This true story was submitted by Ioanna Bougalis with full permission for publication
This is the edited version 2.0
A cautionary tale.
A Guardianship Story: Forced to run away when the System won’t help
My story is not fiction. “Wards” are real people. My family is a real family. The American guardianship racket is real. We are no different than any other family, except that we are being taken advantage of by a criminal enterprise that so far, has operated beyond the reach of law enforcement. The racket I speak of includes a guardian, attorneys, physicians, assisted living facilities, and a judge whose concerted efforts to destroy my family pays them lavishly. My family’s suffering is not given a second thought. As my Mother and I desperately try to get someone’s attention, the elephant in the room is ignored by every organization, politician and professional. Even the media is afraid to get involved in this mafia-style operation.
It is surprising how people would go to extremes for the love of money and to reap where they did not sow. This has been the case that my mother has had to endure for the last few years. People taking advantage of her good nature and emotional state to dupe her into a worse, manipulated mental state without regard to the ethical implications of such behavior. Once my mother was placed on the guardianship program, based on some incomprehensive procedures that locked her own children away from making decisions about how to relate with her, I knew something was wrong. It is more disturbing to know that I am now a criminal for acting on my mother’s best interest yet someone controls her finances to the extent of locking her out of her own account and using her finances for undisclosed legal and personal use. This story is about Katherine (Kathy) Bougalis, my mother and her tale on how people use the USA guardian system to dupe elder people of their money when they become ‘incapacitated’ by age.
If you are not concerned about the erroneous system, think of it when you are older and a dark group of people opt to use medical evidence, isolation and illogical adoption of drugs to ‘cure’ you. The isolation and the drugs make people fade away quickly, both mentally and physically. In the meantime these people use exaggerated fees to steal from you the life savings and earnings that not even your family can enjoy. From personal payments, to attorneys, to exuberant old age home fees in a well-orchestrated system. That is what we are facing here, and my mother is simply lucky to have escaped the isolation and drugging part. In the meantime her financial resources are beyond her reach. Why? Just because she is labeled incapacitated (of which she isn’t)? Or simply because she trusted the wrong people?
I have watched in disbelief, witnessing the extremes people go to, even family members, to look out for their own interests at the expense of another. I believe Mom’s illusion of loyalty and dedication within her family was her unraveling. After my father died, my two younger brothers and their wives took over our Mother’s life, isolating her from family and friends. It was during these two years that she experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that she attributes to my brothers. My older brother and I fought hard for Mom, but as an attorney later said, “There are a lot of fishy things in this case.” With payoffs funded by Mom’s finances taking place right under our noses, I know now, we didn’t stand a chance. My Mother lost her freedom and control of her entire multi-million dollar estate. As a result, she found a way to escape and moved to Arizona. In Arizona, Mom regained control of her trust and finally started to enjoy her life. However, that was short lived.
The expensive Arizona trust attorney she hired, Wayne Gardner, took deliberate and calculated actions that caused harm to my Mother again and again. In retrospect, the size of her estate was tempting for a skilled court insider. Despite our family history of conflict (or perhaps because of it), and Mom’s request to have a professional co-trustee, the attorney advised against it and coerced Mom to be her own sole trustee, leaving her exposed and vulnerable to attack from my siblings (which I believe was his plan all along). Without her knowledge or consent, he sent a copy of her new trust to my youngest brother, who had previously coerced her and taken over as Trustee and Power of Attorney in Minnesota. After moving to Arizona, Mom appointed me as her Power of Attorney (POA) and while we believed I had access to everything Mom signed, the attorney would not let me in his office when Mom signed her trust papers. He may have slipped an additional document in the signature pile for Mom to give him the right to expose her trust without her knowledge. When we questioned why he put her in jeopardy by emailing her new trust to her previous trust attorney and my brother, he said he was required to send it. This action set the stage for a legal battle between Mom’s POA, now me, and her former Trustee, my youngest brother. The legal battle would end badly.
Within a week, Mom’s assets were frozen in Minnesota. Social services were knocking at our door, and we were being followed by a private investigator hired by my brothers. Before we knew it, she was being stalked and pursued to such a degree, we sought and were granted an order for protection against my youngest brother.
