Senate Hearing and our great challenge

A typical civil court procedure: "You are free to leave this court once you give us all your money in the form of unnecessary & unwanted legal fees, that I, as judge, will ensure you are charged. You WILL pay these legal fees.". A typical civil court procedure: "You are free to leave this court once you give us all your money in the form of unnecessary & unwanted legal fees, that I, as judge, will ensure you are charged. You WILL pay these legal fees.".

November 28, 2018

 

Dear Friends

After almost a decade of intensive personal study and advocacy, after the horrific experience of being personally victimized by the guardianship racket, after years of conversations and the exchange of countless ideas to fight this corrupt system with dozens of well-meaning and highly motivated activists, after succeeding in actually changing the laws in the state of Florida, after publishing countless articles on the subject, after writing a comprehensive book on the topic which became a number one new release on Amazon, after advising and counseling countless victims, after compiling massive amounts of data on hundreds of guardianship abuse cases over the past year which no one at the Department of Justice wants to see, and after today watching another in a long string of hearings that stretch over three decades of the Senate select committee on aging, I have reached an inescapable conclusion.

There are no checks and balances within the immensely lucrative state guardianships systems and it remains  the perfect crime of the 21st century, deviously resistant to reform, surrounded by the opaque vail of judicial immunity, and growing like a cancer. The Federal government will not reform this racket.

In today’s Senate Aging Committee Hearing,  the report of which I highly recommend everyone read and can be found at https://www.aging.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Guardianship_Report_2018_gloss_compress.pdf

Susan Collins lauded the “great work” of many guardians while paradoxically stating that the system needed to be reformed. Senator Casey was more direct in saying the current situation is wholly “unacceptable”.

Cate Boyko from State Courts informed us that in the state-run guardianship courts there is at least $50 billion at stake and in play.

Bethany Hamm from Maine DHHS told us that in Maine, of the active 1300 adult guardianships 85% are plenary and that in her opinion many guardianships were anything but a last resort, or a least restrictive alternative for potentially vulnerable seniors. She also lobbied for adoption of the ABA’s Universal guardianship law package, while bemoaning the fact that there are essentially no reasonable data to support it or any other conclusions about guardianship.

Karen Buck PA., SeniorLaw Center told us the system was ripe for abuse, devoid of reliable data and that the best response to the guardianship crisis was case prevention. She told us that many initiatives are underway to collect data and that task would take years and be dependent on federal funding, which currently is pitifully small. She emphasized that a guardianship Bill of Rights and access to counsel were critically lacking at this time.

Barbara Buckley, of Nevada ( I mistakenly identified her in an email as running the Office of Public Adminsitration)  testified that dramatic reforms are needed including a compliance office and the involvement of legal aid for free representation to wards.

Sen. Collins questions and comments emphasized the absolute lack of oversight in the state courts leading to heart wrenching stories of abuse. She mentioned a guardianship accountability bill in the offing.

Senator Casey astutely commented that guardianship abuse is a nationwide problem, is completely unacceptable and agreed with Ms. Buck that the only federal response that makes any sense is pouring more money into the court system.

Thankfully Sen. Blumenthal got to the heart of this “immensely important” issue by asking the most important question of the day—” what about the quality of the elected judges?” He expressed concern that elected state judges run individual fiefdoms in which they make a “ton of money” in his state of Connecticut and elsewhere because they have no accountability. He commented about problems with judges in probate court being elected, the need for judge education and the reality that the system has been “invisible” in under the radar for many, many years thus avoiding scrutiny. He also lamented that the federal government cannot dictate to states how to run their justice system.

Sen. Gillebrand required about the paucity of alternatives to guardianships, options—SDM, limited guardianships . She referred to guardianship abuse as an “Enormous issue”.

Karen Buck—wants to see less guardianships, and lamented serious problems in state judicial systems.

Sen. Cortez Masto NV inquired about what the federal government could do to assist states in reform efforts in seeking best practices. She indicated the need for Attorney education in probate.

The near impossibility of Prosecution for financial crimes in probate was addressed by Sen. Collins who realized that near insurmountable obstacles prevent such actions, to which Ms. Hamm, who agreed that only prevention works agreed that this is a very difficult situation.

While there has been success of some degree in exposing the criminal court insiders across the country, this vile racket continues unabated. While there is an occasional indictment of the sloppiest most egregious court predators, like April Parks, the vast majority of abusive guardianships go ignored, unpunished and sequestered. Even in cases where objections arise from family members or even law enforcement, equity probate guardianships offer no legitimate avenues for redress, often deny adequate representation to vulnerable individuals while running what amounts to a RICO operation sanctioned by representatives of the state including and especially equity probate court judges and court insiders.

It is clear from today’s hearing that the federal government, despite knowing all about the problem, cannot and will not make any inroads into the reform of the state equity probate guardianships systems unless and until they are presented with incontrovertible mountains of data collected from states that are extremely reluctant to share information. That data may be the key to unlocking some federal funding for reform measures but it will take years before any such meaningful data is either collected are analyzed. Furthermore, many state courts are themselves multibillion dollar businesses; the idea of pouring hundreds of millions of more dollars into a corrupt state court system simply to collect data which may or may not be actionable, makes no sense.

While it appears that guardianship may actually be on the radar for at least some members of this committee, the committee remains only advisory and has no legislative authority. Clearly guardianship abuse is not on the radar of the larger Congress even though there is ample anecdotal evidence as well as small sample national data available to indisputably prove that state equity probate court corruption is widespread and unchecked.

An obvious example of this is the fact that even this committee which has access to the most data and information available does not even have the ability to clearly state how many guardianships exist in the country. Is it 1.3 million, 1.5 million, or 3 million? No one really knows.

In my opinion Sen. Blumenthal hit the nail on the head. It’s the judges. It has always been the judges. It will always be the judges. Without the complicity and cooperation of politically elected probate equity court judges none of the horrendous cases that AAAPG, NASGA, CEDAR, Kasem Cares, Falk, and CEAR deal with on a daily basis could possibly ever have occurred. The court insider attorneys and guardians could only run their scam and bank their millions as long as they knew that they were dealing with a friendly judge who was unconcerned with justice and due process in favor of running a racket in their courtroom to enrich his friends and colleagues who were more than willing to engage in judicial money laundering and mortgage fraud– of which there is a growing body of strong evidence—bribery, flagrant elder abuse and human trafficking. While the powerful downstream beneficiaries of the courts corruption including doctors, hospitals, facilities, big Pharma, and the court system itself enrich themselves, families and lives are destroyed and estates are consumed in a blizzard of overmedication, unnecessary paperwork and staged litigation.

While it is of some comfort to know that advocates and victims have shouted loudly enough to get the attention of at least this one committee, decades of such complaints have resulted in almost no progress in short-circuiting the abuse or curtailing the corruption. We’ve gone through at least two full generations of advocates in this field and will undoubtedly not see the end of this corruption anytime soon or perhaps even in our lifetimes.

We have failed to properly identify the enemy and in so doing have failed to develop a strategy to defeat that enemy.

In order to do so we must educate and recruit an entirely new generation of advocates who can carry this work on until our goal of eliminating every unnecessary, fraudulent or abusive guardianship is reached. How to go about that task is our most pressing challenge.

Your comments welcome

 

Dr. Sam Sugar