Protecting Irma

My mother was the best person I have ever had the privilege of knowing. She was the epitome of love, what she suffered during her life was not deserved. I think about her every day. I miss her terribly and wish that I could have done more for her.

She was love and kindness and pure, she loved unconditionally and when someone hurt her she was wounded deeply. I loved my mother so much and it hurts to know that her own flesh and blood hurt her for their own selfish needs. I will never forgive or forget what my brother Sam did to her.

I am not perfect and have my flaws but in a million years I would never had done to her what Sam did to her. My true brother Miguel thinks that at some point I should forgive him but after all of these years I cannot see that happening.

I wish she was still here and part of the reason she is not is attributed to my brother Sam, at the end of this you will see why and not question this statement.

During the visit (where Sam had tried to withdraw money from the Free ATM) not only had we initiated the Power of Attorney we also wanted to have my mother assessed again for dementia. I met with her doctor at Kaiser right before her appointment to talk to him regarding her mental status. I asked if he would re-assess her as we had growing concerns regarding her memory.

In our first visit the doctor told us that she was just suffering from age related memory loss but the memory loss was really starting to concern us. It seemed to be getting worse and we felt that the doctor had not done a proper assessment. The doctor was perturbed that we were asking him to do the assessment, the doctor did a more complete assessment and decided to refer her to a neurologist.

Miguel and I continued to look for her original will and trust as well as trying to find where all the money went. We were waiting on the documents from her bank to start forensically searching to find out what had happened.

My mothers finances started to normalize since we had taken over paying her bills for her and managing her bank accounts. Without the financial abuse by my brother Sam she actually had money in her account and continued to build a buffer as her expenses where a lot less than what she got from Social Security and her pension.

We were trying to get my mother to start using some of the services offered to the elderly such as ride sharing services that only cost $5 as we did not want her driving and other services that would do well visits to her. She was a very independent woman and did not want to use some of the services offered. It is tough to get someone at the age of 85 to start doing something different from what was normal to them previously.

The doctors visit to the neurologist was scheduled and we were trying to get her to use the ride service but she did not want to do that and somehow Christina (for once) volunteered to take her. We were not comfortable with her taking her but pretty much had no say in the matter. The day of the appointment I spoke with the doctor and asked that she see Irma alone without Christina and informed her of the financial abuse that had taken place. The doctor agreed and after the appointment she called me to say that Irma was in the beginning stages of dementia and was shocked that she was still driving.

Unfortunately this confirmed our fears and now it became imperative that we get a conservatorship in place.

Protect the Elderly from Financial Exploitation

https://www.aba.com/advocacy/community-programs/consumer-resources/protect-your-money/elderly-financial-abuse

Diminished Capacity

Commonly, the victims of elder financial abuse suffer from diminished capacity and are unable to manage their finances in line with their own self-interest and values.

After everything that had transpired up to this point we knew that we needed to go back to San Diego often and keep in touch with our mother on an almost daily basis.  Due to our concerns over my mothers finances and her diminished capacity we decided to start the process of getting a Conservatorship in place, which is a long legal process that can be expensive.

A conservatorship is a court case where a judge appoints a responsible person or organization (called theconservator) to care for another adult (called the “conservatee”) who cannot care for himself or herself or manage his or her own finances.

After informing my cousin Amanda (who was like a daughter to my mother) of what we had discovered (Financial Elder Abuse, Diminished Capacity, etc.) Amanda decided to go visit my mother.

Amanda had been sending groceries to my mother about once a month to make sure she had food. We had mentioned this to Christina during the conversation that we had with her and right after that, the following Text exchange took place between Amanda and Christina.

C: Hi I have a quick question for you…. I was told way back when that you were sending groceries to Irma because you and Elwin were worried that she wasn’t eating enough and was tiny. I am now hearing that it was because she told you that she didn’t have enough money to buy groceries. Can you please confirm your original intent for sending the groceries. I would greatly appreciate clarification. Thank you!
A: Hello Christina, why the questions? I started sending her monthly groceries because I saw that she was too thin and wasn’t eating enough. Her fridge didn’t have much in it. I felt her fragility didn’t allow her to carry too much up the steps so I wanted to save her the trouble. On a subsequent visit we talked about finances and based on her responses, I new that she was barely making ends meet. I felt that she couldn’t afford to buy much and was purchasing less food than what she needed. Her friend also told me that she was feeding her once a week and sending food home with her. She’s a very proud woman and it bothers her to admit her need. She is always telling me that she wants to show her gratitude and send me a little something but is not in a position to do so. I have always reassured her that I don’t need or want anything from her other than to see a little more weight on her bones.
C: Ok, thank you.

