STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Warning: Legal Racket Robs Elderly of Property and Rights
By The Daily Bell Staff - October 08, 2017

Corruption and racketeering invoke images of the mafia, drugs, violence, and connected judges or politicians. But sometimes organized crime covers more mundane businesses than nightclubs and casinos.

There is a racket in Nevada that is robbing the elderly not only of their property but of their rights.

People are being deemed unfit to look after themselves for superficial or trumped up reasons. Then, their guardianship is being handed over to private companies. Often these elderly folks are removed from their homes and placed into care facilities.

Their possessions are sold ostensibly so that there is enough money for them to be taken care of by their guardian. But their liquidated assets are used to fund the guardian’s fees, sometimes hundreds of dollars for a conversation.

It is all done under the pretense of protecting them. The guardians say that the wards are at risk of being taken advantage of. It is a sad irony that the guardian’s themselves are the ones taking advantage. And often they are able to do so by casting the children of the ward as unfit or greedy.

The New Yorker published an extremely detailed expose on the sickening racket.

Hundreds of cases followed the same pattern. It had become routine for guardians in Clark County to petition for temporary guardianship on an ex-parte basis. They told the court that they had to intervene immediately because the ward faced a medical emergency that was only vaguely described: he or she was demented or disoriented, and at risk of exploitation or abuse. The guardians attached a brief physician’s certificate that contained minimal details and often stated that the ward was too incapacitated to attend a court hearing. Debra Bookout, an attorney at the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, told me, “When a hospital or rehab facility needs to free up a bed, or when the patient is not paying his bills, some doctors get sloppy, and they will sign anything.” A recent study conducted by Hunter College found that a quarter of guardianship petitions in New York were brought by nursing homes and hospitals, sometimes as a means of collecting on overdue bills.

The family of those elderly targetted are not informed of the proceedings. Under Nevada law priority for guardianship is supposed to go to family members. Yet when the court actions are kept secret, the family will often not know what had happened until it is “too late.” Why is it too late? Because the court said so.

There are a few sinister characters in this story who appear to be the main racketeers. Jon Norheim is a lawyer who acts as a judge.

The Clark County guardianship commissioner, a lawyer named Jon Norheim, has presided over nearly all the guardianship cases in the county since 2005. He works under the supervision of a judge, but his orders have the weight of a formal ruling. Norheim awarded a guardianship to Parks, on average, nearly once a week. She had up to a hundred wards at a time. “I love April Parks,” he said at one hearing, describing her and two other professional guardians, who frequently appeared in his courtroom, as “wonderful, good-hearted, social-worker types.”

April Parks owns a company called A Private Professional Guardian. But she appears to be a professional thief. Upon closer examination, many of her wards tell a similar story, of being removed from their homes without cause, and placed in one of a few nursing home facilities that had a good relationship with Parks. Their homes were then sold in order to pay for the care, administered by Parks for some hefty fees.

The third main racketeer involved is Jared Schafer, who brags that he wrote the laws on the elderly issues back in the 90’s. He was able to put into law that the county gets a commission on interest paid when a ward’s money is invested. Schafer is said to be the Godfather of the elderly racket in the county, and trained a generation of crooks, preying on the elderly.

In 1979, he became the county’s public administrator, handling the estates of people who had no relatives in Nevada, as well as the public guardian, serving wards when no family members or private guardians were available. In 2003, he left government and founded his own private guardianship and fiduciary business; he transferred the number of his government-issued phone to himself.

Standard procedure for these guardians is to drug up the elderly patient so that they cannot resist. Their medicated confusion further “proves” that the guardianship was necessary. Families are often kept in the dark on medical procedures and medication that their elderly family member is receiving. Since they are not the legal guardian, they have no right to know.

Finally, the daughter of Parks’ wards Rudy and Rennie North, went to the media. She had been threatened with arrest after becoming upset that she was not allowed to see her parents after they were moved a second time.

