“If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” – President George Washington
MY GUARDIANSHIP NIGHTMARE
GUARDIANSHIP IS ONE OF THE WORST HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS OF OUR TIME
ISOLATE, MEDICATE, TAKE THE ESTATE that is the current guardianship system. It is true in my mother’s case. This is what happened to my Mother in Sikeston, Missouri in probate court.
Where have our rights gone? Where is our freedom? Where is justice? We didn’t give it away. It was taken from us. From our mother. On April 1, 2014, Pauline Williams, was taken from my sister’s home and incarcerated in elder prison. Judge Winchester apparently believed that Pam Dirnberger, public administrator, could do a better “job” taking care of our mother than her three daughters. I say “job” because she gets paid and we were taking care of our mother out of love, honor and respect. Not to mention that I promised my father when he was dying that I would keep our mother out of the nursing home. The court has made me break that promise. Could Judge Winchester or Ms. Dirnberger explain to me her job description because I haven’t been able to find out what it is? She is an elected official that gets paid to do what?
Pam Dirnberger’s Care of Mother
Is Ms. Dirnberger’s job to take care of my mother? In her words from an email sent and I quote: “I do not get involved in specifics of treatment”. That was in response to my question about how the Convalescent Center was caring for the two bedsores she had gotten in this “skilled nursing facility”. My mother’s health has declined in ten months. She just spent a week in the hospital for pneumonia and heart problems. That is where I discovered from her nurses that she had two bedsores. I witnessed the excruciating pain that my mother was in and was extremely concerned. Was Ms. Dirnberger concerned? I wasn’t even notified by Ms. Dirnberger that my mother was in the hospital and when I tried to call and get information from the hospital about my mother’s medical issues, I was told that Ms. Dirnberger had put a password in her file and I could not get information without it. Ms. Dirnberger apparently didn’t find it important enough to give me or my other two sisters the password. I emailed her three times to get the password and Ms. Dirnberger didn’t give it to me until the day my mother was released from the hospital and the password was worthless. I had to drive 14 hours to Missouri to go sit at the hospital and talk to nurses to find out her condition. And also for the record my mother’s health was extremely precarious especially given her age. She could have died. Would Ms. Dirnberger have notified me that my mother had died? I guess one day I will find out the answer to that question. By the way, ten months ago when I would come to visit my mother, we would take her out to eat or to the store and have nice visits together. I have not been allowed by Ms. Dirnberger to have unsupervised visits with my mother, so I cannot take her out of the nursing home. On May 12, 2014, Ramona (my sister) sent Ms. Dirnberger an email for me asking for permission for us to take my mother out of the nursing home to celebrate Mother’s Day. The response we received from Ms. Dirnberger was, “Supervised visits only until I can be sure there are no hidden agendas.” After a year and a half caring for our mother, now we weren’t to be trusted to take her to lunch. I will also add that Ms. Dirnberger was informed of my agenda and there was nothing hidden. I set up a meeting with Ms. Dirnberger on May 1, 2014 and drove to Missouri to talk with Ms. Dirnberger regarding my mother after she was appointed her guardian. In that meeting I told Ms. Dirnberger that I had been helping care for my mother for a year and a half. I stated that I would continue making sure she was cared for and would be watching Ms. Dirnberger and I would hold her accountable for my mother’s care to which she replied, “Good for you.” Was this Ms. Dirnberger’s concern that I would hold her accountable? Well rest assured that I have been doing that and will continue to do that! Based on mother’s current condition I doubt anyone could take her out anymore. I have only seen her on her feet twice in ten months. According to the nursing home, mother has been taken out one time (for about 15 min.) in ten months. She now spends her days sitting in a chair. I suppose that is how she will spend the rest of her life—sitting in a chair, never getting to go visit her children or even walk around or go anywhere because now her “caretakers” can just sit her in a chair and walk away! By the way, even if my mother was capable of walking around she is confined to a hallway in a locked unit of the nursing home. Why does Ms. Dirnberger fail to act as a professional or even as a “caring” individual? In one email communication Ms. Dirnberger referred to me and my two sisters as “spoiled little kids.” In another email communication (although I had to send it several times to get a response) I had asked Ms. Dirnberger when she had last seen my mother and finally her response to me was “Why does it matter when I saw your mother.” Is this how Ms. Dirnberger responds to family members who are concerned about their loved ones? Is this truly the best that Scott County, Missouri has to offer? If this is how she treats us, then how does she treat our mother? Sadly, Ms. Dirnberger is only required to see my mother face to face once a year, yet has the power to make all her decisions and deny three of her daughters the ability to visit with her outside of confinement. I would also ask why Ms. Dirnberger didn’t request home investigations be done on my home or Rebecca’s (my sister) home as alternative living arrangements for my mother?
Yet another unbelievable incident—in October 2015 I discovered that my mother was hospitalized in May 2015. Again, Ms. Dirnberger did not notify me that my mother was in the hospital. I then notified Ms. Scobey to determine why my mother was hospitalized five months earlier. I was told that there was a “medicine mishap” at the nursing home. What does that mean? I have no idea. What I do know is that if I had given my mother the wrong medication it would not be called a medicine mishap and I would be under investigation for neglect and abuse. So, is the nursing home being investigated for neglect and abuse? No, because what I have learned in this process and within this system is that while families and wards are NOT PROTECTED, the authorities are WELL PROTECTED!!
