Melodie Z. Scott
More than half of all conservatorships filed by professionals in Southern California between 1997 and 2003 were granted by the courts on an emergency basis, often bypassing initial assessments by court investigators and other safeguards designed to protect wards’ rights. In all, there were 1,160 emergency appointments.
Granted without notice to senior or family: 56%
Granted before an attorney appointed: 64%
Granted before court investigator’s report: 92%
Sources: Probate records for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. Data analysis by Maloy Moore
“Melodie Jo Scott; conservator, probate administrator, owner – C.A.R.E. Inc.
Lawrence Dean; conservator, probate administrator,
Christina Erickson-Taube; conservator, probate administrator
Bryan Hartnell; conservator, attorney, of Hartnell, Lister, & Moore
David Horspool; attorney, of Horspool & Parker
C.A.R.E., Inc; Conservatorship And Resources for the Elderly, Inc. – Redlands, CA
Hartnell, Lister, & Moore; law firm – Redlands, CA
Horspool & Parker; law firm – Redlands, CA
E. Joan Nelms; attorney, judge pro tem
Sherri Kastilahn; attorney, judge pro tem
“A name search in the Superior Court websites for the above-named counties reveals more than 400 cases for the first two names alone. In these cases it would not be unusual to find: one of this group acting as Conservator/guardian; another as attorney for the Conservator/guardian, a third as attorney for the Conservatee, a fourth as Case Manager, and yet another sitting as Judge Pro Tem. Upon death of the Conservatee, one of the group is often then appointed Probate/estate Administrator, with another as Attorney for the Administrator. In this single-sided scenario, abuse is inevitable.
“In Ms. Scott’s case, the news stories (the Times series was one of several) and the large number of clients who have suffered financial ruin or worse, are undeniable indicators that protection of the public is indeed the issue. Ms Scott and her contemporaries, rather than assisting their clients and preserving clients estates from harm, are usually the greatest threat they face.”
State Denies Melodie Scott Fiduciary License
August 20, 2010
The San Bernardino County Sentinel
The California Department of Consumer Affairs has issued a final determination on the issue of embattled conservator Melodie Scott’s application for a professional fiduciary license. In a decision tendered last week, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) denied Melodie Scott’s appeal.
According to Russ Heimerich, press officer with the Department of Consumer Affairs, Melodie Scott has already filed a writ in Sacramento Superior Court to overturn the decision by the DCA.
Scott first caught the public eye back in 2005 when she was featured in the Los Angeles Times series, “Guardians for Profit–When a Family Matter Becomes a Business.” Due to the public outcry engendered by the Times’ series, the California Legislature passed the Omnibus Conservatorship Reform Act of 2006.
The Act called for the establishment of the Professional Fiduciary Bureau, among other stipulations intended to protect the elderly and disabled from unscrupulous fiduciaries. Lodged within the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Professional Fiduciary Bureau (PFB) was mandated with licensing and oversight of the previously unlicensed fiduciaries and conservators.
Scott first applied for a license in 2008, when the newly formed PFB started accepting applications for licensing. Her application was initially denied on grounds that she had made false statements on the application. Later, two other charges were added – a drunk driving arrest and the further violation of continuing to act as a fiduciary without a license.
Scott appealed the decision and the matter went into an administrative hearing in Oakland. Administrative Law Judge Melissa Crowell opined that Scott should be granted a probationary license. Brian Stiger, executive director of the DCA, who has final say on these matters, declined to issue the license to Scott. She then appealed his decision. After two months of re
consideration, the DCA issued its final determination on August 12.
A conservator is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as a “protector or guardian.” Conservatorships, which generally impact the elderly and disabled, are generally established through court proceedings, when there are allegations that a person may be incapable of handling his or her affairs. There are two kinds of conservatorships in the state of California–conservatorship of person and conservatorship of estate.
Upon the initiation of the former and the appointment of a conservator of person, the alleged incapacitated person’s rights to make personal decisions are all transferred to the conservator. These decisions include where she may live, whether she may marry and even whether family or friends may visit. Upon the initiation of a conservatorship of estate, the alleged incapacitated person’s financial assets are all transferred to the care and protection of the professional conservator.
A number of national grassroots organizations have formed in the last several years, due to growing concern that the conservators are abusing their clients and self dealing from the estates of their wards.
Melodie Scott’s current website advertises her as a “Professional Fiduciary.” Gary Duke, legal counsel for the Department of Consumer Affairs, has affirmed that offering herself as professional fiduciary without a license is a misdemeanor.
An incident report concerning this latest issue was filed with the Red lands Police this week by a local woman. The party filing the complaint reports that the responding officer, Eric Strobough, declined to take a full fledged misdemeanor report, stating that criminal activity by fiduciaries needs to be investigated by the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau. The bureau was requested last month to contact law enforcement on the issue of Scott offering services without a proper license. Gary Duke declined to answer follow up queries as to whether or not the DCA had contacted law enforcement, citing Government Code 6254 as exempting him from responding to this query.
Be sure to read all the articles about Melodie Scott
“THE FAMILY HOME”
Under the laws governing conservatorships of estate, Scott has total access to all the conservatee’s bank accounts and may, with the court’s approval, sell the conservatee’s property, in order to further pay for her services. An unusual pattern has emerged concerning the sale of real property, which is always approved by Scott’s judges. Probate property, as it is called, be it under a conservatorship case or under the estate administration of the “C.A.R.E. Group,” is generally substantially under-appraised and sold at a still deeper discount from the initially low appraisal.
Here is a short list of such transactions, garnered from the Redlands Probate files and matched up with the San Bernardino’s tax assessor’s office:
Elmer Archie Heath 23538 Court St, San Bernardino
Appraised at $60,000
Sold at $28,600
Heath’s vacant lot on Joshua Road, Palm Desert
Appraised at $8,000
Sold at $1,000
Mary Titus 49888 Senilis Ave, Morongo Valley
Appraised at $35,000
1/2interest sold at $3000
Evelyn Townsend 1244 Ramona Drive, Redlands
Appraised at $140,000
Sold at $110,000
Mattie Kirby 1028 W. 9th, San Bernardino
Appraised at $65,000
Sold at $43,000
After selling off property at bargain basement prices, many of these properties suddenly and without explanation dramatically increase in assessed value. For example, the “C.A.R.E. Group” handled the estate administration for Rachel Norris, whose single family home in Victorville, California, was appraised at $2,788. No , that’s not a misprint. The home was sold to a Gary Salonsin, in November of 2004. Judge Aviva K. Bobb was involved in the same scam robbing seniors of their property, savings and dignity SEE Judge Aviva K. Bobb
Part Two Melodie Scott and the State of California–In the Business of Death?
Marti Oakely The Probate Murders: Part Two Melodie Scott and the State of California–In the Business of Death?
Guardianship Abuse: How The California Justice System Covers Up Crimes
California Guardianship Abuse: A systemic violation of civil,economic and social human rights.
Police ‘Involvement’ in Conservatorship Issues?
Janet Phelan “Reporter at Large” Articles on Melodie Scott