Connecticut Probate: Partners Report Lawyer to Conn. Officials, Allege $3 Million Theft From Client’s Estate

Partners Report Lawyer to Conn. Overall, it alleges Barry as fiduciary issued his firm fees in excess of $3 million in connection with the representation of Wilens.

State attorney disciplinary officials are seeking an interim suspension for a Southbury attorney, claiming he collected exorbitant fees of more than $3 million while acting as executor and trustee for a now deceased client’s estate.

The application for order of interim suspension was filed against attorney Robert J. Barry on Nov. 3 in Superior Court in Waterbury. In the application, Assistant Chief Disciplinary Counsel Desi Imetovski asserts Barry “poses a substantial threat of irreparable harm to his current and prospective clients.” The application notes he has about 70 pending cases in the seven-town probate court district that includes Southbury. “Respondent continues to represent numerous individuals in trusts and estates with access to untold monies,” the application states.

The Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel also asked the court to appoint a trustee to protect the interests of Barry’s clients. The court had not scheduled a hearing or taken any action on the application as of Nov. 4. The disciplinary counsel’s office declined to comment on the case beyond what is outlined in court documents.

Barry, of the law firm Sturges & Mathes on Heritage Road in Southbury, was admitted to the bar in 1967, according to the state Judicial Branch, which indicates he has no public record of discipline. A message left for Barry seeking comment was not immediately returned. It was unclear whether he has hired another lawyer to represent him in the matter.

Attorney Kevin Thornton, who works at the same firm as Barry, said he learned about the $3 million fees after hearing staff in the office express concerns about exorbitant fees being taken in a client’s case. After checking the firm’s financial records, Thornton said he and another attorney at the firm, Lisa Wnuck, met with the disciplinary counsel’s staff to discuss what they had discovered.

The firm’s website lists the three attorneys — Barry, Thornton and Wnuck. Barry’s areas of practice include estate administration, estate planning and real estate. Thornton said the extent of the financial situation is still being evaluated. He said after the situation was discovered, the partners argued and Barry tried to kick Thornton out of the building.

“I think this is the tip of the iceberg,” Thornton said. “No one else [other than Barry] was looking at the [financial] books until very recently. Of course, I am concerned about the firm’s reputation. It was founded in 1908 and its reputation has been stellar.”

According to court documents, in December 1998 Barry began representing Catherine Wilens. He prepared her will testament and set up a revocable trust agreement.

From 2010 through February 2014, Barry held a power of attorney for Wilens. During this time, he wrote checks payable to his firm, Sturges & Mathes, in excess of $743,000, the disciplinary counsel’s office claims. Barry then became the estate trustee prior to Wilens’ death, and as such, he wrote trust checks payable to his firm in excess of $900,000 between 2010 and 2014.

Wilens, who had been a Southbury resident, died on March 1, 2014. Barry was also the executor of her estate, which was valued at $9 million at the time of her death, according to the application for temporary suspension. Under the terms of the trust, two individuals, Madison and Megan Mahoney, were to receive $100,000 each, with the balance of the assets to go to the Cornell University’s medical school, to be held as “The Catherine Williams Wilens Memorial Fund,” documents show.

But from March 2014 through November 2015, Barry executed checks payable to his firm in the amount of about $1.4 million, the disciplinary counsel’s office claims. Overall, it alleges Barry as fiduciary issued his firm fees in excess of $3 million in connection with the representation of Wilens.

In May 2015, Barry filed a federal estate tax return, listing the value of the estate at only slightly over $8 million, omitting almost $1 million in assets, according to disciplinary counsel’s office. 

Full Article & Source: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2015
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Connecticut is now the most expensive place to die: Probate fees on settling estates — a legal process that determines the authenticity of wills and the administering of a deceased’s assets — have risen, resulting in invoices that could top $100,000 or even $1 million.


