Monday, April 30, 2007

Judge Phillips, Nearly Plucked Dry, May Be Released from Involuntary Incarceration Soon

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle continues its excellent coverage of the sorry matter of retired judge John Phillips, who has been "languishing in a Bronx nursing home for two years while a battery of attorneys wrangle over his mismanaged estate."

At a hearing Friday, according to the Eagle, state Supreme Court Justice Michael Pesce gave his tentative approval of plans for Phillips to move into Castle Senior Living, an assisted living facility on Prospect Park West in Park Slope, Brooklyn — pending approval from Phillips’ niece and personal guardian, Symphanie Moss.

In the six-plus years since the guardianship proceeding was begun by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, Phillips’ $10 million estate has all but vanished beneath a mountain of paperwork — the victim of court-appointed attorneys who’ve sold nearly all of Phillips’ real estate holdings with hardly a sign of any of the proceeds, says the Eagle.

The most recent property guardian, Taylor, was held in contempt by state Supreme Court Justice Michael Pesce — the result of funds she paid to herself without the court’s permission.

The Brooklyn Eagle's story is here.

Previous story here.


lasix said...

If this can happen to a judge, what could happen to any one of us non-legal type people?

Anonymous said...

the same thing is happening to my husband and me

Anonymous said...

Get a good lawyer! If you can't afford one, City University of New York Law School at Queens College
(65-21 Main Street, Flushing, N.Y. 11367) offers a free elder law clinic at (718)-575-4300.
So does St. John's University Law School, 8000 Utopia Parkway
Jamaica, N.Y. 11439
Brooklyn Law School doesn't list any elder law clinics, but it doesn't hurt to call -- (718)-625-2200.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Guardianship proceedings can ruin your life forever. Mostly controlled by crooked attorneys who never get in trouble for what they do. It is similar to the holacaust only nursing homes instead of ovens.

Anonymous said...

My mother has been forced into a guardianship proceeding by my sisters and it is a nightmare. They are not abiding by her wishes, even though they are the power of attorney. They took her from the home she lived in for half a century and kept transferring her to different nursing facilities where they were drugging her so much that she became unable to walk and talk and is now in a wheelchair. I have not seen or talked to her for many months and cry myself to sleep wondering how she must be feeling about the daughters she trusted who have betrayed her. And what can she do about it? She is being held incommunicado, in a wheel chair, no phone in her room, no money to call a cab or cry out for help. The judge allowed a temporary guardian to put her at my sisters house because my sisters said in the petition that I abused my mother,(we lived in the same house for 27 years. These allegations are false but I was not given the opportunity to present any evidence to that effect. It is all so evil and so sad. It is emotional torture for both me and my mother who told everyone she wants to go home to see her dog, and to die in familiar surroundings. Feel free to call me anytime. 631 549-5665
Annie McKenna
You can see my youtube videos if you search for:

Anonymous said...

Many good videos on "abusive guardianship" on youtube. Join NASGA

Caprice said...

Forced guardianships are the organized crime of the 21st century. Every state has a guardianship program which the judiciary has been assigned to monitor. The courts are not intended for monitoring and they can't and don't do it. What happens is the judge or commissioner glances at the pleadings and rubber stamps the requests of his colleagues, the court appointed guardians and their attorneys. This has created a predatory subculture that actively hunts for vulnerable folks WITH ASSETS. Once the guardianship is established the predators bleed the estate and the "client" dry, often isolating him or her from loved ones to make the plunder easier. They can fight for eternity on the clients' dime - so can easily outlast the families who must pay for their own attorneys. In too many aspects, this program is a welfare program for sleazy attorneys. Please visit the national site, NASGA,to see the many ways this scam is worked on our vulnerable elders. Then join us to fight this "legal" crime.

Anonymous said...

* Murray Feingold NY

Murray Feingold is old enough to retire. He has been a Postal
worker for over forty years. He holds a full time position earning
approximately $50,000 a year, in addition to working extensive overtime.

Murray was happy for all those years until he was introduced to the judicial system in 2000. The landlord of the building he had been living in for the prior ten years refused to make what Murray considered necessary repairs, so Murray resorted to 'self help' and withheld a portion of the rent. The apartment that Murray was living in was rent controlled, so it is easy to understand why the landlord decided to start eviction proceedings.

Instead of eviction, Murray was placed under guardianship by Hon.
Anthony Cutrona Justice of the Supreme Court in Kings County, Brooklyn, NY in March of 2001 in order to protect him. This is when Murray says his life turned into a nightmare. When a
guardian is appointed for a person, all their civil rights are lost. Murray could no longer control his own money. The court ordered that all of Murray's salary, including all overtime pay must be sent to the guardian, a company ironically called Self Help Community Services, Inc. Each week, the guardian returns $325 which he and his wife are expected to live on.

A recent copy of payments made by the guardian on behalf of
Murray were impossible to decipher. Many of Murray's over due bills to places like cable and cell phone companies, as well as one credit card bill, were in arrears. Some were accumulating interest almost equaling the minimum amounts being paid by the guardian. There was no indication of the amount of fees taken out by the guardianship company as compensation for their services. For the forty years prior to having a guardian, Murray claims, he had no problems paying all his bills, including car payments.

What I found most troubling when I met Murray was that his most
essential needs were not being met.  He was in dire need of dental work. He was missing a few of his bottom teeth. He spoke fast and loud and kept asking me to repeat myself. I questioned him about these matters and I was shocked at his answer. He told me that he had been having dental work done but when the bill became five hundred dollars, the guardian would no longer pay it.

