BREAKING NEWS: Public Guardians and “Frequent-Flyer” court-appointees Ayudando Guardians co-founders, Susan Harris, 70, and Sharon Moore, 62, both residents of Albuquerque, N.M, have been charged in a 28 count federal indictment for “Conspiracy, Fraud, Theft, and Money Laundering Offenses,” according to a press release from the US Dept of Justice, Acting US Attorney for New Mexico James D Tierney’s office. The press release states, “Co-Founders of Ayudando Guardians, Inc., Embezzled Millions from Client Accounts to Support Lavish Lifestyles.”
Note that it is confirmed by one of Ayudando’s victims who have spent the last six years seeking accountability from Ayudando that indicted co-founder Sharon Moore made a presentation to the Commission on May 12, 2017 but the Commission does not make public the names of their presenters, so the general public has no way of knowing that a guardian now under criminal indictment for activities dating from June 2011 has been influencing the Commission and helping them write their recommendations that will go to the Supreme Court on Oct 1, 2017. The indictment indicates on 6/8/11 Susan Harris wrote a check for $50,950 to Mercedes Benz of Albuquerque, drawn from the Ayudando Client Reimbursement account, among many large personal purchases having nothing to do with the care of their Wards.
The public has no way of knowing if either indicted co-owners Harris or Moore were one of the 93 participants in either the Nov 21, 2013 “Panel” on “Critical Issues in Adult Protective Proceedings: A Forum to Explore Emergent Issues and Recommend Solutions” or the Adult Protective Proceedings Task Force (APPTF) that emerged from the Nov 2013 meeting. We do know that Adult Study Commissioner Vice Chairman Patricia Galindo, the subject of this week’s guest post, was involved in both of the Nov 2013 Panel and later the APPTF. How closely allied is the State of New Mexico with Frequent-Flyer Court-appointees Ayudando Guardians?
Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.
Corrected 7/25/2017 to reflect that is was Sharon Moore, co-owner of Ayudando Guardians, who gave a presentation to the Adult Guardianship Study Commission on May 12, 2017, not Susan Harris, as erroneously stated in an earlier version of this post.
This week’s post is written by three members of Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship-New Mexico (http://AAAPG.net/NM) chapter who have been active holding judges and their appointees accountable for their actions in guardianships, conservatorships, and trust cases.
Dear Commissioners, members of the press, others and Commission Vice Chair Galindo:
After perusing the grant request Ms Galindo wrote to receive $20,000 from the American Bar Association’s (ABA) “WINGS Grant” Program we have several comments and questions.
Under the heading titled Key Problems in the New Mexico Guardianship System the following were listed as the Administrative Office of the Court’s (AOC) priorities:
1. “No court-approved forms for adult guardianship proceedings with the exception of the guardian’s annual report. This creates an obstacle for families attempting to file a guardianship case as a self-represented litigant, since they have a limited understanding of the legal process or implications of plenary guardianship.” (See page 8 of 47 page WINGS grant application.)
We find it very odd that a form would be considered a top priority, requiring a grant from the American Bar Association, when a form could very easily be created to solve the problem.
We could not find anywhere in your report that referenced the elderly and mentally ill and their need for accountability and protection from negligent and abusive Corporate Guardians, Petitioning Attorneys, Guardian Ad Litems, Court Visitors and Judges.
Those of us who have a loved one who has experienced neglect or abuse from the actions taken by a Corporate Guardian all agree that ACCOUNTABILITY and PROTECTION of the INCAPACITATED INDIVIDUAL are OUR #1 Priority. This complete misalignment of priorities speaks volumes as to how guardianship practice has gone so far off the rails from it’s original, stated legal intention: to protect vulnerable incapacitated individuals, as well as their assets.
Why isn’t the protection of the incapacitated the top-most priority of so many groups whose job it is to implement and oversee guardianship in New Mexico, including
- the Adult Protective Proceedings Task Force,
- the Administrative Office of the Courts, and
- the Supreme Court?
Please provide an answer to this question.
