What happened in Nevada … 13

… could happen to you wherever you may be in the USA.

It is a story of a public-private partnership in crime that went on for years; of state-sanctioned exploitation of the old; the deprivation of their liberty; abduction, theft, and callous cruelty.

This is a summary, in our own words for the most part, of the true story told by Rachel Aviv and published (somewhat surprisingly to us) in the (usually all too politically correct) New Yorker magazine on October 9, 2017. The original needs to be read in full, so please read it if you have strong nerves and are thoroughly acquainted with injustice and cruelty posing as “caring”. 

Mr. and Mrs. North – Rudy and Rennie – lived in a nice well furnished house they owned in Las Vegas. They were in their seventies, retired. Although Rennie was frail, they both enjoyed life. They  read a lot, Rennie fiction, Rudy philosophy, science and much more. They were both comfortable and happy, though Rennie needed some practical help, which was given by a nurse who came in five days a week.

One Friday in 2013, just as the Norths were finishing their breakfast, the nurse arrived as usual and a few minutes later another woman turned up. She introduced herself as April Parks, a “private professional guardian”. With her were three other people who did not give their names. Parks informed the Norths that she had an order issued by the Clark County Family Court to remove them to “an assisted living facility”, and their consent was not required.  

They protested. The intruders threatened to call the police and have them moved by force. They were given about half an hour to pack a few personal things. In her confusion and distress Rennie forgot to take the cellphone. They were driven away from their home in a car marked “CRT-GRDN” (“Court Guardian”).

Parks returned to the house with another woman, Cindy Breck, whose company – called “Caring Transitions” – “relocates” elderly persons, and arranges the sale of their belongings. Here again, consent was not required. The “relocated” persons were simply robbed of the things they had acquired through their long lives and wanted to keep in their old age. So as soon as the Norths’ had been “transitioned”, all their possessions – their furniture, books, everything they had not been able to fit into the small bags they took with them – were assessed for sale value by caring Cindy Breck. Parks herself took documents (birth certificates, insurance policies) and valuables (a coin collection, a watch).

The Norths’ daughter, Julie Belshe, a fifty-three-year old married woman, with three sons, who ran a business with her husband, arrived as she did almost every day to visit her parents and found them gone and the house locked up. She tried calling their cellphone and got no answer. She called hospitals to enquire if they had been brought in from an accident. She concluded that her father and mother had been kidnapped. She revisited the locked house again later and found a note on the door with the name and number of April Parks, “guardian”, who could be contacted “in case of emergency”. Through Parks Julie learnt that her parents had been taken to a “facility” in Boulder City. Julie protested, “You can’t just walk into somebody’s home and take them!” Parks replied, “It’s legal.”

Julie drove to the facility in Boulder City. There her parents were lodged in a small room with a “kitchenette” and a view of the parking lot. Rennie was in a wheelchair. They had no phone in the room.

Mr. and Mrs. North no longer controlled their own money. Their estates were in the hands of April Parks. Each time Parks looked in on the Norths, however briefly, she charged them a fee “per hour”. How much she deducted from their funds was not limited by the court. She charged $24 for one eight-minute phone call that Julie put through to her.

It gets worse.

Parks applied to Clark County Family Court to have her guardianship of the Norths made permanent. Meet the Clark County guardianship commissioner, Jon Norheim. Officially he works “under a judge”, but what he orders has the weight of a judge’s ruling. Parks made all her guardian applications to Norheim. Norheim granted them – about once a week. The Norths had no one speaking for them. No lawyer represented them. So at the ten minute hearing, the Norths were made permanent wards of the court under Parks’s guardianship for life.

Their possessions were sold by another “transitions” firm, Even Tide Life Transitions. Their 2010 Chrysler was sold for under $8,000. Two Renoir lithographs fetched $3,800. A Brancusi table, $12,050. Other valuable things went for the same sort of song. Some pastel drawings made by their son who had died at the age of thirty-two were crumpled up and thrown away, though Rennie often asked for them. Their cash savings of $50,000 in the Bank of America were transferred into an account in April Parks’s name. 

Similar stories were told by other inmates, ten of whom were also under Parks’s guardianship. Some had been deprived of considerable wealth. They were even deprived of most of their clothes. When Rennie wanted to go shopping for clothes, Parks found out, forbade the expedition, and took $108 as a fee “for the conversation”.

Julie tried to get legal guardianship of her parents. Parks told the court that she was unfit, a “reported addict” who “had no contact” with her parents. Julie had no chance to challenge Parks in court and only found out about the lies much later.

It gets worse still.

Meet Jared Shafer. He is the super Guardian who trains the lesser guardians. He has thousands of wards and estates in his “care”. In 1979 he was appointed “public administrator”, in charge of the estates of county wards for whom no private guardian, such as a relative, was available. In 2003 he set up his own private “guardianship and fiduciary”  business. The racketeering operation was moved over from local government and Jared Shafer to Jared Safer alone – though he still kept his government listed phone number, and still had friends in official positions.