HAR Justice suggests that beneficiaries pay attention to the red flags that attorneys use to unnecessarily liquidate estate assets and force probate properties into foreclosure

1) the “family allowance” scam, here attorneys pretend to be the good guy by telling the beneficiary that they can get some crappy allowance that in most cases is a “mere pittance”; 

2) failing to contact banks and mortgage companies so that your home and property goes into foreclosure;  

3) not communicating with beneficiaries;  

4) intimidation;  

5) all court appointees have all financial control over the estate; 

6) lawyers allow bogus “liens” (lens pendens) on your home or other real estate to force the beneficiary to refinance or sell as part of the scheme to defraud the estate;    

7) reroute the beneficiaries and decedent’s mail to the lawyers (public administrator, public trustee, or conservator’s P.O. Box;  

8) keep facts and evidence from the judge to perpetuate the scheme–keep the truth out of court;   

9) lawyers start to withdraw from your case after pillaging and screwing your case up, then they talk in their “locker room” arenas to discredit the beneficiary or client; 

10) denial of your 14th Amendment rights to an evidentiary hearing on the facts, evidence, and merits of your case and probate matter– this denial of your rights “violates” your Constitutional rights to due process of law;  

11) stops communicating with beneficiaries and family members;  

12) uses the phone as a primary way to churn fees. At $275- $500 per hour, this is a sure fire way for lawyers to eat up your assets and one of the most common “tricks in the book” this also keeps beneficiaries and clients from having solid evidence to use against the lawyer in court; 

13) the family “trust” home eviction. Trustees try to “evict” the beneficiary from the home or property of the decedent in order to liquidate the property to “the enterprise of real estate investors”– this is why you must have a beneficiary deed so the property transfers  out of probate– trusts are a scheme…; 

14) lawyers as “asset management companies”–almost all probate lawyers hold them selves out as asset management companies–really this is how lawyers, banks, realtor associations know when your property is up for grabs, also the primary way lawyers take property and homes from beneficiaries as “investors.” Do your research, lawyers have the “first dibs” on your property and a slew of lawyers have purchased and are living in probate/foreclosed properties purchased for pennies on the dollar. Probate is the modern day “mob” industry and should be regulated under anti-racketeering statutes.

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Connecticut has become the most expensive place to die in the U.S.

Probate fees on settling estates — a legal process that determines the authenticity of wills and the administering of a deceased’s assets — have risen, resulting in invoices that could top $100,000 or even $1 million.

“It’s outrageous,” Westport attorney Amy Day told CNBC. “We always had a cap on probate fees of $12,500. Now it’s not going to be unusual for people to pay upward of $50,000.”

One of the big reasons for the shocking increase in fees has been a budget cut at the state legislature that has strangled funding to the probate court system. A previous $12,500 cap on court fees has been eliminated, and fees on estates worth more than $2 million have doubled to 0.5% of the estate’s value.

Lawyers and judges have since remarked on the debilitating result of this decision. Judge Paul Knierim, Connecticut’s probate court administrator, said if the new fees were applied last year, two estates worth more than $200 million apiece would have paid more than $1 million in probate costs and about a dozen worth over $20 million would have paid more than $100,000. Knierim and some state lawmakers are planning to campaign for a reversion to the previous system next year.

“I think the fundamental problem is that the change in decedents’ estate fees imposes the burden of running the probate court system on a very small portion of the population,” Knierim said to CNBC.

State Governor Dannel Malloy put forward a state budgetlast month that included cuts in education, health care, and social services.

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Connecticut: Woodbury attorney accused of stealing $1.8 million from woman’s estate

National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse

A Woodbury man is facing federal theft charges after officials say he stole $1.8 million, most of which was slated for charity, from the estate of an Oxford woman

Peter M. Clark, 57, was arrested Thursday, according to a release from Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and charged with stealing from the estate of Miriam S. Strong, who died July 2, 2010.

At the time of her death, Strong had a will, which left money, property and other items to a list of individuals, the town of Oxford, the state of Connecticut and several religious and other charitable entities, according to the release. The will also called for the creation of a scholarship fund for college-bound students from Oxford.

Clark drafted the will as Strong’s attorney and served as a witness to Strong’s execution of the will, officials said. The will named Clark and another individual as co-executors. The investigation has revealed that, during the course of the administration of the will, Clark took at least $1.8 million from Strong’s estate for his own use.

Clark transferred some of the money to other accounts, used some to buy himself an all-terrain vehicle and gave some money to his wife, according to court documents. The estate account he had taken the money from was left with a meager balance of $13.40 when he had to make a report to the probate court, officials said. Court documents show that some of the beneficiaries of the will became suspicious when they had not received the money they had been told they would get and contacted the probate court, which in turn removed Clark as an executor while the investigation was under way.