I find this exchange very interesting, it is like Christina was hoping that it was not about money, the money they had taken from my mother. We later came to find out that a lot of this food made it to Sam and Christina’s.

While there, Amanda would take her to a couple of doctors appointments that we had scheduled on our initial visit and help out with some of the initial paperwork for the consevatorship as well as a the ride service ‘On the Go’.

Prior to Amanda’s visit my mother had a bone density test and the results showed a 40% decrease in bone density,  she was given Risedronate tablets that needed to be taken once a month on the same day for the next 10 years.  The following is what Amanda experienced during her visit and it alarmed us as it was very different from our prior visit with our mother.

“I’ve explained to her that her the Risedronate tablet must be taken once a month on the same day for the next 10 years, twice she’s picked up the box and says “okay, twice a day”. I tried to clear it up for her and I’ve written it on the calendar.”

“She’s already saying that she is not going to take the bone pills because of the side effects it can cause. I told her to ignore what’s written in the packaging.”

“She did not send in the ‘On the Go’ enrollment, the envelope was opened and siting in her stack, she is out of envelopes, I’ll take it with me and mail it.”

“She still thinks that she owes me the August rent payment even though I have explained that it has been deducted from her credit union.”

“I spoke with the social worker from this complex and asked her to follow up on the following:

• Getting to her the rent payment coupons so that going forward your mom can pay by mail.

• That they check on her at least once a week, that they change her access code to the gate (it will different as of Monday and she may be locked out without the new code).

• That they take a look at the moldy and mildew state of her carpet (it’s gross and damp to the touch) there may be moisture seeping underneath and this may be cause of her chronic cough.

Her car was horrendous to drive, I believe that it needs steering wheel fluid (she should not be driving anymore anyway, she has little to no recollection of how to get anywhere, that may be the reason she is staying home and becoming disconnected from the world.”

“I reminded her that she does not need to go to the bank because we already went today and she had $100 in her wallet, she did not believe me until she looked and found it. She said that she would put it in a wallet she keeps in her drawer by the bed and I said that was a good idea. She went and placed it there, came back to the table and proceeded to once again say that she lost the money and couldn’t find it. I told her that she just got through putting it in the drawer and she looked at me in disbelief and went back to check again.”

“My dear Cuz, she needs help and should no longer be left alone.

This along with some other issues that Amanda saw really had us scared and concerned and it really upset us. It became painfully obvious that there was really no help locally as all my brother Sam and his wife Christina did was take and not help. If they had really been involved, what we found would not have been a shock to them or us.  Miguel and I decided to make a surprise visit to my mother the following month.  What happened and what we discovered on that trip was so astonishing that it proved that Truth is stranger than fiction!

1 MT

Assessment of Older Adults With Diminished Capacity- A Handbook

FSI | Elder Abuse Resource Center – Financial Services Institute

Stop Elder Abuse Now | Learn How to Report Abuse‎

Financial Abuse of the Elderly in Domestic Setting – Elder Mistreatment

 

The story from the beginning:

A Cautionary Tale

The Signs

The Story Continues…

The Discovery

The Visit

The Visit Part 2

The Visit Part 3

My Brother Miguel’s Voice & Perspective

Back Home

The Difficult Truth

The Reveal

 

 

 

The Reveal

200wElder financial exploitation is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world, with the emphasis on crime.  Elder financial exploitation (abuse) involves the wrongful act of taking money or property and can be committed through scams, fraud or other means (embezzlement, identity theft, etc.) The perpetrators may include family members, caretakers, online or telephone fraudsters, financial managers, social contacts or service providers.

I know, I know I left you hanging last time and that wasn’t fair…El has been hounding me to get on the ball writing about the phone call. I hate feeling the way I do when I rehash this stuff even though, as I mentioned in my first post, my deepest hope is that it will help someone catch signs (earlier) with their loved one. So, write I will. One thing I do want to say is, in reflecting on how things were handled from all sides, I will be honest with you about how I or we could’ve said or done things differently so that maybe you can also use that information to have a more effective outcome than we did.

