Thursday, June 30, 2011

Are you Cognitively Impaired or Vitamin Deficient?

By Irene A. Masiello
Certified: Holistic Counselor, Adult Educator & Stress Management Consultant

My book, Paradise Costs, A Victim’s Daughter Fights Back against Elder Abuse, is a chronicle of my father’s deterioration into the abyss of severe cognitive impairment. This was the consequence of Alzheimer’s and resulted in his subsequent abuse and exploitation by neighbors in Walterboro, South Carolina.

Dad’s tragic decline took years. It was heartbreaking to see a robust and vibrant man once captivated by his love for animals and nature become apathetic, depressed and withdrawn.

Writing Paradise Costs took ten years to complete. It was a stressful marathon filled with agonizing memories, requiring intense focus while processing deep sorrow. Most of my time was spent indoors in front of my computer. I’ve attributed some health issues to the stress and, recently, I was diagnosed as a possible diabetic.

Over the course of this past year, I developed severe and crippling pain in my shoulder, rib cage, chest and foot. I felt weak and exhausted all the time no matter how much rest I got. I was unable to concentrate, was unsteady on my feet and unable to make decisions. I felt overwhelmed and anxious over slight matters and somewhat immobilized.

My internist, a wonderful man (and a consultant for Paradise Costs), was looking towards a diagnosis of diabetes, especially, since my Dad was insulin dependent. However, under his supervision, I went on a crash diet and lost over 20 lbs. Fortunately, he diagnosed me as glucose intolerant rather than diabetic.

My glucose numbers were not extremely high. But, rather, they jumped around with great sensitivity to what time I ate, how I slept, the amount of pain I had, stress, etc. The numbers did not follow a pattern and, ultimately, were low enough for my internist to conclude that I needed no medication for diabetes but rather very careful monitoring of carbohydrate and glucose consumption. Exercise was advised but that was tough for me because I was feeling so weak.

Because of a blood issue I have and my hematologist’s orders, I had stopped taking a multi-vitamin years ago. Though I recently asked her again about vitamins, she was adamant. My body is making too many red blood cells and its thought that vitamins would stimulate my bone marrow to produce even more of them.

However, with this new diagnosis of glucose intolerance limiting what I could eat, some vague yet alarming red flags were swirling around my head and I was struggling with them. While somewhat immobilized and beleaguered, I started to wonder if I could be properly nourished since I could not eat fruit, drink a glass of orange juice, have a white potato, etc. How could I consume enough vitamins and minerals to stay healthy now?

I started thinking about the trace minerals I was doing without. I wondered about Vitamin C and my immune system because it seemed that all this pain had started around Christmas last year when I came down with a fever and stayed sick for months. During this time, the symptoms mentioned earlier seemed to be getting worse.

I was struggling to string this together but really, cognitively, I was not sure I was the person I once was. I justified it saying, “Well, none of us are who we used to be.” A couple of my friends seemed to be saying the same things, too, and feeling somewhat like me. More justification came with our saying “we’re all aging.”

Then one friend reported that he had been diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency. Once a gal pal was diagnosed with the same shortly after, I hit the Internet running. What I saw online horrified me for I was described perfectly in the pages of symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. It explained so much. I called my internist who said, “Most people are D deficient so you probably will be too. We’ll check.”

He was shocked at the result and stated he never saw a vitamin D level so low. The normal range of vitamin D in the blood is 30-74. Mine was NINE! The Net said this level of vitamin D deficiency is dangerous.

Vitamin D deficiency is a contributing factor in diabetes and glucose intolerance. It’s thought to help safe guard us against breast, bladder and colon cancer. Deficiency of vitamin D causes body pain, weakness, cognitive impairment, confusion, brittle bones, exhaustion, more.

Vitamin D’s presence in the blood stream regulates the absorption of calcium (a lack of calcium causes osteoporosis, etc.) in the body and my doctor told me my calcium number was high.

The Net says calcium cannot be absorbed without vitamin D and that any slight deviance from the normal calcium range could change someone’s personality both emotionally and cognitively. It pointed out that magnesium was critical to the absorption of both vitamin D and calcium as well.

After only three and a-half weeks of vitamin D therapy, the pain I wrestled with for months was reduced by about 60%. The confusion and lethargy lifted somewhat, I felt more cognitively aware and I started to return to who I was. My glucose numbers came down, too. Finally, I was well enough to start walking without feeling faint.

