Guardianship case plays out in Nevada, California

Calif. Agency Investigating DuDeck “Abduction” Case
Fred Couzens
Las Vegas Tribune
August 26, 2009
http://www.lasvegastribune.com/index.php?page=A1&edition=08/26/09
http://www.lasvegastribune.com/index.php?page=A2
Charles Pascal of Marina Del Rey, Calif., the son-in-law of Marcy DuDeck who was allegedly taken without permission from her third-floor living quarters at the Sunrise Senior Assisted Living facility in the Los Angeles beach community of Playa Vista, Calif. three weeks ago while under the guardianship of former Clark County Public Administrator Jared Shafer, said last week that the Adult Protective Services Program of the Los Angeles County Community and Senior Services has begun an investigation into DuDeck’s August 4 “abduction.”

“After analyzing information (from the Las Vegas Tribune August 19 article about DuDeck’s guardianship story), the agency feels it has enough (information) to open a case,” Pascal wrote in an August 20 e-mail. “My attorney, John Guy in Los Angeles, said it is very rare for them to open a case.”

An August 21 call to Adult Protective Services in Los Angeles revealed Las Vegas Tribune article stirs interest in elder abuse officials indirectly that a case had been opened.

Without coming out and confirming or denying the question, Patricia Senette-Holt, the public information officer for Los Angeles County Community and Senior Services did say, “We can not comment on that because by law we need to protect a client’s privacy.”

According to Pascal, who filed the complaint on behalf of his 91-year-old mother-in-law, said he was told by the chief administrator of Adult Protective Services that the case would be assigned to a social worker in the agency’s west side office for investigation.

“It was all because of your article,” Pascal told Las Vegas Tribune on August 20. “I emailed them your story and this is what happened.”

DuDeck’s disappearance in early August from the facility that opened in 2006 is wrapped up in a mysterious scenario filled with intrigue and possible civil or criminal action, which Pascal related in telephone conversations that comprised much of the Aug. 19 article.

On August 6, “…according to Jason Malone, the director of Sunrise (at Playa Vista), he told me… that he had gotten a call from Patience Bristol, an employee of Jared Shafer, who told him Lance (DuDeck, Marcy’s 56-year-old son) was coming into town and would be taking his mother outside of Sunrise for extended periods of time,” Charles said. “Jason said ‘you can’t do that because… (the California conservator, Winnie Weshler) …had put an order out that no one was to take her out.  Patience hung up with Jason and, according to Jason, he wouldn’t tell me the name, (Patience) made a second call to a staff member stating that… Weshler had ok’d for Lance to take her out, but that the staff member said ‘no, you can’t do it.’ That was about, according to Jason, 10:30 on the morning of August 4. As best we can see it, Lance came in about 1 p.m. on that day and Sunrise had done a very strange thing. They told the receptionist named Stephanie to take the day off and they brought down the third-floor supervisor at 12 o’clock on that day to run the reception desk. The third floor is where Marcy stayed. It’s called the Reminiscence Floor that Sunrise uses for Alzheimer’s. So she’s on the desk, Lance comes in and all of a sudden out of a secure facility Marcy is whisked away and now she’s in Vegas.”

According to Pascal, the senior living facility is supposed to maintain written orders for all activities of its residents, but in Marcy’s case, there are no such orders allowing her to be taken on August 4.

“They claim in their handbook that they require written orders, but in this case there is no written order,” Pascal said.  “Now here comes the bomb. The logs for August 4, according to Stephanie, have completely disappeared.  No one can find them.  They have Monday of the week, Wednesday of the week, Thursday and Friday of the week, but for some reason or another, Tuesday went into the Twilight Zone.  Tuesday is gone. Goodbye Ruby Tuesday. So, we wondered about that because that’s the day Lance took her.”

Meanwhile, DuDeck is here in Nevada and is being cared for until the day in the not-too-distant future when she can return to Southern California where her daughter, 60-year-old Heidi Pascal,and Charles live.

According to the official state records of Adult Protective Services, a division of California’s Health and Human Services Agency, the division worked a monthly average of 14,583 elder abuse cases statewide during the first six months of 2009 while Los Angeles County, the site of the DuDeck case, averaged 3,713 cases a month during the same period.

As for the total number of elder abduction cases from January to June of this year, there were 35 in California with five of them determined to be confirmed cases. Los Angeles County accounted for six of the state’s 35 elder abduction cases, but all of the five confirmed abduction cases in California were recorded outside the county.