OK, the first call to Christina Hornedo.

Where I left you before was when Elwin and Miguel were in San Diego to take Irma to doctor appointments, get her assessed and to plan the next steps in caring for her. At that time, they began the discovery process of just what had been going on with her finances. Since Christina and the girls were visiting the guys at Irma’s apartment, they had decided to keep the visit positive to protect her, and the grand-kids, by not bringing this up in their presence.

Once the boys returned to their respective home cities, and we received additional information from Citibank and Adult Protective Services, a call to Christina was planned. We were devastated at what had come to light and decided that I would initiate the conversation with Christina. Since she had told me about Sam’s indiscretions that I detailed in my last post, we figured if she didn’t know anything and I reached out to her, woman-to-woman and wife-to-wife, then I could more gently break the news to her. But, if this information wasn’t a surprise to her, well…then we wanted to determine what she knew about the financial theft. We strategized our wording to leave things open-ended enough so that her initial response would be very telling. Indeed, it was. A week after the guys returned from San Diego, I set the call on speakerphone while Elwin listened and Miguel was silently conferenced in. Elwin took notes on what was said. We have reconstructed the following from those notes and filled in any gaps from Elwin’s, Mickey’s and my memories.

1 tpcChristina answered the phone and I asked if she had a few minutes to talk. She said, “I need to take my youngest daughter to the doctor.” I asked if everything was okay with her and after she told me what was going on and I asked her to call me back later when she had some time to talk. At this point she asked, “What’s this about?” I started by stating that “Something had been discovered and out of respect for her, I wanted to give her the courtesy of having the conversation, wife-to-wife.” She pressed and asked, “What’s going on?” so I said, “It’s come to light that Sam has been taking money from Irma.” Christina: “What are you talking about?” Defensively, she pushes back “Why is it any of your business?!?!” More a statement than a question. I said, “Well it became our business when Irma called us freaking out because she didn’t have enough money for her [$540] rent payment, and we had to send her $1,500 to bail her out because of the money Sam had taken from her.

Yeah, you read that right just $540.00 dollars…. not much at all for a woman who lived as austerely as Irma had. Irma cleared over $1,800.00 every month in her social security and pension since she retired (I’m not even accounting for her income when she was working so it really was much more until she retired). Since the year 2000, she had a minimum of $200,000 dollars in savings from the sale of her house; plus, in 2001 added another $150,000 from a life insurance payout. On top of all that, since 2002, we had been sending her another anywhere from $120 to $500/month consisting of repayment of a loan to us (including 7% interest rate we insisted upon, until repayment was complete). Just an aside, we felt paying her interest on her loan to us was the honorable way to do things. Since she would normally have had the amount she loaned us sitting in a bank or money market account earning between ½% – 5%, we insisted the 7% rate was the right thing to do to make sure her money was still working for her even though we were the borrowers. Just sayin’.

So, Irma had $540 in rent and maybe another $300 – $500 in expenses (Kaiser, car insurance, landline, cable, Electric) and a little bit of money for lunch with a friend or a small gift. She was always incredibly careful with how much she spent. Remember she had almost 400K in money market CDs.

This is her monthly income on top of savings.

$1,800 +  (Social Security and pension income)
$  300 + (Payment from us for the loan from 2002-2014)
$????.?? Interest income on the ~$400,000.00  she had in long-term CD/money market acct. (although, the interest was supposed to get reinvested each month she could have conceivably accessed the interest without ever touching the principle)
$2,100/monthly  Conservatively total income.
($1,100) Bills and discretionary expenses (let’s be generous)
$1,000/Month  Overage of this amount every month since at least July 2001, would have gone to savings in early years and on top of the hundreds of thousands that she already had invested.
Where did all that overage go?

Sorry, I digressed.

My point? Not only should Irma have had enough for her rent, but conceivably on top of her hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings, she should have had another $210,000 just sitting in her bank account. And she was calling us for $540.00. So yes Christina…you made this our business.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program…

1 countSo, Christina doesn’t think it should be any of our business. I then said, “Would it surprise you if I told you it was $5,000 this past year?” She replied, “That’s between her and Sam”. So, I said “What about “$10,000?” She replied, “I don’t know, again if she gives us money that her prerogative and again I just don’t see why this is any of your business?” I replied “Again, you guys made it our business when she couldn’t cover her bills because she was giving you her money.  And actually, just what we’ve found from this past year alone, is $16,000 …between clearing everything out of Irma’s bank account plus approximately $3,000 in overdraft Loans and Fees! Now she has no money to pay her bills and you’ve left Irma in a position needing to call Elwin and Miguel to pay for her expenses, so yeah, it’s our business now.”