On an outing with a childhood friend, I remarked, “Imagine what could have happened to me had I fallen and broken a hip, landed in a nursing home, and lost ability to make cogent decisions for myself all because of a vitamin deficiency.”

It’s too easy to look at the changes in oneself and dismiss them as simple aging. It’s more difficult to stay informed and active in the information loop. As we age, our nutritional needs change and, certainly, anyone who is bedridden or a shut-in needs more careful medical supervision and monitoring.

Your physician’s assistance and support is critical. Doctors know a lot but they don’t know everything and, usually, they’re the first ones to admit it. Certainly, mine did.

Our healthcare system has dramatically reduced the quality of medical care. Doctors spend too much of their very valuable time complying with insurance company mandates and doing paperwork rather than practicing the art and science of medicine which they love and have dedicated their lives to.

We, as patients, must remain pro-active and do our homework in partnering with our doctors. With the state of our health care system in shambles and it failing us all, both doctors and patients need to work together as a team.

Please find an informed advocate to help you navigate the system, if possible, and, remember, nutrition is a science. Please discuss your nutritional needs with your physician and ask him or her about consulting with a nutritionist. Many insurance companies will pay for this care.

Question….do you get 15 minutes of sunlight every single day? If not, please ask your doctor for the blood test as soon as possible for you may be vitamin D deficient.

Irene A. Masiello is the author of Paradise Costs, A Victim’s Daughter Fights Back against Elder Abuse,, afterword by Bennett Blum, MD,, and proprietor of Kayla Grace Designs affordable handmade jewelry especially created for baby-boomers see: PLEASE NOTE: The above article is not a replacement for the care of your licensed healthcare professional. Please consult your physician for all your healthcare needs. © Copyright, June 2011, Irene A. Masiello, All rights reserved. Do not reprint without permission of the author. Reach her at

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Matricide—The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Ray Fernandez

On May 9, Judy Phelan got another installment of the pay-off money for her involvement in the death of her own mother. Amalie Phelan had been a clinical psychologist and widow of controversial investigative reporter and best-selling author, James Phelan.

The ongoing saga of the Phelan murder, intended to be a hush job, ended up spilling into the independent media when Judy’s sister, Janet Phelan, survived the attempt to silence her, an attempt botched by the Long Beach Police Department. Janet was unconscious for several days in a Long Beach hospital but ultimately survived the attack, which she states was spearheaded by LBPD Officer Loren Dawson. She has since left the U.S.

If Janet had succumbed, her sister Judith would have been the sole beneficiary of the Phelan estate, valued at around $1 million dollars.

According to the available records, Amalie nearly died in June of 2002, while under the “care” of her daughter, Judith and conservator Melodie Scott, who acted in concert with Redlands attorney J. David Horspòol and a shadowy agent for an alphabet intelligence agency, who goes by the name of “Jack Smith.” ( Judy, who was living with her mother at the time, was the “hands-on” part of the operation.

Janet Phelan was alerted to her mother’s distress and rushed to Temecula from Los Angeles on June 11,2002. She drove her mother to the ER at Rancho Springs Hospital in Murrieta, where Amalie was admitted and emergency surgery was performed. On returning to her mother’s home, Janet Phelan states she discovered evidence at the scene and contacted the Temecula Police.

Two days later, she was served with notice that Melodie Scott has gone to court and obtained a Temporary Restraining Order blocking her from seeing her mother again. In the application for the TRO, Scott falsely states that Janet “unnecessarily” transported her mother to the hospital, thereby upsetting her.

The Restraining order never came to hearing. Instead, Judge Stephen Cunnison signed a permanent restraining order in chambers, violating the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Shortly thereafter, he issued a second Restraining order, blocking Janet from contacting any agency which could have possibly intervened and helped her mother.

“I was restrained from contacting the Department of Justice, the police, Adult Protective services and the Ombudsman for Nursing homes,” states Janet.

The records support Janet’s contention that she reported these events to every appropriate agency of record.

“I called the Temecula Police right after taking Mom to the ER,” she recalls. They came, they took a report which states it went to the D.A. for investigation. The D.A. denied receiving it. I then filed a report with the Special Investigations Unit of the District Attorney’s office, and the report “disappeared.” I filed a report with the California Attorney General. This went to Deputy AG Mark Geiger, who removed it from the system so that it couldn’t be investigated. I then filed a complaint with Geiger’s boss, Dane Gillette. Gillette failed to respond. I finally filed with the United States Department of Justice and got a letter back falsely stating that the statute of limitations had expired—on murder? I don’t think so—and that there was nothing they could do.

