Connecticut: Has Our View of Corruption Been Corrupted?


There’s a new anti-corruption task force in Connecticut replete with billboards asking the public to report the corrupt. This hour, we explore the history of corruption and our complicated attitudes toward it.

Comment below, email, or tweet @wnprcolin.


  • Deirdre M. Daly – United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut
  • Noah Rosenblum - Ph.D. student at Columbia; law student at Yale Law School, where he is an articles editor at the Yale Law Journal
  • John Joseph Wallis - Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland

Lydia Brown and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.

The Colin McEnroe Show  10:57 am Wed February 18, 2015

Attribution listen and see to full story at :

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Connecticut: Emotional Prevue of Legislator & Parent Testimony

Emotional Prevue of Legislator & Parent Testimony

State Rep Dan Carter (R) – Lost Confidence
State Rep Edwin Vargus (D) – Shop of Horrors
State Rep Minnie Gonzalez (D) – Parents in Visitor Gallery say Vote No
International Human Rights Journalist Keith Harmon Snow – Destruction of an Entire Life deserves a bullet
Parent Andrea Cota Eiger – SIGN AWAY CUSTODY OF YOUR SON! (Has not seem him for 5 years).
Parent Michael Nowacki – Judiciary giving Legislators a snow job! See in video above.
CT State Troopers escort Michael Nowacki out of the confirmation hearings
for Attorney Maureen Murphy and others held before the Connecticut Judiciary Committee February 22, 2012.
  In his public statement, Michael Nowacki continued to challenge members of the Judiciary Committee for their sanction and participation in judicial abuse.  (c. keith harmon snow, 2012)

Circle of Appreciation


State Representative Minnie Gonzalez was presented with a first-ever Circle of Appreciation Award Friday, June 20, 2014 at 5pm in front of The House of Representatives at the state capitol in Hartford. This occurred directly following a ceremony in which Governor Dan Malloy signed our state’s first-ever family court reform bill into law in his office.

CCFCR advocates celebrate with State Rep. Minnie Gonzalez after presenting her with The Circle of Appreciation Award. Pictured from left: Vernon Leftridge; Peter Syzmonik, CCFCR Chairman; Sara Littlefield; Atty. Mark Sargent; State Rep. Gonzelez; Al Cuseo, Probate Court Reform Advocate; Marisa Ringel, CCFCR board member; and Atty. Maureen Markowska

CCFCR advocates celebrate with State Rep. Minnie Gonzalez after presenting her with The Circle of Appreciation Award. Pictured from left: Vernon Leftridge; Peter Syzmonik, CCFCR Chairman; Sara Littlefield; Atty. Mark Sargent; State Rep. Gonzelez; Al Cuseo, Probate Court Reform Advocate; Marisa Ringel, CCFCR board member; and Maureen Martowska, J.D. & CCFCR board member

Attribution see full story :

Also See: Connecticut: Federal Task Force Established To Investigate Corruption

Fairfield-Daily-VoiceThe Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force seeks to bring corrupt officials to justice

The Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force seeks to bring corrupt officials to justice Photo Credit: File Photo

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly has announced the formation of the Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force, which aims to investigate corruption among public officials as well as local, federal and municipal employees.

The Task Force includes representatives from the FBI, the U. S. Postal Inspection Service, the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division, and the Inspector General’s Offices of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher M. Mattei, chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Financial Fraud and Public Corruption Unit, is coordinating the task force.

The task force will investigate corruption that threatens public resources, the electoral process, and fair economic opportunities for citizens and businesses. It will also attempt to expose corruption within public and private institutions that misuse taxpayer dollars.

The FBI will serve as the lead investigative agency.

“With the assistance and cooperation of these partners, the Connecticut Public Corruption Task force is well positioned to successfully root out and put an end to public corruption within our area,” said Patricia M. Ferrick, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven office.

“Public servants are entrusted by all of us to act in the best interests of the public they serve. It is important for the United States to bring to justice those who betray that trust.”

The task force has been conducting several investigations in the past few months. Most recently, it arrested the former Finance Director of Plymouth, who was accused of embezzling more than $800,000 from the town.

Daly encourages citizens to report corrupt activity by calling the FBI at 1-800-225-5324.

“We call on public servants, the vast majority of whom are honest brokers, to not look the other way when they see indications of corruption,” said Daly. “We cannot overstate the importance of citizen participation in our fight against corruption, and we urge all citizens to assist us in this effort.”