We traveled to Minnesota for mediation, with her Arizona trust attorney talking his way into being paid to travel simply as a support for her, when he in fact, in retrospect, appears to be the cause of the litigation nightmare. If he were looking out for her best interests, he would have advised her not to return to Minnesota under any circumstances. Having feigned his loyalty to my Mother to our faces, the Arizona attorney spent the night at the same hotel as my brother’s opposing Minnesota attorney (Tony Trimble). The next day, the Arizona trust attorney changed his stance completely. He convinced Mom to appoint him as her Trustee and Power of Attorney, then aligned himself with my younger brother…the same younger brother he had previously called a thief. Tony Trimble taunted my attorney stating, “Isn’t it interesting that Wayne is now on [my youngest brother’s] side.”
After the mediation, retaliation against my mother and I took the form of mudslinging of opposing orders of protection. I was no longer permitted to see or speak to her. Although Mom called me the same night she had been coerced into signing the order for protection against me and continued to try to contact me daily, I could not respond. Mom begged her Arizona attorney to use his authority to cancel the Order For Protection. He repeatedly ignored her requests to make it legal for Mother and me to be together to keep me out of the way until he accomplished his goal of hijacking the estate.
Within an 11-month timeframe, the Arizona attorney wrote her trust, exposed her to further litigation, maneuvered his way into becoming her Trustee and Power of Attorney, and then victimized her, against her wishes, by requesting guardianship and conservatorship to justify his resignation. One week after resigning, he funded the opening of his own law firm.
The family dynamics were so hostile and disruptive that there was no way around the attorney’s request for guardianship. When Mom was assigned a guardian that my own attorney (Luther Amundson) had recommended, I was finally released from the order for protection because I no longer represented a threat to the trust attorney or my brothers. Although my attorney charged me $23k to dissolve the Order for Protection, it was his deliberate inaction that kept the fiasco going until the guardianship hearing. Despite what was being used to justify guardianship, I was never a threat to my Mother.
Before guardianship, in hopes of achieving some degree of sanity and peace, Mom signed the mediation agreement, forgiving past theft, so she could be left alone to live out the rest of her life with peace and happiness. She was ticketed and scheduled to fly back to her home in Arizona for the winter.
However, the same day the mediation agreement was signed, my youngest brother rekindled his relationship with her only to take her to his doctor that afternoon. Dr. Jan Baldwin, a family physician with obstetrics specialty, immediately diagnosed Mom with moderate dementia. The events that followed, of course, which were furtively planned all along, led to the guardianship of my Mother.
Mom never made it back to Arizona. She was instantly isolated from her two oldest children and her siblings, heavily drugged, manipulated into signing another Order For Protection against me, coerced into signing up for 24/7 in-home care, and locked inside her home. Any attempts she made to seek help were used to substantiate a highly suspect dementia diagnosis and restrict her freedoms and associations. False imprisonment, abuse, neglect, trauma, forced medications and forced submission were never considered as the cause of Mom’s protests or desire to escape. Healthcare workers were ordered to monitor her calls; her phone number was changed four times in six weeks. She was not allowed to talk to her brother and sister, who continually called from Greece. Mom would sneak calls to me, on several occasions leaving me messages that she was going to escape from her home through a window. Her messages included apologies, clearly blaming herself for why I would not return her calls. The physical, emotional and psychological torture inflicted upon my Mother in order to steal her life and estate is unconscionable. The medications she was forced to take caused behavioral reactions which were used to further label her as having severe behavioral issues. It was demeaning and sad to hear her pleas for help; my proud and resourceful Mother reduced to such a devastatingly helpless being.
To prevent her appearance and testimony at the hearing on the falsified Order For Protection (OFP) against me, where she was to protest her isolation from me, and to egregiously force her into full, permanent guardianship, my brothers collaborated with the ob. family physician to upgrade her diagnosis to serious dementia with hallucinations. Keep in mind, this family doctor and ob. specialist had no special training in dementia, but had status as a court insider and favored examiner. After convincing me I needed to hire him for the Order For Protection, my own attorney proved he was also a court insider, using deceptive practices to extend the OFP until the guardianship hearing. He feigned his ‘ethical stance’ and wanted to represent me only to keep getting paid thousands of dollars while intentionally feeding Mom and me to his colleagues. Mom’s purported OFP attorney, hired by my younger brother of course, also ensured the OFP continued despite my Mother’s wishes. The judge participated in the charade.