“I filed with the Commission of Judicial Performance, the State Bar, APS, the FBI and even with the California Professional Fiduciaries Bureau. There was a blockade at every juncture,” she says.

“I also contacted Internal Affairs at the LBPD after the cops tried to take me down and

I was told—incredibly—that I wasn’t “allowed” to contact Internal Affairs. They cited that second restraining order as a reason not to take my report and threatened me with arrest if I called them again.”

Amalie died shortly thereafter under suspicious circumstances. Janet Phelan was not informed that her mother had died until weeks after she had been buried.

In a concerted effort to reward Judy for her crimes, Melodie Scott first cut Janet off the Trust for a protracted period of time and utilized one of Amalie’s accounts at Bank of America to funnel money to Judy, an account she never reported to the court in the conservatorship proceedings.

The estate has dwindled, due in part to the pay- offs and also to the fact that Janet , who is a beneficiary, survived against all odds. The Trusteeship passed on to the Riverside Public Guardian’s office and in another effort to make sure that Judy is amply rewarded, the Deputy Public Guardian Elizabeth Aquarian recently made false declarations to the court concerning prior accountings in order to tap into Janet’s share and turn it over to Judith. On May 9, Riverside Superior Court Judge Thomas Cahraman signed the order approving this.

“My sister keeps reaping the benefits of attempted murder. It’s all about money for Judy,” she says. “I want her behind bars. But not only is justice being denied, these people are actually padding her pockets with blood money.

“I can hardly believe that this is happening in our country,” declares Janet. “If people are murdering their parents for money, with the full approval and sanction of the State, what does that say about our way of life? What does that say about our values and our system of justice?”

“We have a great system—on paper. In actuality, what we have is utter lawlessness and courts of privilege, abuse and pursuit of the Almighty dollar.”

Judith Phelan could not be reached for comment. Court records indicate that she is living in the San Francisco Bay area under an assumed name.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jeff Rense: “Hitler wasn’t such a bad guy”

Concerns are swirling around the conspiracy circuit as to who Jeff Rense really is and what his real agenda might be. Allegations of neo Nazi affiliations have followed Rense since he first began to host a radio show, back in the nineties. These are the facts:

When approached to run a story on the guardianship crisis, which has been likened to the T-4 program in Hitler’s Germany, Rense responded with an apologia for the Nazis: “It would have moderated after awhile.” When the retort was that it would have “moderated” when Hitler murdered all the people he wanted to, Rense responded in defense of Adolph Hitler. “He wasn’t such a bad guy,” volunteered Rense.

The guardianship crisis has cut a deep slash into the civil rights of an entire generation. Given the brutal disregard evinced for the wards ,it has become a given in the guardianship reform movement that the guardians are actually killing many of their wards, through medical neglect and worse. Assets have been plundered and a subsequent generation, who might stand to inherit, has been impoverished through the actions of unscrupulous guardians.

But Jeff Rense thinks this is a “Jewish conspiracy.” Forget the fact that a disproportionately large number of the victims are Jewish. Forget the fact that a large number of the perpetrators are not. Rense sees a Jew behind every issue and damn the facts!! Full speed ahead…

Radio talk show host and journalist Marti Oakley was recently invited by Rense to come onto the show. Oakley had picked up on the guardianship story and had been running interviews and articles concerning this issue. Rense, however, “forbade” Oakley from discussing this on his show. When it appeared that Oakley would then not appear, he relented and told her she could discuss this in the second half.

According to Oakley, when the commercial break came he asked her if she could continue on with the other issues she was discussing and come back on at a later date to discuss guardianship. She agreed but Rense never got back to her as he had promised.

Nice trick. Oakley was fuming after the show.

Up close and personal, Rense attracts a large audience, hungry for the truth . But in typical counterintelligence fashion, he slides in the poison and those feasting on his anti-government rhetoric may not even notice that they are being fed hate speech. The fact is that the U.S. government is now engaged in killing off its own citizens in a multitude of ways, guardianship being one of the most “unmentionable.”

This reporter contacted Rense a few years back, attempting to get him to cover guardianship. “Be careful, Janet, “ he warned, inexplicably.

Careful? People are being killed in these guardianships. When did “careful” ever have anything to do with saving lives?