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During the proceedings of the 2009 subcommittee on audio recordings, I was struck by the fact that three dozen court reporters and court recording monitors spoke out about the sanctity of audio recordings and vociferously opposed making them available freely to the public.  See article at the following link:

As you may or may not know, it remains the current policy of the Connecticut Judicial Branch that it will not distribute or sell copies of the audio recordings that it makes itself of legal proceedings.  These are part of what is considered to be the official record of a case. 
Court Reporters and Court Recording Monitors jealously guard these recordings from the hands of members of the public or litigants because they state they are concerned that the audio recordings could be tampered with.  Of course, litigants often state that if anyone was to tamper with them, it would be Court Reporters!
The only way to find out what is on those audio recordings is through court reporters who are solely authorized by statute to make transcripts of those recordings for a fee upon request.  It is through this monopoly on the production of court transcripts that court reporters have been able to develop one of the most lucrative scams in the history of the Connecticut Family Court system.

The link is now broken see story below with screen shot from google: This is Google’s cache of It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Feb 9, 2015 00:37:53 GMT. The current page could have changed in the meantime. Learn more
Tip: To quickly find your search term on this page, press Ctrl+F or ⌘-F (Mac) and use the find bar.

See above link re Stamford court monitors fined by Ethics Committee for overcharging public for transcripts. Now some of them claim they can’t produce transcripts of portions of a hearing, but can only produce the full hearing–despite a state statute providing that any party is entitled to a transcript of whatever portion of a hearing they order.

4 judicial workers pay fines in scam

4 judicial workers pay fines in scam

By Brian McCready, Milford Bureau Chief

POSTED: 12/23/09, 12:01 AM EST

Four state Judicial Branch employees, including an Orange woman, have paid $500 civil penalties to the Office of State Ethics for allegedly using their state positions to obtain financial gain.

The four employees allegedly overcharged the public for documents, and were forced to make restitution, according to OSE officials.

The four court workers are Kathy Jordan of Orange, Sharon Haas of Stamford, Deidre Clement of New Fairfield and Mary Fjelldal of Stamford.

According to the consent orders finalized with the Office of State Ethics Monday, all four are court monitors for the Judicial Department at the Stamford Court Reporters Office.

Court monitors record and transcribe proceedings in Superior Court, an OSE statement released Tuesday says. Despite a mandatory price schedule, each of the four allegedly overcharged members of the public for the reproduction of transcripts, according to the statement.

State law prohibits employees from using their public office or position to obtain financial gain for themselves.

“By overcharging requestors in excess of the amount allowed by the mandatory price schedule, the four monitors allegedly used their state positions to obtain financial gain. In the consent orders, the four court monitors deny any violation of the Code of Ethics,” the OSE statement says.

In addition to the civil penalties, Jordan, Haas, Clement and Fjelldal also agreed to reimburse members of the public $207.75, $371.25, $528 and $212.50, respectively, the amounts of the overcharges, the OSE statement says. As a further part of the settlements, each will provide a detailed invoice to all future requestors, specifying the per-page rate charged, the total number of pages and the total amount due.

“The Code of Ethics seeks, first and foremost, to prevent public officials from using their positions for personal, financial gain, beyond what the law allows,” OSE Executive Director Carol Carson said in the statement.

OSE spokeswoman Meredith Trimble said the issue was brought to their attention by another state agency. She said OSE would not have any control over whether the employees were disciplined.

“Regarding any agency personnel matters, we don’t know how this was handled administratively by their agency. That, we wouldn’t get involved in, because it is not under our purview. Our statute allows us to impose civil penalties, which we did,” Trimble said. “How agencies subsequently handle any ethics matters would be up to the management, HR department and in keeping with that agency’s own internal ethics policy, if applicable.”

Trimble said education is the key to ensuring abuses do not occur. The OSE has a number of training options to ensure that state employees know and comply with the ethics law, she said.

“We do free in-person training at state agencies, hold free quarterly trainings at our offices, offer free training DVDs to any requesting agency, provide an interactive, online training … as well as a Web-streaming training video and plain-language guides to the Code of Ethics,” Trimble said.

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Connecticut: Public Corruption Task Force uses Billboards to Combat Corruption in Connecticut

imageCourtesy of FBI New Haven Bureau


Local legislators said Wednesday they support the creation of a task force to combat corruption in Connecticut.

The Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force was formed earlier this month and consists of representatives from the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, as well as the Inspector General’s Offices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly said in a statement that the task force’s responsibilities include investigating and “rooting out” elected officials, federal, state and municipal employees who use their position for personal gain at the expense of the public good.

“Connecticut’s unfortunate recent history with corruption is well known, but so is this office’s history of combating corrupt activity,” Daly said in a statement. “Our efforts have been aided by a dogged media and courageous, conscientious citizens, business owners and public officials who have provided information about corrupt activity in their midst.”

The task force has already spent months at work and was involved in the arrest of a former finance director in Plymouth accused of embezzling more than $800,000 from the town, according to a statement.

To raise awareness of the task force’s mission, the New Haven division of the FBI installed billboards in Hartford, Bridgeport and Waterbury.

The billboards ask motorists to “Report corruption now!” by contacting the task force at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Information from:

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Connecticut: Public Corruption Task Force The corruption tip hotline, 1-800-CALL-FBI, operates 24/7.

It Is Still ‘Corrupticut’

“It’s a sad commentary when the feds feel a state merits its own round-the-clock corruption unit.”

Political corruption in Connecticut is like this winter’s snow: It just won’t stop.

Which is why federal agencies are having to set up a serious stakeout here.

The U.S. attorney’s office, the FBI and four other federal agencies are forming the Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force to root out all those who use their public position for private gain. The corruption tip hotline, 1-800-CALL-FBI, operates 24/7.

It’s a sad commentary when the federal government feels a state merits its own round-the-clock corruption unit.

In a way, federal investigators and prosecutors are doing what they have done here for years: taking the lead in draining corruption cesspools.

The reason why it’s fallen to them to watchdog Connecticut corruption is because the state legislature refuses to hand state prosecutors the tool to do it — the investigative subpoena, which would give them the power to compel witness testimony.

For years, lawmakers have turned up their noses at requests by the state’s attorneys for this tool, although it is common to virtually all other states.

What are legislators afraid of? Now that they’ve been called out by federal law enforcement officials, they can hardly refuse to respond. Lawmakers should give the state’s attorneys subpoena power this session.

Thickheaded and Greedy

You’d have thought that public officials would have gotten the message that corruption doesn’t pay after so many Connecticut lawmakers, staff members, mayors and even a governor have gone to prison or been sentenced to a lifetime of infamy for selling their offices.

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Feds announce Connecticut public corruption task force



NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Federal authorities in Connecticut announced a new task force Wednesday to investigate corruption by public officials, saying the problem remains persistent despite numerous prosecutions in the state.

The task force comprises officials from several federal agencies who have worked together in the past on prominent cases, including the corruption prosecutions of former Gov. John G. Rowland.

“This is a persistently present problem,” said Deirdre Daly, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut. “It’s somewhat discouraging and troubling because over the last decade plus there have been a number of high-profile public corruption prosecutions in Connecticut and yet corruption persists on a number of different levels.”

The large number of cases has earned the state the dubious nickname “Corrupticut,” with two corruption cases against Rowland putting the state in the national spotlight.

Rowland is awaiting sentencing after being convicted in September of hiding payments for work on the failed 2012 congressional campaign of Lisa Wilson-Foley that were made through a phony contract with her husband’s nursing home business. In 2004, Rowland resigned as governor amid another corruption scandal and served 10 months in prison or taking illegal gifts while in office.

Several other public officials also have gone to prison in federal corruption cases in the past two decades, including former state Treasurer Paul Silvester, former Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim and former Bridgeport state Sen. Ernest Newton II, who now is awaiting sentencing in another criminal case. Former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez was convicted of state corruption charges in 2010, but the convictions were overturned and the case is now before the state Supreme Court.

The new task force, which has been operating for a few months, includes officials with the FBI, IRS, Postal Inspection Service and the departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development. Daly said five officials with those agencies will work together at the FBI office in Meriden, in the first task force of its kind in the state.

“Public servants are entrusted by all of us to act in the best interests of the public they serve,” said Patricia Ferrick, the top FBI agent in Connecticut. “It is important for the United States to bring justice to those who betray that trust. Public corruption at all levels of local, state and federal government must not be tolerated.”