Did Judge Winchester even consider the letter from Dr. Rebecca Smith, my mother’s doctor, which stated that it would be detrimental to her health to move her from my sister’s house? Is Judge Winchester aware of my mother’s decline in ten short months? Or does he care? Would his response be the same as Ms. Dirnberger’s– “I do not get involved in specifics”? Is this why Ms. Dirnberger referred to Judge Winchester as “my judge”? I certainly have never called him my mother’s judge or my judge. Could that be because he didn’t actually do anything to “help” my mother? Since he didn’t follow Dr. Smith’s recommendation, does that mean that only his opinion matters? Is that what is meant by the judge’s sole discretion? I guess now I know why the sixth amendment is so important.
Pam Dirnberger’s Care of Mother’s Property
Is Ms. Dirnberger’s job to maintain and care for our mother’s home? I have pictures to show the condition of the home since Ms. Dirnberger has been “caring“ for it. It has been ripped apart by the many break-ins and is rotting from the mold growing within. And again when I informed Ms. Dirnberger of the break-ins and damage this was her response “You people have more of her money than I have, why don’t you put her money to good use for her expenses and keep up the lawn & maintenance of the house, and pay the nursing home?” For the record, I don’t have one dime of my mother’s money and never did. We were paying my mother’s bills and maintaining her home while she was in our care (for a year and a half). I paid over $8,000 out of my own pocket to care for her. I have offered to take back my mother and care for her and Pam Dirnberger can step down as guardian/conservator, but that hasn’t happened. Apparently, even though Ms. Dirnberger is now the guardian/conservator somehow she believes it is our responsibility to pay our mother’s nursing home bill and to maintain the property even though it belongs to Scott County and/or the State of Missouri. I don’t want her in a nursing home, so why would I pay for it? I might add that as of January 9, 2015, notice was received that a hearing is being held on January 27, 2015 to allow the guardian/conservator to sell my mother’s real estate. Was Ms. Dirnberger required to complete an inventory of my mother’s property by May 2014? Did Ms. Dirnberger complete that inventory on time? Whose responsibility is it to make sure that Ms. Dirnberger completed the inventory on time? Whose responsibility is it to make sure that Ms. Dirnberger does her job? Is it Judge Winchester? Are these inventories open to the public? Missouri citizens might be interested to know that there is no oversight over Ms. Dirnberger other than Judge Winchester. Is this why family members who want to take care of their own mother instead of having a guardian appointed to her are treated as the villains by both Ms. Dirnberger and Judge Winchester? Let me stress again that there is NO oversight over Ms. Dirnberger. I have contacted agencies across the state of Missouri and been told repeatedly that this is how the system in Missouri “works”. The public administrator in Scott County, Missouri answers to no official agency other than Judge Winchester. So am I to understand that Ms. Dirnberger has been given the sole responsibility of 250 people, their checkbooks and all their decision making and she has no one holding her accountable? Would you walk up to a complete stranger, hand them your bank account and say “take care of my bills, but I will never ask you anything about my finances or hold you accountable for how you spend my money”? That would be ludicrous!! Yet isn’t that in essence what Scott County, Missouri has done with 250 of its citizens? And this is just one county!! What about the rest of the state?? How many wards are there in the state of Missouri (or the other 49 states for that matter) with the same amount of “oversight” or should I say lack thereof? Does this mean that there is no one to audit these 250 accounts? How does anyone know if their finances are being handled properly? Or do we wait to find out they aren’t being handled properly in the newspaper? As in the newspaper article dated October 4, 2009 about Nancy Pardon, the former New Madrid County Public Administrator, who was imprisoned after she embezzled over $35,000 from one of her wards, as well as, theft from two other wards. Please go to the National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse website and Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship and read about the countless stories of guardianship abuse due to the lack of oversight in this system!! Do any state representatives, senators or lawmakers see a problem with this system? Or is there anyone willing to admit there is a problem? Are there any state representatives, senators, or lawmakers that are willing to stand up and change this broken system? Is there anyone who is going to fight to change the laws that victimize our weak, elderly and dependent citizens?? I understand based on Kathy Sweeney’s I-Team report “Broken System” Part 2 that State Rep. Holly Rehder and State Senator Wayne Wallingford are both willing to discuss changes in guardianship laws in Missouri and are pledging to draft legislation.