For a short period of time, while Rense was opining to get Oakley on his show, his website,, carried a few stories about guardianship. He subsequently removed all the links to these stories.

Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist whose articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The San Bernardino County Sentinel, The Santa Monica Daily Press, The Long Beach Press Telegram, Oui Magazine and other regional and national publications. Janet addresses the heated subject of adult conservatorship, revealing shocking information about the relationships between courts and shady financial consultants. She also covers issues relating to international nuclear weapon treaties. Her poetry has been published in Gambit, Libera, Applezaba Review, Nausea One and other magazines. Her first book, The Hitler Poems, was published in 2005. She currently resides abroad.

You may browse through her articles (and poetry) at

Janet Phelan is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Japan Radiation Coming To The US

By Barbara H. Peterson

Farm Wars

At this point in time, most of us can say “no” to vaccines, genetically modified (GM) food, fluoride, and Big Pharma drugs. But we can’t “just say no” to radiation in the air all around us coming from Japan, and through oceanic contamination resulting from the BP Gulf incident. So, the difficult question is not how do we avoid this contamination, but rather, how we mitigate our exposure.

Let’s face it. We are surrounded by radioactive contaminants in the air, water, soil, and in our food, which is grown outdoors. We cannot control the air, which contaminates the soil, water, and plants. So, if we cannot get away from the problem, then what do we do? We can start by making sure that we have the knowledge to do the right things and collect the right resources to lessen our exposure. The following is a collection of some of the materials and applications that can be used to mitigate radiation exposure.
Personal detoxifying – people and animals

Unless we live in a bubble, our bodies will be contaminated with radioactive particles, so don’t just wait until someone tells you that you have been exposed, do something about it now. There are certain materials that will help detoxify the body without ill effects whether or not you have been exposed to these harmful materials. Some of these are:

•Zeolite Clay
•French Green Clay
•Bentonite Clay
•Baking Soda
•Certain foods

Read it all=>> Here

Monday, June 6, 2011

Attorney Defies Subpoena in Alleged “Murder-For-Money” Scheme

A San Bernardino County attorney has defied a court issued subpoena mandating that he turn over bank records which would allegedly implicate him in a “murder-for-money scheme.” The account in question belonged to a conservatee and was subsequently taken over by the attorney’s client, conservator Melodie Scott.

Attorney J. David Horspool has consistently denied knowledge of any Bank of America account pertinent to Amalie M. Phelan. However, records already obtained show that Horspool and Scott drilled the safety deposit box held in Amalie Phelan’s name at the very Bank of America branch location where the account was situated, calling into question his profession of ignorance.

According to Janet Phelan, Horspool and Scott withheld from the court all records pertaining to this account and also withheld information about two Bank of America VISA cards and used these to pay off Judith Phelan, Amalie’s eldest daughter, who then allegedly withheld Amalie’s necessary cardiac medicine in an effort to kill her in 2002.

Medical records confirm that Amalie Phelan was admitted to Rancho Springs Hospital on June 11, 2002, where she was then operated upon and a pacemaker implanted to regulate her heartbeat. Janet Phelan had transported her to the hospital. Amalie Phelan’s pulse at the time of going into surgery was listed as 37.

Within a couple of days, Janet Phelan was subsequently served with notice that Scott and Horspool had applied for a Restraining Order against her, to legally restrain her from her mother. The application for the RO, signed by Melodie Scott, states that Janet Phelan “unnecessarily” transported her mother to the hospital, thereby causing emotional trauma to her mother.

The matter was to come to hearing on August 1, 2002. Court records and a notarized witness statement confirm that Phelan was in court from the opening to the closure of court and that Judge Stephen Cunnison never called this to hearing and restrained Phelan from her mother without due process.

“This was going to be very simple, “ states Janet Phelan. “I was going to ask the judge to subpoena the medical records, which were at that time only available to the conservator, not to me. I was going to tell him that the hospital trip was absolutely necessary and that as a result of the surgery my mother’s life was saved.

“Judge Cunnison violated the very cornerstone of our legal system—the right to due process. He also ensured my mother’s demise.”

The sanctions for ignoring a court authorized subpoena are severe, involving citation of contempt of court and monetary sanctions. Phelan predicts that Horspool will skate on this.

“The judge accommodated his murderousness back in 02 by restraining me without due process,” she says. “This court has no regard for the law, the Constitution or human life. I will be very surprised if Horspool is sanctioned for his ignoring the subpoena.

