able to take care of herself and did not need a stranger running her life, according to court records and interviews.
Hill was a frugal farmer's daughter who worked her way through nursing school and was proud to serve as a nurse at one of the first black hospitals in South Florida.
Still, Wright prevailed. She moved Hill out of her apartment into a succession of homes. Hill complained to one of her few relatives, John Stockton of Fort Lauderdale, that Wright didn't give her enough to eat.
Hill's bank accounts tell the sad story of how she lived and died, Roubicek said.
Hill, a careful saver, rarely wrote a check for more than $50 before Wright became her guardian, Roubicek said. As a result, she had savings of about $312,000 and owned two homes when Wright won control of her life and money.
In 1991, the Las Olas branch of Glendale Federal agreed to act as the "designated depository" for Hill's guardianship and acknowledged receiving more than $300,000 of her money. Glendale pledged to the court not to release Hill's money to anyone without first receiving a court order authorizing the withdrawal.
But the bank failed to keep that promise. Tellers allowed Wright to make huge withdrawals without court authorization.
Wright cashed up to $23,000 in checks a month until she had wiped Hill out, Roubicek said.
"Money started flying out the window," he said.
Although Wright spent Hill's money wildly, she did not spend it on Hill, Roubicek said.
Hill's estate has since settled a civil suit against Glendale Federal, and the bank agreed to repay much of the money it gave to Wright in error.
Barbara Goglio, an attorney for the Broward court system that was supposed to oversee Wright's guardianships, expressed frustration Monday. Broward probate judges pleaded last year with the Legislature to require guardians to be licensed and regulated. They also begged county and state officials to fund more court auditors and court investigators to keep guardians honest. None of that happened, Goglio said. As a result, it is tough for judges to sort out the good guardians from the bad.
"We were asked what we thought we needed," Goglio said. "It wasn't heeded. We need help."
Roubicek said he is haunted by the statement he took from a bank teller who knew Hill and Wright. The teller told him Hill complained from the start of her guardianship that she was being robbed.
"It's scary to think that Ethel Hill knew she was being victimized from day one and she couldn't do anything about it," he said. "No one would listen to her.
"Pull a gun on me and take my wallet any day over what happened to Ethel Hill. Her life was stolen."