Pam Dirnberger’s Care of Mother’s Finances
Is Ms. Dirnberger’s job to pay my mother’s bills and manage her money? I have the list of bills that haven’t been paid by Ms. Dirnberger including over $30,000 that she now owes to a nursing home. And also for the record, my mother doesn’t have a dime of her own money now because Ms. Dirnberger has taken over her measly Social Security check. But even that is not enough. Ms. Dirnberger’s lawyer, Alan Beussink, has scheduled a court hearing on January 27, 2015 in Judge Winchester’s court to try to force my sister to pay HIS legal fees. My sister was already ordered by this judge to turn over $7,000 to Ms. Dirnberger of my mother’s VA benefit that she received from the federal government specifically for home health care. My sister is the federally appointed fiduciary and cannot legally turn over those funds to pay for anything other than home health care as those funds have now been audited (as of Jan. 23rd) and the federal government makes the decision about how those funds are distributed. Now that our mother is in a nursing home rather than her home, those funds cannot be used period! They will now be sent directly to the nursing home. My sister has protected those funds as she pledged to do to the government and signed paperwork stating such. And for fulfilling this federal duty and obligation, Judge Winchester has scheduled another hearing on February 24, 2015 and has threatened to hold her in contempt of court and issue a body attachment. Interestingly enough, Judge Winchester had also ordered that my sister write a check for the balance of these funds directly to Pam Dirnberger. Therefore, my sister can NEVER go to Missouri or visit my mother because of the threat of arrest! Rebecca has finally received all the paperwork regarding the VA funds and will be submitting those documents to the court. I can only hope that this will end the continued attempts to go after my sister. And even though those federal funds are not supposed to be used to pay for anything other than home care, someone other than my sister signed documentation allowing some of those funds to be sent to the nursing home rather than returned to my mother’s VA account. I have a RECORDED ADMISSION that an employee at the home health care agency took my sister’s signature from the file and placed it on this federal document and sent it in. So even though I have evidence that this occurred, I have yet been able to get anyone to investigate or take action regarding this criminal activity. Does anyone care that a forgery and misappropriation of federal funds may have been committed regarding my mother’s VA account by somebody outside of our family? Is there going to be a thorough investigation into this possible violation of federal law? Will Judge Winchester acknowledge that if Rebecca had given these VA funds to Ms. Dirnberger as she is now retiring and not being appointed the federal fiduciary, he could have been creating a legal mess for everyone involved? I will also note that my sister, Rebecca, spoke to Senator Roy Blunt’s office regarding the VA funds and was told that she protected those VA funds exactly as she should have as the fiduciary and that the judge should familiarize himself with the law. And for the record, Ms. Dirnberger has applied to be the federal fiduciary (although my sister was informed on Jan. 23rd that Ms. Dirnberger is not being appointed the federal fiduciary) and she wanted to get paid for that “job” as well. Isn’t that convenient? She gets to collect a paycheck from the State of Missouri and would have been paid by the federal government for “caring” for my mother. I would like to personally thank her for doing such an outstanding “job”. Do the citizens of Scott County think she is earning her pay?
Let us not overlook Tonya Schrum the Department of Senior Service caseworker who contacted me to tell me that Dr. Sarah Curry had filed paperwork for a guardian to be appointed for my mother after Curry saw that three daughters were caring for her. I have never seen this paperwork and have no verification of this. That is where this entire problem for my mother began. Yet, we were not given any information regarding what her reasons were or on what basis she was stepping in. Dr. Curry did not have to come to court to testify nor did she ever have to answer to my family for her actions. As a matter of fact, this all occurred after we had decided that Dr. Curry was not caring for our mother properly and found a new doctor for her. Was any of this addressed by Ms. Schrum? Did Ms. Schrum have to verify this in court? Is this the same Ms. Schrum that had visited my mother twice in Ramona’s home by Ramona’s count? Ms. Schrum came to the guardianship hearing to testify. Ms. Schrum stated she had visited my mother four or five times at Ramona’s home, but did she have any notes to verify her visits? Did Ms. Schrum bring any notes with her to confirm her testimony? Was it noted that Ms. Schrum’s opinion of Ramona’s home was not derogatory as Mr. Marshall’s opinion? Did Ms. Schrum report to the court all the precautions Ramona had taken in her home to keep mother safe? Did Ms. Schrum have any valid reason that mother should not remain in Ramona’s home? Did Ms. Schrum report on the positive aspects of mother’s care or the fact that mother had three daughters willing to take her into their homes? Did Ms. Schrum have anyone do a home visit on my home or Rebecca’s home to see if our mother could live with us? Why were our homes not presented as alternative living arrangements for my mother?
I ask again “where is justice”?
I have been a law abiding citizen my whole life. I have believed in the law, in the justice system and believed when we had our day in court that truth and justice would matter. Now I know that no one even cared about hearing the truth. No one was interested in truth. What I have wanted and been seeking for three years for my mother was truth and justice. I now know that I will never get truth and justice through the legal system. In just three short years my life-time belief in the law is shattered. What I do know is there are winners and losers. For the few people in this process who have stripped away my mother’s rights and who would boldly claim to be the “winners”, what I would have to ask is at what price do you claim victory? Because if you are the winner, then who is the loser? That answer is simple—MY MOTHER!
Another question for Judge Winchester is why was my mother denied her family first and the least restrictive environment? She had three daughters that were caring for her and willing to have her live with them in any of their homes, but instead she was taken and placed in a nursing home. Why? Because a fourth daughter, granddaughter and my mother’s brother created conflict? Is that all it takes to lose your family member, Judge Winchester? Is a family conflict with one person all it takes for you to decide to ignore the rest of the family’s rights and their wishes? Is that why my mother’s General Durable Power of Attorney was ignored? The Power of Attorney that my mother did to protect herself from the fourth daughter? If that is all it takes, we should all be afraid! We should all be wary of becoming weak, vulnerable, elderly and dependent. Is there anyone who has a family that will all agree with you on every decision? Is there anyone who doesn’t have someone in their family who will disagree? I find it very interesting that the people who wanted my mother locked away are also the people who took her property from her house, emptied her bank accounts, and had police reports filed against them by my mother. Isn’t it convenient that someone can basically rob you blind and then lock you away so that if you complain then they can just say you are crazy, which is what this fourth daughter often did is say my mother is crazy? I have to wonder how often that happens—that an elderly person has their assets taken and then they are placed in a nursing home. I even have an audio recording of my mother’s brother stating that he advised this fourth daughter to keep my mother’s property until she got visitation with my mother. Is financial exploitation of the elderly or extortion actually a crime that someone in Missouri will investigate? I haven’t found anyone willing to do that yet, but I will not stop trying. Well you might be safe, but the rest of us BEWARE! The State may be coming after you next! Again, I would ask Judge Winchester why he didn’t order home investigations on my home or Rebecca’s home as alternative living arrangements for my mother. It seems that the laws are there to protect the guardians, judges and attorneys and not the “wards”. In my mother’s case if the laws were protecting her then she would not be locked away in a nursing home with no chance of ever being with her family again. Her own words of not wanting a stranger in charge of her when she has her kids all around her would not be ignored.