Officials also urged government employees to report corruption and said criminal acts can be reported anonymously to a hotline, 800-CALL-FBI, which is staffed by FBI agents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Connecticut: Feds form team to fight corruption in Connecticut


NEW HAVEN – The State of Connecticut has seen its share of corrupt public officials over the years, from former  governors, to city mayors and officials. Now, the feds are stepping up efforts to crackdown on corrupt behavior.Capture

Federal law enforcement officers, struck by what they called the persistent criminal behavior of government officials in Connecticut, said Wednesday that they have created a multi-agency, federal task force to fight public corruption in the state.

“Connecticut’s unfortunate recent history with corruption is well known,” said Deidre Daly, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut.

Several other public officials also have gone to prison in federal corruption cases in the past two decades, including former state Treasurer Paul Silvester and former Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim.   In 2004, then Governor John Rowland resigned, and eventually served  time, convicted for corruption.  He now awaits sentencing in his second corruption scandal.

West Haven’s Housing Authority Director now awaits sentencing for taking $1.5 million in bribes in exchange for business.

“Yet, corruption persists at a number of levels, so the time was opportune for us to put together a top notch team of people who are prioritizing corruption,” said Daly,

The task force consists of investigators from the FBI, IRS and the Inspector General Offices of the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development. It will be housed in the FBI’s Meriden offices and directed by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The Task Force also will investigate corruption that threatens public resources, the electoral process, and fair economic opportunities for citizens and businesses. In addition, the Task Force is charged with uncovering corruption within both public and private institutions that receive and misuse taxpayer dollars.

“Our democracy depends on healthy, efficient and ethical government. Without it we all foot this bill for corrupt officials through higher taxes,” said Patricia Ferrick, the FBI Special Agent in-charge for Connecticut.

The task force has been at work for several months and has several investigations on-going, including the recent arrest of the former finance director of the town of Plymouth, who is alleged to have embezzled more than $800,000 from the town.

The task force has a special corruption tip hotline that will be answered around the clock, Daly said.

The number is 1-800-CALL-FBI. To succeed, she said, the task force needs the cooperation of the public and government employees who see improper behavior. Callers can remain anonymous if they chose, she added.



See more News Bellow:

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New York Times Article on Nursing Home Abuse of Civil Rights Puts It Mildly To Collect Debts, Nursing Homes Are Seizing Control Over Patients

 The New York Times Newspaper

Dino and Lillian Palermo at the Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home, which had tried to obtain guardianship over Mrs. Palermo. Credit Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times       
Lillian Palermo tried to prepare for the worst possibilities of aging. An insurance executive with a Ph.D. in psychology and a love of ballroom dancing, she arranged for her power of attorney and health care proxy to go to her husband, Dino, eight years her junior, if she became incapacitated. And in her 80s, she did.
Mr. Palermo, who was the lead singer in a Midtown nightclub in the 1960s when her elegant tango first caught his eye, now regularly rolls his wife’s wheelchair to the piano at the Catholic nursing home in Manhattan where she ended up in 2010 as dementia, falls and surgical complications took their toll. He sings her favorite songs, feeds her home-cooked Italian food, and pays a private aide to be there when he cannot.
But one day last summer, after he disputed nursing home bills that had suddenly doubled Mrs. Palermo’s copays, and complained about inexperienced employees who dropped his wife on the floor, Mr. Palermo was shocked to find a six-page legal document waiting on her bed.

The Palermos at the Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home, which had tried to obtain guardianship over Mrs. Palermo. Credit Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times


