Former Outagamie County guardian Jeffrey Schend seeks out-of-county judge (WA)

APPLETON — A former Appleton guardian accused of stealing from the elderly and disabled wants his case to be handled by a judge from outside Outagamie County.

Jeffrey M. Schend, 44, made the request this week in Outagamie County Court. He is accused of six felony theft counts and one misdemeanor count of theft.

The suspected thefts have direct ties to the county’s court system. Schend contracted with Outagamie County beginning in 2004. In his position as corporate guardian, he was appointed by county judges to handle the finances of those deemed incompetent to handle their own affairs.

Schend is scheduled to enter pleas to the charges on Aug. 1.

The county appointed the investigator after receiving complaints last fall that JMS wasn’t paying clients’ bills.

The investigator, attorney Douglas Hahn, found tens of thousands of dollars in transactions from accounts managed by Schend weren’t properly documented. Court records state that Schend wasn’t able to show police where the money went. About $500,000 is missing.

One of Schend’s clients is missing nearly $168,000 from a trust fund that was closed last year. The money was sent to Schend’s business, JMS Guardianship Services. Schend didn’t provide the county 2010 accounting documents regarding the man’s finances, authorities said.

“We do not know what JMS did with the proceeds,” Hahn stated in his report.Register in Probate Sue Lutz told The Post-Crescent she plans to work with Outagamie County’s judiciary on changes to strengthen guardian oversight based on the allegations. She hopes to have revised procedures in place by the year’s end.

Schend remained in the Outagamie County Jail on Friday despite Judge Mark McGinnis’ June 20 decision that cut his bail amount in half.

Schend, who had initially been held on a $100,000 bail, now is required to post $10,000 in cash and $40,000 in property. His attorney, Michael Petersen, filed another motion last week, asking the bond be modified a second time.

What’s a guardian?

Guardianship is a legal process put in place when people can no longer make safe or sound decisions about themselves or their property, according to the National Guardianship Association.A guardian’s responsibilities vary on a case-by-case basis, but often include handling a client’s finances and protecting a client’s assets. In some cases, a court-appointed guardian determines where a client lives, monitors the client’s medical treatment and makes end-of-life decisions.Guardianships begin with a petition to the court. Judges consider evidence in determining whether a person is incompetent, whether guardianship is appropriate, who will serve as guardian and with what authority.Mental illness, developmental disability, physical incapacity and advanced age are among various conditions that have been the basis for appointing guardians, the association says.


Former Outagamie County guardian Jeffrey Schend seeks out-of-county judge
Ex-guardian has ties to Outagamie
July 1, 2011
Appleton Post-Crescent