2. “New Mexico lacks qualified professionals that can be appointed to serve in guardianship cases. The OOG has faced a significant backlog of cases in recent years with limited funding to pay for the petitioning attorney, GAL, Visitor and Court-Appointed Guardian.”(See page 8 of 47 page WINGS grant application.)
We totally agree with your statement that New Mexico lacks qualified professionals. In our experience Corporate Guardians as well as others involved in the guardianship process have been very unprofessional, arrogant, and “downright rude” when questioned about their negligent, abusive, and fraudulent actions. Their behavior has been unacceptable and unprofessional!
3. “The AOC has been unable to fund any new positions or technology improvements to increase monitoring of guardianship cases due to a lack of funding. Yet in the report you state that in the Fall of 2013 the AOC retained a part-time staff attorney to focus on guardianship issues facing our state courts.” (See page 8 of 47 page WINGS application.)
What specifically has this part-time staff attorney accomplished in the last 4 years? Please provide an answer to this question.
What actions has the AOC taken to obtain monies to fund technology improvements to increase monitoring of guardianship cases? Please provide an answer to this question.
4. “In November, 2013 a legal forum titled “Critical Issues in Adult Protective Proceedings: A Forum to Explore Emergent Issues and Recommend Solutions” was formed. In 2014 a steering committee created the Adult Protective Proceedings Task Force (APPTF).” (see page 9 of 47 of WINGS grant application.)
Please provide the minutes of ALL MEETINGS regarding both the legal forum and the APPTF.
5. In the grant application you state that currently no formal collaborations exist between the courts and state agency/disability partners. The report also states that former Governor Carruthers was instrumental in revising New Mexico’s guardianship and conservatorship statutes to provide greater protections for alleged “incapacitated individuals”. (see page 9 of 47 of WINGS grant application.)
What has prevented the AOC from forming formal collaborations be-tween the courts and state agency/disability partners the last 20+ years?
What greater protections exist now for alleged “incapacitated individuals following former Gov. Carruthers actions?
Please respond with answers to both questions.
6. The grant application also states that the APP Task Force will build upon the statewide priorities already identified by the Task force by defining 2 or 3 priority areas to be addressed during the grant period. (see page 13 out of 47 WINGS grant application.)
What are the statewide priorities already identified by the APP Task Force? Please respond with an answer to this question.
7. The grant application also states that there will be 4 regional meetings so the public can provide input. (See page 13 out of 47 WINGS grant application.)
Please provide details (date, time, location) regarding the 4 regional meetings.
We’re requesting information on why no representatives from the public were chosen to be on the APP Task Force. How can the APP Task Force be said to be representative of all stakeholders in guardianship if there are no members whose family members have been conscripted into guardianship are included?
We’re also requesting information on how representatives from the public were chosen to represent “family members” on the Adult Guardianship Study Commission as well as the criteria for the selection.
Please provide answers to all the above questions.
8. Lastly, in the WINGS grant application you, Ms Galindo, are listed as the Guardianship Attorney at the AOC. What is your job description regarding the duties and responsibilities of this position? (See page 1 of WINGS Grant application where Ms Galindo is listed “Court Official Submitting Information” for WINGS grant application.)
Please provide an answer to this question as well as a copy of your job description at the AOC.
In conclusion, we would like to publicly thank Commissioner Jorja Armijo-Brasher for her commitment to bringing a measure of transparency to the Adult Guardianship Study Commission as well as her desire to provide oversight of incapacitated individuals in the state of New Mexico.
Also, a sincere thank-you is extended to Commission Staff Attorney Neil Bell for taking responsibility for the incorrect location of the Capitol Building as posted on the Commission’s website, owning up to the mistake, and apologizing to members of the audience for any inconvenience. We wish all attorneys and judges involved in guardianship proceedings would be as responsible and mature; if they did behave in such a responsible, accountable manner, there would be no need to have a Commission, Task Force, or apply for WINGS grants.
Thank you for your time and we look forward to your prompt reply.
Lorraine Mendiola, Member of AAAPG
David Heeter, Member of AAAPG
Kelley Smoot Garrett, Executive Vice President of AAAPG