Sunday, April 03, 2005

Schiavogate --Following the Money

Schiavogate --Following the Money

by Fintan Dunne, BreakForNews.com
April 3, 2005
http://wagnews.blogspot.com/2005/04/schiavogate-following-money.html


Just beneath the surface of the Terri Schindler-Schiavo case, lie serious issues beyond the divisive headline controversy over her right to live or die. These are straightforward criminal issues involving incapacitated patients and their often considerable assets; the hospices which care from them; their legal guardians; and pivotally, the judges and lawyers who oversee their financial and legal affairs.

Although these concerns apply to many more incapitated people than Terri Schiavo, the spotlight shone on her case has uncovered a web of facts which paint a microcosmic picture of potential institutionalized fraud, conspiracy and coverup.

It's a story remarkable for the close connections between judicial, legal, law enforcement and political figures prominently involved in Schiavo case. This edited compilation of those facts has been prepared by BreakForNews.com Editor, Fintan Dunne -drawn from the comprehensive investigations and articles published by The Empire Journal online.

INSIDE THE SCHIAVO WEB


In the wake of Terri Schiavo's court-mandated death from starvation, Michael Schiavo is reportedly in hiding and seeking police protection after his wife's remains were cremated Saturday morning. Terri had sustained serious brain damage in 1990 as the result of a suspicious incident at her home when only Michael Schiavo was present.

Judge George W. Greer may have a vested interest in the death of Terri Schindler-Schiavo. Her death may make moot Greer’s own complicity in alleged violations of guardianship laws and well as the alleged cover-up of criminal wrongdoing in the matter -an obstruction of justice.

The plethora of alleged improprieties in the Schiavo case gives immediate cause for the appointment of a special prosecutor into alleged wrongdoing of Michael Schiavo, but also the alleged conspiracy, collusion, fraud by Judge Greer.

According to review of Greer’s handling of the Schiavo case conducted by The Empire Journal, Greer has consistently failed to follow Florida guardianship which aim to prevent unscrupulous guardians looting the assets of their wards.

Texas business Michael Bradle filed a formal complaint March 28 with Florida’s Judicial Qualifications Committee. Bradle wrote that he was complaining of “Judge Greer’s total mishandling of the Terri Schiavo case. I am also complaining of ex parte communications and his refusal to recuse himself amid obvious conflicts of interests”.

Bradle believes that a grand jury should be empaneled to conduct an independent investigation in the Schiavo case.

Late last year, Bradle filed a complaint with the State Bar of California against Thomas Sneddon Jr., the Santa Barbara District Attorney in the Michael Jackson case, alleging that the DA had mishandled the Jackson investigation and had a personal vendetta against Jackson. Bradle said he wasn’t a Jackson fan but had gotten involved because he thought the prosecutor had abused the powers of his office.


FOLLOWING THE MONEY

Former chief Judge F. Dennis Alvarez of the 13th Circuit, Hillsborough County, says that Pinellas County has historically resisted guardianship reform. Perhaps that’s because there’s big money to be made among lawyers and other players in guardianships -particularly in the disposition of assets of wards in addition to the guardian fees.

Despite testimony and sworn affidavits by caregivers attesting to the alleged abuse, neglect and exploitation of Terri Schiavo allegedly at the hands of Michael Schiavo, Greer has steadfastly refused to consider any of the allegations. Robert Schindler said in November, 2002 that over 2½ years, Greer had made about 60 adverse decisions against Terri and her family.

Greer sealeding the report of one investigation by the state’s Department of Children and Families on the urging of DCF chief counsel, Frank Nagatani, another a financial contributor to Greer. The judge also refused to give any consideration to medical opinions that Mrs. Schiavo's injuries were consistent with a strangulation attempt which cut off blood supply to her brain for at least 4 to 5 minutes causing her brain damage. X-rays show that she received broken bones and other injuries on or around the same time as her alleged health problem on the day in question.

Also critical of the way that the Sixth Circuit Court judges handle guardianships is Robert W. Melton, chief deputy director internal audit division, certified public accountant, certified fraud examiner with the Pinellas County Circuit Court.

