By Attorney David Engler

Wanda and Stella
Wanda and Stella

Wanda is my Mom. Parkinson’s disease has slowly but assuredly taken her strength and her voice. The stroke on the Royal Wedding Day this spring did not help matters either. But as the New Year approaches she is in the Maine Veterans Home. She does not want to see her 86th year. She has prayed to her husband and my father, Bill who passed 21 years ago, that she wanted nothing more to do with her worn body. They met 59 years ago. She was a nurse at the VA hospital in Cleveland and he was a disabled vet getting a degree at Kent State.

Stella is 93 and cancer is fighting her will and she knows the battle is nearly over. The last great battle she saw was working as an Army nurse in England helping to heal GI’s as they returned from Normandy. Not coincidentally she married a soldier whom she met a few years later and he took her to Maine. Over time she would have two children and help turn a family owned bar and grill into a large seafood wholesaler specializing in selling Lobsters, of course. The great irony Stella explained was that she could never taste what her family sold because she was allergic to shell fish which should not be confused with seafood.

About 15 months ago we moved Mom from her home in Ohio to live on the first floor of my sister’s home in Maine. She was falling and insisted that she could care for herself; the reality was she could not make the one step from the living room to the kitchen.

So off to Maine she went. The state motto is “Life As It Ought To Be”. My sister is busy with an 8 year old adopted Chinese whirlwind named Molly and a professorship at the U of Maine. Three 911 calls in 6 months and it was clear that Mom needed nursing home care. So in May of this last year she gets put in a room with Stella. Stella’s hair is wispy from the many chemo treatments she received to slow down cancer’s assault. Long before the cancer her hearing went. She seems to fill in the words if you can talk loud enough. Mom had one good eye before the stroke and Parkinson’s and now that one went bad. Reading and watching the news was a daily companion, now she can just listen to Ann Curry.

The room looks like any other nursing home. Cards crowd the bulletin boards and the closet door is a backdrop of art work created by grandchildren. What makes the room a home is each other. The nurses and aides see the two holding hands trying to make sense of a death that is unscheduled but waiting. It was Stella who told the staff that she and Wanda have a pact that they would like to hold hands and race into heaven together. The spunky nurse from Portugal attracted to Maine by her country’s fishing heritage, said “It was more like a turtle race to Heaven”, since neither seemed closer to the end despite their bodies having months ago failed.

So it was on Christmas Day this year that I traveled to surprise my Mom. At first she did not recognize me. I have heard how hard that is to hear. But after a few minutes she asked about each of the kids that she raised when they were small and that I feed her a favorite dark chocolate mint from Philadelphia Chocolates. It was my favorite Christmas memory. And what I took home was this picture I snapped with my iPhone that neither old nurse could have imagined. A new friend was made in what will surely be their last year on this Earth. It is the power of a touch of a hand and someone that cares when you least expect it.

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777
http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

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Published: Sun, December 18, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.

ATTORNEY LOOKS INTO DEATHS OF 2 IN 2003
By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

WARREN

An attorney who has applied pressure to Trumbull County Children Services for months says he’s uncovered evidence that the agency’s problems date back to 2003 — when two children died.

Atty. David Engler encouraged the criminal investigation of employees that is now taking place regarding the alleged videotaped molestation of a 9-month-old child in the agency’s custody in April.

He also sought to have Children Services employees placed on leave during the investigation, and he filed civil suits against the agency for allegedly failing to prevent the death of a child in its custody in 2009 and for allegedly not following the Open Meetings Act.

Now he’s researching the deaths of two children in 2003 that he says indicate the agency has failed for years in its mission to protect children.

Engler points to the deaths of Logan Guiton, 4, at the hands of Michael Ledger of Dickey Avenue in Warren, and Auntavia Atkins, 3, who died at the hands of Ethel Wilbert-Bethea on North Bank Street in Cortland.

Those deaths, combined with the death of Tiffany Banks Cross, 20 months, on April 2, 2009, total three for which Engler believes the agency is in some way responsible.

Engler says that’s a high number of deaths associated with a county children-services agency, which indicates a “dysfunctionality of Trumbull County Children Services.”

The agency denies accusations that an employee in one of the cases ignored warning signs.

The agency’s executive director, Nick Kerosky, was not working in Trumbull County when any of the deaths occurred, but he agrees that three “does seem like a lot.”

“No child should die. One is too many,” Kerosky said. “When a child dies, you have to look and see what could have been done differently.”

He added, “There’s a lot of danger out there for kids, and that’s why we have the agency we do.”