In a four-month period, Mom’s diagnosis was changed from mild cognitive impairment to severe dementia with severe behavior issues. The ob. family physician (Baldwin) refused to send Mom for further testing, and when challenged in relation to her Dementia expertise, later testified that her expertise in dementia came from her personal experience caring for her own parents in her own home. The doctor’s original medical notes stated that facility placement would be detrimental to my Mother. But once the permanent guardian took over, the doctor was all too happy to comply with the guardian’s wishes and recommend placement. Just a few months earlier, Mom was free, picking fresh fruit from her trees, and walking four miles a day by herself.
In December 2014, Judge Gary Pagliaccetti in St. Louis County held a hearing to appoint a private guardian, Dan Lodahl of First Fiduciary Corporation, the Jared Shafer of Minnesota. The judge had previously presided over our family disputes since 2012 and seemed happy to get that headache off his hands, or from what I know now, happy to take charge of our family finances. Although Mom refused to sign a waiver and planned to attend the hearing to defend herself, she was not permitted to attend. At the exact hour of the hearing, the potential guardian forced her to see the ob. family physician (Baldwin) for a routine follow-up appointment. Her attendance at the hearing, where all her rights were taken away, would have given her the opportunity to stand up for herself. By that time Mom had experienced enough that she had the courage and the will to do so. The court-appointed attorney did not share what her client wanted with the court. Instead, she played the appropriate court insider game to justify the guardianship. Of course, there was no chance that she could change anything, her appearance was just part of the process. Mom was assigned a guardian my attorney had recommended, and I was finally released from the Order For Protection – the ransom for seeing her. At a subsequent hearing, the guardian traveled the additional 80 miles before the hearing to see his ward. However, when she was picked up to attend the hearing, she was incoherent, clearly as a result of being drugged at the request of her guardian.
When all was said and done, I told my attorney, “I hired you three times, and three times my mother and I were on the losing end.” He offered no response other than to tell me not to embarrass him when I speak to his colleague, the guardian. I told him I would submit evidence to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) in relation to the guardian and others. He warned me not to ‘because an investigation would reach far and wide, deeper than anyone would want.’ Given that there is no complaint department in guardianship, I submitted evidence to the BCA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). However, the criminals were protected by the agency’s lack of action. I was viewed not as a legitimate complainant, but as a disgruntled family member that is unfit because of my refusal to abide by the rules of the court and the professionals.
Before taking over, the guardian promised the least restrictive family care. My attorney (Luther Amundson) told me not to worry because the guardian was a social worker. However, when I addressed him as such, he made no effort to inform me that his background was business, not social work. My attorney also convinced my brother and me to agree to make our Mother’s finances in guardianship private (apparently private from us too) for ‘our best interests.’ After the guardian was granted legal authority, he dropped his caring act and became a different person, imposing one sanction after another on Mom and me, making both our lives miserable while being paid handsomely for every effort to do so. When I confronted my attorney about the horrifying treatment, his response was, “Nobody will be happy.” His actions and comments proved to me that he was, in fact, another court insider.
Mom and I knew our lives and plans for a beautiful future were effectively over. She was still living in her home with 24/7 in-home care. The guardian ignored Mom’s repeated requests for the quality of life she desired, and for a different physician. The first week the guardianship began, Mom’s healthcare needs were reduced to companionship, cooking and light housecleaning; an interesting choice for a purportedly severely demented ward. She spent most of her time inside her bedroom to avoid the ‘outsiders’ in her home watching her every move.
The guardian systematically forced a situation on my Mother that set her up for failure. Thirty-two days after taking over, he came up with a strict family visitation schedule that severely isolated Mom from me. I promised her we would always be together and she would never spend a day in a facility. By the 11th day of almost complete isolation from her loved ones, Mom was howling and crying loudly in her bedroom where healthcare workers were not allowed. She felt abandoned by those she thought were there to protect her from outsiders, her own children. The minimally trained healthcare worker entered her room and startled her. Mom was upset and demanded this outsider leave her home; she was sick of the entire situation and wanted her freedom back. My brother and I were told that Mom held a knife toward the worker and that when she was taken to the hospital, she said she could kill someone. The guardian, police and the doctor fabricated the entire scenario. That is not something my Mother would do, but it was the impetus for locking her in a facility for ‘her safety and the safety of others.’ By now labeling her with “Alzheimer’s” in his emails to family, the guardian simultaneously said that placement would be a challenge because of her cognitive abilities. Mom is not a murderer; she was pursued by murderers.