Parks billed her wards’ estates for each hour that she spent on their case; the court placed no limits on guardians’ fees, as long as they appeared “reasonable.” Later, when Belshe called again to express her anger, Parks charged the Norths twenty-four dollars for the eight-minute conversation. “I could not understand what the purpose of the call was other than she wanted me to know they had rights,” Parks wrote in a detailed invoice. “I terminated the phone call as she was very hostile and angry.”

When reporters were present in Norheim’s court, he sang a different tune. For the first time, he removed Parks as a guardian. He reprimanded her for selling all of the North’s belongings without court approval. But in reality, his court had always known about the sales.

The Norths had their home taken and sold, and their car taken and sold. Most of their belongings were sold as well. Their assets were liquidated so that they could afford fees paid to Parks, her assistants, and her lawyers.

Rennie repeatedly begged for photos, and paintings done by her son, who died in a motorcycle accident years earlier. She was ignored.

The Norths were transferred to one nursing home, and then another less expensive one. They were doped up on unneeded medication. Under Parks’ guardianship, their monthly bills doubled.

What the Norths went through is disturbing. Rudy describes the assisted living homes as prisons and recounts another patient telling him not to take the medication, like something out of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. He lost total control over his life, without any due process.

The Norths were left with no money, and now will be supported by their daughter for the rest of their lives. They now live with her. She was able to rescue two of her dead brother’s painting from the trash.

Parks will go on trial in the Spring, for charges mostly stemming from double charging and overcharging wards. But Schafer and Norheim won’t face legal action.

Norheim was transferred from guardianship court to dependency court, where he now oversees cases involving abused and neglected children. Shafer is still listed in the Clark County court system as a trustee and as an administrator in several open cases. He did not respond to multiple e-mails and messages left with his bookkeeper, who answered his office phone but would not say whether he was still in practice. He did appear at one of the public meetings for the commission appointed to analyze flaws in the guardianship system. “What started all of this was me,” he said. Then he criticized local media coverage of the issue and said that a television reporter, whom he’d talked to briefly, didn’t know the facts. “The system works,” Shafer went on. “It’s not the guardians you have to be aware of, it’s more family members.”

Never underestimate the cleverness with which people will use the law to legally rob the vulnerable.

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  • alison cline

    From this story, I don’t understand how these “guardian companies” get a hold of the elderly individuals to be faced with a guardianship court; especially if they are living in their own homes at the time this takes place. This elderly couple has relatives. How can a court not require a relative search before turning these people over? Is it a doctor who contacts these shysters?

    • Groucho_Lenin

      Guardians and conservators gain control through the active participation of corrupt judges and scumbag lawyers in the scheme. It’s a de facto administrative process designed to transfer wealth and enslave free people in total disregard of due process and the rule of law. The conservatorship racket extends well beyond Clark County, Nevada. It’s been going on nationwide for decades.

    • ManeeVee

      Oh, it might be after a hospital stay, when, as stated, a doctor wants the hospital bed so releases the elderly person only to a nursing home. If their kids live far away, and only the spouse is there, the doctors will claim the spouse is unable to handle the care needed. Obviously these companies are trolling for elderly by getting word from these hospitals or nursing homes they work closely with. Maybe a social worker (every hospital and nursing home has one) will contact the company to say the person and spouse can no longer handle their own affairs, and the wheels start rolling from there.

      • alison cline

        O K I see the picture very clearly now. People who allow home-care nursing into their home must do a lot of background checking.

        • ManeeVee

          It doesn’t help if one or another nurse is on the take. The home-care agency may be great, but maybe one of their employees isn’t so honest.
          There’s a lot of eye opening stuff in the original article in the New Yorker. It’s horrifying. There’s even an instance of how Parks, the guardian, went looking in a rehab facility specifically for a woman she heard had $700,000 and no children. The woman’s doctor would not sign a certificate of incapacity. So Parks found another doctor who would sign it, and the crooked judge, Norheim, approved it. How scary is that?