Melton says that Pinellas judges, which include George Greer, not only keep court records hidden from public view but are anxious to extend the cloak of secrecy to the audits.

“The practices I have seen in the short time I have been involved in guardianships is shocking”, Melton said.

During public hearings conducted by the Florida Guardian Task Force appointed by Florida legislators to address guardianship reform, Melton testified that in his office was being “stonewalled” in their attempts to audit Pinellas County guardianships.

“This ranges from guardians that refuse to submit to an audit unless a court order is received, to judges that question the authority of the clerk to use professional auditing staff to conduct the audits”.

While Melton advocates opening the guardianship process to public review, Greer is opposed to that practice. Melton told the task force that there have been times when a Pinellas judge, whom he did not name, has prevented clerk’s auditors from examining the entire record of a guardianship case.

Melton told the task force that the assets of wards are being transferred into pooled trusts that he says operate imprudently outside the supervision of the courts. He adds that the real estate of wards is being sold at below-market prices to land trusts whose owners don’t have to be disclosed. Pooled trusts are promoted as a legal method for wards to maintain Medicaid eligibility in nursing homes, according to Melton.

“When we have both guardians and judges trying to keep auditors out, we have a system ripe for corruption and fraud”, Melton said. In February, 2004, Melton recommended to Chief Judge David Demers that he take a closer look at guardianships in the Sixth Circuit. Greer recently unsuccessfully challenged Demers for the position of chief judge of the circuit.


AT THE MONEY TROUGH

In 2002, court auditors in Pinellas County concluded that court officials had failed to monitor guardianships carefully. The clerk’s office, which systematically reviews about 2,400 guardianships annually, set up a fraud hotline.

While conducting audits of guardianship reports, the Pinellas clerk’s office discovered serious irregularities. Pinellas County state attorney Bernie McCabe confirmed in 2003 that a preliminary inquiry had been initiated by his office into Adult Comprehensive Protection Services which managed the assets of 300 of the county’s elderly and infirm. The inquiry was stonewalled when the ACPS attorney denied access to minutes of the agency’s board of directors.

The attorney was Richard Pearse, the former guardian ad litem in the Terri Schiavo case. Pearse had recommended that the feeding tube not be removed in his GAL report to Greer in 1999. Thereafter, Schiavo petitioned Greer for Pearse’s removal as guardian and Greer complied. Since then, Greer has refused to appoint a new guardian ad litem, acting in the role himself---prohibited by Canon 3 of the state Code of Judicial Conduct. No judge may serve as a guardian unless the ward is a member of his own family.

Melton and other critics say the court system favors the guardian. When court challenges are raised to a guardianship as in the Schiavo case, the proof needed by the petitioner is in documents which are sealed by the court -and Greer- claiming it is for the protection of the ward. When complaints are made to law enforcement agencies, officials with a prohibited conflict of interest -as in the Schiavo case- claim it’s a civil matter being handled by the courts.

Politically connected attorneys who stand to profit handsomely from guardianship fees are involved with alleged guardianship abuse. In Greer’s 2004 reelection campaign, a massive $144,000 was raised in campaign contributions, said to be the largest amount ever raised in a judicial campaign.

More than half of those contributors were attorneys -attorneys whose practices in real estate, probate, wills and elder law stand to profit greatly from guardianships to which they are court appointed by probate judges such as George W. Greer.


THE POLITICO-LEGAL RAT PACK

George W. Greer, 62, born in Brooklyn, has been the judge in the Terri Schindler Schiavo case in Clearwater since 1998, twice ordering the removal of the brain damaged woman’s feeding tube. Greer is legally blind and cannot drive a motor vehicle. Critics charge that he has not and could not review many of the exhibits in the case due to his eyesight.

On June 18, 1990, after a conducted investigation declaring Terri incapacitated, a hearing was held in a St. Petersburg courtroom appointing Michael Schiavo as Terri’s legal guardian. The case was handled for law firm of Baskin and Fleece by attorney Daniel Grieco who later contributed to Greer’s election campaign -as did each one of the attorneys representing Michael Schiavo.

