Court Appointed Attorney Guardian Paul S. Kormanik and
The family that drove him to suicide
Early on the morning of October 5th, 2015, court appointed guardian, Paul S. Kormanik committed suicide in his home. As this was surely a tragedy for his family and loved ones, it was an atrocity for the thousands of victims he left behind – never to receive justice, closure or the satisfaction of knowing he was in prison. At the time Mr. Kormanik resigned his law license and was relieved of his wards – he had OVER 400 wards at that time – so one can speculate how many lives this man has destroyed since 1979 when he obtained his law license. The entire story can be read at www.Dispatch.com in the series “Unguarded”. Once Mr. Kormanik gave up his law license and the probate court removed the hundreds of wards from him my father was designated a new guardian in September 2014. The new guardian was a blessing and after a year under Mr. Kormanik’s rule, she revealed all the documents that showed us all the wrong doings on Kormanik’s behalf.
The following story is of our family and how we dealt with the stress, resentment and pure anger at what was done to our father. While a large percentage of guardianship’s occur due to dysfunction and discord within a family unit – our situation was slightly different. This story is written by my hand and every attempt has been made to get the facts correct and accurate.
Julie Crum – Daughter of Richard E. Roberts
Our parents were married in 1944. By 1948 two daughters had been born and by 1960 a son and in 1964 myself. The marriage itself and our childhood were difficult and very painful and those details I can not share. Suffice it to say that the reason my father was appointed a guardian was 100% due to my father’s poor decisions and the need to be in control at all times.
My parents were married 69 years until 2012 when our mother, at the age of 87 could no longer care for our father. The siblings stepped in and he agreed to go into an assisted living facility and my mother would stay in the home, a home they built and had lived in for 45 years. Within a month my father stated he was coming home and this caused our mother to have a nervous breakdown. The siblings flew to Ohio, packed a few things and flew our mother down to Florida for a respite at the least and if need be, to stay permanently.
Our father did go back to his home with the help of caregivers. It was a bad situation full of bad decisions on his part. In a 3-4 month period he fell 11 times. He was adamant that our mother return home but she was blossoming down here and realizing that for the first time she could have her own thoughts and actions without fear of reprisal.
Over the course of almost a year on his own. Our father attempted suicide on two different occasions and each time he was admitted to a psychiatric hospitals and other hospitals. His last hospital stay was in October of 2013. My mother and one of my sister’s flew to Ohio and went to the hospital and begged him to go into a nursing home as he could no longer care for himself and he wasn’t safe on his own. He agreed and also agreed to give my sister Power of Attorney so that she could withdraw his funds from his bank account to pay for the nursing home and also the ability to get the home sold. The next day, from the hospital, my father made his fateful and final bad decision – he called an attorney and revoked the POA. My mother and sister returned to Florida not knowing what else to do.
Within two days we all received the letter stating that a doctor at the hospital had contacted Probate Court and Paul S. Kormanik was appointed the guardian of the person and the estate under an “Emergency Guardianship Hearing”. Within 72 hours my father was placed in Arbors East Nursing Home in Columbus, OH. Were we relieved? YES, finally this nightmare would be over for us and dad would be well cared for.
In early December, 2013 myself and another sister flew to Ohio to meet with Mr. Kormanik to find out how this process was going to work. We knew the home would have to be sold – we have a family member who is a realtor up there – perfect. Our intent was we would remove the smaller things our mother treasured and then hold an estate sale to sell the beautiful, high-end furnishings in the home with all proceeds going to our father’s care – this was our mother’s wish – perfect. Mr. Kormanik assured us we could use a realtor of our choosing but that we need not worry about holding an estate sale. Mr. Kormanik stated that he worked with an excellent estate auctioneer who was skilled in this area and would get excellent prices for the household goods. We left the meeting with a good feeling knowing that while our father had caused us great heartache and grief throughout our lives – he was finally safe and would be cared for. We did not know then that the TRUE nightmare had just begun but would be hidden from us for almost a year.
Within a several weeks we learned from a neighbor that 3-4 times, always after dark, there was a truck with a trailer at my father’s house. I made numerous calls to Mr. Kormanik, I learned thru his legal secretary, Julie Whisner that it had been her and her son cleaning out the contents to take to the auctioneer. Several weeks after that we learned that the house had been placed on the market with Jim Boyd who we later found out to be the realtor that Mr. Kormanik always used and was a personal friend. We tried to fight this to no avail. The house was under contract several times but all contracts fell thru. The home was in a beautiful area, in the best school district and had been meticulously maintained. My mother desperately needed her ½ of the proceeds to live independently down here.