Guardianship Nightmare Ending for California Couple
Former Public Administrator Jared Shafer Implicated in Plot
Fred Couzens
Las Vegas Tribune
August 19, 2009
http://www.lasvegastribune.com/index.php?page=A1&edition=08/19/09
http://www.lasvegastribune.com/index.php?page=A3
Heidi Pascal of Marina Del Rey, Calif.wants nothing more for her mother, Marcy DuDeck, a ward of Clark County Family Court, than to let her live out the rest of her life in the peace and sanctity of a place where she’ll be safe and cared for.

But the past three years have been a living nightmare, a legal Hell if you will, for the daughter and her husband, Charles Pascal, who have tried to achieve that goal for the 91-year-old widow suffering from mild dementia.

It’s not enough, as Heidi found out disappointingly, that she tries to do as much as she can to become her mom’s guardian so she can effectively and judiciously administer the estate’s trust account because to do so, as she also discovered, you have to be a resident of Nevada regardless of how close you live to the ward.

That means a ward of the court can be living in Laughlin and the guardian can be located in Denio, Nev., 710 miles to the north and everything is legal, but if a loved one lived in Bullhead City, Ariz. – a stone’s throw across the Colorado River – they could not be the ward’s guardian.

“This was an issue when it first came up because the Nevada statute won’t allow the court to appoint someone a guardian of a person unless they’re a Nevada resident,” said Vincent Kostiw, the Pascal’s attorney in Las Vegas.  “So that was a problem with Heidi, initially, that she was a California resident. So they had a friend who lived here in town and they were petitioning the court to be co-guardians; to have a local guardian and Heidi be coguardians for Marcy, but it didn’t work out. (The court) never accepted that because the statute requires that if you’re co-guardians you’ve got to look at layers of sanguinity. You’ve got to look at blood first and if blood is exhausted then you start looking at friends and distant relatives.”

The reason Heidi’s co-guardianship plan got tossed out of court is because her brother, Lance DuDeck, lives in Las Vegas and, because of the blood line, he should have been the co-guardian.  The two of them have differences, though, which would have made even a workable co-guardianship unworkable.

But that didn’t matter. A report from two Senior Citizens Law Project attorneys appointed as temporary guardians uncovered a number of alleged “human flaws” in both Heidi and Lance that made either one singly, or both collectively, unfit to take part in their mother’s guardianship.

As a result of the report, Family Court Commissioner Jon Norheim at a May 1, 2007 evidentiary hearing declared both adult children – Heidi is 60 and Lance is 56 – as “unsuitable to be guardian” of their mother.

With neither Heidi nor Lance being able to take care of their mother’s affairs, the court appointed former Clark County Public Administrator Jared Shafer as the sole guardian of Marcy DuDeck and her trust account.

But the DuDeck story started long before that.

Heidi’s 59-year-old husband, Charles, who earned a masters degree in counseling from Loyola-Marymount University of Los Angeles and now performs rehabilitation counseling, has kept tabs of every moment, every action in his mother-inlaw’s case and paints an informative palette of what has transpired from that family’s perspective.

Following the death of Marcy’s husband on Mar. 16, 2006, Lance lived with his mom until his live-in girlfriend called Heidi during the summer with disturbing news about Lance.

She told us “…Lance is making methamphetamine in the garage and he’s drinking, he sleeps to noon and his mother isn’t getting fed and wants us to come over there,” Charles Pascal related.  “Based on the violence, we did the next best thing and called the cops. Las Vegas Metro went to the house and found the girlfriend had a black eye, she was beat up and so they promptly removed Marcy from (her) home (at 2709 Showcase Drive in Sun City Summerlin) and placed her in a facility called Chancellor Gardens.”

Heidi made a couple of visits to the 150-bed adult group care facility for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients at The Lakes off West Sahara Avenue before taking her mom to California in mid-November 2006.

“…When we got to… Chancellor (Gardens) we found the conditions were filthy and Marcy said, ‘Heidi, I want to come with you to California. Please get me out of here’ even though she was placed there by… (Clark County Department of) Social Services,” Charles said. “Marcy actually begged Heidi to take her to California… that was in September 2006. We went back again in November and Marcy didn’t look well and again she begged us and we went in front of Commissioner Norheim. (He) told us that we could submit a plan, but that he wasn’t really going to listen to it. When our attorney asked why, (Norheim) said because we weren’t residents of Nevada and therefore we really didn’t have any say in the care of Marcy.”