Prior to the court hearing on January 27, 2015, I had sent Judge Winchester a letter regarding all the bills for my mother that are not being paid by Pam Dirnberger. His response to that information was to accuse Rebecca (or me because actually I was the one who wrote the letter regarding the bills and apparently he couldn’t keep track of who had sent him the letters he was holding in his hand because he later attributed a letter Rebecca had written to me and I had to correct him) of and I quote, “bitching and complaining” about the bills. He also stated that “someone would have to eat it”. Judge Winchester was referring to my mother’s outstanding debts. I would have to question Judge Winchester’s ability to be fair and impartial, as well as, his concern for the citizens of Scott County, Missouri. Is his duty as a probate judge to make sure that my mother is being properly cared for? Is his duty to make sure that my mother’s finances are being properly managed? Is his duty to make sure that Ms. Dirnberger is doing her job as guardian/conservator? If these are his duties, then I would have to wonder why he was angry with me for bringing this information to his attention. I would have to question why he chose to attack me rather than question Ms. Dirnberger about not paying the bills. Is this what we expect from an elected probate judge? When Judge Winchester took my mother from our care, from my sister’s home and chose to place her in a nursing home, did he expect us to just go away and hope for the best? Does Judge Winchester even realize or care how disrespectfully he has treated my mother and us? I’ll ask again. Is this truly the best that Scott County, Missouri has to offer?
On February 24, 2015 another court hearing took place. During that court hearing Ms. Dirnberger asked about a checking account from Montgomery Bank, which was closed on March 31, 2014. Ms. Dirnberger was looking at the bank statements from that account and reading off some transactions and stated that account was “tied to Rebecca Adams and Teala Mainzer.” Did Ms. Dirnberger actually go into a public court hearing and state that she had the bank accounts from Rebecca Adams and Teala Mainzer’s checking account? I can confirm that the account she was speaking of was an account in Rebecca Adams (my sister) and Teala Mainzer’s (me) names. This was an account that we were using for the care of our mother. I would like to know how Ms. Dirnberger walked into Montgomery Bank without a court order or subpoena (because there was none) and walked out with our personal bank statements? Since Ms. Dirnberger has NOT been appointed the guardian of Teala Mainzer or Rebecca Adams, I am baffled as to how she has possession of our bank statements. My sister, Rebecca, contacted Montgomery Bank with that very question and they are currently “investigating” to find out what happened. We have no idea what they are doing to “investigate”. What I do know is that the fraud investigator questioned Rebecca about transactions and checks written and stated she would be contacting the judge regarding this. What?? What does the judge have to do with an account in my sister’s name and my name that was closed before Ms. Dirnberger took guardianship? Actually, the judge ruled on this account at this hearing stating that anything that took place prior to April 1, 2014 was not under their authority. Why is it that Ms. Dirnberger is so interested in bank accounts and not BILLS?? Why is it that after Ms. Dirnberger is notified that she isn’t being given money from my mother’s VA account she decides to inquire after another account? Is this really supposed to be an investigation into how Ms. Dirnberger has our bank statements in her hand? Is this how Montgomery Bank “investigates”—to harass and try to intimidate my sister (one of the victims) and question our transactions? Is this how Montgomery Bank is protecting your accounts? Does this demonstrate a lack of competence on how the bank is protecting its clients? How would you like to know someone had walked into this bank and gotten your personal bank statements and was discussing it openly with others? Would you expect Montgomery Bank to get to the bottom of this? Or would you expect that they would want to know how you were spending your money? I would like to say I am shocked, but unfortunately I have lost my ability to be shocked about anything that happens in this community. My sister was told that the investigation would take ten days. We haven’t heard an outcome yet, but I don’t really expect to hear anything even close to an acceptable answer. Do I actually expect Montgomery Bank to openly admit that they did anything wrong, incompetent, or criminal? I might add that Judge Winchester finally decided to drop the contempt charge against my sister, so she is no longer being threatened with arrest!!
And also Judge Winchester what about the Constitution that is supposed to protect us?
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution states in part “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated”… But my mother wasn’t safe in my sister’s home. My sister got a phone call that stated “they were coming to get my mother” and that is what they did. My sister couldn’t lock her door and keep them out. She wasn’t secure and My Mother wasn’t secure!
The elderly face the throwaway mentality of age prejudice by younger generations
and now, apparently by their own government! They are literally committed to life
imprisonment for frivolous reasons, in violation of their Fourth Amendment right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure. (from the NASGA website)
The Fifth Amendment states a number of rights relevant to both criminal and civil legal proceedings such as right to a grand jury, forbidding double jeopardy and self-incrimination. But most importantly states in part “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” My mother has certainly been deprived of her life, liberty and property and she did not have due process of law. She did not have the right to secure a lawyer to fight for her rights. And is her home secure? No it is open to be vandalized, ravaged and plundered and has been repeatedly.
