What's REALLY Driving the Death Train for Terri! EXPLOSIVE Revelations About Judge Greer and Pinellas County "Guardians!"
Is Pinellas County using guardianship as a cover for robbing the handicapped and elderly?
If you had found a way to steal thousands of dollars from wealthy elderly, where would you find the most victims? Yes, Florida is the first state that comes to my mind.
I never bought into the “right to die” thing. It is as much spin as the term “reproductive rights” is for abortion. "Right to die" is spin, but spin for what? While I know evil exists and admit I can’t understand the rational of being in favor of killing people; I felt there just had to be more than a pro-death “belief.” I think I found what is behind this “belief.” It isn’t about death with dignity. I think you will be shocked and horrified at what I found.
Pinellas County Internal Auditor, Robert W. Melton has been assigned by Florida legislators to address guardianship reform. He says, “….the practices I have seen in the short time I have been involved in guardianships is shocking. It is time to put an end to unscrupulous practices at the expense of our state's most vulnerable citizens."
Court appointed professional guardians in Pinellas County have a great system going under the protection of judges like George Greer. Most of these guardians handle cases for wards who are mentally or physically incapable of doing so themselves. Even though Michael Schiavo is not a “professional” guardian, this case will set a precedent for the treatment of the disabled. Right now the abuse robs these people of their life savings and assets, while accusing family members of being the greedy ones and these “guardians” are only “protecting” these vulnerable citizens.
A GREAT example of how they operate to gain guardianship and then “protect” their wards is below.
Here are just 10 of the "dirty tricks," as outlined by Pinellas County Internal Auditor Robert W. Melton:
- Guardian creation of a trust: Remove all oversight by the court as a provision of the trust agreement; guardian becomes trustee; provide that the trustee can do whatever they want at their sole discretion.
- Sell real estate at lowball price: Use "lowball" valuations as a benchmark; don't list property with Realtors; sell to a land trust, where nobody knows the beneficiary; watch property resold a few months later for a huge increase.
- Maximize your (or your crony's) profit from investments: Hire money manager for "financial expertise" and let the manager select an investment broker; invest in volatile stocks and trade frequently to generate commissions; if you run up a large gain, don't selectively liquidate over time to pay the taxes but hold a "fire sale" to raise funds all in one day.
- Undervalue beginning inventory: Have a used-furniture "friend" value a house full of antiques for $3,000; "forget" to put some of the more expensive items on the inventory; "forget" to include a $40,000 certificate of deposit.
- Pay yourself first: Make payment of guardian and attorney fees the highest priority; disregard mortgage payments and let ward's home go into foreclosure; squirrel away money in the attorney's escrow account for possible future expenses.
- Maintain guardianship at all costs: Keep family members uninformed; if family members try to become guardian, accuse them of stealing; use the ward's assets for legal fights to retain guardianship.
- Improper financial reporting: Bury asset-management and brokerage fees as aggregate capital losses "due to market fluctuations"; don't classify disbursements separately; file incomplete or incorrect safe-deposit box inventories.
- Forced incompetency: Visit assisted-living facilities and establish employee contacts; obtain voluntary limited financial guardianship; if there is money in the estate, do paperwork to force an evaluation of competency; get control over everything and the ward loses all rights.
- Pay your attorney well: Let attorney bill full rate to shop for a computer and set it up for the ward; let attorneys bill their full rate, even if work is done by a paralegal or assistant.
- Forget to file federal tax returns: Ensure there is a refund; wait till the ward dies; get check without oversight.
One way to prevent improprieties, according to Melton, would be to make public the initial inventories of wards' estates and the annual accountings of assets that guardians are required to file with the court. "The lack of public scrutiny breeds misdeeds and misappropriations because people who may know the truth would not have access," says Melton.
In Melton’s own words, "When we have both guardians and judges trying to keep auditors out, we have a system ripe for corruption and fraud."
"Absurd......" was the reaction of George W. Greer, a Pinellas circuit judge who hears probate cases, to Melton's proposal for more openness in guardianships. "I'm at a loss to see what that would accomplish."
As for auditing guardianships, Melton told the task force that his office is getting stonewalled.
"In Pinellas County, attempts are being made to limit the clerk's audit authority," Melton said. "This ranges from guardians that refuse to submit to an audit unless a court order is received, to judges that question the authority of the clerk to use professional auditing staff to conduct the audits."
As I researched further I found something even more troubling. I found the records of Judge Greer's campaign contibutions for 2004(You can go here to see them for yourself. When filling in the boxes, remember to list for General ELection 2004 and Greer's name. You will also need to change the amount of those you want listed from 500 to 1000 in order to get the FULL list.). Out of the 739 Contributors, well over half are attorneys. Many are also involved with real estate. Greer raised a total of $162,106.10. According to sources in the media, this is the most money ever raised by a judicial campaign.
If you use the links above, you will find much much more information on this DANGEROUS web of money and manipulaion. You will find stories of how professional guardians "shop" nursing homes for prospects, and are able to gain full control over people's estates by simply challenging
them in court to PROVE their own competency!
I will wrap up by sharing these quotes I found:
It is a system that in practice often serves lawyers over clients. Even as the court's lax oversight allows guardians to neglect their responsibilities, it also permits some lawyers to take unnecessary control of people's lives. — Washington Post, 2003
Judges and their favored professional conservators and guardians, expert witnesses and court investigators have unspoken agendas: money, power and control. When an elderly individual is brought into court and forced to prove his or her competence, we soon see that the system does not work. We have a system rife with court-sanctioned abuse of the elderly. Why? Judges override protections that have been put in place in the codes. It happens every day. Judges disregard durable powers of attorney — the single most important document each of us can create to determine our care should we become incapacitated. Judges ignore our lists of pre-selected surrogate decision-makers. The current system does not work. This reality is most apparent when a wealthy individual falls victim to these involuntary proceedings and his or her wealth becomes a ripe plum to be shared by the Judge’s favorites. — Diane G. Armstrong, Ph.D., excerpt of prepared statement before the U.S. Senate's Special Committee on Aging, February, 2003. Author of The Retirement Nightmare: How to Save Yourself from Your Heirs and Protectors: Involuntary Conservatorships and Guardianships.
The denial of these rights is the consequence of a court determination that an individual is legally "incompetent" or "incapacitated" and the appointment by the court of a guardian to act as surrogate decision maker on the person's behalf. The real tragedy is that mounting evidence suggests that many of these individuals — having been stripped of their right to self-determination — are being poorly served, and even victimized and exploited by the very persons or agencies appointed to protect them and to make decisions on their behalf. — House of Representatives, Select Committee on Aging Report
"Ironically, the imposition of guardianship without adequate protections and oversight may actually result in the loss of liberty and property for the very persons these arrangements are intended to protect. — Chairman of the Senate Special Committee, Larry Craig
...guardianship can divest an elderly person of all the rights and freedoms we consider important as citizens. — Chairman of the Senate Special Committee, Larry Craig
“Instead of serving to protect the assets of incapacitated persons, the existing guardianship system presents the opportunity for unscrupulous guardians to loot the assets of their wards and enrich themselves with impunity.” — New York Grand Jury
"These are not isolated, occasional blips. This constitutes a significant portion of the cases out there. They were flat-out rip-off situations." — Robert L. Aldridge, elder law attorney and a member of ElderLawAnswers.com
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