Anyone, with or without dementia, would fight back at the injustices perpetrated against my Mother. Each time she stood up for herself, another psychiatric label was added and she was further restricted. The more she complained, the more she was abused. Forty-three days after being assigned a guardian, Mom was permanently locked in a facility with an ankle bracelet to prevent her escape. The guardian isolated his ward and ostracized family members.
Although there where facilities close to our home, the facility director collaborated with the guardian to place Mom 40 miles away and force her to adhere to a strict visitation schedule that left her hopelessly lonely and depressed. I moved back to Minnesota to spend as much time with her as I was allowed. She leaned on me heavily for emotional support, and my presence gave her a sense of hope. My dedication to her well-being ignited slanderous comments and cruel behavior toward me by my younger brothers, Mom’s Arizona trust attorney, the physician, facility director and staff, the guardian and the judge. The limited the hours Mom was allowed to spend out of the facility made for sad times, as she was so distraught. It was hard on her to leave her loved ones behind after traveling 80 miles round trip to spend two hours in their homes, only to return to be locked up in a 12 x 12 room by herself, in a facility with people she considered outsiders. The thought that she would spend the rest of her life locked up because of grave injustices perpetrated against her was more than she, or I, could bear.
When Mom refused to attend an appointment with the ob. family physician she was forced to see, the guardian sent the physician to the facility. When Mom didn’t want to talk to her, the physician added more psychiatric labels that suited the guardian’s goals: paranoid, but well-adjusted and not depressed. Of course more medicines were ordered for this phony diagnosis too. The care conferences included only the guardian, facility director and the doctor. Mental health professionals and family members were not allowed access.
Mom had never been hospitalized before, but she was hospitalized twice after the guardian took over. The first occasion was when she was set-up to be forced into a facility. The next incident happened while she was in the facility. One particular day, she was extremely lonely and distraught and called all of her children begging us to visit her. I spent hours on the phone with her, but according to the schedule, it was not my day to visit. It was not my older brother’s day to visit either. Since the guardian took over and having achieved their takeover, my two younger brothers refused to visit her to relieve her distress. Despite voicing my concerns, my two brothers and the guardian refused to agree to allow me to visit her on that day. That night, Mom was so frustrated that, in a fit of anger, she decided to throw out her possessions. She was sent to the emergency room for observation and returned to the facility the next day with no mental health intervention whatsoever.
During my visit on the following day, Mom told me she decided to destroy all her possessions, as her life was destroyed now. She said she paid for her items and she is forced to pay to be locked up, so what good are they to her. I shared with the facility director that my Mother was reacting to severe isolation. During subsequent court testimony, the director stated that she had no idea why Mom acted out. She also stated that Mom’s dementia was such that she could not even pick out her own clothes; two years after regaining her freedom, she not only picks out her own clothes, she dresses without any need for assistance.
It is easy to use one’s position to fabricate reality for profit. Private pay clients in facilities means more money with fewer staff hours spent on cleaning and client care. County inspectors are not allowed to enter or inspect private pay client’s rooms. Mom’s room was not cleaned for months at a time. Her lung issues were exacerbated and she developed toe fungus. I reported broken glass on her bathroom floor, and the next day she cut her foot in the shower. Mom used her nail clipper to pry the monitor from her ankle and it took a week for staff to notice. She felt as if she was being treated like a piece of cattle. Conveniently, other than those benefiting financially, no one is allowed to oversee a ward’s care. The judges who are supposed to monitor the wards they create, simply appear wholly unconcerned with the consequences of their actions.
Mom refused to accept being locked up for the rest of her life. However, with the label of incapacitation, no one listened to her. She refused to take the medications that were forced on her, so the staff put them in her food. The ob. family physician said that people with dementia need consistency or they wake up in a foreign country every day. Mom was forced into a world so foreign to her belief system and her needs that she could not adjust. She lived and worked in America, but she lived a Greek heritage lifestyle with mostly Greek friends. She felt like an outsider with nothing in common with others in the facility. She was angry because she was not severely demented, yet she was being severely maltreated and no one would, or could, help her get justice. She could not get over the fact that the children she loved would discard her and leave her in such a state of affairs. She dreamed of escaping to Greece, her country of origin, to regain her freedom.