The complaint charges Clark with one count of mail fraud, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. Clark was arrested Thursday morning at his home in Woodbury, officials said. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah A.L. Merriam in New Haven and will be released after he posts a $500,000 bond that will be co-signed by family members

Daly stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Connecticut State Police – Western District Major Crime Squad. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah P. Karwan.

Full Article & Source:

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CONNECTICUT CITIZENS BEWARE: Probate Piracy can Involve the Involuntary Redistribution of Assets, which is also known as property poaching

Here’s How The Great $41 Trillion Generational Wealth Transfer Is Intercepted By Probate Pirates

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — It used to be that Theresa Lyons bartered with the elderly relatives in her family.

“My aging mother and her sister were helping me pay the rent, gas and electricity bills and I would take them out to eat and drive them around to where they needed to go,” said the single mother of three children. 

That was until 2011 when Blanca Tozzo, Lyons’s aunt, passed away and her mother, Carmen Hernandez Tozzo, was placed in a retirement home in Florida once the Department of Children and Families (DCF) stepped in. 

“I have no access to my mom’s finances,” Lyons told MainStreet. “The only way I can get any money is through a subpoena and blessings from the probate judge.” 

Once Tozzo became a ward of the state under a professional guardian, Lyons said most of her mother’s $100,000 in retirement savings was drained.

“The guardian isolated and drugged my mom, placed her in a lock down area with mentally ill and psychotic patients where she suffered dozens of falls, cuts, bruises and was almost killed by one of the male residents,” said Lyons, who is in her 50s. “When I complained, my visitation was taken away.” 

Lyons’s mother is among the senior citizens losing some $36.48 billion each year to elder financial abuse, according to a True Link study called Friendly Grandparent Syndrome. 

“These numbers indicate how the guardianship industry destroys the legitimate inter-generational transfer of wealth and in the process irreparably damages entire generations of innocent families,” said Dr. Sam Sugar, founder of the Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship (AAAPG) in Miami. 

That’s 12 times more than the previously reported $2.9 billion, because elders are ashamed and humiliated and in some cases drugged while residing in a retirement home. 

“They often refuse to report this crime,” said Jack Halpern, CEO of My Elder Advocate, a franchise that works with families to solve elder care-related crises. “Elder financial abuse is probably the most unreported crime in the country.” 

Some $16.9 billion of these losses a year comes from deceptive but technically legal tactics designed specifically to take advantage of older Americans, according to the 2015 True Link Report on Financial Elder Abuse.

“This crime is shielded from public view because the criminal is most often a lawyer in probate court,” said Kristi Hood, author of the book Probate Pirates (JKH Publishing, 2015). “The probate pirate attorney either directly or indirectly finds a way to pick the pockets of the elderly ward of the state, taking money that should be used to care for the person or charging their adult children exorbitant legal fees for help.” 

Uncannily similar to organized crime defined in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970 (RICO), probate piracy can involve the involuntary redistribution of assets, which is also known as property poaching, with the elderly person becoming the enterprise that is defrauded. 

A friendly senior with cognitive issues can be a potential gold mine for unscrupulous charities, probate courts, home repair scammers, retirement homes, neighbors and even distant family members.

Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers are reportedly expected to be the recipients of some $41 trillion from their World War 2 generation parents as they pass away.

“The transfer of wealth is going to last for the next 30 to 40 years,” said Dan McElwee, certified financial planner and executive vice president with Ventura Wealth Management.

But an elderly adult who is extremely friendly is four times more likely to fall victim to high amounts of senior financial fraud.

“Those of us working in the field have long known that the United States is in the throes of an elder financial abuse epidemic,” said Shawna Reeves, director of elder abuse prevention at the Institute of Aging. 

Adult Millennial and Gen X children who find their elderly Boomer and World War II-generation parents have been targeted with legal tactics designed to rob them can report the fraud to their local district attorney’s office, consumer protection agency, the state attorney general and even the local FBI office.

“We are all affected by these scams,” Halpern told MainStreet. “When an elder loses their assets to scam and they need care, they will have to look to welfare and Medicaid.” 

Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet

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Connecticut Probate Issue?: Feds Arrest Lawyer In Charge Of Oxford Woman’s Estate

NEW HAVEN — The multi-million-dollar estate of a wealthy Naugatuck Valley resident became the piggy bank for a Woodbury elder lawyer, according to the FBI and State Police.

The actions of Peter M. Clark allegedly cheated Oxford out of millions the dead woman designated for a new library, the purchase of open space and creation of a continuing scholarship program for high school graduates. They also left Ansonia’s First Congregational Church on South Cliff Street without funds for a new boiler room.

Federal authorities accused a Woodbury lawyer of using money from a dead woman’s Oxford estate to pay credit cards and make a down payment on an ATV, among other personal expenses.

A chunk of the money was supposed to be used to build a new library in Oxford.

The lawyer, Peter M. Clark, 57, was arrested Thursday on a single charge of mail fraud and arraigned at U.S. District Court in New Haven.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Merriam ordered him released after warning him that he and his family will be liable for a $500,000 bond should he try to flee the jurisdiction or hide any of his money.


Clark has been under a cloud of suspicion for months in connection with the money missing from the estate of Miriam Strong, a retired chemist and longtime civic volunteer in Oxford who died in 2010.

Clark was one of the executors of Strong’s estate.

Strong left $800,000 of her roughly $4.3 million estate to the Oxford Library’s building fund. She also left money to the town for open space acquisition, and to the school district to establish scholarships.

And she left money and land to a number of friends and relatives.

But the people who were supposed to get paid never did — even after a probate judge ordered Clark to make payments in February.

In March, Oxford First Selectman accused Clark of misappropriating the money……

Clark resigned voluntarily from the practice of law in March, his lawyer, William Stevens, said.

“This is going to be one of the hardest things you’ve ever been through, if not the hardest,” the judge told Clark.
“I understand,” he replied.The judge continued the case to June 11 for a probable cause hearing.

The judge said it is far more likely that either federal prosecutors would seek an indictment against Clark from a grand jury. Another possibility — Clark and his lawyer could seek a continuance to discuss a possible plea agreement.

Clark and his lawyer declined to comment on the case as they left court Thursday.

Mail fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, in addition to any restitution ordered. The prosecutor in the case, Sarah Karwan, said such an order would be “very likely,” given the allegations.

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Connecticut: So how do you get the press to listen to your court story?


I first became involved in this issue when a group of parents came to me and wanted their stories heard and asked me to find a journalist who would write them.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone I felt would tell their stories properly.  So I began to take on the task and luckily I have a background in journalism.
What I did is I reviewed around 200 cases in CT and I concluded that many judges, many court personnel are not corrupt.  But the question was, what happened when it became were?
I asked the question, what happened in your case?  Were there elements of fraud, was violent crime excused, did you lose everything you ever had in your whole life, your children, your jobs, your homes, your entire financial base, and sometimes your freedom.  Some people lost their lives.  Some people walk away with PTSD, depression, severe anxiety–quite simply, their brains don’t work like they used to.  Please know, this is not an anomaly.  You are not alone.
This is the result of my work, the article which appeared in The Washington Times entitled: “CT Court Employees Face Tough Questions Over Conflicts of Interest” For instance, there was the Susan Skipp case where they took her children, knowing she’d fight tooth and nail to get them back, then appointed all sorts of experts to the case who then falsely billed her.  Also about another case where the child had been raped and the child was given to his abusers and mother was denied access.
What I’d found out was that Judges and attorneys had established a private organization called the AFCC and were operating this organization out of the CT Judicial Branch and were getting federal grants for this organization to run programs and services within the Branch as well as training outside the branch.  So when litigants came to family court, the employees would sift through the cases and find those that would be suitable for their schemes to force parents into business relationships with unvetted, untrained vendors.
Judges had conflicts of interests and the Court was acting as a collection agency for the GAL’s associated with the AFCC.  Judges were calling payments owed to GALs child support, parents were selling their homes and going into bankruptcy to pay these fees.  GALs were accused of double billing, and not meeting with their child clients.  They also charged for hundreds of thousands of dollars for problems they themselves had created.  The result was the loss of parental rights, loss of employment, bankruptcy, bogus criminal charges, jail, and the loss of freedom if litigants didn’t pay.
In Connecticut activists showed that a group of parents stuck with the same professionals and proof that the money doesn’t add up can cause a raucous and get an investigation opened.
What are some of the bases for complaint:
1.  Conflict of Interest:   This is the real or seeming incompatibility between one’s private interests and one’s fiduciary duty.  N.J. Judge Melanie Appleby conspired with a lawyer to help in her custody matter, then assisted him in his cases.2.  Fraud:  This is the intentional perversion of truth in order to induce a person to part with something of value or give up his or her legal rights.3.  Racketeering:  This is organized crime which involves extorting money through intimidation, violence, or other illegal methods.  It includes a pattern of illegal activity such as bribery, extortion, fraud, and murder carried out as a larger conspiracy, etc.  Pennsylvania attorney Danielle Ross of Lackawanna County served as a GAL paid to represent the best interests of the child in family and juvenile court cases and make custody recommendations.  She was paid by court and family.  The Court would order her to be appointed and forced parents to pay her hundreds and thousands. Then at the same time, the county paid her a $38,000 salary and if parents couldn’t pay earned $50 per hour in those cases.  She was earning $400,000 per year.  However, it turned out she had billed the court and the family for services, double billed and did not report her billing to the IRS; this represented a form of racketeering.

