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We are looking to find ways to tell our tragic story to help others, so they are not taken advantage of by heartless scammers. I’m an only child and my mother was Italian-born. In Italy it is considered shameful to the family to put a parent in a nursing home. When my father passed away in 1988, my husband and I took full care of my mother (who was 64 at the time and did not have dementia yet). My dad did everything for her in terms of paperwork and socializing and we were honoring a death bed promise to him in looking out for her. He was always concerned that she would be taken advantage of due to her naïveté.


My story revolves around a situation which is becoming more common as the population ages and the weak and sick elderly are exploited - both financially and personally. The reason for me reaching out to this community is because this very personal situation that occurred to my family needs to be made public. I'm looking to find the appropriate people or public media (writers, editors, investigative reporters) to help get this story out in the open. We are not looking to “make money” on a book, but rather increase awareness of what terrible things can happen to anyone. Any suggestions to find correct investigative media in the NJ/NYC area or nationally to help other potential victims and as a concerned citizen.


In the final years of her life, my mother, who suffered from dementia, fell victim to financial abuse by the very nursing home caregivers we had trusted to keep her safe and comfortable. The corrupt nursing facility put her touch with local attorneys who manipulated her and bilked her out of hundreds of thousands of dollars and a large portion of her estate. We fought hard to stop them, but they had powerful connections. My petition for legal guardianship as her only family went nowhere, and my family was unsure where to turn when the system is so irreparably broken. The last few years of my mother’s life were fraught with watching the attorneys and judges separate her completely from her family, until they fought for and won, legal guardianship, only 22 days before her death. She died alone in the nursing home, having fallen from her bed without rails (that her guardian arranged), alone and completely isolated from her family.


My hope in telling this is that I can connect with others who are facing the same type of situation with their loved ones. There are unscrupulous people who prey on the elderly, and I would love to help at least ONE person or family avoid the same heartache we fought to keep happening from my mother. I have contacted AARP but maybe a website like Caring.com is more appropriate, but I am unsure of who the appropriate contacts are and my goal is to contact a broader forum of the media and am not afraid to even be on a television show too. We are not a journalists or bloggers, just concerned caregivers. I have seen countless stories similar to mine lately in reputable magazines and papers such as The Atlantic, NY Times, Washington Post, etc and so elder exploitation and wrongful guardianship seems to be a rapidly growing concern with increasing occurrences. I have the basic story written up in a document that can be shared that has all the details and timelines.


The list of these stories seems to be growing more and more.  Hopefully mine will also be published as well one of these days.  I have a few links to some articles and stories on similar horrible elder exploitation stories to mine listed here:

https://www.ktnv.com/news/contact-13/family-awarded-8-5-million-in-guardianship-abuse-case-says-it-s-not-about-the-money

http://www.nj.com/ocean/index.ssf/2018/04/attorney_indicted_on_charges_he_stole_19_million_f.html

http://www.nj.com/gloucester-county/index.ssf/2017/07/heres_how_criminals_are_targeting_the_elderly.html

Toms River lawyer guilty of stealing $1.5M from dead clients, child

https://www.app.com/story/news/crime/jersey-mayhem/2018/01/10/toms-river-lawyer-guilty-stealing-1-5-m-dead-clients-child/1021893001/

AARP article : https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2018/family-fraud.html

The Atlantic

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/08/who-is-stealing-grandmas-money/453360/

 NY Times article

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/06/your-money/financial-schemes-against-the-elderly-are-increasing.html

https://www.app.com/story/news/investigations/watchdog/2015/07/16/betrayal-trust-stealing-seniors/30241293/

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/09/how-the-elderly-lose-their-rights

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/targeting-scams-against-the-elderly/2014/07/29/e104bfb2-175a-11e4-9e3b-7f2f110c6265_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.1a63ba6c5e99

