Police Hiding and Obscuring Reports Relating to Melodie Scott
Special from the San Bernardino County Sentinel
The Sentinel has retrieved a number of records indicating that the Redlands Police Department and other Southern California law enforcement agencies are withholding or otherwise obscuring reports which implicate conservator Melodie Z. Scott and her associates in possible criminal or otherwise questionable activity.
Recently, the Redlands City Attorney’s office responded, belatedly and in defiance of the time limits mandated by the Public Records Act, to a request from the Sentinel for police records relevant to a “dead body call” which came into the San Bernardino County Command Center on July 25, 2009. The call came in upon the passing of Frank H. Bellue, who was a conservatee of Melodie Scott. Scott is the President and founder of C.A.R.E. Inc., located on State Street in Redlands. At the time of his death at age 61, Bellue was living with Scott’s brother and employee Graham Zinck at a condo belonging to Scott’s ex-husband, Bradley. Bradley Scott purchased the condo back in 2004 following the couple’s divorce.
The Redlands Police report was redacted i.e., blacked-out by the city in every manner which could possibly indicate whether Bellue was still alive when the police and fire departments arrived or provide any indication as to cause of death.
In his response to the Public Records Act request, Redlands assistant city attorney Michael Reiter wrote: ”Certain medical information, and one entire medical sheet, has been redacted pursuant to Government Code section 6254 (k), the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (Civil Code section 56 et seq.) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)…” However, other information on the report appears to be removed as well, including who made the call to the Command Center and who was at the scene when the police and fire departments showed up. This information does not fall under the scope of the cited laws and thus should be disclosed. Press officer Carl Baker insists that the report contained no information of who was at the scene when the police and paramedics arrived. But given the enormous amount of information blacked out, it is impossible to ascertain the accuracy of what he states.
According to Bellue’s death certificate, he was diagnosed with lung cancer by a bronchoscopy five days before he died. Questions have surfaced as to whether cancer was, in fact, the real cause of death. Given the normal progression of lung cancer, it would be quite unusual for a diagnosis to be rendered five days before a patient succumbs. The Sentinel has also retrieved Bellue’s death certificate. Significantly, the name of the doctor who signed the death certificate was also blacked out. The Health Information Privacy Act does not protect a doctor’s personal information in this manner and is chiefly for the protection of patients.
HIPAA does mandate the redaction of mental health history and while multiple redactions on Bellue’s death certificate curiously protect the identity of the burial manager, the coroner and the certifier, Bellue’s mental illness is stated on his death certificate without adherence to the laws prohibiting the release of such information.
Previous reports to the Redlands Police concerning Scott have been handled in unusual manners. A report in 2007, implicating Scott in an alleged theft of estate furnishings, was refused by the Redlands Police Department, which stated that all reports concerning Scott were being sent up to Sacramento to the California Attorney General’s office. However, the AG’s office refused to respond to inquiries as to the progress of investigating this matter and also refused to supply a complaint number. No charges were ever filed.
A report to the Redlands PD in 2008 alleging theft of monies from the estate of decedent conservatee William Burke implicated conservator Lawrence Dean (working out of Scott’s office at that time) and a San Bernardino County attorney. Once again, the Redlands PD refused to supply a complaint number. Within two hours after the complaint was lodged, assistant district attorney Lynn Poncin declared that the matter had been thoroughly investigated and found to be without merit. When pressed for a complaint number, Poncin also refused to supply a case number, a file number, or any number which might indicate that this complaint actually existed in the system. A few days later, D.A. press officer Susan Mickey searched the D.A’s records and found no evidence that the complaint was ever filed or investigated.
Melodie Scott’s DUI citation, issued in December of 2008, met with a peculiar resolution. The District Attorney was able to continue the case repeatedly and the matter was only resolved in December of 2009. At that time, Scott was in contested hearings in Oakland and battling to achieve licensure. Her application had been denied in 2008 by the newly created Professional Fiduciary Bureau for making false statements upon her licensing application. A source close to Melodie Scott opined that the DUI case was being dragged out so as to not produce a verdict that might have impeded her getting the license. Scott ended up pleading guilty and receiving a sentence of thirty six months summary unsupervised probation.