He was more concerned with his loss of hearing which is having a
negative effect at his job. He says that his supervisor and co-workers find it annoying because they have to constantly repeat instructions because Murray can't hear them when they speak. Sometimes people mistake his loudness for aggressiveness. According to Murray, he had a hearing test done last week and he is totally deaf in his right ear and partially deaf in his left. He said that he had ordered three hearing aids from a company called hearing aid express using a personal check, but the guardian cancelled them.

It is hard to believe that a guardian of a person would not
immediately address the issues which are negatively effecting the health and well-being of someone under their watch but NASGA, the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse reports that this is an ever growing problem because there is a lack of accountability in guardianship courts.

Murray has made his problem known to many agencies in New York, has contacted and emailed many New York state agencies, the first
lady, Oprah Winfrey, etc. and has been told that they can not help him. Murray says he has written to Judge Cutrona asking for a hearing in order to get rid of this guardianship so often that recently the Judge wrote back accusing Murray of harassing him.

Question. Why doesn't Murray just retire and quit his job?
Answer: The guardian will continue to get and control his pension.

Being a victim of a guardianship is like being caught in quicksand. You don't realize what you have gotten yourself into, and it is near impossible to get out. Murray's case is not an isolated one. Every day in every state across the country, guardians and conservators are being appointed, sometimes
unnecessarily and greedy, corrupt individuals are lining their pockets with assets that should go to the care of the elderly person.

Please join us in stopping guardianship abuse.
You can learn more about this corrupt enterprise and how you can
protect yourself and your loved ones at
Watch Murray and other victims on
Search word  NASGA

(NASGA) is a civil and human rights organization formed by victims
of forced and/or abusive guardianships and conservatorships. Our
purpose is to protect Wards and their families - both physically and financially through education, outreach, and advocacy. Our goal is to assure that the law is not being misused to advantage special interests.

Anonymous said...

Eighty-three-year-old Leola McAllister now lives in a sparsely furnished Brooklyn apartment. She's paying $1200 a month in rent, even though she owns a three-family home in Bed-Sty that she lived in for 30 years.
"This is not what I wanted for my mom. I wanted my mom to live her last days in peace and harmony where we can take care of her and provide for her," her daughter, Tammy, said.
She and her two aunts couldn't agree on who should become guardian when Mrs. McAllister started deteriorating dangerously from Alzheimer's disease.
The family says they were referred to an attorney who recommended a court-appointed guardian, a non-profit agency called the Vera Institute, which has offices here in the courthouse in downtown Brooklyn.
"They convinced us, along with our lawyer and judge that they were the perfect people to take over that way we wouldn't be family conflicted," Mary Sargeant said.
But Mrs. McAllister's family says they become alarmed when the agency moved her out of the home she had shared with Tammy and placed her in a sterile apartment, and then started spending thousands on 24-hour home-health care aides - $66,000 in 2007 alone, plus more than $14,000 for rent.
"Why pay rent when you can use that money to make repairs in the house that she owned," Patricia Prescod said.
"I was telling them, with the money she had they could have easily got the repairs done. But they couldn't care less. Their whole aim was to get the property, sell it, and put her in a nursing home," Mary said.
The family doesn't understand why Mrs. McAllister couldn't have stayed in the comfort of her own home and rented part of it out for income. In one year, the guardianship depleted more than $123,000 of Mrs. McAllister's money.
"They were sending us statements from time to time and the money was going very fast," Mary said.
The family asked their pastor, Edward Lanham, to review the guardianship's expenses.
"If you do calculation, the expenses from my numbers exceed $12,000 a month; some families can live off of half of that. That's excessive," he said.
To pay for her increasing expenses, the guardianship is now selling Mrs. McAllister's house, and an adjacent vacant lot she also owns; her daughter, Tammy says she was ordered by the guardianship program to move out-she rented a small van and took what she could, moving into a nearby public housing development.
"The booted me and my kids out of the home," Tammy said. "What I want is to be able to take care of my mother. I would love for this whole thing to be reversed and turned around."
Tammy and the aunts say they went back to court to try to reverse the guardianship.
"We tried to reverse it, but we were told by the judge and the lawyers that it was a no, no," Mary said.
They then demanded a meeting with the staff of the Vera Institute, but afterwards, told us they didn't get all of the answers they wanted.
"They're spending up her money, right? What's going to happen at the end? They're going to throw her in a nursing home?" wondered Tammy, who said she would have no say in what happens.
The Vera Institute gave us this statement: "We make every effort to include families in our decision-making process. When we are unable to reach consensus with family members, we are always willing to go back to court and conference the case with the court. Everything we do is subject to the scrutiny of the judge who appoints us as guardian."
"We would like to have my sister back and every nickel these people spent of her. We would like to have it back," Mary said. "I feel that she has been robbed and taken advantage of and it hurts to see my older sister suffering from this disease& and to have someone take advantage of her, its very hard. It's very stressful."
"I just pray and hope that this doesn't happen to anyone else, because this is& it's very devastating," Tammy said. "Don't let strangers take over... because they will just do as they please."
Mrs. McAllister's family has now filed court papers demanding a hearing before the Guardianship Judge.
Experts warn that the role of a court-appointed guardian is to make sure the client is safe and taken care of-they are not financial or investment advisers or contractors. Families need to really do their homework.