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San Bernardino County: Financial elder abuse continues after death of elder

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Today marks one year since the passing of Carol Hahn. Friends remember Carol as a helpful and giving person, bringing fresh baked cookies to social events and giving rides to ailing members of her church. Elder advocates remember Carol as the impetus behind California’s landmark Assembly Bill 937 (2013) to clarify personal rights.

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In June 2010, Carol was taken from her home and hidden from family at assisted living facility Wildwood Canyon Villa. When Carol called her daughter for help, Wildwood confiscated Carol’s cell phone and moved her into a secured unit. Wildwood’s Assistant Director told family:

Carol Hahn is allowed no visitors and no phone calls.

In August 2010, San Bernardino County Superior Court appointed attorney Mark J. Andrew Flory to represent Carol. The court instructed Flory to investigate Carol’s situation and facilitate visitation with family. Flory did not follow the court’s instructions. Carol remained isolated from her loved ones.

In September 2010, Community Care Licensing cited Wildwood Canyon Villa for violating Carol’s right to visitation. The citation stated Carol’s right to:

To have his/her visitors, including ombudspersons and advocacy representatives permitted to visit privately during reasonable hours and without prior notice, provided that the rights of other residents are not infringed upon.

Community Care Licensing did not enforce the regulation. Carol remained isolated from her loved ones.

In November 2010, Flory’s report to the court demonstrated his failure to understand personal rights and licensing regulations.

It is unclear to me why the facility was cited…

In February 2011, Flory told the court that he opposed Carol being allowed to see her family.

It might create an inconvenience for the facility.

In September 2011, the court issued a restraining order against continued isolation abuse. Carol was allowed to see her loved ones after fifteen months of isolation.

In 2010 – 2012, Flory opposed Carol having a bed, rather than sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Community Care Licensing cited the violation in September 2011. Wildwood Canyon Villa did not provide Carol with a bed until March 2012. Carol slept on a mattress on the floor for eighteen months.

In 2010 – 2013, Flory opposed Carol receiving routine medical care. For nearly three years, Carol was limited to palliative care through hospice. Carol was not allowed treatment from her long-term rheumatologist for very painful rheumatoid arthritis. Carol was not allowed treatment for Alzheimer’s disease that stole her memories and brought increasingly violent agitation.

In 2013, family raised concerns about possible sexual abuse at Wildwood Canyon Villa. Flory investigated the wrong facility.

The elder abuse was so heinous and the miscarriage of justice so extreme that California’s legislature responded with Assembly Bill 937. The bill amended the Probate Code to clarify that conservatees retain the right to visitation, the right to phone calls, and the right to personal mail. Governor Brown signed AB 937 on August 19, 2013, two days after Carol’s passing.

Carol was finally safe from her abusers. Financial abuse of Carol’s estate continued after her death.

As of November 21, 2013, Flory had billed the estate $154,064 for “representing” Carol. Flory continues to accrue fees on fees, opposing family’s objections to his abuse and unconscionable fees.

Flory informed the court that he intends to file another petition for fees covering the time after Carol’s death. His total charges may exceed $200,000.

San Bernardino County local rules cap court appointed attorney fees at $60/hour.

Flory’s August 9, 2012 petition for fees billed for attorney Flory:

  • 52.30 hours at $325/hour and
  • 163.45 hours at $275/hour.

Flory’s November 21, 2013 petition for fees billed for attorney Flory:

  • 109.03 hours at $350/hour and
  • 107.35 hours at $325/hour.

Local rules do not allow fees to attorneys other than the individual appointed.

Flory’s August 9, 2012 petition billed for attorney James Church:

  • 7.05 hours at $350/hour and
  • 15.95 hours at $300/hour.

Flory’s November 21, 2013 petition billed for attorney James Church:

  • 4.4 hours at $375/hour and
  • 16.15 hours at $350/hour.

Local rules cap fees to paralegals at $25/hour. Fees for paralegals may only be billed if the court gives prior written authorization. The court did not authorize use of paralegals.

Flory’s August 9, 2012 petition billed for paralegal services:

  • 0.4 hours at $125/hour,
  • 2.5 hours at $105/hour,
  • 6.5 hours at $90/hour,
  • 8.65 hours at $75/hour.

Flory’s November 21, 2013 petition billed for paralegal services:

  • 5 hours at $150/hour,
  • 5.25 at $115/hour, and
  • 15.5 hours at $105/hour.

A January 10, 2014 letter from San Bernardino County Counsel Jean-Rene Basle stated:

There is no contract between the County and Mr. Church [Flory’s employer]. … Compensation for these ad hoc appointments is based on the Superior Court’s fee schedule…

The fees in Flory’s invoices far exceed the caps set by San Bernardino County. By allowing attorneys to “represent” clients without a contract or oversight, the county sets the stage for heinous abuse of its most vulnerable citizens.

Readers may express their concerns to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Lovingood <SupervisorLovingood@sbcounty.gov>

Supervisor Rutherford <Supervisor.Rutherford@bos.sbcounty.gov>

Supervisor Ramos <SupervisorRamos@sbcounty.gov>

Supervisor Ovitt <SupervisorOvitt@sbcounty.gov>

Supervisor Gonzales <SupervisorGonzales@sbcounty.gov>

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