Organized crime operating within the justice system itself is not just unethical or unfair, it’s a serious threat to public safety, particular when children are given to their abusers. 
Billing fraud is a threat to public safety  Children are put at risk when GALs don’t investigate properly.However, putting children in harm’s way is more profitable for family court professionals.  Thus, GALs and family court professionals get less money if kids are safe; they get more money if they knowingly leave children in a position where they can get hurt and then earn money investigating the injuries that resulted from their inaction or improper actions.Corrupt GALs have no incentive to close cases.  This is fraud, because the services would not be needed if not for the trouble caused by these service providers.  In order to discredit the victims of these scams, the victims are falsely diagnosed with mental illness or deliberately traumatized so they appear irrational and incoherent.  Violent and dangerous offenders are allowed to get away with their crimes, and victims end up being told they are making it all up.

After reading of these outrages in my articles in The Washington Times, parents went to the legislature and complained about the false billing and started a task force.  However, once the task force was put into place, low and behold the majority of people chosen for the task force were members of the AFCC.  Eventually, there was a big hearing before the legislature, which included 100 people who showed up.   These parents showed their representatives copies of their billing invoices, and this hit home with the legislature.  When you saw the financial loss on paper, it was considerable.The parents had a state auditors report which I had located through freedom of information act requests showing that significant money and resources were missing from the coffers of the family services.  They also had evidence that the AFCC affiliated vendor CT Resources Group had double billed clients and improperly billed health insurance companies for services.In Susan Skipp’s case the psychologist billed the insurance company with a coding that indicating that the child had major depression, but in court he said the child was fine.   It was clear that AFCC affiliation resulted in policies that  protected vendors, attorneys, and providers, but not consumers. Judges made decisions based on business interests.

The problem with the AFCC:  it was inbred, and funded with tax dollars and private donations.  The AFCC is a trade association founded by family court judges, court administrators, and professionals who appear before these judges.  This could be a court vendor hired to run vital services, conduct studies, for example mediation, dv screening, etc.

CT Resources Group also came up as a problem.  This was a private practice of  mental health evaluators who ran the GAL certification program, and conducted private evaluations of litigants,  Parents provided invoices from this group indicating billing irregularities.  Meanwhile through the FOI there was evidence in emails that providers were having private conversations with judges.

Judges were approving payments for services not provided and there was no push to sanction these guys.  Parents were afraid to come forward.  Still, the end results was that legislation was passed to reel in the GALs.  

What did parents do right?  They focused on the billing not the right and wrong of their cases.  