Mom’s determination was stronger than the medication. One day she opened her window, got up on a chair and walked a mile before being spotted. After that, locks and alarms were put on her windows. Her right to fresh air was restricted. How far could this fiasco go? Mom would sit at her window and say to me, “I am not a criminal. I didn’t do anything wrong. My boys should be locked up, not me. Everything is upside down.” She was not confused; she was right. Even more heartbreaking is when she would watch others walk by her window and say, “Look at them, they’re free. I can’t even go for a walk, and I can’t feel the sun. Why? I’m a good person. What did I do to deserve this? You all should be ashamed of yourselves to do this to your Mother. You can leave here and go home. Me, I’m locked up.” Mom told me that when she pleaded with my youngest brother to help her get back to her home, he told her, “No Mom, that’s life.” My other younger brother completely stopped communicating with her once the guardian took over her finances; he wouldn’t even answer her calls. Previous to the guardianship when she asked him for help, he told her he ‘didn’t want to get involved.’ His response was a devastating reality check for our Mother.
The woman that walked four miles a day and loved to socialize only a few months before was now reduced to a lifeless, lonely existence with the inability to thrive. The ‘professional’ [guardian] with credentials attained by taking a 40-hour online class, decided this lifestyle was in her best interest. I would often find her lying in her bed in the fetal position. She would say, “If this is my life, I want to die.” That’s appeared to be the guardian’s goal.
During subsequent hearings for settlements, neither the guardian, ob. family physician, nor the facility director could pinpoint an exact dementia diagnosis for my Mother. The Alzheimer’s Association claims that early diagnosis is essential to determine if the dementia is treatable. The guardian claimed it would be burdensome and intrusive to allow my Mother medical testing to determine what type of dementia she had if she even had dementia. The ob. family physician testified that it would be moot to allow her further medical testing since dementia is progressive. Drugs exist to slow the process, but that ran counter to the plan the racketeering group had for Mom. The judge (Gary Pagliaccetti) did not order further medical testing to assist him in making an objective decision, as testing would show that his initial decision of incapacitation was not valid. He also refused to let Mom testify due to his label of incapacitation, knowing she would perform much better and counter to the many false diagnoses bestowed upon her. Her voice was effectively silenced again with yet another tactic. My two brothers that had taken over Mom’s assets submitted statements that they support Mom being locked in a facility. Having her incapacitated and locked away meant no one would listen to her accusations against them. The only place my efforts to help free my Mother got me, is to the poor farm. While stealing estates, judges and guardians leave a trail of victims, well beyond the initial target of their misdeeds.
It was clear; justice did not have a place in guardianship. There was no way out. Mom remained locked in the facility. She said, “I don’t understand. I helped all of my children and this is what they did to me in return?” I had promised her that if the legal avenues did not work, I would find a way to get her out of the ridiculous hell she and I were living in. She was quickly deteriorating, and so was I. When all legal hope was lost that she could regain her freedom, she refused to accept it. The visitation schedule only allowed outings of 4 hours at a time. Mom began to refuse to re-enter the facility to be locked up. Adult protective service reports were made and the investigator found serious violations by the guardian, facility and physician. But as I learned, the guardian’s political power reaches far and wide. The outcome was that the investigator was removed from his position, and adult protective services did not have the legal authority to protect her when a guardian is involved. At Mom’s insistence, we called the police on three occasions. The police officer said that there was not a court order to force Mom to re-enter the facility. By the last 911 call, the guardian told the police officer he was going to get a court order, and that my Mother would never leave the facility again. Law enforcement couldn’t help because guardianship is a civil matter; another protection for the racketeers. In addition to the Ativan Mom was forced to take, Seroquel was ordered the same day. The adult protective service report indicated that the combination would render her unconscious. That was the goal: isolate, medicate, take the estate and then legally cremate the evidence. The more expeditiously the ward dies, the sooner the criminals can start the probate process to pay themselves lavishly until the estate is completely drained.
My youngest brothers collaborated with the court insiders to push for guardianship. They didn’t realize that while they victimized their own Mother, they opened the door for others to victimize them.
After previous threats of paid supervised visitation to see my Mother if I did not stop interfering, the guardian told me I could no longer see her. He said I was a bad influence, making it difficult for Mom to adjust to being falsely imprisoned. He claimed that Mom is not adjusting to placement because of her time outside the facility. His solution was to completely isolate her and keep her locked up and drugged. Mom begged me daily to help her. I could no longer watch my Mother suffer in the name of laws that made no sense, laws that caused more harm than good, and a vicious guardian that cared only about his financial goals.