Guardianship proceedings, perhaps more than any other legal industry, engage in
the most profound deprivation of rights. It is shocking that our society and our government tolerate such infliction on our vulnerable citizenry. (from the NASGA website)
Wrongful denial of personal liberty violates the cherished principles that we have
fought for throughout our nation’s history. The most fundamental rights and
protections guaranteed by our Constitution are crushed by an overburdened,
uncaring or possibly corrupt state judiciary. (from the NASGA website)
The Sixth Amendment states in part “the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district”… My mother didn’t get an impartial jury. She got a judge. One decision—HIS decision. Based on what? HIS complete and ultimate authority. Did you know this is what you elected him to do? Does he get to make these life altering decisions without question? Without explanation?
Civil detainees (guardianship victims) do not enjoy equal rights. Ironically, AIPs –(alleged incapacitated person) who have committed no crimes – are quickly stripped of all their rights and liberties. The worst deprivation is, almost unbelievably, the right to complain. Stripped of control of their assets, they cannot even retain counsel! If people who have been accused of crimes, regardless of the severity, have such rights, should not our most vulnerable members of society – facing civil
commitment FOR NO WRONGDOING AT ALL – have the same rights? (from the NASGA website).
My mother also got a court appointed attorney, Frank Marshall. What did he do for my mother? He made two unannounced visits to Ramona’s home to see my mother. On his first visit he saw two of mother’s friends visiting with her. On his second visit he came when the home health nurse was there giving my mother a bath. On the first visit my mother was “socializing” with friends. On the second visit my mother was being cared for by the home health care nurse that came five days a week to bathe and spend time with her. During one of Mr. Marshall’s visits he asked my mother if she wanted to see Becky and she said, “yes.” Mr. Marshall asked my mother if she wanted to see Teala and she said, “yes.” Mr. Marshall asked my mother if she wanted to see Carla and she replied, “no.” This I might add is also the response that we got from our mother anytime we asked her if she wanted to see Carla. Then Mr. Marshall went into the court hearing and waived my mother’s right to a jury trial and told the judge that he would basically concede to the judge’s decision. Is that his right to decide that my mother didn’t want a jury trial? Is that how he represents “his client”? After the hearing and decision, we received Mr. Marshall’s letter to the court, which surprisingly was dated the same date as the hearing—March 31, 2014. When did Mr. Marshall write this letter–before or after the hearing? Given the fact that Mr. Marshall’s letter contained testimony from the court hearing, I would have to suppose it was written after. Is that why Mr. Marshall’s opinion to place my mother in a skilled nursing facility was the same as the judge’s decision? Did Mr. Marshall go in to represent my mother or to represent the court? From his letter he states, “I know not everybody lives the way I do, or has a home like I may have” and that “the home was more cluttered and cramped than my first visit, and there was a strong odor of soured or spoiled food.” Is this all his decision was based on? Does that mean that someone who has a modest home can’t care for their loved one? Should everyone’s home be as nice as Mr. Marshall’s in order for them to keep caring for their mother? Did Mr. Marshall report that a home health nurse came to Ramona’s house five times a week to help with bathing and other duties? Did Mr. Marshall report that we had built a wheelchair ramp on the front of Ramona’s home to make it easier for mother to get to her handicapped vehicle? Did Mr. Marshall report the baby monitor Ramona had to be able to hear mother? Did Mr. Marshall report that Ramona had a video monitor installed so they could also watch her while in bed at night? Did Mr. Marshall report that Ramona had a bed pad with an alarm so they could hear if mother got out of bed? Did Mr. Marshall report that Ramona had a hospital toilet for mother to make it easier for her to get to when she had trouble walking or sitting on a regular toilet? Did Mr. Marshall report that the cord he had to step over while visiting was to an electric blanket that Rebecca had bought for mother so she would be warm (because our mother has always been cold natured)? Did Mr. Marshall report that since the home health nurse was bathing mother that the odor may have been due to her having used the toilet before entering the bath? I suppose if Mr. Marshall is coming to your home for a visit you should make sure you haven’t cooked fish that day or have a pet or you might be disqualified to care for your loved one. Or did Mr. Marshall even bother to ask Ramona any questions regarding mother’s care? Did Mr. Marshall have any pictures of Ramona’s house to verify his opinions? Did Mr. Marshall’s letter state both the positives and the negatives or just the negatives? Why would Mr. Marshall fail to report all the positive things that were happening in the home while Ramona was caring for our mother? Was Mr. Marshall aware that Ramona, Rebecca and I were filing for joint guardianship because we were all three willing to take mother into our home? So if Mr. Marshall didn’t think Ramona’s home met his “standard”, why didn’t Mr. Marshall check out my home or Rebecca’s home as alternatives? Was Mr. Marshall impartial in his letter to the court? Do I have more unanswered questions about why all the people from the court/state—Frank Marshall, Pam Dirnberger, Judge Winchester, Tonya Schrum seem to overlook all the things we had done to protect and care for our mother? Might I also add—Do any of them even care?? It is apparent that none of these people know my mother or care about what her desire was and is. Combined these people have probably spent less than an hour talking to my mother. I have lived my entire life hearing my mother tell me not to put her in a nursing home. My mother even stated in a video clip aired on the I-Team report by Kathy Sweeney that she “didn’t want a state appointed guardian when she has kids all around her.” Again, my mother even filed a very thorough General Durable Power of Attorney, which stated her desires and wishes for the end of her life. Did Mr. Marshall bother to present her Power of Attorney in court? Why would an attorney, Mr. Marshall, who had been “appointed” to “represent” my mother, fail to present a legal document to the court? Does this mean that when a person becomes elderly, weak and can’t remember things then their desires don’t matter? Is Frank Marshall’s “job” done now that the hearing is over? Does Mr. Marshall have any further responsibility to my mother? Has Mr. Marshall done anything to “represent” my mother for the last ten months? Has Mr. Marshall followed up to see that my mother is being cared for properly? Has Mr. Marshall followed up to see that Ms. Dirnberger has paid my mother’s bills and handled her finances properly? Does Mr. Marshall have any responsibility to make sure that the inventory for my mother is done properly and timely?