Logan Guiton
Michael Ledger of Dickey Avenue Northwest, now 49, called 911 at 4:20 a.m. Jan. 19, 2003, saying Logan Guiton, his son’s brother, was not breathing. Prosecutors said Ledger injured the boy’s head by hitting it on the drywall of a bedroom wall. The boy died two days later in a Cleveland hospital.

Ledger pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

Ledger was Logan’s legal guardian. The boy’s mother placed him and his 6-year-old brother in foster care, Warren police said. Ledger was the biological father of the 6-year-old, but he was not Logan’s biological father, according to Vindicator files.

Robert Kubiak, executive director of Children Services in 2003, said the agency had no reports of Logan’s having been abused at Ledger’s home.

“My review is that the agencies working on this case handled it appropriately,” Kubiak said.

Auntavia Atkins
Auntavia Atkins, 3, died Sept. 3, 2003, of a head injury after being taken to the hospital Aug. 29, 2003, from a home on North Bank Street in Cortland where she was living with Ethel Wilbert-Bethea, her husband and other children, according to Vindicator files.

Wilbert-Bethea, now 47, was sentenced to 21 years in prison after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault and four counts of child endangerment.

Auntavia was not in Children Services custody, nor was she part of the agency’s foster-care program, officials said. Auntavia’s mother, Angel Diggs, gave Auntavia to Wilbert-Bethea to watch for her while Diggs worked on getting a full-time job and a place to live, according to Vindicator files.

Cortland police were called to Wilbert-Bethea’s home, where emergency responders found Auntavia in serious condition and took her to a hospital.

The girl also had retinal hemorrhaging, chronic rectal bleeding, malnutrition, missing hair and burn marks on her body, police said.

Diggs told The Vindicator in 2003 that she repeatedly asked a Children Services caseworker to visit Auntavia, but nothing was done. Diggs said she told the agency that she’d been told Wilbert-Bethea was abusing Auntavia.

“I asked my caseworker to visit, but she didn’t. If she would have, she would have saw what was going on,” Diggs said.

Kubiak, the director at the time, said he could not respond to Diggs’ allegations.

Markita Parks of Warren, who along with her mother, Fannie Parks, served as foster parents for 11 years, said Diggs and a Children Services caseworker told her that Wilbert-Bethea had contacted the agency three times to tell it that Wilbert-Bethea wasn’t able to handle Auntavia.

Markia and Fannie Parks told The Vindicator last week that the caseworker asked Fannie Parks to take the child, and Fannie Parks agreed. Parks and her mother already had custody of Auntavia’s brother. Parks eventually adopted the boy, Markita said.

The request for Parks to take Auntavia came about three to four weeks before Auntavia died, Markita Parks said.

“The minute a foster parent says they can’t handle it, an emergency worker needs to get involved,” Markita Parks said.

Parks said the agency’s handling of the Auntavia case made her and her mother “furious” and caused them to get out of foster parenting in 2005.

Kerosky said last week he looked into the allegations made by Fannie and Markita Parks and checked with the caseworker.

“There’s no support that it ever happened. I don’t believe it ever happened,” Kerosky said.

When asked whether Children Services had any knowledge of Auntavia prior to her death, Kerosky said he would not comment.

Tiffany Banks Cross
Tiffany Banks Cross was 20 months old on April 2, 2009, when she died at the hands of her foster mother, Bonnie Pattinson.

Pattinson and her family were living in a duplex on Center Street West in Champion Township when emergency responders were called to the home because the girl was not breathing.

Pattinson, now 33, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to nine years in prison. The coroner ruled that Tiffany died of asphyxiation, and a county prosecutor said there were marks on the child’s neck consistent with the rings Pattinson was wearing.

Thomas Cross, Tiffany’s biological father, filed a lawsuit against Trumbull County Children Services, accusing the agency of failing to protect Tiffany despite what he says were warnings that the girl was being abused. Engler is the attorney for Cross.

In the suit, Cross said he warned the agency that the girl might be in danger, saying he noticed bruising on her and dog hair in her formula.

The Vindicator filed public-information requests with Children Services asking whether any disciplinary action was taken against any agency employee regarding the deaths of Guiton, Atkins or Banks Cross.

Kerosky, who became executive director Oct. 1, 2010, said no disciplinary action was taken in any of the cases.

“Those cases were all investigated and looked at by the state” Department of Job and Family Services, Kerosky said. He “had not read the reports” emanating from those investigations, Kerosky said, but Ohio JFS had found that Children Services had done nothing wrong, Kerosky said.