On May 2, 2016, my son planned to go see his Yiayia (Grandmother) that evening. He picked her up and took her to a restaurant. I knew if we didn’t leave immediately we would never see each other again. I packed a small suitcase and left my computer, cell phone and credit card behind to avoid detection. I called my son to see where he and my Mother were and told him I was going to join them. I didn’t want him involved in what I was about to do. I met up with them and told my son I would take Mom back to the facility, so he went home. Mom and I immediately got into my vehicle and headed out of the state!
The guardian, the attorneys, the physician and the judge had been adamant about not allowing Mom out of Minnesota to enjoy her homes and family in Arizona and Greece. They had to keep her in the state to keep control of her, and subsequently, control of her assets. She was merely their cash cow. The guardian made that clear the first day he was appointed when he said, “I am now your Mother.” By May 4, 2016, a missing person’s report was filed on my Mother, and the judge signed off on the guardian’s request to have Mom permanently locked in a facility and restrict her visitors. A short time later, there was a warrant out for my arrest. Two law-abiding citizens turned fugitives; Mom was 76 and I was 53.
We ran. We ran all the way to Greece.
We traveled from state to state. The guardian and law enforcement assumed we would head south to our home in Arizona, so we headed east. We were helped by people who knew us, and those who did not know us. Mom and I prayed as we crossed the border out of Minnesota to Wisconsin where we stayed with a friend as we planned our escape. We traveled all the way to the east coast before heading for Texas on May 11, 2016. Mom didn’t show any signs of confusion and didn’t have a problem with the changing environment, as the ob. family physician had repeatedly warned. I hadn’t seen her that happy for over two years. Without being falsely imprisoned and poisoned with medication, she was fine.
While we were in Texas, Mom and I had a conversation with a government investigator. He refused to investigate the guardian. He said we should return because he was investigating a murder and didn’t have time to be bothered daily by the guardian’s calls.
Mom and I only had our driver’s license and could not retrieve our birth certificates or other documents to obtain passports. Because of the guardian’s implied power, we were afraid to go to any of the Greek Embassies for fear that they had been notified.
We contacted a medical specialist to test Mom for severe dementia as the ob. family physician and guardian claimed to justify her continued confinement. While she did show signs of the traumatic brain injury (TBI) she acquired while being isolated, Dementia and Alzheimer’s were not present! Her symptoms were attributed to the traumatic events she had experienced.
During our stay in Texas, the guardian took his legal liberty to extremes. He traveled to Arizona, again at Mom’s expense, and broke into our jointly owned home. With police watching, unable to interfere in a civil case, the guardian ransacked through all of my personal property. He kicked down two locked bedroom doors, disabled two security systems and replaced them with his own, again at Mom’s expense. I called the local police department to tell them the guardian had no right to go through my personal property. Instead of offering assistance, I realized they were attempting to pinpoint our location.
We were running out of options…fast. Since no one has access to residents in a crisis shelter, we moved into a shelter. At the prompting of a friend, I took a risk and called the Greek Embassy in Houston. The representative told me that, as long as Mom and I were both Greek citizens, she could grant us emergency passports the next day.
We arrived in Greece on June 30, 2016. We hid at a monastery until we figured out a strategy and eventually felt safe enough to go to our home. Once there, we weren’t so sure. I changed the name on the doorbell and mailbox. Mom and I stuck together like glue, never going outside without one another, and always looking over our shoulders. We still do.
The guardian, Dan Lodahl, knows our location. As soon as he took over, he used my Mother’s assets to pay an attorney $3,000 to investigate her assets in Greece. Fortunately, her Greek assets were protected. Also, my oldest brother notified him on several occasions that we were in Greece to request he resign as guardian. Mr. Lodahl told my brother that he will not resign and that Judge Pagliaccetti would never approve it. Of course not. On the upside, he did reassure my brother that he would only charge $50 per year for the guardianship to produce the [fake] annual report in which he still claims her whereabouts are unknown. That is not to say that he won’t continue spending lavishly as her conservator. The saving grace for Mom and I, ironically, is that we won’t be extradited on a ‘civil’ matter. The guardian now has the luxury of owning the family estate without the headache of overseeing ‘the cash cow.’ During the last hearing, the guardian’s attorney said I was ‘dangerous.’ The only danger I pose is the information I have. Even while in Greece, I have received threatening phone calls aimed at intimidating me. As I continue to advocate, there is a real threat that my mother’s funds could be used to harm me in some way. That’s our reality.