Current Legal Protections
The Fourteenth Amendment states in part “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”… Has my mother been denied her life, liberty and property? She may no longer own the home she owned for 65 years; the state is trying to seize it. She can’t decide where she lives. She can’t come and go as she chooses.
People who are caught breaking the law have more rights than my mother does. And what crime has my mother committed? What has caused her to be incarcerated in elder prison? She is elderly, has Alzheimer’s and can’t care for herself. Is this what happens in Judge Winchester’s court?
(The following seven paragraphs are from the NASGA website)
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) defines financial abuse or
exploitation as: “…[T]he unauthorized or improper use of the resources of an elder for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain. Examples include forgery, misuse or theft of money or possessions; use of coercion or deception to surrender finances or property; or improper use of guardianship or power of attorney.”\1/
“Exploitation” is also defined in the 2006 Older Americans Act as: “…[T]he fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized, or improper act or process of an individual, including a caregiver or fiduciary, that uses the resources of an older individual for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain, or that results in depriving an older individual of rightful access to, or use of, benefits, resources, belongings, or assets.”\2/
18 U.S.C. 241
This section of the federal criminal code\77/ provides for fines and jail when two or more persons conspire to injure (“prevent”) any person from free exercise or
enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of
the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same.
In 42 U.S.C. 3001 of The Public Health and Welfare law, Congress made the
following declaration: “The Congress hereby finds and declares that, in keeping with the traditional American concept of the inherent dignity of the individual
in our democratic society, the older people of our Nation are entitled to,
and it is the joint and several duty and responsibility of the governments of the United States, of the several States and their political subdivisions, and of Indian tribes to assist our older people to secure equal opportunity to the full and free enjoyment of the following specific objectives:
“(6) Retirement in health, honor, dignity – after years of contribution to the economy.
“(10) Freedom, independence, and the free exercise of individual initiative in planning and managing their own lives, full participation in the planning and operation of community-based services and programs provided for their benefit, and protection against abuse, neglect, and exploitation.”
42 U.S.C. Sec. 3002 defines various terms applicable in guardianship as follows:
“(20) The term ‘fiduciary’-
(A) means a person or entity with the legal responsibility-
(i) to make decisions on behalf of and for the benefit of another person; and
(ii) to act in good faith and with fairness; and
(B) includes a trustee, a guardian, a conservator, an executor, an agent under a financial power of attorney or health care power of attorney, or a representative payee.”
And my last question is–do the taxpayer’s of the State of Missouri know that now my mother is their burden, their responsibility and it is their tax dollars that will have to pick up my mother’s tab? In Judge Winchester’s own words, “someone will have to eat it.” Do you like what Judge Winchester wants to feed you? Maybe you should all let Judge Winchester and Pam Dirnberger know what you think of the way they are managing the citizens and their money. Judge Winchester was just re-elected, but Pam Dirnberger is up for re-election in 2016. Is she going to be re-elected? You can voice your opinion on this by making sure not to re-elect her. On February 2, 2015 it was reported in the Southeast Missourian that Ms. Dirnberger is retiring. Why is Ms. Dirnberger retiring in the middle of her term? What has happened that has led up to this decision? Now is the time for Missourians to get serious about guardianship issues. Missouri has one of the most broken guardianship systems in the country. It is time for Missouri citizens to work to change the system! Don’t let this continue! Speak up! Will you step up and help protect your citizens, your neighbors and maybe even your own loved ones? Get involved before this happens to you! Please don’t wait until it is too late. My mother or someone you love needs you! Because I have a NEWSFLASH—if you live long enough you will be elderly one day too!!
An I-Team report by Kathy Sweeney at KVFS-12 News in Cape Girardeau, Missouri is airing on February 23, 2015 entitled “Broken System.” I urge all concerned citizens to watch this story and then ACT!! On Feb. 5, 2015 an I-Team report entitled “Imminent Harm” aired (also by Kathy Sweeney). This family applied to have a guardian appointed for their son in June 2014 and are still waiting. This is also Judge Winchester’s court. Could someone please explain to me how this system works? Three capable, willing daughters don’t want a guardian appointed for their mother and yet Judge Winchester appoints a guardian. Now, we hear about the Pendergrass family who is asking Judge Winchester to appoint a guardian and can’t get one appointed. Can someone please explain this insanity to me?? I have constantly referred to this as a broken system, but I believe this is a gross understatement!! I also have a question regarding Alan Beussink, the attorney listed on casenet for Jeff Pendergrass. Is there a conflict of interest for Mr. Beussink to represent Ms. Dirnberger and Mr. Pendergrass? On April 23, 2015 Part Two of Broken System aired. Both parts of this investigative report can be viewed on Youtube entitled “Justice for Pauline” or at these links: www.youtube.com/watch?v=yX922VEs-1A and www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F354XB8Iww.