A relative of one of Shafer’s wards, Terry Williams,  took the shocking story of what had happened to her father to the Las Vegas police. She listed 23 statutes that had been violated. But the police returned her statement stamped “Not a police matter”.  Apparently the Las Vegas police never accepted complaints about the treatment of wards.

Next Terry Williams  tried bringing a civil suit against Shafer for racketeering. The US District Court of Central California heard the case in 2009. Terry Williams explained how people were “deemed incompetent” and then had their assets taken away from them.

The US District Court of Central California dismissed the case. Numerous other such cases were also dismissed by district courts.

Jared Shafer goes to some lengths to prevent wards appealing to the courts. One who made it to a hearing found himself before Jon Norheim. He asked to be allowed to live with his daughter. Nevada law requires courts to favor relatives over professional guardians, but Norheim dismissed his appeal. Anecdotes demonstrate how much influence Shafer has over Norheim –  and over  politicians. He boasts, “I wrote the [guardianship] laws”.  It is not untrue. In 1995 he got the Nevada Senate to allow his county (in effect himself?) to be the beneficiary of interest earned on the money of his wards that he invested. Another of “his” laws was one that permitted him – and other public guardians – to take control of wards’ property without a court order.

He restricts visits to confined wards by relatives and life-partners. Months go by without a visit being allowed by him.

He has the power to arbitrarily remove anyone from the position of co-guardian. He managed to do this even to the daughter of a ward who was herself a professional psychiatric nurse and a specialist in geriatric nursing. She appealed – to Norheim – not to have Shafer left as her father’s sole guardian on the grounds that Shafer was abusive. Norheim said he trusted Shafer completely – and dismissed the appeal.

What became of the Norths? Parks changed their health insurance to an insurer of her own choice. Then both Rudy and Rennie were dosed with mind-numbing drugs. Their daughter finally found out what the drugs were when a new director, Julie Liebo, took over the facility and, against Parks’s “orders”, allowed families to be given information about the medical treatment given to the wards. In retaliation Parks threatened the director with arrest and deprivation of her license. And she began to remove her wards from the facility. One who announced with some excitement that she was being allowed to go to a hair salon went out the door and never came back. Another  was “taken away in a van, screaming”. The director tried to get the state to stop this sort of thing happening, but failed. She went to the Clark County Family Court (Norheim?), the Department of Health Services, the Bureau of Health Care, and Nevada Adult Protective Services. “Each agency told her that it didn’t have the authority or the jurisdiction to intervene.”

The turn of the Norths came. Without giving them time to say good-bye to the friends they had made, Parks had them suddenly moved by Caring Transitions (remember Cindy Breck?) to a cheaper facility. When their daughter Julie heard of the plan to move them she rushed to see what was to be done with them, but when she got there they were gone. Julie gave vent to her fury,  shouting at Parks’s assistant Heidi Kramer, “April Parks is a thief.” Kramer called the police. They came, and a police officer told Julie Belshe that she “had no rights”. Julie Liebo, the director, had to admit that was true.

Julie Belshe drove, weeping, to the “cheaper facility” in Las Vegas. But Parks was there and would not let her see her parents. She ordered Julie to go away, and when Julie did not obey she too called the police. Julie tried begging them to let her see her father and mother. Their reply was a citation for trespassing, and a warning that if she came back to the facility they would arrest her.

The Norths had an even smaller room in the new facility. They found themselves among the hopelessly incapacitated. Rennie was dosed with a drug used for the pacification of schizophrenics.

Then Julie Belshe went to the local press. The Voice had already published a warning about Clark County guardians, that they “had been lining their pockets for a very long time”. One of its  editors, Rana Goodman, visited the Norths, and got up a petition demanding that the laws to do with guardianships be changed by the Nevada legislature.

Another paper, the Review-Journal, brought out a report on Jared Shafer and the complaints that had been made against him through many years.

And so, when at last the Norths got to a hearing – before Norheim – the court was full of journalists. Norheim underwent a dramatic change. He found that the Norths’ confiscated possessions had been sold without court permission. (He had let Parks get away with that racket for years.) He also suspended Parks as the Norths’ guardian. That had never happened to her before.

In March 2017, Parks was indicted for theft and perjury among other charges. The extent of the racket she had run came out in a summary of the investigation. “Parks went to hospitals and attorneys’ offices” to “generate more clients”. She had “secured a contract with six medical facilities … to refer patients to her”. She “often gave doctors blank certificates and told them exactly what to write in order for their patients to become her wards”. Needless to say, they were usually the wealthier patients.

April Parks is to go on trial in 2018. But Jared Shafer has not been indicted and “is still listed in the Clark County court system as a trustee and as an administrator”. And Jon Norheim has been merely transferred to another court “where he now oversees cases involving abused and neglected children”.