A subsequent visit to Norheim’s courtroom evoked a similar response.

“This time we saw Marcy had gotten a lot worse; she really looked bad,” Charles said.  “At that point, Heidi and I took matters into our own hands and Heidi flew back on Nov. 18 and right in the middle of breakfast walked out of Chancellor with Marcy and brought her to Los Angeles. We then put her into Sunrise Senior Assisted Living (in Playa Vista, Calif.), but before we did it we had her checked out by the doctor and we found her weight had dropped, in the care of Chancellor, from 138 to 114 pounds and she could hardly walk. She hadn’t had a bath in a long time. She smelled awful. Her hair hadn’t been washed for a long time. I’d say weeks or months, but let’s just say a very long time.”

Taking DuDeck from Nevada to California didn’t sit well with the court here, but Marcy won out anyway.

“The courts in Nevada were enraged at what Heidi had done and they had an evidentiary hearing in May 2007…they had issued two court orders to bring Marcy back and we refused on two grounds,” Charles continued.  “They insisted she be put back in the same place she’d been taken out of, Chancellor Gardens, and they weren’t going to do anything to police Lance who had been taking meth and had been yelling and screaming at his mother whenever he was there, so we said she’s staying here. The guardians ad litem (who wrote the May 1, 2007 report) came out here and they said they had never seen a place as wonderful as Sunrise. They ruled at the evidentiary hearing that Marcy could stay in California permanently and that Jared Shafer would be appointed to be the guardian of the trust.”

But a year later, the Pascals noticed what they thought were irregularities in billings for services by Shafer the guardian.

“… (When) we got the first accounting… we saw well over $80,000 had been taken out of the estate for doing absolutely nothing,”  Charles claimed. “Charges came out like billing us $60 to get a $20 credit, $1,500 visits that never took place, phone conversations that never happened with the family with us being named as the people in the phone conversation…”

All of this while Heidi took care of her mom who was living in California at the time.

“Exactly, and he really wasn’t doing anything because Heidi was taking her mother to the doctor, Heidi was handling all of the medicine, Heidi was doing everything… he was charging us $225 (an hour) and then he also set up other companies like certain business services.  He’s got three separate companies that he set up. In California, it’s against the law for a guardian to have other companies to bill. What he would do, he would put in his bill for $225 and then add AVID Business Services after that.”

A check of both the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office and the Clark County Business License database failed to show up a business titled AVID Business Services or Shafer’s name attached to such a business. His name is attached to Professional Fiduciary Services of Nevada, Inc. as president and resident agent – a company with origination papers filed in Carson City in mid-September 2002, more than three months before he left public office – while he and his wife, Claire, are named as managing members of JCS1, LLC.

The Pascals objected to more than 210 individual billing charges, most of them under $100, made by Shafer to the court – things like $25 to pick up a court order when $187 had already been paid for the same service or a bank account management fee of $50 when $20.83 had already been paid for the same service – but Commissioner Norheim “…having reviewed the petition and amended objection” nevertheless went along with Shafer’s charges and denied the Pascals an evidentiary hearing to look further at the billing.

“The fees and costs incurred by the guardian, and those professionals hired by the guardian, are consistent with what this court anticipated when it appointed (Shafer) to serve as guardian,” Norheim found, adding “Although the parties are entitled to an evidentiary hearing this court is concerned that an evidentiary hearing… will be extremely costly to (Marcy), and therefore finds that… a hearing is not in the best interests of (Marcy.)”

From that court appearance in mid-November 2008, to the summer of 2009, Heidi tried through the California courts to get Shafer out as guardian and get her mom’s trust account into the control of Morgan Stanley,the financial services firm where Marcy’s husband, Michael, wanted the account before his death.

She succeeded in getting a California conservator (the same as a guardian in Nevada) named, but it didn’t include her.

“Well, we started the proceedings and (Chief District Court) Judge (Art) Ritchie (of Clark County) called the California court and started saying that Heidi was no good and Heidi was this,” Charles related. “So when we went into court, the California courts listened to Judge Ritchie and put a temporary conservator here in California that took Heidi completely out of the loop even to the point Heidi could no longer take her mom to the doctor, she couldn’t take her to lunch, she couldn’t take her to the hairdresser, she could do absolutely nothing, no church, no nothing. This guardian named Winnie Weshler was appointed and… she told us point blank in a meeting in February… that she was going to follow the directives of Jared Shafer.”

On August 6, Marcy was set to testify in court that she wanted Heidi to be her conservator and take care of her, but  according to Charles, Shafer didn’t want that to happen.