In fact, not only did Hamdin Baskin III contribute the maximum of $500 to Greer’s campaign, but so did his law partner, Joseph Fleece, thereby the law firm of Baskin and Fleece contributed a total of $1,000 to Greer’s reelection at the time Baskin was representing Michael Schiavo in the guardianship proceeding before Greer.

George Felos, the lawyer leading Michael Schiavo’s fight to have Terri starved to death, was chairman of the Woodside Hospice, the facility where Terri Schiavo had resided. Hospice board of directors, according to annual reports of the Hospice, a position he failed to disclose to the court and from which he resigned in 2001 amid public pressure. Many of the rulings in the case were based in part on medical information taken while she was in care of the Hospice.

During his eight years as as Pinellas County Commissioner from 1984-1992, Judge George W. Greer served with fellow county commissioner Barbara Sheen Todd -a member of the board of directors of Hospice of Florida Suncoast, which operates Woodside Hospice.

Another Hospice board member, Gus Bilirakis, made a cash contribution to Greer’s 2004 election campaign. The wife of Greer’s judicial colleague, Judge John Lenderman, was chairman of the Hospice board of directors until the winter of 2003. Critics say that those affiliations and associations constitute a prohibited conflict for Greer in the Schiavo case, requiring his recusal.

The spiritual needs of Terri Schiavo were being met by the clergy of the diocese of St. Petersburg whose official church law firm, Divito and Higham made contributions to Greer totaling $500.

Florida’s deputy attorney general John Carassas, who failed to heed calls for an investigation in Terri's case, also financially contributed to Greer’s 2004 campaign and was directly involved in the case.

Carassas, a former member of Florida’s House of Representatives, District 54, is the regional deputy attorney general for Central Florida which includes the St. Petersburg area. He resigned his seat in the Florida Legislature in July, 2003 to assume his position in the attorney general’s office.

Former Pinellas County Sheriff Everett Rice, a 20-year personal friend of Judge Greer, assumed Carassas’ seat in the House. As sheriff, Rice quashed attempts by the Schindler family and others to open an investigation into the Terri Schiavo case and has also contributed to Greer’s election campaign.

Before he left office as sheriff to become a member of the Florida House of Representatives, Rice hired Michael Shiavo as a nurse in the county jail. Eleanor Centonze, the mother of Schiavo’s fiancée, had worked at the sheriff’s department with Rice for 20 years.

Patricia Anderson, former lead attorney for the Schindlers, moved for Greer’s recusal after learning that the judge had privately discussed the Schiavo case with Carassas and Rice, after Gov. Bush had sent a letter to Greer on Aug. 26, 2003, requesting that an independent guardian ad litem be appointed for Terri.

And then there’s the matter of the state attorney’s office of Bernie McCabe —the office statutorily charged with conducting relevant investigations. McCabe improperly allowed the use of employees of his office to appear in a TV commercial advocating Greer’s reelection. The assistant state attorney, James Hellickson -who financially contributed to Greer’s reelection-- also appeared in the commercial. The 30-second television spot aired on the FoxTV affiliate serving Pinellas and Pasco Counties.

Greer was shown in a courtroom setting in the Pinellas County Building with appearances by James Hellickson, assistant state attorney; and Paula Shea, assistant state public defender. A uniformed officer of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department, and a sheriff’s patrol car also appeared in the political advertisement, despite state laws which prohibit the use of governmental buildings or state, county and municipal officers and employees for the purpose of influencing an election.


See : Empire Journal Schiavo Articles
Also : Formal Complaint Filed Against Greer in Schiavo Case
Also : Schiavo Judeg TV Commercial Violates State Law
Also : Schiavo Judge Greer Supported by Politics, Religion
Also : Schiavo Case Judge Greer Could Be Removed From Office

Note: The excerpts above are from original articles Copyright 2002,2003,2004,2005 by 'The Empire Journal'. These excerpts are reproduced here under Educational Fair Use provisions and for original criticism and comment as per our introductory text.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry you're siding with the crypto-fascists on this one. Affidavits are often filled with lies and the justice system never punishes the liars. Many of us -- including me -- have needed to enforce a loved-one's earlier decision regarding DNR and no feeding tube. Lots of us -- including me -- have seen a crazy/ruthless right-wing relative use false litgation, false affidavits and perjured testimony in an attempt to exploit a suffering person who's become somewhat incapacitated -- and we were happy that a court-appointed guardian was able to determine the truth.