Another court hearing was held after we left. Mom was assigned a public defender (yet another court insider) for guardianship of her person that posed a conflict of interest, while the judge denied her chosen attorney the right to represent her. The judge told Mom’s attorney that the only way he would approve her representation was if she disclosed Mom’s location and only if Mom attended the court hearing because he would have to ‘see’ her. Keep in mind, the judge had made all prior decisions to take her rights away without ‘seeing her,’ and without ‘requesting’ to see her.
At the same hearing, the judge failed to appoint a public defender for the conservatorship. He approved the guardian’s failed audit and the annual income of $126,000 while removing me as Trustee of her Arizona Trust and authorizing the Minnesota guardian oversight of that as well. During the hearing, neither the guardian nor the Judge mentioned a concern for Mom’s well-being or her right to living expenses, and the guardian did not admit he knew Mom’s location. Within months, the Guardian got the judge’s approval to sell Mom’s home and commercial properties. He attempted to under-sell her home before my older brother intervened with a threat of exposing his underhanded attempt in court. To cover his tracks, the guardian lost an additional $14K for Mom’s estate, but who’s watching?
Based on my 2015 report to Adult Protective Services, the guardian was audited in 2015 for his income of $126,000 through Senator Klobuchar’s Conservator Account Auditing Program (CAAP) which proved to be ineffective with the Judge (always) having the final say. No one monitors the Judge who has immunity: absolute power corrupts absolutely! The guardian then overlooked his legal obligation to provide his 2016 annual financial report to interested parties. He deliberately avoided responding to requests from family members. The court also failed to respond to requests for information. We have no idea how much was extorted in 2016 for purportedly trying to ‘find’ his ward (and to fund the guardian’s retaliation tactics), but there is no realistic complaint system in place for guardianship, anywhere.
While searching for my Mother, the guardian told a family member that his expenses for finding her would be taken out of my inheritance, which is irrelevant because he will use his legal authority to divert the entire estate to himself and into his pockets and those of his colleagues. Further inquiry would require interested parties to spend thousands of dollars on attorney fees to take the matter to the same judge that collaborates with the guardian, and the guardian’s defense would be funded by my Mother. The 2017 report lacks any detail for the guardian’s charges to the estate, but the judge will almost surely approve it. It is no secret in guardianship that narcissistic psychopaths appoint narcissistic psychopaths over the most vulnerable. I am not supposed to say that, but I think I’ve earned that right.
A year after we left the U.S., the guardian authorized an individual calling himself a bounty hunter to reside in our Arizona home and steal my property…the personal property of a disabled veteran. The police won’t investigate the theft because I have a warrant for taking my Mother to safety; a warrant issued by the Judge (Pagliaccetti), in collaboration with the guardian (Lodahl). The law appears to protect the guardian, even from outright theft, yet it doesn’t protect wards and families from felonies perpetrated against them. The Guardian spent Mom’s money to pay attorneys, court fees and his travel expenses to seek and secure guardianship and conservatorship in Arizona as well. He refused to communicate with my realtor, forcing our home into foreclosure, causing me to lose the $30K I paid as a down payment.
Guardians and judges depend on adult children not having the time and financial resources to help their parents. Many people gave well-intentioned advice telling me that there is nothing I could do so I should just live my life. I lost everything to free my Mother, and I would do it all over again. I couldn’t live, not without my Mother.
Today, Mom says she wishes she would have looked out for herself instead of depending on others. What hurt her most is that it is her own children that stole the joy from her golden years. I brought her to Greece to regain her rightful freedom and dignity, and to enjoy the connection to her family and friends. We miss my older brother, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My older brother comes to see us once a year. We will miss my son’s wedding. That’s the saddest part is that we can’t get the lost time or opportunities for family memories back. Mom and I are missing out on what is most important to us.
Mom recovered, but being confined has taken a toll. She recently told a reporter, “When my husband died, they came after me just because they could.” A once athletically active woman, she has lost some of her stamina. She doesn’t trust people and keeps her social circle extremely small. She thanks me daily for helping her escape and seeks constant reassurance that she and I will not be separated ever again. It took her over a year to recover from the feeling of being locked in. She gets upset that her income and great wealth she and my father worked so hard to attain has been stolen from her. She feels worthless saying, “I am nothing, my own children threw me away.”
For the past two years, I have been supporting Mom financially. Her sister and extended family have helped us in many ways. When we left Minnesota, the guardian canceled her credit card, the only source of income he ever provided for her.