Mysteriously, two days earlier,Marcy disappeared from her California living facility under suspicious circumstances, only to end up in Las Vegas under the watchful eye of Shafer.

On August 6, “…according to Jason Malone, the director of Sunrise (at Playa Vista), he told me… that he had gotten a call from Patience Bristol, an employee of Jared Shafer, who told him Lance was coming into town and would be taking his mother outside of Sunrise for extended periods of time,” Charles said.  “Jason said ‘you can’t do that because… Weshler… had put an order out that no one was to take her out. Patience hung up with Jason and, according to Jason, he wouldn’t tell me the name, (Patience) made a second call to a staff member stating that…Weshler had ok’d for Lance to take her out, but that the staff member said ‘no, you can’t do it.’ That was about, according to Jason, 10:30 on the morning of August 4. As best we can see it, Lance came in about 1 p.m. on that day and Sunrise had done a very strange thing. They told the receptionist named Stephanie to take the day off and they brought down the third-floor supervisor at 12 o’clock on that day to run the reception desk. The third floor is where Marcy stayed. It’s called the Reminiscence Floor that Sunrise uses for Alzheimer’s. So she’s on the desk, Lance comes in and all of a sudden out of a secure facility Marcy is whisked away and now she’s in Vegas.”

According to Pascal, the senior living facility is supposed to maintain written orders for all activities of its residents, but in Marcy’s case, there are no such orders allowing her to be taken on August 4.

“They claim in their handbook that they require written orders, but in this case there is no written order,” Pascal said.  “Now here comes the bomb. The logs for August 4, according to Stephanie, have completely disappeared.  No one can find them.  They have Monday of the week, Wednesday of the week, Thursday and Friday of the week, but for some reason or another, Tuesday went into the Twilight Zone. Tuesday is gone. Goodbye Ruby Tuesday. So, we wondered about that because that’s the day Lance took her. So now, as of (August 10), there was an order issued in the court that Heidi or Lance can not call, contact, visit or see the mother in Vegas. We know where she’s at right now; at Jump for Joy Care No. 3 located at 7881 Rainshower Dr.) in Las Vegas.  Heidi is now banned so she can’t find out how her mother is. Her mother’s been in dementia, but the one thing the mother knows is that Heidi talked to her every day. Heidi always brought her a nut bar, watched TV with her, spent an hour to two hours with her every single day for the last three years and that has just been taken away.”

Last week at a hearing before Commissioner Norheim, he agreed Marcy should be in California.  He set a September 9 hearing to see how things are progressing.

“A California judge wants Marcy back and the Nevada judge would like her back if she can travel safely, so we’re looking into whether she can travel safely and, in the alternative, looking to put her in the best possible facility here in Nevada,” Kostiw, Heidi’s attorney, said after the hearing. “The commissioner does want her to see her kids, but under some restrictions because both children (have because both children (have made it) a tug of war.”

When the Pascals got word of the decision, they were ecstatic.

“When we heard Marcy was coming back, I let out a big whoop you could hear for miles and Heidi started to laugh and then she started to cry and then she jumped up and down; she was that delighted to know her mom was going to be returning and she was going to safe,” Charles said the night of Norheim’s decision. “So, in that part of the battle we’re happy, but one of the other things I’ll tell you is this is one battle in a long war because basically Shafer is still taking money from the estate for doing absolutely nothing and we’re going to have to try to fight that in the California proceedings.”

Attorney Cathy Mazzeo, who has represented Shafer in recent court proceedings, wasn’t able to shed any light on her client’s actions. “Unfortunately, my client and I cannot comment on claims or allegations that have not been presented in the form of actual litigation,” Mazzeo wrote in an August 14 e-mail. “Due to HIPAA regulations we are also unable to comment on matters relating to Ms. DuDeck’s health, which was the focal point of Wednesday’s hearing. However, in an effort to share with you the history in this case, I am attaching a couple of the Court’s previous orders.”

The Pascals have yet another court date September 8 before California District Court Commissioner Reva Goetz, the same judge who ruled in the Britney Spears custody case last year, to get Shafer off and Heidi on as Marcy’s guardian as well as get the trust account transferred to Morgan Stanley.