After asking the state agency for information on its investigations into the three deaths, the agency replied: “Regrettably, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services cannot comply with your request due to state law that makes such records confidential/nonpublic.”
###

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777
http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

By Attorney David Engler

Weston

The Philadelphia Enquirer reported December 9, 2011 on one of the nation’s most horrific example of abusing a ward or in Linda Weston’s case a “payee”. Weston is accused of imprisoning intellectually challenged adults in a Tacony cellar and stealing their federal benefits. Weston was the official recipient of Social Security benefits for 10 men and women from 1995 to 2011, according to a source familiar with the ongoing investigation.

“She had applied to be the “representative payee” for an 11th beneficiary, her biological daughter, the source said.

In an ongoing investigation, the Social Security Administration has found that Weston was getting the checks for four relatives, including children; five individuals who were not related; and one person who had the same last name but whose relationship to Weston has not been firmly established.

As of October, Weston was terminated as the payee for seven of the beneficiaries, the source said.

Of those beneficiaries, three were with Weston at the time of her arrest; two are dead; one no longer needed a representative payee; and one was switched to a more suitable payee.

Payments for the three others were suspended, pending the results of an investigation by the administration’s Office of Inspector General, the source said.

Police continue to probe the 2005 death of Donna Spadea, 59, while in Weston’s care in Philadelphia.

Another person who died under Weston’s care was Maxine Lee, 39, of Philadelphia. In November 2008, she was found dead in a house that Weston was renting in Norfolk, Va. Norfolk police said Lee died of natural causes. A medical examiner attributed Lee’s death to meningitis, with severe malnutrition as a contributing factor.

Weston had served less than four years in prison for a 1984 conviction for starving to death a man, 25, she kept trapped in her Philadelphia apartment. She was arrested in October with her daughter and husband after the landlord of a Tacony apartment house found four intellectually handicapped people locked in the building’s cellar.

A sweep of the apartment where Weston was staying turned up identification records for as many as 50 people, including power-of-attorney paperwork, forms of identification, and Social Security numbers. Police said it suggested a vast fraud operation.

People who are convicted of crimes are banned by law from accepting government checks on behalf of others, but it is a self-reporting system.

The social security administration is very lax on who is appointed as a representative payee and should be encouraging more professional organizations or registered guardians to act as payees. Each year billions are stolen in benefits from the poor by those who are claiming to help.

The answer is not only better background checks but accurate record keeping that can be reviewed by other family members, a court or agency at any time. Our company, eGuardianship.com www.eGuardianship.com has pioneered the nation’s first online real-time reporting system for wards. Such systems ensure proper recordkeeping and help to minimize if not eliminate fraud.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) is proposing a bill that would give the Social Security Administration access to FBI databases in order for caseworkers to conduct criminal background checks. It’s a start.

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777
http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

By Attorney David Engler

Heads get bigger as we get older!

The terrible irony of getting older is that the physical size of our head gets bigger as the size of our brain decreases. I have seen pictures taken 20 years ago and I can hardly recognize myself. The hair has fallen out, grayed and my eyelids droop. I have not invested in plastic surgery but will do so as soon as it is offered inside a Wal-Mart store, like it’s eyeglass center or banking services.

A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that human brains are unique in that they can shrink up to 15% in a lifetime. Before this study it was assumed that all primate brains had shrinkage. Turns out it is only us.

By 2030 about 1 in every 5 people in the United States will be over the age of 65. This is twice the number of elderly than just a decade ago according to the U.S. Administration on Aging.

The brain shrinking conditions that affect the elderly can be depression and Alzheimer’s disease. These diseases of course can be a by-product of the shrinking brain. In a terrible commentary on most of us over 50; poor memory may stem from a fractional shrinkage in the hippocampus. This is when you forget a friend’s name or forget an appointment. My brother believes he has CRS. When I asked him what that diagnosis was he said, “Can’t Remember Shit.”. My mother firmly believes that it might have had something to do with pot smoking during the seventies. I knew nothing about these claims and the statutes have long passed.

So we live twice as long as chimps and this might explain why our brains start to shrivel. They only live into their 40’s. A shrinking brain is the neural equivalent of sore knees and stiff fingers. Perhaps we need to forward this blog post to our children so they can be patient with us. (if you can remember)

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777
http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

By Attorney David Engler

Golf on your mind?

In Florida if you punch a guy over 65 in the nose it is a felony. No matter what.