The Norths now live with their daughter Julie and her husband in California. They have no money. Parks used up all their cash, and all that she derived from the sale of their possessions, on their alleged monthly bills and fees to herself. She would of course have preferred them to be richer, and probably miscalculated what they were worth when she targeted them.

In their room, Rudy and Rennie have two pictures by their son. Julie had fished them out of the trash bags in which Cindy Breck’s Caring Transition staff had dumped them the day she helped “transition” the Norths.

They are restored to psychological health, though Rennie still has nightmares about what happened to them. And their daughter still fears that “guardians” might appear to snatch them away again at any moment.

She is right to fear it.

  • Zerothruster

    Las Vegas is getting itself a bad reputation. (Did it ever have a good one?)
    I have no plans to go there, though a cousin has invited me once or twice.

    • This racket is not confined to Las Vegas or Nevada. It needs the attention of the DOJ.

      • liz

        I can’t believe this is allowed to happen anywhere! It’s an outrage.
        Yes, the DOJ should definitely be doing something about it – no surprise they didn’t during Obama’s tenure – they were too busy agitating for ‘social justice’ and promoting “The Cultural Revolution”.

        • Jeanne

          If you consider that “they” want both our youngest and our oldest in their control for “their own good” it starts to get more than a little creepy. Then “they” keep moving the posts towards the center and soon “they” are knocking on everyone’s door just to check if everything is going the way “they” think it should. Ye gods and little fishes… I need to move further back into the woods.

          • And get in a lot of ammunition, Jeanne.

          • liz

            Me, too! I just read the other day about how Google had plans for an app that would monitor families and tell them how to raise their children. Politically correctly, I’m sure.

  • liz

    “Nightmare” is right. An episode of “The Twighlight Zone”.
    Can this happen anywhere in the country or just in Nevada?
    One thing it shows is what a great force for good journalists can be, just by doing their job – presenting the FACTS to the public.
    Which highlights, by contrast, the great force for evil the corruption of journalism has created, transforming it into mere political propaganda.

  • Cogito

    This beggars belief

  • Don L

    When the Supreme Court granted to itself the notion of “Judicial Review”, the criminals were invited to start writing the law (Marbury v. Madison establishes judicial review 2/24/1803).
    ________

    For the next few weeks our representatives will be visiting your area searching for candidates who seek to enter the exciting and rewarding field of Private Professional Guardian. Yes, you legally take contol of others’ assets and liquidate them to your benefit, That’s right. Their permission isn’t even required!

    The department of labor and statistics says the demand for Private Professional Guardian will grow exponentially over the next 5 years, So, here’s your opportunity to take peoples’ stuff, Everything They Have, without their permissiom … Legally.

    Call now, there are only a few positions available. Ask about our opportunities in the schools of brain surgery and standby operator. Call now, operators are standing by.
    ________

    “At the establishment of our Constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office; that their decisions, seeming to concern individual suitors only, pass silent and unheeded by the public at large; that these decisions nevertheless become law by precedent, sapping by little and little the foundations of the Constitution and working its change by construction before any one has perceived that that invisible and helpless worm has been busily employed in consuming its substance. In truth, man is not made to be trusted for life if secured against all liability to account.” –Thomas Jefferson to A. Coray, 1823
    ________

    “The Law” by Frederic Bastiat
    “Bureaucracy” by Ludwig von Mises
    “Anatomy of the State: by Murray N. Rothbard
    “The Original Constitution: What it Actually Said and Meant” – Robert G Natelson
    “Organized Crime: The Unvarnished Truth About Government” by Thomas DiLorenzo
    “Liberty And Property” – Ludwig von Mises

  • Jeanne

    What a nightmare! Like most people, I thought I was immune to nightmare’s such as this or the worst one; having a child die suddenly from meningitis. But..I was not and nearly lost my mother to Adult Protective Services when she was briefly in a nursing home for IV treatments for infection, and unwittingly underwent a psychiatric evaluation allowing APS to decide that she could not live in her own house, which was next door to mine.

    This was nothing illegal, but the power of the government to make decisions for the good of the individual, is a power to which they become addicted, especially when such action benefits a local nursing home or government agency’s bottom line.

    The biggest failures of my mom on the test were that she knew she could eat it for breakfast, but could not remember what it…a banana..was called, and when asked what was the first thing she would do if her house caught on fire, she said she would get out. But…she did not say that she would call 911.

    This Nevada case is horrific, but horror can hit home in smaller ways and alter lives forever. I hope these folks can pick up the pieces…love their hearts.

    • Don L

      Hug, and then:

      The bureaucrat is not to serve your mother … it is to expand the dept’s web – new client’s justify the dept’s existence; budget expansion; political sponsors’ validation.

    • I am appalled, and angry for you.