Please take time to contact State Rep. Holly Rehder and State Senator Wayne Wallingford to thank them for their efforts and encourage them to follow through on their pledge to fix guardianship. Also, please ask them to contact Judge Winchester and encourage him to release my mother! Please tell everyone you know to contact Judge Winchester and demand this wrong be righted!! We want our mother returned to her family—where she belongs. And better yet where she desires to be!!
I would also like to know why the guidelines that are stated on their own Public Administrator website were not applied to our family because my mother had three capable and willing daughters to take care of her and keep her out of the nursing home. Only one daughter wasn’t willing or capable. Are the following statements true and accurate? I have pulled information from the Scott County Public Administrator website which states, “A hearing will be set and if the judge agrees that the person does need a legal guardian, and there is not a family member willing and qualified available to serve as that guardian, the Public Administrator will be appointed.
The Public Administrator has the power to make all decisions for their wards’ regarding living arrangements, medical care and any other matter that affects that ward in any way.”
This is from the Mississippi County Public Administrator website–
- The court appoints that Public Administrator when a Ward has no family members able to take on the responsibility.
- As a Guardian the Public Administrator must see that the Ward’s living needs are meet in a least restrictive environment. (By the way the typos on the Mississippi County info are theirs not mine. I cut and pasted directly from their home page).
Pam Dirnberger’s Retirement
Lastly, this is from the newspaper article which announced Ms. Dirnberger’s retirement.
Apparently, as of April 30, 2015 Ms. Dirnberger has retired as Public Administrator, so now there is no one overseeing my mother or her other 249 wards. The governor will have to appoint someone to that position and there is no way to know when that will take place or how? Will he just appoint the newly elected Mississippi County Public Administrator to oversee both Mississippi County and Scott County? Isn’t that what happened when the Mississippi County position was empty? Didn’t Ms. Dirnberger become responsible for both counties? So didn’t that mean that she actually had more than 250 wards during that time? So does this truly mean that 250 wards in Scott County, Missouri are sitting in limbo waiting for someone to give them their monthly stipend to buy their groceries and necessities? How are they supposed to manage while they wait? Does anyone care? What happens if my mother or another of the wards is in need of medical attention or for that matter passes away? Who is RESPONSIBLE? Could I now go and pick my mother up from the nursing home since there is no one to ask permission to do so? I have no idea. I don’t want to risk being arrested for kidnapping. About three months later, the governor has now appointed Julia Crader Dolan as the new public administrator. I have contacted her to meet her and talk to her about my mother’s case. I made a phone call to the public administrator’s office on 6/26/15 and was informed that Mrs. Dolan will not be my mother’s public administrator. That in fact Ms. Dirnberger will continue to be her guardian even after she retires!! WHAT??!! Am I missing something?? Is this really true?? Has the judge really refused to turn my mother back over to her daughters and keep Ms. Dirnberger as her guardian?? As of July 17, 2015 Ms. Dirnberger is still my mother’s guardian. I can’t even begin to grasp this. Judge Winchester and Ms. Dirnberger both know that my mother has family willing to care for her. They should also know that a guardian should only be appointed as a LAST RESORT per Missouri guidelines. Clearly, this was and is not the case for my mother. Why are they so unwilling to do what is best for my mother? Has Ms. Dirnberger done such a great job managing my mother? If she continues to be the guardian as a private citizen Ms. Dirnberger will she be able to be paid for her services.? That seems a little odd to me that she is “retiring” yet continuing to be a guardian and drawing an income. How does this system “work”?? This is why I repeat–the laws don’t protect people like my mother—they protect those of the law. Is it impossible for a judge to admit that he made a mistake and correct it? No, judges don’t have to do that. As a matter of fact, Judge Winchester doesn’t even have to answer any questions from me. Judge Winchester has received multiple letters from me and he has yet to respond to any of my correspondence. Why?? Because he is the judge that’s why. He has never had to justify his decision to me or to my mother because he is “THE JUDGE”. This is why I tell everyone that you should avoid guardians, probate and the so called justice system because you will not get justice once you enter the system. It is easy to get into guardianship, but next to impossible to get out. As of today (May 10, 2015), my mother has spent the last two Mother’s Days in captivity. The only sister that is allowed per Ms. Dirnberger to take her out does not bother to do so even though that was her complaint in court that she wanted to be able to take my mother out to church or wherever. In the last year and two months, this sister has never taken my mother to church. My mother has only been out of the nursing home one time last Mother’s Day to go get an ice cream cone with this sister. Isn’t that nice of the daughter who wanted my mother locked away in a nursing home to take her mother out for ice cream at McDonald’s for Mother’s Day? I am sure as my mother has sat in this place for the other 364 days she feels the love of this daughter. So now my mother and her three daughters have been robbed by the State of Missouri of what may be one of her last Mother’s Days. Whatever time my mother has left is being wasted by isolating her from her children. I spoke to my mother on the phone today (May 10, 2015) and she said she was glad to talk to me because it had been a long time since she had seen me. I told her that I had been to visit her a few weeks ago and she said, “well that is a long time when you are sitting here doing nothing.” I had to agree and couldn’t help but cry again at the thought of my mother sitting in a chair day in and day out waiting for someone–anyone to pop in to say hi. What a life!! Thanks again Judge Winchester. My mother appreciates your willingness to step in and help her and save her from her daughters!! As of August 7, 2015, my mother’s guardianship has been transferred to Paula Scobey the New Madrid County Public Administrator due to a conflict of interest. Of course I have not been informed what that conflict of interest is.