  • Don Duncan

    The “law” is a concept that is used to justify the initiation of violence and fraud. It is inflicted on all for the benefit of a few, but is perceived as necessary because the alternative would be lawlessness, chaos. The inference is law is an all or nothing proposition, accept it along with its enforcers, or accept no laws, no organization.

    In practice, law is highly subjective, without principle, and hides the immoral acts of some. Law is meant to make exploitation easier, disguised as justice. When common sense and logic are not used in administration of force, the lack thereof are excused by the enforcers as aberrations or temporary errors. But the aberrations and errors continue, even as they are claimed to have been corrected.

    The end result is no justice, no order, no peace.

    This is labeled by state apologizers as civilization. The implication being, to criticize the monopoly use of force is uncivilized, anti-social, and not worthy of consideration.

  • Banana Republican

    Grand Theft AmeriKa.

  • georgesilver

    Started to read this and got as far as the word Nevada and didn’t bother after that. I’m sure it’s a riveting read for anyone living in Nevada. Perhaps the DB has done a survey and found that most of the readers live there.

    • mary

      Not just in nevada. Check out my post above.

    • willem

      This seems like a typical short-sighted attitude. If it’s not happening in YOUR state, it’s not happening?

  • Richard Long

    This happens all the time to disabled people of all ages who are forced into care facilities and then shut off from their families

  • Michael McNulty

    They call it neo-liberalism except when ordinary people do it. Then it’s racketeering.

  • gazoo3

    These scumbags deserve to be tortured to death.

  • mary

    This type of kidnapping and theft is not just govt officials–although probably can’t be pulled off without corrupt judges–and not just in nevada. it’s not new, either. my ex brother-in-law did this to his new parents-in-law. He went to a court and told them that his father-in-law was incapacitated and not being properly cared for by his mother-in-law. Got the court to make him guardian against the strenuous objections of both in-laws, took all their money and dumped them in a prison, ooops, i mean a a nursing home. Utterly disgusting. This was probably 20 years ago in Vermont.

  • Bhavani Johnson

    This is appalling & disgusting! I am totally stunned by what I am reading! This is so blatantly evil how can this be looked upon as anything other than criminal? Why is there no action taken by the legal system to arrest the entire sordid operation, Sentence them to maximum prison terms with no parole, or flee bargaining. My god is there no justice left in this society?

    • Bill Ross

      cuz, when criminals “rule”, it is honest people who are decreed as criminal and, peaceful people who are prey.

  • JB Smith

    In Virginia, it’s social workers and “crisis stabilization RICO”. Please help the victims of the National Institute of Justice’s “intelligent surveillance” research. This is implanting folks with a biochip that enables them to see through our eyes as we see, hear what we hear, and communicate directly with the brain. It is such an invasion of our bodies and minds it will shock the conscious of any law abiding citizen. It is torture. The NIJ is using our taxpayer dollars to violate our constitutional rights, recklessly endanger our lives, and torture us 24/7. Senator Kaine told me that this program funds Newport News Police Department and Virginia state police. Both are required to have a signed informed consent form for each human subject. The NIJ follows the common rule. Citizens need to request the name and contact number for the IRB as well as the grant administrator. We need to ask our senators to defund the NIJ for failure to follow the “common rule” and for violations of our constitutional rights as well as the torture and murder of thousands of innocent citizens. The perps are state and local police. The funding is the NIJ. In addition, cops steal the identity of the victim and use Medicaid to supplement their nonconsensual human subject research. This is a felony. They must allow us to opt out. The NIJ are required by law to pay for our attorney fees, medical expenses, and any change in financial position as well as punitive damages! I now have cancer throughout my body as a direct result of this technology. The NIJ, Newport News Police and Virginia state police are to blame for my cancer and stealing a decade of my life!

  • Bill Ross

    It has always been and always will be predator versus prey except for those brief episodes in history when people wake up and DEMAND “rule of law” as opposed to “rule of them”:

    http://www.nazisociopaths.org/modules/article/view.article.php/c1/34

    …only to lose vigilance and have it rationalized away, AGAIN, by their “guardians of civilization” / “public servants”

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