AARP Podcast “The Perfect Scam” Tackles Trusteeship Abuse


AARP recently launched a new podcast series, “The Perfect Scam.” The series stars the author and journalist Bob sullivan and Franck Abagnale, a fraud expert with over 40 years of experience advising the FBI and lecturing on embezzlement and counterfeiting. Abagnale’s (mis) criminal adventures were featured in the film Catch Me If You Can.

In last week must listen (or if like me, you are more of a reader, must read) episode “A Californian man almost loses his mother-in-law in a guardianship dispute,” Sullivan and Abagnale address the issue of guardianship and abuse. guardianship with a large number of guests to discuss the problem.
The episode highlights a California trusteeship case, previously covered in detail by a History of AARP magazine. The podcast and article highlight the story of a man and his mother-in-law who found themselves at the center of a court-ordered guardianship that cost him precious time and both more than one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. AARP succinctly noted at the time, “A court-ordered guardianship nearly shattered Kise davis life, in a trend that too often leads to the isolation and exploitation of older Americans.

In this case, Ms Davis was already showing signs of dementia premature but was in frequent contact with her stepson, with whom she had no formal or legal connection, Larry davis. Larry was worried about his health and was already looking for options to bring her closer to him, even going so far as to have his stepmother evaluated by a social worker. The assessment said she was able to live on her own, as did a subsequent assessment done just before the court-ordered guardianship.

In the lead-up to the case, Ms Davis gave her power of attorney to her handyman (having first given it to her son, then to a friend, and then again to her son). After realizing, as he said, that he was “over his head”, the handyman contacted a lawyer who then told him to contact the court system. He then requested the establishment of a guardian for Davis, an order which was granted. According to the AARP story, “Kise’s newly appointed guardian, a company called Advocate Services of Las Cruces, placed her in a dementia care facility on court order. It took Larry over a week to reach him there. When they finally spoke on Christmas Eve she seemed to believe that she had reserved a room for herself, although now they wouldn’t let her go. “They put me in a lunatic asylum,” she told him, weeping. “Please come get me out of here.” “

According to several published reports, the details of the case differ at the time of the court order depending on who you are talking to. This is not uncommon in cases, even with early-onset dementia, as people at the center can give conflicting information to loved ones. One thing is clear: Ms Davis’s dementia, which included some form of paranoia, was progressing and she was able to use more supervision than she had at the time of court-ordered guardianship. The issue at issue was whether the son had been told earlier about what was going on with his loved one and, furthermore, when he came forward to intervene on his behalf, whether the court had acted more quickly to give him control.

It took him an astonishing 14 months for the justice system to right the wrong and make him the helper of his stepmother.

In February 2018, AARP reported: “At 87 years old, Kise is in good physical health and Larry is hoping she will stay that way. But his freedom came at a considerable cost. He spent over $ 50,000 on legal bills and other expenses; Charges to Kise’s estate during her ordeal are expected to exceed $ 140,000. And that’s without counting the existential balance sheet.

“They took 14 of Kise’s last months and made it a nightmare,” said Larry, who testified before the New Mexico Trusteeship Board in hearings last year. “It was like a hostage-taking. No one should have to go through what happened to us. A sentiment that I repeated in the print media and on the air throughout this series.

In my short period of personal investigation of cases across Alabama and reading dozens more nationwide, I learned that many, if not most, guardianship cases involve l exploitation of elderly people with memory problems and dementia precocious. Courts like to err on the side of caution in their efforts to “protect” the vulnerable, frequently leaving them and their property vulnerable to those who seek to abuse the system.

The exploiters of the justice system and the doctors they work with (sometimes knowingly, sometimes unconsciously) exaggerate the problems facing a potential service or service. I cannot stress enough the potential for problems in a system in which ‘protectors’, whether doctors, nursing homes, guardians and the like, are given more money and / or oversight. based on the findings of memory problems. The courts, whether out of laziness, incompetence, agitation, or even corruption itself, have been increasingly quick to oppose the suppression of the rights and freedoms of those presented to them, a problem we should all be in a hurry to solve.

The podcast highlights a few public cases of fraud that have occurred across the country. I wanted to link these stories to add detail and context to the events and the ease and duration of deception by the bad actors in the system.