Currently, there is a federal law enforcement agency investigation into corrupt public officials in CT.
So how do you get the press to listen to your story?
Put together a press list; look for journalists who are the right fit for the type of story you are pitching–do your homework on that.  Make sure of the reputation and honesty of the reporter before you contact them.  Blog for someone else re their story.
Send out an email making initial contact reviewing your story briefly.   Never talk about your own case, focus on the money, don’t bash fathers, include fathers, refer to parents, talk about violent crime rates, do not traumatize others with your knowledge.  Keep it simple.  Don’t be a  conspiracy theorist.Buzz Phrases.  Use sympathetic terms.  For example, instead of domestic abuse talk about violent crime, instead of father’s rights groups, talk about male offender advocacy groups, instead of judicial corruption, talk about extortion rings, organized crime, operating within the justice system. Talk about abusers getting custody, and professionals who deliberately place children in dangerous homes for profit.When you meet with a journalist, be sure to appear credible, dress appropriately, i.e. dress like Arianna Huffington, clean, simple, no frills.  When it comes to things to bring with you to a meeting, include a cheat sheet, and agenda. Bring your invoices, bills, contracts, vendor names, and evidence of financial fraud to illustrate your point.

In order to obtain information on the corruption make Public Record Requests to the judicial branch, to the public  defender’s office, state controller, etc. seeking copies of communications, invoices, contracts, bids, etc. IRS filings are available via Guidestart, plus there is the Secretary of State’s Office Business filings.

Resources: Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press which includes a FOIA Letter Generator, federal or state specific. There is information on how to draft motions, administrative appeals, and complaints, etc.
Afterwards say thank you, email to the reporters, send a hand written thank you card to the editor at the newspaper and include followup with a phone call.
Posted in Family Court Reform, Probate, Social justice | Leave a comment

US District Court: Citizen Journalists Have Same Rights as News Media

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that bloggers have the same 1st Amendment rights as established journalists when involved in a defamation of character suit; as long as the issue is of public concern.

The outcome of this case establishes the fact that protections afforded the news media are not exclusive to their realm, but are also extended to citizen journalists and bloggers.

Orig.src.Susanne.Posel.Daily.News- we-are-citizen-journalism

Read the full article at:


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Connecticut: Letter to the editor from a retired Connecticut Judge



Anne Stevenson
Anne Stevenson is a political analyst and freelance journalist for the national media. Anne Stevenson Facebook page is dedicated to sharing her professional work, promoting social justice issues, raising awareness on child welfare issues, and improving the way the courts do business. 
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Anne Stevenson
Incredibly well written letter to the editor from a retired Connecticut judge about the difficult politics behind family court reform efforts.”…/hc-letter-lopez-wrong-to-scapegoat…

Wrong To Scapegoat Latina Legislator Over Email
An April 15 Courant editorial shamelessly accused state Rep. Minnie Gonzalez , D-Hartford, of disgracing the House based upon comments in a private email [“Disgraceful Display”].

Attribution See Full Story :

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Connecticut Probate: AN ACT PROTECTING ELDERLY PERSONS FROM EXPLOITATION.”To criminalize the exploitation of elderly persons, prevent perpetrators from profiting”


To criminalize the exploitation of elderly persons, prevent perpetrators from profiting from the exploitation, add certain financial institution employees to mandated reporters of suspected abuse of elderly persons and adopt the Connecticut Uniform Power of Attorney Act.


Aging Committee


Bill No.: SB-1005
Vote Date: 3/5/2015
Vote Action: Joint Favorable Substitute
PH Date: 3/3/2015


Aging Committee


To criminalize the exploitation of elderly persons, prevent perpetrators from profiting from the exploitation, add certain financial institution employees to mandated reporters of suspected abuse of elderly persons and adopt the Connecticut Uniform Power of Attorney Act.

***Substitute language, as contained in LCO 4752, clarifies that all EMTs are now mandated reporters of elderly abuse and “professional patient representative” does not include state ombudsman staff; changes title.***


Elizabeth B. Ritter, State Department on Aging:

“…As you know, the Department continues to grow and adapt to the changing needs of Connecticuts residents as we listen to concerns throughout the state. In fact, this led to the development of the Coalition for Elder Justice in Connecticut, the first truly public – private sector, non-political collaborative of aging disability and elder rights advocates and agencies.

