The legal system is supposed to protect the vulnerable, but too often it is manipulated into exploiting them.
From coast to coast, guardianship and conservatorship abuse — where seniors are cheated and stripped of their liberty and property — is a glaring, yet underreported, example of this insidious phenomenon.
The hit Hollywood movie “I Care A Lot” and high-profile cases of guardianship and conservatorship abuse, like those of Britney Spears and Joann “Mama B” Bashinsky, have brought the issue to national attention, which long has been needed.
Imagine opening your door one day and there is a person standing there holding a piece of paper that gives them total legal power over you. That idea is terrifying but seems very relevant right now.
These cases often go unnoticed by the general public, or are supported because it’s believed that the decision is for the older person’s own good. But the circumstances surrounding conservatorships are so ethically ambiguous that the whole system has been under scrutiny for decades.
In 2018, the United States Senate Committee on Aging “called for a major overhaul in the guardianship system, warning that ‘unscrupulous guardians’ have used their position to get control of vulnerable people and then ‘liquidate assets and savings for their own personal benefit.
Too many Americans remain unaware of just how widespread and terrible guardianship abuse and conservatorship abuse truly are. In 2020, a Florida senior named Jan Garwood was wrongly placed under professional guardianship by predators after being involved in a car crash. The crash wasn’t the result of any sort of physical incapacitation or mental deterioration — she was simply a shattered woman grieving over the death of her son.
One of the most illuminating examples is the case of guardian April Parks, who was convicted in 2019 on over 100 counts of perjury, dozens of charges for theft and elder exploitation, and one count of racketeering.
A Google search of “guardian abuse Florida” retrieves well over 2.4 million results in less than half a second. The headlines speak for themselves, painting a vivid picture of the corruption necessary in a number of professional fields to pull off such horrific, predatory scams. And here’s just a few…..
“Guardian for Elderly Arrested on Abuse, Neglect Charges”
“State confirms mass resignations at Florida watchdog office overseeing guardianship abuse”
“State of Florida sued for trafficking and abuse of elderly under guardianship”
Former guardian stole guns, money from Tampa Bay seniors, court records show.
“Embattled Guardian Rebecca Fierle Charged in Ward’s Death”
“Senior Care in Question: The Rebecca Fierle Case Explained.”
“Florida Lawyer/Guardian Accused of Exploiting Her Elderly Wards for More Than $100K’
It’s clear to see that Florida has a major guardianship-abuse problem and why guardianship abuse might be so attractive to criminal predators. In Florida, absolutely anyone can file a petition for guardianship, regardless of relationship with the victim. Moreover, Florida guardians can be paid up to $95 an hour for their “services” — and their lawyers can be paid upwards of $400 an hour.
That’s to say nothing of the control guardianship abusers receive over the personal assets of their victims. It’s not just Florida. Stories like this abound in California, Alabama and elsewhere.
These stories also make something else abundantly clear: Guardianship abuse may more correctly be thought of as guardian, medical and legal abuse, because without unethical, predatory individuals in all of those fields working together, such abuse is impossible to carry out.
It takes more than a corrupt guardian to do these terrible things — it takes a corrupt guardian, a corrupt lawyer, a corrupt doctor, often a corrupt nursing home or hospital and, finally, corrupt judges.
Guardianship laws and conservatorship laws are well-intentioned, designed to protect the truly incapacitated and vulnerable from those who would take advantage of them.
Legislators in Florida are trying to fix the problem, but there’s still a long way to go, and the issue needs far more attention at the national level from Congress. When a system designed to protect people can be easily twisted into a weapon to cause harm, there’s a serious problem. It’s time we end that problem in the guardianship system.
IN THIS INSIDER EXCLUSIVE NETWORK TV SPECIAL, “INSIDE THE WORLD PREDATORY GUARDIANSHIPS– Doris Hadcock’s Story” our News team is on location in Tampa Florida to meet with, J. Ronald Denman, Grant Kindrick, and Jonathan Newlon, Partners @ Bleakley Bavol Denman & Grace who represent Doris Hadcock’s estate in an ongoing case that reflects a bizarre and disturbing scheme by the professional guardians, attorneys, and assisted living facility involved, even to the extent of improper collaboration with Florida DCF, Department of Children and Families to take advantage of her, and who abused and financially exploited her during her forced nightmare guardianship and confinement at Somerset, an assisted living facility in Tavares, Florida.
From March 5, 2016 through January 2019, Doris’s professional guardian and guardianship attorney sold all of her real and personal property, including four houses in New York and Florida, several cars, and all of her family heirlooms – even her wedding ring. Doris was left penniless in New York, and passed away in January of this year.
Here’s Ron Denman to share some of that nightmare story that Doris and other victims go through in these predatory guardianships, and about the disturbing elements of this case and the current legal system.
Currently the abuse and often illegal actions by Florida’s guardians and their lawyers are being looked at by a task force formed by Florida Supreme Court. The state Legislature established the new Office of Public & Professional Guardianship as a result of lobbying by advocacy groups and others about lawyers and guardians siphoning off fees.
Ron has earned a reputation as an unyielding trial lawyer who repeatedly represents individuals and families against big companies and the Goliaths of the world. And repeatedly wins.
He has earned the highest respect from citizens and lawyers alike…. as one of the best trial lawyers in Florida and across the United States. Ron has built a substantial reputation nationwide by consistently winning cases other law firms have turned down.
And his amazing courtroom skills and headline grabbing success rate continue to provide his clients with the results they need……And the results they deserve.
For additional information please contact Bleakley Bavol Denman & Grace https://bbdglaw.com/ (813) 221-3759