A Sheet and Tube Mill retired mid-level executive and his retired school teacher wife moved to a Condo golf course townhouse near Naples. A boy who had grown-up in Brier Hill during the forties, went to Korea, worked at a mill in purchasing, was now taking it easy. He would visit the grandchildren every winter holiday back in Youngstown, Ohio, play golf and sometimes drive over to see the dogs race. Brier Hill was a melting pot of immigrants and their children. Everybody had a church…Poles, Italians and the Irish like him. Mac learned to play golf at the nine-hole-public course, up Fifth Avenue, closer to where the wealthier people lived. You could not spend more than $20 for a season. The beer gardens were nearby for after a round, where everyone knew who was a golfer or a sandbagger.

Down South, where he and Lorraine now lived, just outside his very modest townhouse; the sliding glass patio door was just 10 feet away from the practice putting green. Every day another retiree from New Jersey who had worked in retail clothing and lived at an even more modest condo further away from the Ocean, practiced his putting and very little chipping. The 30 by 30 green was close to one of those many man-made drainage ponds that courses gussy-up and call a lake. Herb, the guy from Jersey, apparently suffered from a BiPolar Disorder and retired early and moved to Florida. He was 69. His wife was happy anytime Herb was out of the house. So Herb joined the closest golf course at River Wind and obsessed over putting. He was on the practice green for more than three hours a day, 10 feet from Mac. Mac was getting older by the day and had always been an unreasonable man. And it is suggested by research, that early onset dementia can start to turn a cranky person, even crankier.

Day after day Mac either sat in his condo looking out the screen door, past the small concrete slab of a porch, at Herb, the skinny guy from New Jersey putting hour after hour. Or if it wasn’t too hot, Mac would sit on his porch and look at him. Mac believed that a man ought to be able to sit on his back porch drink Buds, eat grapes and spit seeds and not have to look at Herb. So after Year 3, Month 4 of the incessant putting, Mac starts with the comments. Mac had no idea of Herb’s ethnic background, place in life or mental history. He decided to call him everything and anything for days under his breath, but loud enough for a 69-year-old guy to hear. The day In August was hotter and stickier than most Florida days; and the war began. Herb mouthed something back and Mac arose from his canvas-back camp chair, strode 7 f feet and landed a blow to Herb’s nose. Down goes Herb. One of the dozens of other old people simply looking out their screen doors for amusement and a chance to spot the book club girls making the turn at 10, called the Police.

Herb was okay. But since he was a senior (someone over 65 in Florida) it was more than a misdemeanor assault; it was a felony. Herb could care less than he got decked by a guy 11 years older than him with two replacement knees. No, Mac had to be stopped. A couple of the condo ladies agreed and let the Judge know it. Mac was too proud to hire an attorney. The Judge would have to be a fool to see that a man should not have to look at the same lame golfer taking thousands of putts all within the reach of a grape seed spit. Maybe one of the condo commandos had some clout because the Man in the robe came down heavy on Mac. He was given a death sentence. Five Years reporting probation and HE WAS NOT ALLOWED TO GOLF! The $500 dollar fine and court cost was nothing All those years paying a silly HOA fee and paying off the mortgage so he would never had to see another house payment in his life; and “this is what he gets?”

If he wants to go back North, he needs the permission of his probation officer. He stills sits on the porch and reruns the injustice in his mind. None of his kids bring it up at family celebrations, because they know Dad won’t stop talking about it. Herb no longer plays golf at River Wind anymore. In fact someone thought he had died. Two more years of probation and maybe he’ll play again. Or maybe he won’t since that would be a good way to show the traitors that turned him in that he could hold a grudge.

There is no real moral other than 1) get an attorney, 2) older people can get cranky and could use the help of a therapists 3) the law shouldn’t apply if you are an older person hitting a younger person and 4) do not in any manner, piss off a guy from Brier Hill!

As with all of our stories, the people and stories are real, but the names have been changed. In every case we have received the permission of our client to tell the story.

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777
http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

By Attorney David Engler

You are at the nursing home. It was a terrible decision you had been forced to make because your Mom had told you years before that she never wanted to go to a nursing home. She said she would rather die.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the nursing home now is asking you to sign something as you and your mother are standing in the doorway!

If you are standing in the doorway and you are asked to sign a contract, understand your rights.

Your Rights
Under federal law, no one is liable for the cost of care in a nursing home except the resident, no matter if the relative signs the contract or puts a Power of Attorney (POA) next to the name.

The nursing home cannot ask for a deposit upfront as a requirement for admittance. They cannot ask for a ‘gift’, to expedite admittance.