“My mother was a government employee for twenty seven years,” adds Phelan. “She had a doctoral degree and was a supervisor at the Long Beach Health Department. But the way the court behaved, she might just as well have been a Jew in Nazi Germany.”

When given the opportunity to respond as to why he has ignored the subpoena which he was served with on April 29, 2011, Horspool attacked Phelan, saying, “I got your idiotic, stupid, insane mentally ill fax…”He goes on to assert that “you previously subpoenaed the same records,” and also suggests that “if you think you got something, file it with the court instead of lying about it like you continually do.” He also states that “You have been provided with everything I have. “

A review of the court records shows no prior subpoenas issued by any party to this case. The record also shows that Phelan filed a lawsuit against Melodie Scott on June 1, 2009. The lawsuit was shut down by Judge Stephen Cunnison on May 5, 2010 at a hearing which was not legally noticed and at which Phelan was not present. During the course of discovery for the lawsuit, Phelan explicitly requested the records of the payments made to Judith Phelan and the court ruled against giving these to her.

Phelan made a police report concerning several bottles of undispensed heart medication on June 11, 2002. The police report states it was forwarded on for investigation. The DA denies receiving the report and no investigation took place.

Judith Phelan is now residing in the San Francisco Bay area under an assumed name.

"I Want Your House! "

By Janet C. Phelan

It seemed that the struggle over the conservatorship of Jean Tanaka couldn’t get more bizarre. Well, it just did.

On June 2, 2011, Tanaka conservator Linda Cotterman asked the court to have Mrs. Tanaka’s daughter, Jeannie, declared to be in contempt of court, an action which may involve jail time and will most likely cost Jeannie her job (Jeannie is an attorney with the State).

Cotterman is apparently steaming that Jeannie Tanaka, who is the Trustee for the Tanaka Trust, has asserted her rights as Trustee and is cleaning up the Westwood house which was left vacant when her mother, Jean Tanaka, was forcibly removed in the summer of 2010.

Jean Tanaka is under a conservatorship and Linda Cotterman is, peculiarly, the conservator, even though the Tanaka Trust documents clearly list Jeannie Tanaka as the person to assume that position.

The fact that Jeannie Tanaka was adhering to advice of her counsel, Robert Canny, in asserting her rights to clean up the property does not seem to concern Linda Cotterman. Jeannie and Jean had been residing together in Mrs. Tanaka's large Westwood home until Cotterman went to court to have Jeannie evicted and her mother taken forcibly from the house. Per the court orders, Jeannie was given three hours to remove her belongings. She moved out in February of 2010.

Upon her return to the house in May of this year, Jeannie found a terrible disarray, which she alleges was the result of Cotterman sacking the house. This is how she describes what she found:

“All of parent’s dresser drawers were emptied! Pictures torn off the walls, paint torn off, many damaged areas requiring painting of especially kitchen and stairway walls. Curtains in bedroom drawn, refrigerator light bulb was put in the ceiling, replacing the 100 watt bulb Mama’s large bathroom trashed clothes, papers, trash thrown all over the counter and floor. All of her expensive perfumes, colognes,cosmetics, toiletries, etc. removed.

Dining room trashed: parents personal belongings pulled from all over the house and piled in the dining room. When attorneys had a meeting in fall 2009 (creutz, reed, lodise, carol white) the room was of course neat and clean.

2 cabinet doors torn off hinges: one in kitchen, one in laundry room.
Expensive carpets in kitchen and laundry room removed and replaced with tile. Told the carpets were dirty and instead of cleaning, were removed. Flooring under the sink had been ripped out and I had to have it replaced. All kitchen pots and pans missing, cabinet shelves emptied, pantry emptied, all recipe books removed. Boxes and boxes of photo albums pulled into the kitchen and stacked All of Mama’s nick knacks removed from the living room. Mama’s 3 mink coats missing, chinchilla coat missing.

Large box of Japanese swords, including numerous national treasures worth millions missing. Upstairs bathroom door frame pulled off wall by someone who locked themselves out of the bathroom. Garage piled high with black trash bags of parents’ personal belongings,
unprotected clothes-moth eaten. Garage trashed: once neatly packed and stacked boxes were rummaged through contents thrown in heaps. Piles and piles of unwashed sheets and clothing found thrown in piles upstairs closet and living room.