It was a guardianship petition filed by the nursing home, Mary Manning Walsh, asking the court to give a stranger full legal power over Mrs. Palermo, now 90, and complete control of her money.
Few people are aware that a nursing home can take such a step. Guardianship cases are difficult to gain access to and poorly tracked by New York State courts; cases are often closed from public view for confidentiality. But the Palermo case is no aberration. Interviews with veterans of the system and a review of guardianship court data conducted by researchers at Hunter College at the request of The New York Times show the practice has become routine, underscoring the growing power nursing homes wield over residents and families amid changes in the financing of long-term care.
In a random, anonymized sample of 700 guardianship cases filed in Manhattan over a decade, Hunter College researchers found more than 12 percent were brought by nursing homes. Some of these may have been prompted by family feuds, suspected embezzlement or just the absence of relatives to help secure Medicaid coverage. But lawyers and others versed in the guardianship process agree that nursing homes primarily use such petitions as a means of bill collection — a purpose never intended by the Legislature when it enacted the guardianship statute in 1993.
At least one judge has ruled that the tactic by nursing homes is an abuse of the law, but the petitions, even if they are ultimately unsuccessful, force families into costly legal ordeals.
“It’s a strategic move to intimidate,” said Ginalisa Monterroso, who handled patient Medicaid accounts at the Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home until 2012, and is now chief executive of Medicaid Advisory Group, an elder care counseling business that was representing Mr. Palermo in his billing dispute. “Nursing homes do it just to bring money.”
“It’s so cruel,” she added. “Mr. Palermo loves his wife, he’s there every single day, and they just threw him to the courts.”
To Continue Reading Main Article
*  …  In our case in Corrupticut, the object of the game was to seize control over the entire $1M Partch Estate, not just “payment” for Wilton Meadows’ unnecessary “bills,” which only resulted from my mother’s seizure (i.e., her Fraudulently Procured Involuntary Conservatorship) in the first place.  She could have come back home in 2010, which would have cost a fraction as much.  Besides, she was thrown on Medicaid in just 18 months anyway, after they burned through $465,000+ in that time.  Plus, they also took control of her State Pension (as a retired schoolteacher) to pay for one year of her captivity.  All that is left now is the house, in (fraudulent) foreclosure for a completely unnecessary mortgage because I was wrongfully evicted from the home to which I am entitled under Federal Medicaid Law:
Also See:

Boomers Against Elder Abuse
Michael Volpe reports on a case of severe legal abuse, not unlike the abuses perpetrated upon elders and their families in guardianship courts. Family courts can be equally abusive. “On December 29, 2013, Chris Mackney drove to East Potomac Park in Washington D.C., parked his car, took a rifle from the backseat, put it underneath his chin, and blew his head off. Mackney was once a free spirited, outgoing, successful salesman, and father of two. By the time he killed himself he hadn’t seen his children for nearly four years: he was homeless, jobless, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and he’d been jailed four times. . . ” Please show your support by liking the page below. The courts must not be used to bully people into submission.
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The wealth exchanges in Probate courts are greater than the wealth exchanges on Wall Street.

This is a must see short film about the greed, corruption, and unseemly transfers of America’s wealth through probate courts and frivolous civil litigation. This film exposes corruption between lawyers, banks, judges and your PROPERTY RIGHTS! To depict what can fairly be characterized as “The Economic Rape of America,” Har Justice has released a documentary entitled America’s Secret Wealth Exchanges that provides an important look at the greed, corruption and unseemly transfers of America’s wealth occurring through probate courts and frivolous civil litigation.

Athena Roe “In Part 2, there will be guest appearances by many community leaders who are working to fix the broken judicial systems. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Institute for Legal Reform estimates frivolous litigation costs America $254 billion dollars per year, factor in $50 billion dollars for the divorce industry, over $1.5 billion dollars just for legal fees in probate (and growing significantly each day due to death) and we have financial waste at greater than $351 billion dollars per year! This is at the expense of the vulnerable and the legal system is one of the greatest contributors to economic waste and poverty”.

Athena Roe “For our loyal audiences and new viewers, the widow is conferring with three federal lawyers and FBI to investigate racketeering charges between the probate lawyers and the commercial real estate group. Where enterprises are covertly set up to delay probate and extort money from families, you will need to pursue attorney malpractice and fraud charges in federal courts. The judicial system is creating poverty in our country and the lawyers are extorting the widow’s savings and retirement in a fee churning racketeering scheme”.
In probate, these are the players in the enterprise to steal your property and estate assets: all real estate people, residential and commercial, asset management companies,  lawyers, banks, judges, public administrators. Even trust instruments can be abused. Again, never sign a personal guaranty on a real estate lease. The property managers will intentionally keep you from finding a tenant, not show the space, and fail to mitigate damages to STEAL your assets as in the widow’s case. Make sure your home is in a trust. Make sure you have POD and TOD on every single asset. These entities collude, trade your asset information, cut deals with each other essentially, “dealing your lawyers in” to see how much they can extort from your family, your inheritance, and leave you living in grinding poverty or asking for government assistance.  Probate and frivolous litigation are forcing our nation’s families into poverty and must be stopped. Call your law makers and demand reform now!
Be prepared to name a beneficiary upon death. Property that lists a transfer on death beneficiary (TOD), or a pay on death beneficiary (POD), passes directly to the named beneficiary, avoiding probate. You may name anyone you choose as a TOD or POD on your financial accounts, vehicle titles, and in some states, your real property. When property passes to a joint owner, TOD, or POD, it passes outside of your estate.