In the nearly 11 months Paul Kormanik had control of my father and his estate the following atrocities occurred:
- All funds were removed from my father’s account as they should have been – however, the funds were not used to maintain the home, utilities, pay my fathers credit card bill, pay the property taxes, file and pay IRS income taxes and state taxes. The funds were used to pay Julie Whisner and her son to remove the contents of the house WITHOUT doing any sort of inventory. The funds were used to pay for a bond to protect my fathers assets (seriously – in Ohio the ward has to pay their own bond)
- My father was put in what Medicare.gov rates as a “1” star facility where the care he received was one step up from a 3rd world country
- We were never given any sort of accounting, information, updates of any kind.
- When we questioned Mr. Kormanik or his staff – they would always “get back to us” or if emailed, just not respond.
- We had no idea if the house was winterized, if the realtor was doing a good job, what price did the contents get – zero information
After the stories started in the Columbus Dispatch in May, 2014, we were terrified because we had no idea how much damage had been done. Only after the new guardian take over did she disclose everything and we were horrified. Thousands and thousands of dollars had to be paid just in penalties that accrued because Mr. Kormanik did not pay any bills with my father’s money.
To this day we do not have an accurate accounting of where the money went because we learned that most of the files in Mr. Kormanik’s office were burned. Then we learned the next chapter of the horror story – imagine a 2000 sq ft house, beautifully furnished and lived in for 45 years – a lot of things, family heirlooms, antiques, prized possessions – all of it was sold at auction for $1460.00. However, none of the big items were on the auction inventory – no furniture, no lawn equipment, no electronics – where were they??? It was all missing but we did not find this out until Mr. Kormanik had surrendered his law license and disappeared from his office.
Thankfully, when I was at the home in December 2013 I had the foresight to take pictures of everything. I used to pictures to put together a case that was presented to the probate court when Mr. Kormanik submitted his “final accounting” – our case fell under “objections to final accounting”. This case was presented in May of 2015. The judge ruled in our favor and ordered Mr. Kormanik in a judgment to repay the value of the missing items and to reimburse the family for all travel costs and other costs involved. This was to paid no later than July of 2015.
In the meantime Mr. Kormanik had many, many other problems – he was being investigated by the Ohio Bar Association, the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations and the Attorney General of Ohio. In August 2015 Mr. Kormanik plead guilty to FIVE 3rd degree felonies of tampering with records, FIVE 3rd and 4th degree felonies of theft from an elderly person, and ONE charge of racketeering which is a 1st degree felony (this charge was later dropped in a plea deal). With the 10 charges his maximum sentence would have been 23 years. He was to be sentenced October 20th, 2015.
By September 2015 we had not received any funds from Mr. Kormanik and I wrote to the Probate Judge and stated our frustration and that my understanding of the law is that he didn’t pay and that makes him in contempt of court and you go to jail for that. The judge set a hearing that Mr. Kormanik was to attend on October 5th, 2015 at 9:00. That is the morning Mr. Kormanik committed suicide. My father passed away October 20, 2015 at the age of 91 – the day Mr. Kormanik would have been sentenced.
THE SILVER LINING
Unbelievably, some good did come of this. When Mr. Kormanik was stripped of all his wards in August 2014 my father’s case was assigned to another attorney who is one of two Master Guardians in the state of Ohio.
- Within a week of her taking over we had the home on the market with our realtor and it sold within 30 days at a much higher amount than Mr. Kormanik had authorized his realtor to sell it for which was a blessing for both my parents.
- Within 2 weeks the new guardian had my father on medicaid which is an area that Mr. Kormanik failed at.
- Within 2 weeks my father was moved from the 1 star nursing home into a 5 star facility where the skin cancer on his leg was addressed and he put on 25lbs in the first month.
- Within 8 months the new guardian had sorted out and reconstructed the accounting using the bits and pieces of information retained from Mr. Kormanik’s office and the estate is being prepared to be closed. We still do not have, nor will we ever an entire picture of the financial damage that Mr. Kormanik caused.
In closing I would like to say, very clearly, there ARE excellent guardians out there – the one that pulled us from the pits of hell will pick up her cell phone 90% of the time. I have many, many times woken up to find emails that she has sent at 3:00am, 1:00am on weekdays, weekends and holidays. I can send an email and have a response in minutes. So I have seen both ends of the spectrum in the ability and desire to show compassion, common sense and decency.
The American system of Guardianship is BADLY broken.