Up until Mama was taken to the basement unit, I was not allowed to enter other rooms when I visited Mama. It was when we changed the locks and went in beginning May that I could see the full extent of what the temporary conservators and christine (ed. note—Christine Tanaka, Jeannie’s sister) were doing.”

Jeannie Tanaka then hired a couple of helpers and began spending her weekends trying to clean up the mess. The contempt of court pleadings claim that Jeannie is now living on the property, which a court order last year denied her from doing. Jeannie maintains she lives in her condo in West L.A.

The conservatorship of Jean Tanaka will probably go down in the annals of legal abuse of the elderly in pursuit of their money with the apparent goal here being the Westwood house, valued at several million dollars. The elderly Tanaka, a Japanese American, was detained during WWII in the Death Valley detention center, along with her then infant daughter, Jeannie. The conservatorship was launched in a hearing wherein Tanaka siblings made allegations demonizing Jeannie’s care of her mother, with whom she had been residing for eight years. The court ignored evidence to the contrary and discounted the legal documents, which named Jeannie as conservator and Trustee.

This reporter has reviewed letters and cards previously sent to Jeannie Tanaka by her sister, Christine, congratulating her on the wonderful care she was giving her mother. But things changed abruptly when Mr. Tanaka passed on, leaving the mother more vulnerable. Almost immediately upon his demise, Christine Tanaka filed for conservatorship, attacking her sister Jeannie for the very efforts she had so highly praised her for.

Jeannie must now pay $100 an hour in monitoring fees to see her mother and is restricted to three visits a week. Ironically, one of the allegations hurled at Jeannie in an attempt to wrest the conservatorship from her was that she was isolating her mother.

A medical doctor, Dr. Laura Moire, became concerned that medical care was being withheld Jean Tanaka by her conservator. The doctor then called Adult Protective Services and the police to make a complaint.

In a Kafkaesque maneuver, Judge Reva Goetz then slapped Dr. Moire with a restraining order, prohibiting her from making further reports about the welfare of Jean Tanaka. The fact that Dr. Moire is, as a physician, a mandated reporter of elder abuse didn’t seem to bother Judge Goetz, who seems intent on isolating Mrs. Tanaka from anyone and everyone who might be concerned for her welfare.

Dr. Moire’s report detailed numerous concerns that Mrs. Tanaka’s health was being negatively impacted by Cotterman’s care. Of special note was the discontinuation of physician prescribed supplements which had previously stabilized Mrs. Tanaka’s blood pressure, normalized her cholesterol levels, built bone density, and strengthened her immune system and cognitive functioning. Dr. Moire noted that this discontinuance has been followed by several back -to- back urinary infections, at least four collapses and several hospitalizations where she was transported unconscious by ambulances none of which were brought to the attention of a cardiologist. Mrs. Tanaka has reportedly further suffered weight loss, lack of basic dental care, isolation and restrictive monitoring of highly limited visits with her daughter, Jeannie.

Dr. Moire was also concerned about the apparent placement of Mrs. Tanaka on “comfort care” in the absence of any terminal condition or diagnosis, which has resulted in not only the continued withdrawal of care (such as supplements) which were deemed beneficial to the ninety-five year old woman but the denial of care for other medical problems, including her now painfully swollen hands, extreme fatigue, and erratic blood pressure.

The Tanaka Will and Trust had left all the property to Jeannie, including the Westwood home, located in a prime real estate location. The actions by Cotterman, supported and endorsed by Judge Goetz, have effectively nullified the Will and the Trust.

According to a couple of the helpers who have been assisting in cleaning up the Tanaka residence, Cotterman has lately been hanging around the house, showing up early in the morning and late at night, taking pictures and verbally accosting the helpers. One of the helpers, Nahid , quit the job this past weekend. She told this reporter that Cotterman confronted her on a couple of occasions recently outside the house, demanding information from her and snapping her picture and pictures of her vehicle. Nahid reported she was “frightened” by Cotterman.

In the pleadings to the court to have Jeannie deemed in contempt of court, Cotterman’s attorney made a statement which may reveal Cotterman’s real interest in this case.

Attorney Scott Schomer writes; “If respondent’s position (that all conservatee’s assets belong to the Trust) is correct, then there are no assets in the conservatorship and there is no conservatorship of estate.”

And if that were true, Cotterman and Schomer wouldn’t be able to charge a dime. Conservatorships are very expensive, with legal bills running in the tens of thousands a year and conservatorship fees running a close second.