“So that’s the battle we’re fighting right now and then, of course, as far as Shafer is concerned, we’re looking at our options… in terms of what horrible things he’s done to the estate and we’re looking to investigate Sunrise’s culpability,” Charles added. “Weshler may decide to put (Marcy) back in Sunrise (SeniorLiving at Playa Vista) and if she does, we are definitely violently opposed to it; we’ll vehemently protest it because their security was breached. We don’t know if it will be breached again so that’s our other concern. All in all, when we take a look at it from the hilltop, the fact that Marcy is going to be safe and out of the hands of where she is, is very, very delightful to us.”

Former Public Official Defends His Actions After Term
July 25, 2007
KVBC/News 3 (Las Vegas)
http://www.kvbc.com/Global/story.asp?s=3208017
Ignorance of the law is typically not a defense, but that’s what a former public official is using as his defense today in a hearing before the state ethics commission. News 3 Investigators have been digging deeper into allegations of misuse of public office.

Jared Shafer served as Clark County Public Administrator for more than 20 years. His job was to handle estates when someone died and had no known relatives who could do so. Although Shafer’s been out of that public office for two and a half years, what he did at the end of his term is still plaguing him today.

Money is said to be the root of all evil, and today it’s the root of a contentious case before the state ethics panel. At issue is whether former Public Administrator Jared Shafer misused his office to get a lucrative contract. “To get money from the wrongful death suit.”

Terry Williams’s father, Charles, died in November 2002, allegedly as a result of nursing home negligence. He left a will, in which he gives all his assets to his daughter Terry, making no provisions for any of his other children. “They just weren’t close. They were never close. My brother didn’t even want to visit my dad.”

But it’s her brother who lived in Texas, who initiated the wrongful death lawsuit, and had Jared Shafer appointed co-administrator of an estate to which the brother legally had no right. “My dad is probably just mad, I mean, just beyond belief. He would never want to see me have to fight all of these people this way.”

The part of that fight that brought her here today has to do with timing. When Shafer left public office, and when he signed on to co-administer Charles Williams’ estate. “He was retiring from office and the documents seemingly were signed and prepared prior to that, but then filed the day after he left office, so it just was troubling.”

Mark Hutchison is the State Ethics Commissioner. “Is there any question that at the time you signed the petition on January 2, 2003, you were acting in a private capacity, but you were still a public officer?”

“Yes, I agree with that.”

Shafer agrees, but says he didn’t know he was still in public office, mistaking when his term really ended. “I’ve been fed so many inconsistencies, I can’t begin to understand.” Shafer also fed the ethics commission inconsistencies. When asked what he’d planned to do when he left the public administrator position, he said, “I was going to kick back a little bit. I told all my friends that had asked that if you needed help, I would be available. I didn’t have any plans to do anything.”

But in fact, three months prior to leaving office, he opened a bank account and set up a private fiduciary corporation to handle cases just like that of Charles Williams. “This was no opportunity. This was helping somebody out. The word opportunity indicates you’re going to make money. There was no money to be made in this thing.”

There was according to a petition he filed with the court several weeks after leaving office. In it, he asks for compensation at the rate of $200 per hour. “The documents scream for themselves.” The News 3 Investigators have also obtained documents suggesting further impropriety, showing Jared Shafer still personally holds real estate that was put in his name in his official capacity as public administrator.

Share
News
  • Lance DuDeck

    Fred Couzens
    Las Vegas Tribune Article published on August 26, 2009
    Mr. Fred Couzens, “Guardianship Plays Out in Nevada & California. I was appalled and troubled you would publish lies with no evidence from one sided disgruntled family member on who I caught stealing over $200,000.00 of my mother’s life savings. You are a discredit professionally and to your employer; you skills equal grocery reading material. You have stepped over the line without researching other sides from all parties concerned, i.e.; Family, Attorneys, Court Orders on the Pascal’s and other Witnesses concerned. I have forward what you have written to my attorneys in Nevada and California for further review and for any actions for negative printing.
    APPALLED READER

  • FamilyFriend777

    Mr. Lance DuDeck, you are the one that aided Mr. Shafer to steal from your mother, not too mention you kidnapped her, based on what witnesses heard and saw. Shame on you.

  • Charles Pascal

    Lance DuDeck: I read your comment and as usual your meth is showing. You forgot that you told us you wanted your mother to die so you could get her money. You forgot that Marisa tried to hurt your mother and you stood by and let it happen. You lost your memory of the police being called and the cops removing your mother because you were making meth in the garage. So now you have the money and Marisa is going to take it from you. You told us that you were going to wind up in a box. I have just the box for you. Crawl in and die. The world will be better off with out you.

  • Pingback: Client Kidnapped | winifredweshler