…The Coalition already has several work groups addressing concerns included in this bill. The Financial/Bank group consisting of a Chair from Jewish Services in Fairfield, and members from the Department of Banking, Community Banking and Credit Unions, and the Departments of Social Services and Aging, has been researching best practices throughout the country to come up with an educational program to increase awareness and reporting of abuse without increasing mandatory reporters at this time. Our Department has also been working with DSSs Protective Services for the Elderly on how to combine our mission of programming and awareness with their mission of prevention of abuse within our financial constraints and will be adding appropriate Coalition partners, including the Chief States Attorney, who are specifically involved in prevention and prosecution of elder abuse. Consumer Fraud, Law Enforcement Education, Probate Court Concerns and Senior Safety are all workgroups in some stage of formation and operation.

I respectfully recommend utilizing the findings of these existing groups rather than duplicating their efforts in statute.

…As to the other issues raised in this bill, the Department on Aging supports improvement to uniform statutes relative to Powers of Attorney, appropriate criminal sanctions when elders have been abused, and tempered actions in passing changes to the statutes before adequate study has been completed on the scope of ramifications.”

Deb Migneault, Connecticuts Legislative Commission on Aging:

“SB 1005 criminalizes the financial exploitation of older adults, creates a civil cause of action for recovery against a perpetrator, expands mandated reporters to include financial agents and otherwise enhances protections for victims of financial exploitation.

…Additionally, SB 1005 offers enhanced protections of which we are supportive, including the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (Sections 9-53). These sections contain provisions that aim to promote choice and autonomy and prevent and detect Power of Attorney abuse. UPOAA creates greater transparency and oversight about the agents actions and set forth the powers that an agent cannot exercise unless specifically authorized to do so by the individual. Additionally, it lists circumstances under which a third party may legitimately refuse to accept a power of attorney or provide sanctions for unlawful refusals.”

Roderick Bremby, CT Department of Social Services:

“…In 2014, the Department referred close to 100 cases of financial exploitation to the Office of the Chief States Attorney for criminal investigation, which is significantly greater than in previous years. Reports of financial exploitation account for approximately 25% of the reports the Department receives.

…The proposed changes to the protective services and criminal statutes, and the addition of a “Connecticut Uniform Power of Attorney Act” would go a long way toward deterring financial exploitation of elderly persons and creating meaningful consequences for those who are convicted of such exploitation. They add important changes to current law relating to oversight of individuals who have power of attorney. These revisions would reduce the financial burden imposed on the state as a result of the misuse of authority by powers of attorney.

…For these reasons the Department supports this proposal.”

Nancy Shaffer, Connecticut State Long-Term Care Ombudsman:

“…The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program supports this proposal, but with a specific recommendation: Section 4 (a) of the proposal defines mandated reporters to include “(8) professional patients advocate”. I ask the Aging Committee to add the language “(excluding the Office of the State Ombudsman)”. Per the Older Americans Act, the Ombudsman Program is not a mandated reporter. The work of the Ombudsman is designed to be resident-centered and directed.”


Natasha Pierre, State Victim Advocate:

“Financial exploitation of seniors, a form of elder abuse, is on the rise and often goes unreported. The elder may experience shame, embarrassment, fear and guilt, coupled with the devastating reality that a trusted caretaker or family member is responsible for the abuse. Further, as the elder ages, mental and physical limitations may increase the elders potential for abuse. Elders are likely to suffer financial, emotional and social harm as well as physical health effects.

…Senate Bill No. 1005 will make it clear that any person who violates the trust and welfare of an elderly person for personal financial gain will face harsh consequences.”


“…Several provisions outlined in SB 1005 are intended to fight elder financial exploitation and abuse. The proposal also provides additional mechanisms to detect and report potential abuse…In particular, AARP supports adoption of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (sections 9-53). Powers of Attorney are essential tools for delegating authority to others to handle financial matters in many situations. It is a legal document used by an individual (the principal) to name someone else (the agent) to make financial decisions and act on the principals behalf. To be useful as an incapacity planning tool, a POA must give broad authority to the agent. A Power of Attorney, whether general or durable, is private; there is not the same level of court oversight as there is for a guardianship or conservatorship appointment. State laws often are unclear about the duty owed by the agent to the principal. This combination of broad consent, lack of oversight, and unclear duties makes it possible for agents to misuse their authority.

…While the Act cant prevent bad actors from committing theft and other forms of abuse, it does set forth clear agent duties and prohibitions that will make civil actions and criminal prosecutions more effective.”

