THE TRAGEDY OF GUARDIANSHIP FRAUD
A HORRIFYING THOUGHT
The guardians are fairly easy to understand. I once spent the night in an emergency room with a police officer. As we chatted the night away, he told me about highway accidents. He said that there were many kinds of people present at serious car accidents. There were those who had skills and offered them freely to assist the injured. These are the people who pull the injured out of burning cars, who offer first aide, and who rush back with blankets and water. Then there are those who would like to help but at that moment have nothing to offer. So they stand quietly to the side waiting to see if they can help. There are also the gawkers - the somewhat immature who watch what is happening as if they were watching t.v. Lastly, there are the few, the fraction of one percent who hurry to the scene to see if there is an unattended purse or wallet, a nice watch, or anything they might have a use for. These are the guardians - opportunistic vultures. The victim is down, there's money or its equivalent to be had. This is an irresistible opportunity for this minority. They can strip the victim bare in no time and be out without being noticed in the excitement. They have no concern for the pain, fear or suffering of those they are stripping.
That image horrified me and has stayed with me all of my life. I always felt fortunate that I had never known such people - they weren't in my life - not even on the periphery. But they are in my life now. They are in all of our lives. They are the ones standing on the edges waiting for the accident that will put some unfortunate soul in their hands. They are the guardians and their sleazy attorneys, camouflaged to look like average citizens, cloaked in the attire of "professionals," and yet nastier, meaner, greedier than any nose-dripping, dirty, sick coke addict desperately looking to get the next fix. We can recognize the addicts - their appearance and surroundings often give them away - and that affords a bit of protection. But the guardians come securely wrapped in the "justice" system, they dwell in the courts. That makes them much harder to identify and gives them the benefit of the surprise attack. In the end, their crimes are even more lethal than the crimes of the neediest addicts. They represent a far greater danger to all of us.
This unmonitored program has been structured to bring the accidents right to their greedy, dirty hands. They don't have to lurk on the highway and wait. The word has gone out that they can steal with impunity, and like maggots they have come to the carcass to feast. The knowledge that there are no restraints, no laws, no accountability has attracted the least desirable of humanity - those who lower the standard of what it means to be human. A valuable item left unattended will be snatched immediately. Even the lowest criminals, however, unlike the guardians, have a morality that prevents stripping the helpless of all that they have.
I realize that there are probably some guardians and some guardians' attorneys who are decent, law abiding, empathetic, fair people who live by the standards shared by most of us. But I can truthfully say that in five years of talking to hundreds of people state and nation wide, I have never heard of them. Not once has anyone ever praised a guardian. Not once. Nothing even close to praise.
The judiciary is a different matter. I have given a lot of thought to Commissioner Carlos Velategui over the last five years. I've wondered how it could matter so little to him that a court appointed guardianship and its sleazy attorney could use that appointment to exploit a woman who was unable to protect herself from their greed. The guardians are required by law to "guard" her.
The commissioner is required by law to monitor their "guarding." Yet, from our first meeting, this commissioner was determined to not to waste any time on this matter. The fact that they failed to note her mixed up medications, the fact that despite my urging and their promises, she received no physical therapy for the hip she had broken only months earlier mattered not at all to him. She is permanently in a wheelchair, a fact I attribute to their neglect. The commissioner is free to ignore any facts that might require him to apply the law.
When I asked him about the double charge (there were five of them) he responded with "I don't believe they double charged." However, the double charge was right in front of him, undeniably so. In the absence of any kind of explanation from the guardians, what he was really saying was that he wasn't going to be bothered with details. But those details were money my mother earned honestly and with hard work. Those details were money the guardians and their attorney did not earn. By refusing to ask for an explanation which could be believed or not believed, the commissioner was enabling the theft of an eighty-five year old woman whose earning days were over and who counted on those savings to provide for the many needs she know old age would bring. If the details are time-consuming, the commissioner doesn't need to be bothered with them even when those details would prevent some part of the theft of a vulnerable human being.