More problems seem to have surfaced over a report filed with the Riverside Sheriff’s Department related to an assault upon Carol Chenoweth, who is J. David Horspool’s sister. Horspool is chief counsel for Melodie Scott. Chenoweth was transported to the emergency room on April 15th of 2009. According to family, Chenoweth was upset over circumstances that arose out of the attempt by several of the Horspool siblings, including David Horspool, to evict their brother William from his Riverside home. An argument ensued at David Horspool’s Moreno Valley residence and Horspool’s daughter Rebecca allegedly lunged at Chenoweth, knocking her down. Chenoweth was treated at a local hospital for a head injury and released.
A police report concerning the assault was subsequently written up. No charges were filed.
Attorney David Horspool had gone to court and launched the eviction after Judge Michael Welch negated a previous property transfer by father, Raymond Sr., to son William. Raymond had been placed under a conservatorship by David and sisters Karin Horspool and Margaret Updike a couple of years after the property was granted to William. They are seeking his removal from that property. The matter is set for trial in April.
Chenoweth, while confirming the assault took place, insisted she had not filed the police report relating to it. She said the media’s focus on her family’s circumstances vis-a-v-is the conservatorship set up for her father is unjustified and is a by-product of her brother David’s and sister Karin’s professional association with Scott, as well as a personal vendetta being carried out by Sentinel reporter Janet Phelan, whose mother was put under a conservatorship by Scott with the assistance of David Horspool.
Chenoweth said her family’s travails relating to the effort to keep her father in a conservatorship were irrelevant to any circumstance involving Melodie Scott.
The Horspool siblings who created the conservatorship for their father are not using Scott as their father’s conservator.
Thus, Chenoweth suggested, coverage of the matter was an example of biased and shoddy journalism.
Riverside County sheriff’s department spokesperson Melissa Nieburger insisted there is no record of any report pertaining to an assault on or any other contact with Carol Chenoweth.
The Sentinel, however, has learned that the report was filed under a civil rather than a criminal heading, with a reference number of MC09110002.
As reported in the Sentinel article of February 19th, 2010 edition of the Sentinel, Melodie Scott recently tendered a death threat to the Sentinel, which was subsequently reported to the Redlands Police. That agency has refused to supply the victim of the threat with a copy of the report, citing government code 6254 (f). While that code generally allows the release of a report to the victim, assistant city Attorney Michael Reiter states that the request was denied because “the disclosure would endanger the successful completion of the investigation pursuant to Government Code section 6254 (f).”
The recipient of the threat, Sentinel reporter Janet Phelan, has expressed concern that the report may contain something improper. She stated that during her contact with the Redlands police investigator, Patrick Leivas, he told her that Scott had reported that Phelan made explicit threats during a prior phone call which resulted in Scott’s return call and voice mail threat. When informed that an objective record existed of the initial call and this allegation could easily be proven untrue, Leivas backed off this statement, insisting that he only said that Scott had maintained that Phelan “knows where she lives.” Phelan had already advised Leivas that she was taping the conversation with him.
Phelan states she turned over the record of the second voice mail left by Scott to investigator Leivas on February 3. This second voice mail was left January 12th, two days after the initial threat. In this message, Melodie Scott inquires as to the “exact physical address” of Phelan.
However, according to investigations clerk Sherri Hunt, all evidence was turned to the DA on January 19. Leivas appears to have neglected to turn over the second voice mail.
Phelan said, “This is an open and shut matter,” she says. “Scott left me an explicit death threat, followed up by an inquiry as to where she could find me. I am beginning to wonder what the D.A. is doing with their investigation. One way to shut this down would be to turn the microscope on the victim.”