Musician Danny Tate’s conservatorship: a case of caring or corruption? (part one)

The actions of a Tennessee probate court will once again come under scrutiny as an Aug. 20 hearing becomes the next chapter in Nashville musician Danny Tate’s effort to undo the near depletion of his lifelong accumulation of assets and to stop the continued assault on any future prosperity – circumstances directly resulting from a 32-month “temporary” conservatorship (guardianship) initiated by his brother David Tate, facilitated by attorney Paul T. Housch and sanctioned by Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Randy Kennedy.

An awareness campaign moves forward as Tate friend Kevin Montgomery has blogged on Everything you need to know about the Danny Tate case-brilliantly presented by Michael Hoskins., the Friends for Danny Tate’s Defense Facebook group remains active and the Free Danny Tate web site continues providing sardonically witty commentary on case players and developments.  With Milwaukee-based investigative consultant Ira Robins’ compelling presentation of case documents and related information on Nashville Criminals, the side of Danny Tate’s case either ignored or previously unaddressed through the Tennessee legal system is at least now available for public consumption.  This information should serve as an important warning to an unsuspecting public regarding the full power and potential of probate actions.

The Aug. 20 hearing will largely center on a Danny Tate Motion for Relief from Judgment prepared by his attorney, Michael G. Hoskins, which asks the court to set aside prior orders that will further diminish Tate’s financial position on the basis of “Petitioner David E. Tate’s fraud on the court and misconduct throughout this proceeding.”  The motion gives background on a series of visits starting in May 2007 that David Tate paid to his brother Danny who, prior to the conservatorship, lived unassisted in his Nashville home and was completely self-sufficient.

At the time of David’s visit all of Danny’s financial obligations, including his home mortgage, home utilities, child support payments, insurance premiums and credit cards were current.  As a self employed musician, composer and songwriter, Danny had amassed a significant estate valued at over 1.5 million dollars.  Danny was living completely unassisted in his West Meade, Nashville home, and paying his bills with his own money.

Using his valid and unrestricted Tennessee Driver’s License, Danny drove his own vehicles wherever he needed to handle his affairs.  Danny had not been charged, arrested or convicted of any crimes.  Danny had no traffic infractions, moving violations or other run-ins with the law.  Danny had not been admitted to any hospitals or emergency rooms for detoxification or for any other reason.  Danny had no prior history of psychosis, and had never been admitted to a psychiatric facility.  Danny had not threatened harm to himself or anyone else.  There were no complaints or incident reports from Danny’s neighbors.  There were no nuisance citations or environmental citations involving his residence.  Danny was minding his own business in the privacy and sanctity of his own home.

The motion includes documentation of Danny Tate’s then-financial status and further describes how this visit only culminated in a conversation about Tate’s drug use and if “Danny was ‘ready to get better or not.’”  David Tate reportedly saw nothing to merit immediate medical attention or hospitalization and instead returned to his Memphis home with Danny Tate having agreed to research options for entry into a rehab program – actions which Danny Tate took such that within a week he was traveling alone to a recovery program in Antigua, West Indies.  Although Danny Tate was asked to leave the Crossroads Centre prematurely for allegedly leaving campus without permission, his general competence was further demonstrated in his notifying David Tate of the development and subsequently making his travel arrangements and returning to Nashville alone and unassisted.

This series of events appears to have set the stage for entry of a “Recovery Coach” who was allegedly to accompany Danny Tate to Arizona for a month-long Native American Sweat Lodge ceremony.  Under this scenario, the motion details David Tate’s testimony of how Danny Tate agreed, on June 15, 2007, to give his brother power of attorney and that David was “a little concerned that Danny was so high when he did all this.”  Additional David Tate testimony quoted indicates that, at that time, his real plan was to “have Danny committed to an in-patient psychiatric facility for intense psychiatric treatment for about eighteen (18) months.”  The motion notes this as being the plan “even though he (David Tate) knew nothing about drugs, addition or recovery.”

Further detailed is David Tate deposition testimony describing how on the same day, while his brother was still high, they went to a bank and added David as a full signatory on Danny Tate’s checking and savings accounts.  Additionally described is David Tate contacting his Memphis attorney to have a power of attorney drafted and how “Danny was not advised by counsel before signing the power of attorney.”

The next day evidently brought David Tate, Danny Tate and the Recovery Coach, David Warren Vandershuit, to a walk-in UPS Store “where Danny executed a durable power of attorney appointing David as his attorney-in-fact.  According to David, the first witness was Mr. Warren (Recovery Coach) and the second witness was ‘the guy there at Kinko’s.’”  Further questioning for clarification yielded David Tate testifying that an employee (notary) at the store notarized the document while a “total stranger” witnessed the signing – a person that he first identified as male, but later said “I think it was a she, now that I think about it.”

The motion states:  “According to David, Danny had sufficient time to recover and was no longer under the influence when he signed over the power of attorney.”  It also describes how on that day with the power of attorney executed, David Tate took his brother’s cash, credit cards, checkbook, house keys, P.O. Box keys and other personal effects before returning that day to Memphis.  In June 2007, the motion tells of David Tate redirecting all of Danny Tate’s personal and business mail to his Memphis residence and that in addition to opening and reading the mail, he withheld it from his brother until December 2007.  “David even took control of Danny’s email accounts, changed the passwords, and began reading Danny’s business and personal email.”  These steps appear a calculated effort to isolate Danny Tate from his personal and professional life and the mail redirection also enabled David Tate to cut off his brother’s access to cash by diverting his publishing royalty income checks into an undisclosed account.

On Nashville Criminals, Ira Robins provides documents alleging that David Tate used a fraudulent Durable General Power of Attorney to gain initial control of Danny Tate’s finances.  Per Robins’ investigation, the power of attorney signed by Danny Tate was only for health care and “had nothing to do with his financial dealings, bank accounts, retirement accounts, or business interests in any way.”  He contends the signature (third) page from the health care document was combined with two other pages of a Durable General Power of Attorney and presented to financial institutions as a legitimate document.

The document discrepancies discovered by Robins’ investigation along with the conduct and judgment depicted in David Tate’s deposition testimony and presented in Danny Tate’s Motion for Relief from Judgment create reasonable questions of the groundwork that even led to Tate’s “temporary” conservatorship.

The next installment of “Musician Danny Tate’s conservatorship:  a case of caring or corruption?” will provide a further look at the steps and justification leading to Judge Randy Kennedy’s determination that Tate was ever a “disabled” person.

For more info:

Nashville musician continues fight against probate court’s assault on personal, property rights (July 11, 2010)

Nashville probate court tags musician Danny Tate with conservatorship ‘freedom tax’ (June 16, 2010)

Nashville probate court still center of musician’s conservatorship (guardianship) dispute (June 7, 2010)

Musician Danny Tate freed from conservatorship, assets still targeted in Nashville probate court (May 30, 2010)

Danny Tate conservatorship cases sees increased media activity with AP coverage (May 22, 2010)

Musician Danny Tate’s conservatorship brings scrutinization of probate issue (May 18, 2010)

Musician Danny Tate shows “fight for your life” aspect of Nashville (and other) probate courts (May 3, 2010)

Austin musicians (and others) beware the guardianship plight of Nashville rocker Danny Tate (April 11, 2010)

Lou Ann Anderson is an advocate working to create awareness regarding the Texas probate system and its surrounding culture.  She is the Online Producer at www.EstateofDenial.com and a Policy Advisor with Americans for Prosperity – Texas Foundation.  Lou Ann may be contacted at info@EstateofDenial.com.

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