If neither the guardians nor the attorney had an answer to my complaints, the commissioner supplied one for them. His answers were insulting and unbelievably ludicrous. They are on tape. My mother was charged interest because I delayed payment while I fought the theft in court. The guardians and attorney were five weeks late in violation of a statute and a court order. That court order was issued by Commissioner Velategui himself! Believing that the court would never accept a late bill in the absence of a request for an extension, we moved her money markets accounts to cd's. When the commissioner gave blanket approval to the entire bogus bill, she lost money on the cd's. Needless to say, they were fined nothing. My mother was fined though. According to the commissioner, "they waited long enough." My mother was charged over three hundred dollars because I fought their theft in court. The commissioner can be as biased and partial as it pleases him to be. He does not even need to try to appear to be fair or impartial.
I lost my attorney when the guardians, knowing they would be robbing my mother, didn't want me to keep an effective attorney who knew the facts. They withdrew their waiver of his conflict. He withdrew. In retrospect, I realize that he should not have withdrawn, that once the conflict was waived, it should be waived permanently. My attorney did me a disservice. After I read the LA investigative reports, I realized that this was a part of the scam. I suspect there is a Predators for Dummies book out there somewhere. I went to the attorney he recommended. After hearing it was a guardianship of the person of only six weeks duration, that attorney told me "You don't want to pay me $1000 for a $1000 bill. When the bill came in for $18,000, it was so obviously bloated and dishonest that I never dreamed the commissioner would even look at it. Logic and common sense need not be a part of the commissioner's determination.
I was right, the commissioner never even looked at it - he just gave it his blanket approval - the whole thing - every cent. He never asked the free-loading attorney why he invited himself to every unnecessary event. He never asked the guardians if they were going to pay the attorney's obviously bogus charges if the court didn't approve them. No business could survive if they were being milked by their own attorney. They knew that his bogus charges would be dumped on my helpless mother. That fact, of course, was kept from me.
When I discovered that the guardians and their loathsome attorney had not even bothered to match their bogus charges, I brought an action for fraud.. The boldness of the fraud was evidence to me of their assurance that the bill would be rubberstamped. It was evidence also of their profound contempt for the commissioner, the court, and for the judicial process. And that is to say nothing of the repeated lies, their serial perjury in the courtroom, in front of the commissioner, and in front of me. I brought a motion to vacate for fraud. I'm embarrassed to say it, but I believed the commissioner would be happy to discover his mistake and take those low class thugs off the street and away from the vulnerable.
I was wrong and those shameless guardians and their equally shameless attorney were absolutely right in their assuredness of the commissioner's corruption and his utter disregard for the law, for right and wrong, and for the responsibility of the guardians and the court to the vulnerable. When I pointed out the theft, since he, as usual, had read nothing, he responded that I should have shown it to him earlier. But that wasn't my job. And to suggest that it is, is pure nonsense - just a way to momentarily get him off the hook. By law, he is required to monitor the guardians, not me. There was nothing to stop that judicial farce from applying the law to the guardian's and their attorney's greedy exploitation of the vulnerable woman in their care. In fact, that is exactly what the law required him to do. Needless to say, that sick man perverted the law, the intention of the law, and a glitch in the law to find that despite having POA, despite having a law degree and a license to practice in WA State which I had changed to inactive because I didn't have time to take the supplementary course work, despite the fact that for the last five years I had been my incapacitated mother's caretaker - and despite the fact that the guardians and their dishonest attorney had used a court appointment to steal from her, that farce of a commissioner used the law to satisfy his own sick needs. The commissioner can ignore the criminal behavior (and indeed support and encourage it) if it is committed by the side he prefers.
He found that I was practicing law without a licence, I had no standing, and a few other things that I can't bring to mind. He fined me the thieves' legal fees, about eleven thousand dollars. I paid the attorney who itemized - a mistake I will regret till the day I die. I didn't pay the other one because she pretended that she couldn't itemize due to attorney client privilege - which in this case is the community privilege of thieves. I will take to the streets before I pay a cent to that garbage. It is no different than being required to write a thank you note to a rapist. The commissioner is what many small men become - a bully. He thinks he can pervert the law to force me into silence, to force me to acquiesce to the guardians' and attorney's theft of my helpless mother, to force me to accept his sick, sick rendition of justice. People like Carlos Velategui can never bully people like me. As much as I love my mother and care about the helpless, I love, at least equally, the notions that gave rise to our "justice" system - impartiality, equality in the eyes of the law, and the rule of law. Good people can only despise what this "jurist" represents. The commissioner ignored the law, ignored the theft, ignored his obligation to be impartial, ignored his legal responsibility to monitor the program and by doing so protect those who come into it. He used what the bar called a "glitch" in the law to serve his own sick perverse needs. He used the law as a club to assault my mother, the judicial system, and me. The commissioners "reasoning" can be a specious as he chooses and need have no relationship to justice, to the law, to basic notions of right and wrong. It came to me, belatedly perhaps, that these guardians are judicial creations. If the judiciary weren't there ignoring their crimes, rubberstamping their theft, defending them, and punishing those who refuse to just accept that that "is just how things are" then the police would act, the APS would act, the DA's office would act, who knows, maybe even the board would act! The guardians and their attorneys would be where they belong - IN JAIL - along with, I would hope, that judicial impersonator - Carlos Velategui.