And lots of us agree, 15 years in bed with a melted cerebral cortex is 15 years too many.

These people have been slandering Michael Schiavo. The parents' guilt -- for having a formerly-fat bulemic daughter -- has allowed them to fall into the hands of the vicious religious nuts who are taking over my country. [Simultaneously, the Culture of un-Life is passing laws in the U.S. to prevent the sale in Drug Stores of BIRTH CONTROL!]

Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of judges in the United States do not people have politics, and means of livelihood, that you and I would accept. Fortunately, occasionally, the justice system works. Here, it has withstood the pressure of the One Party of God State of the Union.

otherwise, I generally enjoy your point of view,
from India with love,
pam

1:54 pm  
Anonymous nikto said...

Sorry, Fintan, but I have to side with Pam as well.

It's just that the corrupted forces of the U.S. religious right have totally co-opted the Schiavo case for THEIR OWN fundraising (and people-galvanizing) purposes.

OK, their may possibly be some questions about Michael Schiavo's conduct in this matter.

But there is NO QUESTION about the slimy and calculating way Ms. Schiavo's unfortunate situation has
been MILKED for every drop of emotion and highly-politicized passion as possible by the GOP and religious right.

So now all thios e3motion is being channeled to the battles to protect Tom DeLay and dismantle Social Security.

I trust & respect your motives, Fintan.

But here in the U.S., this case has been permanently tainted by politics--GOP politics.

7:39 pm  
Blogger Fintan, BreakForNews.com said...

Pam Commented:

"Sorry you're siding with the crypto-fascists on this one."

Woops. lol. Hold on a sec. Did I say Terri should be kept alive? Nope.

Actually, I agree with virtually all you wrote, Pam.

Right wing-hijack... yes
Court appointed guardian can be good... yes

But the reason I compiled this is not to side with anybody -but to address the big bucks criminal fraud issue, not the right to life/death issue. It's just that the Schiavo case has put the spotlight on all this OTHER stuff.

(Do the crypto-fascists mention that key individuals are Republicans)

Anyway, potentially we have an institutionalised scam pouring the assets of incapacitated persons into dubious land trusts and other inventive schemes. It covers thousands of people all across Florida and the U.S.A.

Here's a movie script version:

You get sick in Florida. You end up in ER. You are clearly loaded with bucks. That's when tthings go quickly wrong. Suddenly you deteriorate. You end up deeply sedated. The docs explain to your bemused relatives that with all this wealth you got, no way Medicaid will pay for your continuing treatment. They need to offload your $$$$ into a trust - then Medicaid will have to pay! The investments turn out really, really bad. You bought swamp. Your relatives pull the remaining funds from the trust. Suddenly you get worse. A lot worse. They pull the plug on you. Your relatives realize y'all been conned and go to the local cops. The cops charge them with 'causing a police officer to laugh really hard' -then run 'em out of town. The lawyer back home shakes his head and tells your relatives the local judiciary are in on it too, so legal action would just waste more money. The following year, they decide they don't want to go on vacation to Florida again.

Just a movie script.

The events depicted herin bear no relationship to any persons living or dead. Any similarity to real persons in entirely coincidental.

11:05 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

Fintan: There is collusion to bilk people out of there money in the way you mention. You could find a better case than Terri's though to prove your point.
The money from Terri's misfortune follows a path right to the right wing religious groups and politicians. Maybe exposing the large sums of money made by these people off the unfortunate circumstances of Terri's life would wake people up. And there is more with the books and movie rights. The press has made this a real money maker for them.

5:41 pm  
Anonymous Carol said...