Calls to Mr. Schomer were not returned.

Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist whose articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The San Bernardino County Sentinel, The Santa Monica Daily Press, The Long Beach Press Telegram, Oui Magazine and other regional and national publications. Janet specializes in issues pertaining to legal corruption and addresses the heated subject of adult conservatorship, revealing shocking information about the relationships between courts and shady financial consultants. She also covers issues relating to international bioweapons treaties. Her poetry has been published in Gambit, Libera, Applezaba Review, Nausea One and other magazines. Her first book, The Hitler Poems, was published in 2005. She currently resides abroad. You may browse through her articles (and poetry) at

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Death of 91-year-old spotlights line between care and killing

Maria 'Concha' Lopez, living with her great-niece, dies weighing 35 pounds and covered with sores. Was the 91-year-old's death murder or natural causes?

By Maria L. La Ganga, Los Angeles Times June 2, 2011

Reporting from Madera, Calif. -- 'Don't leave me," Stephanie Hernandez implored, as she fumbled with her cellphone to dial 911. "I need you. I need you."

Hernandez had just changed her great-aunt's diaper and was coaxing her to take a sip of water when Maria "Concha" Lopez, 91, stopped breathing.

CPR was out of the question, Hernandez told the emergency dispatcher: "She's too fragile. We could break her, her bones." The dispatcher talked the distraught 26-year-old through the basics of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

But when firefighters and paramedics opened the door to the little house on South A Street that December morning, they were immediately overwhelmed. By the stench — urine, feces, rotting flesh. By the mess — soiled diapers, used bandages, a stained mattress.

Most of all, though, by Lopez's body. The bed-bound woman who'd suffered from dementia and shied away from doctors weighed just over 35 pounds and was covered in bedsores, some so deep they bared bone. A metal rod from hip surgery was visible.

Hernandez was arrested and then charged with murdering the woman she had bathed, fed and changed for three years. She would be put on trial, accused not of any overt violence against the woman who had raised her but of failure as a caregiver.

During five weeks of emotional testimony this spring, defense attorneys portrayed Hernandez as a loving niece whose meticulous efforts kept an old woman alive even as she lost 65% of her body weight. Projecting gruesome autopsy photos on a big white screen, the prosecutor described neglect so severe it amounted to criminal negligence.

In the end, the trial showcased the difficult questions facing doctors, courts and families today, when the "old old," 85 and up, are the fastest-growing segment of the population, when more than 43 million Americans care for aging relatives or friends and when neither science nor the law has kept pace.

What is elder abuse? When does inadequate care become criminal? Can the elderly be forced to seek help? And what exactly does a "normal" death look like?

"I would say that first responders and medical examiners haven't seen a lot of cases like this — yet," said Dr. Brad Stuart, chief medical officer for Sutter Care at Home and a researcher in the management of advanced illness. "But this is not going to be an unusual case in a few years."

It is April, mid-trial, and Hernandez reminisces from behind a thick plastic barrier in the visiting area of Madera County jail. She has been held here for more than a year and in the process lost custody of her 4-year-old daughter, Alyanna.

Hernandez had lived on South A Street in this hard-knocks farm town since she was 4 months old. Her mother, an agricultural worker, needed to go back to the fields and left the infant in the care of her four great-aunts — Guadalupe, Ramona, Frances and Concha Lopez.

Guadalupe retired from the fields to care for Hernandez but died when the girl was 12. Neither Guadalupe nor her sisters ever married.

"I was basically her daughter," says a tearful Hernandez. "Her last words were, 'I love you, Stephanie' in the hospital."

Madera Community Hospital is less than a mile from the jail. Hernandez knows the squat, tan facility well; she spent long days and nights there as her great-aunts fell to the scourges of age.

"Ramona declined in my senior year in high school, '01," says Hernandez. "She had a massive heart attack and a mild stroke at home. I was there. She had fallen.... I picked her up and called 911."

Frances died in 2003. Ramona went three years later. Concha Lopez had watched her sisters die in medical facilities and made her family promise to spare her such an end.

Then she broke her hip.

Hernandez had been working her way through Fresno City College by selling cellphones. She left school when she became pregnant with Alyanna in 2006, and her family pressed her into caring for Lopez.

Read the complete story in the L.A. Times

Seniors for Sale: Hiding harm: the human toll