9/11 taught us much about our selves. Among many other things, we learned that America was not safe from attack, we learned that we and our loved ones could be the victims of outrageous plots and crimes that are incomprehensible. We learned that we are not universally loved, and often not even liked. We learned we can be hated by those we've never met.
This experience with a criminal guardian and a protective judiciary is an equally horrifying 9/11.
I assumed that Velategui was a rogue commissioner, a sick little man, or a man with a Napoleon complex, or a man of perverse needs, a man on the take. Whatever. I've thought and heard it all. But I have heard from many, many people across the nation who are repeating stories worse, much worse than mine. I have heard enough horrific stories to know that while he may not be the rule, Velategui is not the exception,. There are many Velateguis in the probate courts of America. In New York, they were on the take. I received copies of the front page reports in N.Y.when the judges and commissioners were jailed for their part in the guardianship scam. Recently, a reader of the L A Times was so outraged that he suggested the judges be "lynched" for their handling of the California's conservatorships. A little extreme, perhaps, but at the very least they need to be removed form the bench. They not only harm the most helpless among us, but they make a mockery of this branch of the government.
Most guardianship programs have been given to the judiciary to monitor. Most courts simply don't have the time to really monitor. To be able to flap their wings and crow about their clean desks, these judges and commissioners have sold out justice and instead just bring out the rubberstamp to clear off the desk. Some judges and commissioners have chosen to rely on those they know and trust - the guardians and their attorneys who come before them frequently. It's called bias, and it has no place in a courtroom. Some judges and commissioners are splitting the spoils with the guardians and their attorneys, for example, New York. No matter what the reason, the result is the same - the citizens who have paid for these courts with their wages, their trust, and in times of war, their lives and health - are getting in return, less than nothing. In Velategui's court and in the courts of others like him justice is not even a distant hope, the only laws that matter are those that serve his agenda, bias is the rule, and the whole thing cannot even rise to low level farce.
The victims of this judicial sham have done as I've done - reported the judicial malfeasance to the commissions required to monitor the judiciary, asked the Attorney General's office to investigate this court supported crime, reported to the ACLU, to AARP, the Adult Protective Service of DSHS, the police - all with the same result - NOTHING. The commissions on judicial conduct are incredibly ineffective - I'm not sure what a commissioner has to do to be rebuked, but apparently bias, ignoring the law, not reading the pleadings, the rubberstamp, the approval of the theft of the vulnerable just don't count - and they don't count in any of the states from which I've heard . The only thing that has made a difference has been media attention. If you can get the stories to the public, you can get something done. The specter of Presiding Judge Eadie hurrying to open improperly closed files is worth a good laugh. He knew those files were closed improperly, but it didn't matter until the media got ahold of it.
I just recently realized - and I do admit to a certain amount of naivete - that if the commissioner could impose himself on the law in the manner he did - to subvert it to his needs, then what about those situations where the justices apply their judgement and not the law. I am talking about child custody, alimony (not the amount), living arrangements for children, division of property, the list goes on and on. How many of them are sick, biased, needy individuals?. Judges and commissioners have legal training. How many of them are judicial serpents, satisfying their own needs rather than the needs of justice. Their training doesn't include common sense. It doesn't include right and wrong. It doesn't include wisdom. How can such matters be put in their hands? How many of them apply their judgement to find the conclusion that suits their needs, their desires, and not the requirements of justice?
How many Americans are being shortchanged in the "halls of justice?" How many of them are going about their lives foolishly secure in the belief that should a wrong occur, the justice system will do all that the law permits to remedy the wrong, unaware that in too many courts all that can be found are judicial serpents, buffoons, and junk justice? IA small man can convert even a small power into an enormous and sickening wrong. Velategui is living proof of that.