Hi All,
I've read your comments and have some agreements and some disagreements. My main heartburn at present with this case is the possible criminal abuse (and now MURDER) of Terri that was never investigated, the lawsuits that were paid to her murderous husband "for rehab and care",the fact that Michael was living with "his common law wife" during most if not all of this case. Doesn't that make him an adulterous polygimist? How then could he legally be her guardian? What did he spend the money on? NOT Terri. What about the affidavits of the health care givers (who were summarily fired for speaking up)reporting that Michael took Terri out of the facility, and brought her back later sexually abused and physically abused? Even needle marks under her breasts. They strongly suspect insulin shots were illegally given by Michael, Terri's blood sugar was always extremely low when she was brought back. If she did not want to live, I doubt she would have lasted 15 years in view of all the facts. Who appointed All those people that wanted her dead GOD? Her parents still wanted her to live, they were willing to take care of her. They gave her life and raised her, why didn't they have any rights? As for her dietary problems, those can , and do, happen to many people. Even ones from good, loving homes. Why would the court, knowing that Michael had a "common law" wife and two children (by her),trust her(Terri's) well being to an abusive, low life rat like Michael? He forfeited ANY rights to her and/or what belonged to her. The scary part of this is that it is so politically connected, as well as medically and religiously connected. this could happen to anyone. It could happen to a child or an adult, possibly yours or mine. I hate it.I am still angry, hurt and upset over this case.

5:11 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Empire Journal* spread the baseless smears of the "YA'LL GONNA DIE WHEN JESUS COMES" mob.

1) In support of the slanders against Terri Schiavo's husband, TEJ condemns Judge Greer for engaging in a coverup of Michael's crimes by sealing "the report of one investigation by the state’s Department of Children and Families". GUESS WHAT? The State of Florid's report of its investigations of 89 abuse complaints has been released, confirming the countless judicial rulings that the credible science, witnesses, investigations agree -- staying in bed for 15 years without a melted cerebral cortex is not good for your health:

"Fla. Finds No Abuse of Schiavo by Family
Florida Agency Finds That Terri Schiavo Wasn't Abused, Exploited by Either Side of Her Family

By VICKIE CHACHERE Associated Press Writer

TAMPA, Fla. Apr 16, 2005 — State investigators found no evidence that Terri Schiavo had been abused or exploited by either side of her family, according to documents released by Florida's Department of Children and Families.

The agency investigated 89 complaints dating back to 2001, when Schiavo's feeding tube was removed for the first time and the legal battle surrounding her right-to-die case intensified.

The calls alleged that the brain-damaged woman was being mistreated by her husband and her parents for financial gain. One complaint alleged that Schiavo's parents were selling videos of her through a Web site; another said Schiavo's husband wasn't spending money intended for her rehabilitation.

But investigators said they found no evidence that either her husband or parents were exploiting her, and often noted in their records that they found Schiavo well cared for on their visits to her Pinellas Park hospice.

The agency released the records Friday under court order.

. . .

The repeated allegations of abuse were based partly on bone scans showing Terri Schiavo suffered fractures and statements she made to family and friends that she was unhappy in her marriage.

Schiavo's husband has denied harming his wife. His lawyer said the fractures resulted from osteoporosis caused by the woman's years of immobility and complications of her medication. "

[This AP article may be found on ABC page: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=675656]

*so who is behind The Empire Journal?
their web site has been scrubbed and is "under construction." Googled sites that solicit money for The Empire Journal are "resources that cannout be found". All other pertinent Googles are reprints of TEJ's Schiavo Muck-No-Raking.

mobster Carol's jealous distress
Carol [and the "If You're Not With Us You're Gonna Burn For Eternity in Hell" mob] condemns Michael for refusing to live 15 reproductive years as a celibate Jesus said, 'whosoever is without sin, cast the first stone.' Personally, while I was a twenty-something, I chose a Bramacharya (celibate) lifestyle that I later confirmed with formal vows -- but I'll try not to throw any rocks. While I was living as an attractive young celibate in 1970s/1980s America, I observed very few (actually no one) in my position who made a similar life style choice. How many people in the U.S.A. even can imagine being motivated by sufficient love and patience to choose this course. To criticize, let alone condemn, anyone/everyone who is motivated by strong biological urges to express their love in sexual relationship seems a tad cruel. So, Carol -- are you a sister or a pitcher? Or are you overly identifying with a rejected, victimized female?

with a love and compassion from the subcontinent of neem -- by the way if you're really concerned about exploitation and life, genterate a little passionate concern for this suffering land,
pam

12:51 pm  
Anonymous MattMarriott said...