  • Rebecca Fierle of Ocala, Florida, currently faces charges in February 2020. A Spectrum News13 report at the time of his arrest said the following:
    • “State agents arrested Fierle on Monday in Marion County, where she lives. Records show that Fierle was incarcerated at the Marion County Jail around 6:30 p.m.
    • The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Fierle had been charged with aggravated elder abuse and neglect of a senior on warrant from Hillsborough County. The arrest was linked to the death of 74-year-old Steven stryker, a Brevard County man who died under his care last year in a Tampa hospital.
    • “The guardian who caused my father’s death has been arrested. It is encouraging that the state has filed a complaint. But the problem of guardian abuse does not go away with it. Laws vary from state to state and God keep you, or someone you love, under the control of a villain like her, ”Stryker’s daughter Kim said on Tuesday.
    • A phenomenal report on this case that details Fierle’s role as the caretaker of over 450 neighborhoods in 13 counties across Florida can be found. here.
  • Susan harris and Sharon Moore, the co-founders of Ayundando goalkeepers, Guillaume Harris, Susan’s husband, and Craig Young, Susan’s son, face decades in jail each for their role in a case involving an estimated theft of $ 11 million through their parent company in New Mexico. The money detailed in the documents published by a report on KRQE highlighted went to a $ 50,000 Mercedes Benz purchase, vacation, and personal shopping. A statement from Ministry of Justice, March 3, 2020, exposed their crimes.
    • Susan Harris was 95% owner of Ayudando and was its president; Moore was a 5% owner and acted as Ayudando’s CFO. They engaged in sophisticated criminal conduct for a decade from November 2006 to July 2017. This included the illegal transfer of money from accounts receivable to a combined account without any client-based justification as part of the fraud scheme and the money laundering conspiracy. Susan Harris and Sharon Moore wrote and endorsed numerous checks, often over $ 10,000, from these accounts mixed with themselves, family members, cash and other parties including payment. would benefit their family. The stolen funds were used to finance a luxury lifestyle and were used to purchase homes, vehicles, luxury motorhomes and cruises, as well as a private lodge at “the Pit” at the University of New Mexico. The stolen funds were also used to reimburse more than $ 4.4 million in American Express costs incurred by the defendants and their families.
    • In order to cover up the fraud scheme, Moore created and sent forged and fraudulent reports to the Veterans Administration for fiduciary clients. She falsified bank statements and annual reports to disguise the theft of money from clients’ accounts. Susan Harris also took steps to maintain Ayudando’s appearance of legitimacy, including submitting a proposal to the New Mexico Trusteeship Office that contained numerous false statements, including a false claim that another defendant was a nationally certified tutor at the time of submission.
    • Sharon Moore was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
    • According to a press release issued by the Tax service, Craig Young was sentenced to 71 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release after his incarceration. “Young pleaded guilty on November 12, 2019. In his plea agreement, he admitted to committing these crimes while working as a guardian for Ayudando. Young used a business American Express card to pay for his personal expenses. He knew that Sharon Moore of Albuquerque, who was a co-owner and chief financial officer of Ayudando, paid his American Express bill each month from 2010 to at least June 2017 using funds from Ayudandocustomer reimbursement and petty cash accounts.
    • The Harris’ first made a plea deal, but then left town, assumed false names, and tried to start a new life. Prosecutors have since withdrawn their deal. According to a June 3, 2020 Newscast“They were found in Shawnee, Oklahoma, where prosecutors say they lived under the pseudonym Marvin and Cheryl Valdez. They say the couple spent a substantial amount of money buying fake IDs showing they were from Utah and bought a new vehicle. William even got a job at a grocery store in an attempt to fit in. Prosecutors are now asking the judge to sentence William to the full 15 years he has had to face. It’s unclear how long they want Susan to face. She was looking at 30 years old.

These are just a few of the cases they have highlighted, but the details should be shocking enough that even the most complacent to see how important the extra safeguards are to this important system.

Speaking to Sullivan at the end of the podcast, Larry Davis gave a key piece of advice we should all heed: “One lesson I learned is that no matter how awkward it seems to intervene in life. of your loved one although they may resist it because of their own independence, you cannot enter it too early.

Sullivan and Abagnale also focus on efforts by the political wing of the AARP to protect the elderly and their families and to hold fraudsters accountable. The AARP provides a wealth of information on guardianship and curatorship.

Here are some starting points:


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