Paula Scobey-New Guardian
On September 8, 2015 I appeared at a court hearing to find out that Paula Scobey is being granted the right to sell all my parent’s property (62 years of their possessions) for $500 so that someone will come in and get rid of everything so her house can be sold. Basically, her children will never have the opportunity to go through her home when she dies and look through their things and reminisce about their childhood because the county/state would rather dump her things into a dumpster. For what, so her house can be sold to pay the enormous debt that she wouldn’t have to have if she were still in the care of her daughters. Not to mention that it is highly doubtful that the sale of her property will even come close to paying her current debt let alone her ongoing nursing home and pharmaceutical bills. When the system is done with her, she will have nothing left. As of Nov. 12, 2015, my mother’s home was sold for $18,100. Missouri’s current guardianship system completely strips a person of their personhood, not to mention takes ownership of them and their property. I am familiar with a system in our history that was abolished that did the same thing, yet apparently when it involves the elderly or weak it is legal under current laws. What has happened to my mother (and countless others) is inhumane and should not happen to anyone! Her voice-Her rights no longer matter because she has trouble understanding?! Is this really what is considered “justice”?
Families have no recourse other than to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to rescue their loved ones once they are placed in guardianship. Yet, what is even more shocking is that I could fight for the rest of my mother’s life to try to get her back in the care of her family to no avail. And yet when she dies, guardianship/conservatorship ends. Will they pay for her funeral?? No, they will then say—“HERE YOU CAN HAVE YOUR MOTHER BACK!!!!!!” What kind of system keeps a family member locked away from their family while they are living and then returns them to you dead?? My mother has four grandchildren in Indiana, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren in Kentucky that she will never get to spend a birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other special day with because she is not allowed to leave the state of her incarceration.
The CURRENT guardianship system leaves the innocent family members fighting through the “justice” system, which can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars (so you might as well throw money down the sewer to get the same results) to little or no avail. Even if the court system worked, the process can take years leaving their family member rotting away or dying before it ends (remember most of these people are in their final years!!). By the time the courts are through, if you are one of the few to “win”, your loved one has lost precious time with their children/grandchildren, has probably had a decline in health that makes their care more difficult, and has lost their home and possessions with no recourse because once their things are gone there is no way to get them back. I would also add that time is on the side of the courts and not the wards. Judges’ can delay making decisions and cases can drag on for years, but how many victims have years? Then when the ward dies, the courts can say “case closed.” I ask the same question I asked in the beginning—where is justice?
My favorite quote is, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” by Edmund Burke. Another great quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. is, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Don’t be one of the men or women who do nothing or remains silent! Stand Up and Speak Up! An easy way to do something is to call Judge Winchester, Ms. Dirnberger, Frank Marshall and Tonya Schrum and let them know what you think of their actions in my mother’s case. Also, contact Kathy Sweeney and let her know that you appreciate her reporting on this story. Then call your senators, representatives, governors, attorney general and anyone else with whom you can voice your opinion. Lastly, ask your friends and family to do the same.
If anyone would like further information, please feel free to contact me directly at 317-428-7665. I would be glad to speak with you.
Contact for Pam Dirnberger is (573) 545-3084 or Scott-PA@hotmail.com
Contact for Judge Winchester is Theresa.Siebert@courts.mo.gov
1 Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Definition of Elder Maltreatment,
2 Older Americans Act, as amended 2006, Public Law 109-365,Sec.1(a)(24)(A)
77 18 U.S.C. 241, Conspiracy Against Rights
In summary, if Judge Winchester had followed the laws of Missouri and left my mother in the least restrictive environment in the care of her three daughters, she would never have cost Scott County, Missouri and the state of Missouri one red cent because her daughters would have continued to take care of her expenses as was their responsibility. However, due to her guardianship there is now another court hearing to deal with her insolvent estate. I would state boldly that she NEVER would have had an insolvent estate if her daughters were caring for her. Again my question is—how do they plan to pay her bills now that they have sold ALL her property and there is no more money??
What do I want done?
- First and foremost—I want my mother BACK! Who will help me get my mother’s death sentence overturned and give her back to her daughter??
- I also want the Missouri Attorney General to open investigations into the actions of Pam Dirnberger, Frank Marshall and Judge Winchester.
- Given, the evidence I have regarding a federal forgery and banking improprieties, I would also like the U.S. Attorney General to open an investigation into this matter.
- I want the probate court to be completely overhauled to protect our vulnerable and weak and THEIR FAMILIES.
- I want so called “authorities” who financially exploit their wards to be held legally accountable.
- I want new legislation drafted to protect those like my mother and their families. Will you join in working to change the law?
- I want oversight into Pam Dirnberger’s records, accounting and a system of checks and balances to make sure that her wards, their assets and property were cared for legally and ethically. There should be accountability!!
So I ask—Is there anyone who will assist me to change the current system??!! Will you be the one to send a message that this will not be tolerated??!! Ownership of people is not acceptable and should be illegal, yet current guardianship laws make it completely legal.
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