  • Your estate consists of all other property, not jointly owned or listing a TOD or POD. To avoid probate, you must ensure that all of your property passes outside of your estate, directly to a beneficiary or joint owner.
  • What’s the difference between TOD and POD? It’s mainly a difference in the type of account each applies to.[1] Although they are essentially the same, they are used in different circumstances.

This documentary is a must see for all Americans. America must demand probate reform so that the pillaging of estates by lawyers and non beneficiaries ends. America must wake up and demand better watch dogging of the judicial system which allows for an unfettered abuse of power. Produced and Directed by Athena Roe, J.D. of in collaboration with Shaun T. Lally of Still Focus Media. Source: HAR Justice presents, The Economic Rape of America’s Secret Wealth Exchanges    Usa Map

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Connecticut Probate: Probate Court Administrator staff attorney / Lawyer fired for practicing in probate courts she oversaw

A Connecticut  panel of three Superior Court judges voted this week to fire a lawyer for doing private probate work — including work in the courts serving East Hartford and the Enfield area — while working in the state probate court administrator’s office, which supervises those courts, a state Judicial Department spokeswoman said.

The three-judge panel had held a multi-day hearing on a request by Judge Paul J. Knierim, the state probate court administrator, to fire lawyer Debra Cohen, who had worked in his office since 2005.

The firing was effective Monday, the day the three-judge panel voted, according to Rhonda Stearley-Hebert, the Judicial Department spokeswoman. She said the panel also ordered Cohen retroactively suspended without pay from May 29 through Monday.

Attribution: Posted: Wednesday, October 8, 2014


 Also See: and Estate of Denial


Probate staff attorney accused of misconduct

Probate staff attorney accused of misconduct (CT)

A three-judge panel will decide later this month whether Debra Cohen should be fired from her post as a staff attorney in the Office of the Probate Court Administrator.
The hearing follows accusations that Cohen, who has been on paid administrative leave since last November, acted as trustee of people’s estates and paid herself more than $33,000 in conservator fees while she was also being paid for her supervisory role in the statewide probate office. She is also accused of keeping supervisors in the dark about that trustee work, going so far as to allegedly conceal fees she paid herself.
If true, the accusations, which are outlined in a letter from Probate Court Administrator Paul Knierim, represent a direct conflict of interest since Cohen was in charge of training probate judges and court staff and providing input to those same people about how to handle probate cases.
George Kelly, the attorney who will represent the Office of the Probate Court Administrator at the disciplinary hearing, declined comment about the pending disciplinary matter. Cohen’s attorney, Marc Mercier, did not return a phone call requesting comment.
In the letter, dated May 28, Knierim asked that Cohen be fired, and in the interim, her paid suspension be downgraded to unpaid while the three judges decide her fate. The hearing before judges Barbara Bellis, Robert Devlin and Maria Kahn is scheduled for Aug. 25-27 in Hartford Superior Court.
It’s unknown if the case has been referred to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel. Probable cause for a grievance would have to be found before the office would investigate whether Cohen should be punished beyond whatever the judges determine.
The letter from Knierim says Cohen’s financial stake in four probate matters “constituted outside employment that impaired her independence of judgment” and colored her ability to give judges and court staff “sound, objective and independent” legal advice. Probate courts can approve trustee fees, impose fines for breaching trustee duties and exonerate trustees from personal liability.
In addition, Cohen didn’t provide her employer notice of the conflict of interest, Knierim wrote. On the contrary, she reportedly tried hiding her trustee duties from supervisors, who were alerted only after a probate court staff member found out that Cohen was acting as a trustee for the estate of John DeRosa and questioned whether a staff attorney should be doubling up as a trustee. Cohen was told by supervisors she had to resign her trustee duties immediately.
Despite that order, she continued acting as a trustee in three other matters, officials said. She also attempted to collect fees in the DeRosa matter, after being told not to do so, according to Knierim’s letter. The letter also alleges other financial misdeeds, including an alleged “deliberate attempt” to conceal how much she paid herself while acting as conservator of the estate of Sandra Brozna.
A hearing in East Hartford Probate Court found Cohen was ordered to reimburse $33,500 in conservator fees, but repaid only $10,000.
Probate Staff Attorney Accused of Misconduct
Allegations include working secretly as a trustee
Isaac Avilucea
August 15, 2014
The Connecticut Law Tribune
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