https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2018/family-fraud.html
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I am going to provide a name for others to read about. It is what used to happen here in Las Vegas.
The name to look up and read about deals with how the elderly and their families were treated and scammed by professional guardians and the exact reason I filed for guardianship of my wife.
Look up "April Parks","April Parks in Las Vegas."
The story is sickening and was repeated so many times in Nevada/Las Vegas.
Laws have since been changed and the new judge is very good at protecting the person needing care and appointing family members to be the caregiver.
Our Certified Eldercare Attorney was very helpful and informative.
A lot of what happened here is happening across the country. Fortunately some are taking notice and starting to make changes to help us and our families.
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ship2shore Dec 13, 2018
Thank you !! I need all the suggestions and exposure I can get at this point. I think if I can contact and speak to some of the victims who have gone public, that will certainly help. I’m sure more will follow
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I guess you don't need our help; you seem to have it all figured out. Be well.
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ship2shore Dec 13, 2018
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https://www.app.com/story/news/investigations/watchdog/investigations/2015/06/27/guardianship-abuse-incapacity-trial/71006830/
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ship2shore Dec 13, 2018
That link to that story was extremely helpful. Almost parallels ours !! I am going to try and figure out how to make contact with that couple, since they are/were located not too far from us here in NJ. The more victims that can band together and expose these disgusting corrupt lawyers, judges and nursing homes, the more victims that will emerge from the shadows. There’s also a big group in Florida that have similar horrific stories to tell: http://aaapg.net/a-victims-story-from-minnesota-to-greece/
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On a small positive note, we quickly found out that our close friends were behind us, and our University board that we sat on for years (who was also strangely named in the vicious untrue article for no apparent reason except to harm) stood by us throughout this and we will never forget that. Many people who did not know us posted death threats and horrible things about us in the comments section under the article when it went online. We eventually sold the beautiful home that we built in 2007, with such high hopes of love and family, but primarily so my mother could live comfortably with us - at a 40% loss and moved away from the town we had lived in for 20 years. My husband found a new position where he is valued and respected after months of being unemployed and now finally I can tell my story, as it should be told. I just have to find a newspaper or magazine or other form of media that will tell it. Any suggestions are always appreciated.
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To clarify, the first unethical lawyer’s friend (another lawyer) became her guardian in 2016 mainly because they went before a judge without my family knowing.  It cost my family over $120k in legal fees of our own personal finances to try and get guardianship and get the defamatory article retracted. My husband lost his job (he has an impeccable reputation in the industry) for the first time in his career and no one in our family ever saw my mother in the three years before her death. We weren’t even notified of her death by the nursing home either. Just the kind funeral director called us, because I had reached out to him and because I was next of kin. We had to prevent the slimy lawyers from attending her funeral too !! In this case, there were no other siblings or family looking to get at her money, which was given to me anyway over many years before. The corrupt nursing home and two unethical attorneys basically stole all her jewelry (which I was forced to turn over) and about 40% of her estate was completely lost. Not to mention the immense psychological pain that it caused to my family. The combination of dementia and BiPolar diagnosis all created the perfect storm for greedy unethical attorneys with no heart to isolate an elderly sick woman and almost destroy our family. It’s amazing we got through it and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. My mother was denied seeing her three amazing grandchildren graduate and celebrate their accomplishments. We made it through miraculously but this was definitely a case of “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” for our family. We tried every possible recourse to save my mother from these terrible people. The NJ Law Ethics Committee (lawyers covering for other lawyers), the NJ Ombudsman’s Office (they can only help victims when they are alive and will not get involved or testify with trials), the NJ Attorney General’s Office (not enough clear cut evidence, even though they stole over $400k of her assets and all her Italian gold jewelry) and the NJ Medicaid Fraud Unit (which also looks into Elder exploitation) and nothing could be done to help. The lawyers still happily practice in NJ and since there are no formal complaints lodged against them, they will probably take advantage of countless older people in time. The rogue judge retired and the nursing home was sold because one of the founders was permanently dis-barred from practicing law in NJ, due to fraud and cooking the books. We could sue the lawyers but we haven’t been able to find a lawyer that would take our case on contingency so I won’t spend more of our hard-earned money to pay more lawyers. I am in the process of finding a newspaper or organization who would publish our story in a magazine or newspaper but no luck yet. I’m sure those terrible lawyers will try to sue us just to protect their “reputations”. My mother was who lost out - dying all alone after falling out of her bed with no guard rails. Terrible for us to dwell on now.  Now finally after five long years of suffering and living through that horror, we can begin to move forward. I could not have gotten through it without the love and support of my husband of 36 years and my three children. But in the middle of the horror, when the spiteful article hit the news and my husband was escorted out of his job and the very next day, all our bank accounts went down to $0 (leaving one of my kids with a joint checking account with me without any access to money while on a Navy ship in the Middle East) due to the wrongful judgement imposed on me, that was later released. It was unbearable. We endured shallow neighbors whispering and pointing at us and saying “how could someone steal money from their own mother ?” Our close friends would always say to us how we never deserved this after the 30+ years of sacrifice and everyday care we gave my mother.
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Jada824 Jun 23, 2019
What about contacting AARP to tell your story. They send newsletters & pamphlets to members over 50. I think it would make a great article to show how unscrupulous some people are.
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John Leland at the NY Times had a story this weekend on guardianship. Not so much about fraud as the difficulty of the guardianship system in dealing with a mentally ill elder.

Ship, you say that the NH introduced your mother to a "local slimy lawyer"?

Was that person actually your mother's guardian ad litem?

When a family brings court proceedings to obtain guardianship over an elder and declare them incompetent, a temporary guardian is appointed by the courts to look out of the elder's best interests, as sometimes it is the family that is "slimy".

I'm sorry for your loss. But it will help you tell your story if you understand the guardianship process.