Connecticut Bankers Association:

“The CBA has been diligently working with the Department of Aging and a task force including a broad group of key stakeholders, to create a public/private partnership for the voluntary reporting by banks of actual or suspected elderly fraud.

…While the Bills provisions are well intended, we are concerned that the language creating the new mandatory reporting, significant fines and criminal prosecution for perceived non-compliance will create several unanticipated and negative consequences. This will likely cause over-reporting “to be safe” and not address the complexities of effectively identifying and reporting to protect elder customers. Also, and importantly, is the potential for lawsuits from elder customers, their family members or those with Power of Attorney designations who do not want the bank reporting any activities, or telling them what to do with their monies. These provisions will also highlight a lack of capacity to address the flood of new reporting to law enforcement and those agencies that will receive those reports, as their resources are already stretched thin.”

Mag Morelli, LeadingAge Connecticut:

“Prevention of elder abuse is a priority for LeadingAge Connecticut members and we therefore support the intent of this proposed bill which is to extend the current statutory reporting requirements and protective services for elder abuse to include the financial exploitation of older adults.

…We do have questions regarding some of the new and amended definitions contained in the bill. For instance, in the definition of a “person who stands in a position of trust and confidence,” in line 36 we question whether the intent was to place an “and” instead of an “or” between (A) and (B). We also note that the definition of “neglect” now varies from its use in other similar statutes and we ask if the definition of “caretaker” should be clarified.”

Jill Nowacki, Credit Union League of Connecticut:

“…We are extremely concerned that mandating reporting of suspected financial abuse will put credit union employees at the risk of civil and or criminal penalties and could make the credit union liable should an employee make an error in reporting suspected financial abuse. We are fearful that a credit union member bring an action for damages against the credit union for revealing private information.”

Jeryl Gray:

“…I respectfully submit to you my opinion that this bill number 1005 unfortunately is just more business as usual in what we have so tragically learned is such a corrupt state, tragically learned that our “public servants” are in fact the perpetrators of the public corruption and tragically learned that abject lawlessness has truly destroyed the ironically named Constitution State.”

Marjorie Partch:

“…Many, many innocent citizen families in Connecticut are being injured and even destroyed by the systemic corruption that has taken root in the “Constitution State”.”


None expressed.

Reported by: Richard Ferrari/Art Mongillo Date: 3/10/15

 See the  Raised Bill [pdf]

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Connecticut: Resident wins Appellate Court reversal, “The question that this raises is pertinent to consider: is justice unaffordable for many?”

New Canaan resident Michael Nowacki speaks at a Town Council meeting in March 2014. (Aaron Marsh photo)

New Canaan resident Michael Nowacki claims a trial court violated his U.S. Constitutional rights in two 2012 convictions of him it reached, and the Connecticut Appellate Court has now said it agrees.

In a decision published Tuesday, March 10, in the state’s law journal, the Appellate Court reversed one of Nowacki’s convictions and ordered a retrial for the other, finding in the latter that the trial court violated Nowacki’s rights to present his defense — which he did during the trial himself, without retaining legal counsel.

The Advertiser is now asking what no news outlet thus far to report on Nowacki’s successful appeal yet has. In the charge for which the Appellate Court ordered a new trial — where the appeal judges’ argument largely hinges on one witness not being called and Nowacki’s own attempted, related testimony being limited — what would that witness have said about a key legal point of this case?

Michael Nowacki “The story posted by the New Canaan Advertiser is generally factual and represents fair minded journalism which journeyed into “news analysis” which provided validation that the testimony of Susan Schultz would have been “probative” and “corroborating”. My thanks to Aaron Marsh and Greg Reilly for the comprehensive review of some landmark issues of due process and equal protection which have the potential to be substantive and precedent setting affirmations of that fundamental constitutional and civil rights can only be upheld if we challenge trial court decisions which compromised the integrity of those who framed the language in the Constitution of the United States.
However, this decision in no way compensates me for the cost of defending these liberties, which in this case rises to $100,000. The question that this raises is pertinent to consider: is justice unaffordable for many?”

For more information on this article, please click on the link below::

Posted in Family Court Reform | Leave a comment