Why was Terri selected to be murdered with uttermost cruelty and using grotesque lies to justify it?
Packaging the Delivery
Some of the mind control work done to package the delivery:
- "$1 million dollar baby" to present "euthanasia" as good for the victims: Hollywood made it film of the year
- the media keeps repeating the official story of a vegetable dying, in the scope of the dehumanization of Terri, one of the reasons being it's a measurable link to the Florida Law that considers killing animals by starvation a crime;
- $1 million dollar hoax to present the "husband" as good: the noble husband refused a (hoax) offer of $1 million to keep Terri alive 
- $1 million dollar hoax to present mass murder of elder, disabled and sick people as good for the economy: costs for Terri so far $1,1 million
- the "liberal democrats" criticise the "christian fundamentalist" Bush, who "jumped out of bed" to "interrupt his holidays" and "sign a law" that is "interfering" with the "justice" to make people say "The Bushes have done everything possible."
- media manufactures "polls" (the big lie sky, i.e. 80%, is no more the limit ...), "proving" that the large majority is behind the "husband" -The CBS News poll that reported 82 percent of all Americans wanted the government out of the case - which provide the right excuse for people to say "Bush sure turned silent in a hurry." 
The Delivery (What)
Providing all the details that the average person needs to understand the the delivery:
- in fact Terri is a responsive (facial expressions, "I waaaaant ..",etc) human being that required special protection, 
- after being left for years at the hands of a man, Michael Schiavo, that started a new family, now father of two, having a financial interest in her death and with a record showing a goal of trying to turn her into a "vegetable" (denied rehabilitation and physical therapy for Terri, MRI, etc) ...
- altough the parents tried all judicial possibilites to obtain custody of her daughter,
- while the media doesn't question why is this butcher called her "husband",
- just like the court, which makes sure that there could be no doubts that she was sentenced to death by extreme torture, starvation and dehydration,, based on hearsay from her butcher, using lies like her life depending on being connected to the feeding tube, and issuing illegal orders like denying manual feeding or water, what is illegal for animals, this culminating of course with the U.S. Supreme Court, without explanation, refusing to revoke these illegal decisions,
- all this unmistakably staged as unprecedented satanic ritual murder, broadcasted live nationwide. In this case as a mockery of the Passion of Jesus ("Schiavo" means slave in Italian, timeline for Holy Week culminating with Holy Friday and Easter; 18 judges and the Bushes refusing to interfere, playing Pontius Pilatus)
Unpackaging
This is the moment where the delivery is signed.For that you get a staging bonus
 last communion denied in the holiest of christian holidays, Easter; 
as Terri's mouth and hands bleed, M. Schiavo's laywer says that she never looked as beautiful, i.e. the ultimate mixture of necrophilia, sadism and anti-christianism).
The Question (Why)
So, why was Terri selected to be murdered with uttermost cruelty using grotesque lies to justify it?
The Bill (Because)
The reason for this is not because what comes NEXT to America is finishing terminally ill or brain dead patients in hospitals.
That has been done for a long time.

The reason for this is not because what comes NEXT to America is mass murder of patients with some degree of disability or just elderly that have been retired for "enough" time, and have lived "enough" according to the death sentence issued by their relatives.
That has been done at exponentially increasing rates for some years.

At t his point I don't need to tell what comes now .... or in other words why it was so important that the sheeple ACCEPTED the crucifixion of Theresa Maria Schindler (or should I say "Schiavo" = slave) during not only hours but days, right?

9:56 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an attorney who practices in Pinellas County, I can tell you that the law means nothing to many of our judges if opposing counsel knows them well enough to pay them off. To know the corrupt judges well enough all you have to be is a member of the Pinellas County Republicans. Then you know the right people who have the connections to take care of things including throwing cases for a couple thousand dollars.

I'm sure that Greer made more on this one due to the publicity.

I just wonder why the St. Pete Time and the Tampa Tribune seen happy to ignore the real story. Could they be part of the little club or are they scared of what could happen if they pissed off the crooked judges?

4:14 am  

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