The nursing home cannot deny admission just because the resident is going to pay with Medicaid benefits.

The nursing home cannot require that the resident be on private pay for so many months before Medicaid is applied for.

The nursing home may not charge a resident for failure to notify them in advance that he or she is going to leave.

Nursing Home Stress
The bottom line is to know what you are doing at this very stressful time.

I would suggest not signing any contract.

The only recourse a nursing home would have against a relative is if they believe and could prove that the relative depleted assets belonging to the resident that could have been used to pay for care.

If you have a question email me at davidengler@eguardianship.com or call my office at 330.729.9777.

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777
http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

By Attorney David Engler

Two stories from this week’s pages of The Philadelphia Inquirer:


13 arrested in prostitution raid at Philly Mummers club


One night a month, police say, the inside of the modest Mummers’ Downtowners Fancy Brigade clubhouse in South Philadelphia transformed into a bacchanalian free-for-all where dozens of men ate, drank, and had sex with prostitutes in full view of each other.

For a $30 cover charge, attendees got one free beer from the cash bar, food, and access to the women at the party. The women, police said, walked around scantily clad or naked, charging from $30 to $100 for sex.
This past week, the festivities came to an abrupt end when police officers swarmed the two-story building near Second Street and Snyder Avenue.

About 50 men and 10 ‘working’ women were inside……


Police find four adults chained in Northeast Philadelphia apartment

Three people were arrested and charged with kidnapping, assault and other crimes after Philadelphia police found four mentally handicapped adults shackled in “deplorable conditions” in a basement storage closet of a Northeast apartment building Saturday.

The three men and a woman were found by a janitor chained to a water heater, in a 15-by-15-foot room, locked behind a steel door. All were malnourished, said a police spokeswoman.

The female victim is 29, the men 31, 35 and 41; each has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old, police said.

Police said the room included buckets for urine and feces……


Here in the “City of Brotherly Love”, not twenty minutes from each other, in tough pockets of Philadelphia, four mentally disabled forty-something adults were being held in a chained room as a paid sex party was happening not too many blocks away at a Mummers Club.

The Mummers Club puts on an annual New Year’s Parade each year and dates back to the days of Benjamin Franklin’s Philadelphia. The MUMMERS Club said they did not know about a sex party and were only renting it out once per month to help the not-for-profit.

The four disabled adults were found alone in an apartment building nearby. It was in the basement of a building in a semi-industrial section of town. You would drive by and wonder if anybody actually lives there. They were wards of someone. Their social security money funded this “care”. It was a group home of sorts. Each of the four was malnourished and taken to a hospital. No one took responsibility.

The fifty men present paid $30 to get into the party which included a free beer ticket and access to the women. It was a wide open sex party. The women would then negotiate an extra charge for sex with men at the party. The women were busted for prostitution and the two bartenders who were club officials as well, and managed the monthly brothel were charged with criminal conspiracy. The Johns were let go since the police did not know if compensation was exchanged before the sex. The women apparently approached the undercover cops to negotiate.

The disabled adults were used for their benefit money. They will be on record with some court or social security as being wards of someone or some agency. The conduct was criminal. But there is also criminal conduct in the gross negligence of a guardian or agency charged with making sure disabled adults are not abused. They all had the mentality of 10 year olds. No one has yet to be charged.

Same night and it was the same story. Men are pimping out vulnerable addicted women for quick cash. A sleazy “group home” is pimping out the weakest among us for some quick cash. Both of these dirty secrets were taking place at the same time, in the same City. The celebrated Mummers Club claimed not to know anything about a group that had monthly pay-for-sex orgies at their building. The local government and courts knew nothing about tax dollars supposedly used for the humane care of people being misspent and the people becoming prisoners in filth.

We have a special responsibility to protect these wards, if we are in a position to know. It goes beyond the bewilderment we all sense when driving though a bad section of town and worrying if anyone cares. It is not enough to claim ignorance of what happens in a building you own when you are collecting rent as a social hall. It is also wrong to ignore where your ward is living if you are the guardian. We all rely in good faith that others feel a sense of accountability for the way they make money. It did not happen that way on an early fall day in Philly. If a social club looks the other way while sex is sold or a court or government responsible for paying benefits to a “caretaker” turned torturer never asks questions, then the bond between us in society is broken.

The whole idea of this City was one of ‘brotherly love’. There is no greater love than treating a stranger as your brother. It is the Golden Rule. Those in a position to know, allowed gold to rule them and allowed the weakest of our brothers and sisters to be exploited and abused. That’s a criminal shame.

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777
http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

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