There is no recourse from a rogue justice - none whatsoever. The SPD - Fraud Unit recognized that theft had occurred as did members of APS, and the ACLU, but they wouldn't interfere with a court order. The Commissions on Judicial Conduct throughout the United States are reportedly uniformly ineffective. The court of appeals does not address lousy judgement, nor does it address sick and biased judgement. It addresses only very specific errors of law. The lower courts can subvert justice, pervert justice, and ignore justice without committing one of those very specific errors. The notion of judicial discretion serves an important purpose as does judicial independence. But those notions are not meant to cover up lawlessness, crime, bias, or the denial of justice.
The truth is, there is no recourse. None All over America fine justices are making careful, wise decisions. But also, all over America, rogue justices are making nasty decisions, perverted decisions, twisted decisions and the victims have no recourse. The only people who know are those who use the services of a particular court That ends up being a small percentage of the population. So you don't have the huge numbers that would prohibit the perversions We know what our legislators are doing. Their records are easily available. Their activities are in the pages of our papers. But we don't know what the judges we vote for are doing unless we happened to be in his or her courtroom If you haven't had a divorce in the last four years or adopted a child or had a property dispute, you really don't know anything. Our vote is meaningless if we don't know for whom we are voting.
If Commissioner Carlos Velategui can ignore and pervert the law to achieve his own ends in the ex parte department, think what a justice can do in all of the other varieties of courts across America. The judicial system is doomed if there is not a way to get the Veleteguis out of it. I would prefer to take my chances with a jury any time. It would be good to see much greater use of the jury system. The risk of catching a Velategui is simply too high. The jury system isn't perfect but you can at least count on their knowing right from wrong. If that isn't possible, then the commissions on judicial conduct have to take a much more active role in policing the judiciary. The commissions need to be composed primarily of non legal folks. Perhaps the legal community is simply too dirty to police itself. Judges and commissioners must be policed. Commissions, boards, bars, are all composted of members of the legal community.
Four hundred years ago, Shakespeare advised that we should "Kill all the lawyers" Every time a comic mentions attorneys, they do so with the equivalent of a finger down the throat. In four hundred years, nothing has changed. I'm not an advocate of the "Where there is smoke, there is fire," bandwagon. But where there is four hundred years of unrelenting smoke, there probably is fire. No other profession, no matter how highly paid, generates anything like the amount of contempt earned by attorneys. We have put our judicial system, our laws, our rights in the hands of the most despised profession in our country. Judges, commissioners, guardianship boards, commissions on judicial conduct, the bar are all composed in large part of attorneys. They have not policed themselves and they need to give up the pretence. It is beyond horrifying to realize that there may be thousands of Velateguis out there. For my part, I would trust a jury of my peers over any commissioner and over most of the judges I've met. In truth, I would trust a jury of ten-year olds over what I experienced in Commissioner Velategui's courtroom.
How can it be that the one place in America where it is all right to steal, to loot, to plunder the assets of another - where, in fact, the perpetrators are encouraged and even supported in the theft - is in that place formerly known as the "temple of justice" but revealed instead to be a sewer or a cesspool. Anywhere else in the world would have quick and severe consequences for theft and additional consequences for the theft of a vulnerable, defenseless human being. But in the probate courts of America, the helplessness of the victims is an added bonus. It makes the theft easier and the rubberstamp both quicker and surer.
My cats' litterboxes are cleaner than Velategui's courtroom and cleaner than most of the probate courts in America. That's outrageous! Absolutely outrageous!
Where are the presiding judges? Where are the Commissions on Judicial Conduct? Where are the state BARS? One can only assume since they, like the attorneys and judges in the probate and ex parte departments are also lawyers - they too are working their own illicit scams and certainly won't rat out peers who have created lucrative cash cows for themselves. These people share a value system almost identical to that of the lowest criminal groups, with one exception - even the most degraded criminals spit on those who chose the most vulnerable to be their victims of choice.
Only shared degeneracy can account for the absolute indifference to crimes that, when the word gets out, will horrify and infuriate decent, hard-working Americans who have EARNED, not stolen, what they have acquired. When the citizens find that there is a predatory subculture created by a lawless, valueless judiciary who are free to harvest the lifelong savings and sacrifices of those too sick to defend themselves, they will demand change. It is my hope that they will also demand accountability.