You say that the NH suggested that the family sue for guardianship. Was there disagreement within the family on this point?
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ship2shore Dec 11, 2018
We understand the guardianship process well because we went to trial to gain guardianship in 2012. The nursing home put my mother in touch with an Italian lawyer conveniently located across the street from them, unbeknownst to us.  He told her he would not charge her anything and would act as her personal attorney  The nursing home initially provided us a different eldercare attorney in order for us to obtain guardianship of my mother, since she was admitted from a psychiatric unit after a 6 week stay there.  Then shortly after she arrived at the NH, they advised us that it would agitate new arrivals if they saw their family visiting and suggested we stay in touch by phone for a few weeks (they said it was similar to not getting a kid at camp homesick by visiting frequently) .  They said if we agitated her and she started to wander or try to leave or get violent, they would not be able to keep her there.  Our attorney advised us that since I am an only child and there was no other family, it would be a "slam dunk" because I had no siblings or other family involved and we had several doctors who examined her and said she had dementia.  She petitioned for me to be the guardian ad litem initially but my mother's new lawyer fought it and also tried to block us from visiting my mother and send doctors to evaluate her.  Looking back, we should have also had the guardianship part bi-furcated from the financial issues of my mother giving me the proceeds from the sale of her house to go towards her portion of our home.  Her attorney was also bringing her to his home and essentially brainwashing a woman who was heavily medicated.  We never dreamed that it would go to trial with a rogue judge and my mother was deemed competent by him, despite all the medical evidence we had.  We started an appeal but then realized it would cost us personally another $200 in legal fees.  Ironically three years later, the court appointed attorney (not the private one who was his friend) went back to court and became her guardian for 22 days and basically spent most of her estate.  They had successfully isolated us to the point that we were never informed of his petition for guardianship and the second judge would not appoint a public guardian who was not biased.  So honestly we understood the guardianship process very well by living through it.  There were No other siblings, relatives or friends involved other than me and we always had joint accounts anyway, so there was no hidden agenda or need to "steal money" that was already given to me.  If you read about some of these stories of public guardians who take the patients as hostages from their families, you will see it is a network of corrupt guardians, attorneys and judges all working together with the nursing homes to essentially steal money from week unsuspecting individuals.  The commonality of all of this is exploiting week elderly people financially and tearing families apart.
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The story begins in 2012, when my 88 year old mother, who was living with us in our home for years, was taken to the hospital by ambulance due to what she said was a stroke and they could not find what was physically wrong with her. She told a psychiatrist there who was called in that she was going to kill herself and burn our house down and after saying this to a few hospital staff members, they committed her to a geriatric psychiatric hospital for observation. She was there for 6 weeks and they diagnosed her as BiPolar 1 and Dementia and recommended a memory care facility. She refused all the places we frantically searched for and finally I found a nice place that she agreed to where they would allow her sewing machine (sewing was the only thing that relaxed her) and it seemed clean and bright and new. I had to take a few weeks off from work to search all over New Jersey for a place for her because my husband and I were completely unfamiliar with private pay facilities, or Veteran Aid and Attendance, etc. She of course never gave me POA but we always had joint accounts after my father died because she had no idea of how to handle paperwork due to her language difference. The end result was that the facility we chose - Paragon Village told us to not visit for a few weeks until she settled in as they could not keep someone who may try to run or wander. We obliged because we didn’t know and they told us we needed to get legal guardianship, which we started. Instead the facility put her in touch on her second day there with an unethical Italian lawyer across the street who systematically cut the family off from her while convincing her he would not charge her any fees to fight the guardianship. He did in fact charge her over $80k but since she had dementia, she had no idea. The nursing home doubled the rate of her room we contracted with them, without us even knowing during that first month. He even took her to his house for Thanksgiving two weeks after she had fallen at the nursing home and broken her hip and shoulder. It was complete brainwashing of a sick elderly woman. The guardianship trial was a year later and the slimy attorney won her case. She was deemed competent by a rogue judge and his lawyer friend was appointed her conservator. I was forced to turn over the money she GAVE me for living in our house and all savings bond gifts with my name on them over a 30 year period to her lawyer. They turned her completely against our family and we never saw her again. Her last words in the courtroom were “I never agreed with your children being in the military, so I hope all three die in battle”. My three kids are all officers in the military and attended federal service academies so this was just devastating to hear such a terrible wish/curse. She also said that her lawyer was her new family and he promised he would destroy my family. And that he almost did. Because he had a local reporter he was friendly with write a defamatory completely untrue article in the local paper that we “faked Alzheimer’s” and noted our current and former employers names and various Advisory Boards we sat on. My husband was a VP in the pharmaceutical industry and was fired the next day after the article went viral, even though he was not AT ALL involved with the guardianship. Her attorney carried through her earlier threat of public embarrassment. Our close friends were in shock because they knew of ALL the years of care and sacrifice we made to accommodate my mother. We had no idea that these were traits and side effects of the dementia. Fast forward to three years later of being isolated from the family and my mother went from 130 pounds to 70 pounds, had numerous unnecessary surgeries (all conveniently covered by Medicare and Blue Cross) and ultimately died all alone, falling out of her hospital bed without rails that her new guardian had not made sure she was being cared for properly.
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