We have reached out to politicians, law enforcement and human rights organizations. No one will help a ward. We have encountered a vicious circle of refusals leading only to the option of the ward hiring an attorney; an attorney that she is not legally permitted to hire. Family members lose their health, reputation, finances, and homes while gaining absolutely no legal ground. The ward is left to single-handedly fight a national problem from a position of legal paralysis, physical incarceration, and mental sedation designed merely to prevent him/her from appearing competent. The issue of over medication for such an obvious purpose is criminal. Americans are being forced into legally vulnerable positions, deprived of their life liberty and property at alarming rates. In the land of liberty and justice for all, the lack of legal, civil and human rights protections is a national disgrace.
An attorney that reviewed the facts of our case found fraud, civil rights violations, neglect, assault and battery, extortion and malpractice (he said to the same degree as police brutality and attorney malpractice). The refusal to allow my Mother her right to hire an attorney, and the warrant for my arrest, leave us legally paralyzed, intentionally.
We submitted evidence to Senator Klobuchar and the Minnesota Attorney General. The Senator refused our request to speak to her directly. Her staff thanked us in a letter for the information and directed Mom to hire an attorney (that she knows Mom can’t hire) and to contact the Attorney General. That was all the Senator (who claims to be an elder advocate) did for us. Her bipartisan bill, The Court-Appointed Guardian Accountability and Senior Protection Act, keeps the power with the courts and individual judges, similar to her CAAP program mentioned earlier. The Bill leaves it up to individual judges whether a background check will be performed on a guardian before appointment over a person’s entire personal life, medical and death choices and estate. From Mom’s experience as a ward, it is another worthless piece of legislation, a political dog and pony show. Senator Klobuchar’s political efforts purportedly to help protect elderly from incarceration through bogus and fraudulent guardianships, her ineffective accounting program, and her lack of assistance to victims by failing to request an investigation speaks volumes to her actual affiliations.
The Assistant Attorney General, John Gross, rudely informed us that we had been told several times that there is nothing they can do. He said the AG’s office does not investigate fiduciary corporations. He told us the AG investigates certain aspects of fraud, but only those that fall under ‘specific’ State Statutes. The obvious corporate fraud against multiple Minnesota elderly conveniently doesn’t fit his procedural guidelines, but he sits comfortably in the desk my Mother’s $150,000 in annual taxes paid for. Even with hard facts against him, the guardian appears beyond the reach of criminal law enforcement though he perpetrates crimes daily. It begs the question – are politicians being threatened, or paid in this mafia-style racketeering operation.
Mom had one major success, but it was short-lived. After we arrived in Greece, it took us a year to get past the fear of contacting the American Embassy. We are still fearful of stepping on American soil, so the Embassy representative met us outside the Embassy. After two years in destitute financial status, the American Embassy in Greece helped Mom get her social security income diverted from the guardian to her account. The guardian interfered and after two months, her payments stopped.
In September 2018, over two years after our escape and extensive medical testing, Mom’s internal medicine physician and her neurologist diagnosed her with mild cognitive impairment with the capability of handling her life choices and her finances. Tests showed her traumatic brain injury cleared up shortly after we left the United States. She doesn’t have ‘severe behavior issues’ she was labeled with. She is a gentle and deeply hurt soul.
According to my Mother’s most recent Medicare statement, her 2017 income was $518,000, of which she received zero. Apparently that is justice because the professional thieves have taken deliberate action to ensure her best interest. They deemed her too incompetent to even buy herself a cup of coffee and they have that right!
In November 2018, Mom said, “I don’t understand, I did everything to please everybody and they just sent me to hell. I don’t know why people allow them the right to do what they did to me. I had a home, I had a life and all of it was taken away.” A severely demented person would lack the ability to communicate such a logical statement.
The only current avenue to justice in guardianship is to accept defeat, allow strangers to steal your life’s work and assets, and flee the country for freedom.
Dad said that every injustice comes back as justice in its own time, even if it takes twenty years. The professionals that are turning their backs on the vulnerable should realize that the vulnerable were once the professionals. Locking up an innocent multimillionaire who did all the right things, obeyed the law, saved her entire life to live in her home in old age so that criminals can live lavishly off of her suffering is a horror story that must be resolved before we can make America great again. Without laws that protect citizens from becoming wards in the first place, no one is safe. The only safe place to retire is out of the country.