Monday, March 5, 2018

News Feature Focuses on Court-Appointed Guardian in Pennsylvania, Raising Important Systemic Questions

From Nicole Brambila, an investigative journalist for the Reading [Pennsylvania] Eagle, comes an article examining the history of a specific individual appointed by courts to serve as a guardian in multiple cases, in different counties in Pennsylvania.  The article raises important questions about court oversight, including but not limited to whether there should be mandatory criminal background checks for those serving as court-appointed fiduciaries:  

If [an elderly couple in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania] were astonished to learn the court-appointed guardian [for the 79-year-old husband] had not been paying the mortgage and other bills, their surprise would pale in comparison to the revelations yet to come.  Unbeknownst to them, Byars [the guardian in question] had been convicted multiple times of financial theft.

 

Her most recent arrest came in 2005.  She pleaded guilty to felony fraud and was sentenced to 37 months in a federal prison after cashing $20,000 in blank checks [she] found while rummaging through trash cans at a Virginia post office. 

The article points to another case in Philadelphia Orphans Court, where an attorney representing family members of a different person alleged to be in need of a guardian, looked into the background of Byars, and discovered records detailing her history.  The attorney was successful in having her removed as the court-appointed guardian in that case.  The Reading Eagle reporter writes:

For six months she continued serving as guardian to 52 incapacitated Philadelphians. No other Philadelphia judge removed her until after the Reading Eagle made dozens of inquiries in January with the court, Adult Protective Services, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and state lawmakers about her appointments. . . . 

 

Philadelphia Orphans Court works with more than a dozen professional guardians. Ten of these, including Byars, carry some of the highest caseloads: 22, 48, 54 and more. But none more than Byars, who was appointed in Philadelphia alone 75 times from 2014 through 2016, according to court dockets.

For more, read Unguarded: Montgomery County Couple's Trust Betrayed, published March 4, 2018 in the Reading Eagle [paywall protected, although there is a $1 fee for single day access].  

 

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/elder_law/2018/03/news-feature-focuses-on-court-appointed-guardian-in-pennsylvania-raising-important-systemic-question.html

Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink

Comments

Who sponsored Byars? She didn’t set up in multiple counties around Philadelphia and gain more than 75 wards in less than three years without help. The professional guardianship system in Pennsylvania has been infiltrated by the criminal element with the full support of the legal community. How many accurate and reconcilable inventories and annual accountings do you think Byars filed?

Everyone in the system passionately defends it, yet the system is dysfunctional and sponsors some of the most inhumane and draconian treatment of the vulnerable and their loving family members. How did Byars get to hold onto people for 6 months after her criminal convictions were disclosed? How many attorneys kept defending her legitimacy versus her victims claims?

Posted by: Rick Black | Mar 6, 2018 6:21:23 AM

Post a comment