Christina said, “I don’t know what Irma gives to Sam that’s between her and Sam” and “we have separate bank accounts because Sam would spend money before paying bills and checks would bounce for our bills, so I don’t know what she gives him.” I asked, even though we now knew the answer, I wanted to hear it out of her mouth, “Christina, you know how much he makes where do you think the $2,700/month for rent came from?” Nothing…… So I continued, “On top of that, Sam has been fraudulently using Irma’s credit cards! He apparently has sent some woman money multiple times from Irma’s credit card account.” Ah, now she’s interested… ”What woman?” she asks. I tell her.

I just thought I’d give you the courtesy of letting you know all of this and that Adult Protective Services (APS) has been informed.” Christina blows up “I’m gonna be really mad if things go legal!” I asked her “Who would you get mad at?” Her answer, “I don’t know.” I explained to her that Elwin had warned Sam back in March that if he continued to take money from their mother that he would contact APS.  Searching for an excuse she then says “You know Sam was never taught how to handle money and he’s not good with it, that’s not his fault! No one ever taught him how.” (she learned through their own accounts and the many bounced checks and overdrafts that he had no concept of how to handle money and she had to take over the finances). I said to her, “Christina, just because no one taught Sam how to handle money, doesn’t absolve him of learning financial responsibility! Nor does it excuse stealing it from his 85-year-old mother. You wouldn’t do this to your own father or mother, but have no problem doing it to Irma?!?!?!?

1 Just…. And then here comes the justification: “Well, we’re here and we take care of her.” which is pretty ironic coming from Christina because Irma had always told us, her friends, and other family that they never came around much (except for the holidays and birthdays, or whenever Irma went to their place because they used her as a built-in babysitter). We later found out from Irma that Sam would come around at least once a month to get money, not to visit, not to help her out with appointments or just visit. At that point, I mentioned about Irma’s Diminished Capacity she said that they had noticed that for the last few years (soooo…. you continued to take advantage of someone when you knew she was experiencing diminished mental capacity?).  At that point, Christina said “Look, I have to take my daughter to the doctor, I can’t deal with this right now.” I said, “That’s fine I just wanted to give you the courtesy of having this conversation, so you wouldn’t be blindsided.” (which clearly shouldn’t have been a concern on our part since she knew about getting money from Irma all along!). End of call.

The next day Elwin, Miguel and I were on the phone talking about the conversation that I had with Christina when the APS case worker called and we conferenced him in.  He stated that Sam had not returned his calls. We told him that Christina knew about the money and had mentioned that she had been aware of Irma’s diminished capacity for some time.  After hearing this, the APS case worker informed us that he was going to submit a criminal report for Financial Elder Abuse implicating Sam Hornedo.

Two days later after trying to get a hold of Miguel and Elwin, Christina called me.  She was angry that a police report/investigation had been opened.  She was not happy and proceeded to inform me that the she had spoken to Irma and had gotten the APS case workers phone number and called him.  He asked her questions regarding the money and then informed her that a police report had been submitted on the matter.  We had another long conversation basically rehashing the situation and I honestly told her how I felt regarding this matter. The conversation ended amicably but it finally proved that Christina knew what was going on all along and was complicit in this situation.

And there it is folks. In black and white.

2 call

How to Talk Honestly About Money With Your Family

1 alDiscussing financial topics with aging parents can be uncomfortable, but it’s so important.

Protecting the Elderly From Financial Abuse1 sign

Elder Financial Exploitation (Abuse) Reporting Requirements …

Continue reading The Reveal

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When I returned from visiting my mother I was angry and sad. I was really angry that my 51 year old brother (Samuel Hornedo) was so lazy and selfish that he found the need to take advantage of my 86 year old mother who was an easy target for him.  Samuel was the baby and as such my mother babied and coddled him his whole life.  She let him take advantage of her as she did not like conflict. He took advantage of that as well as her diminished capacity.

I was sad that my mother had become destitute because of the selfishness, sad that Samuel had never grown up and was not a man but still a selfish spoiled child. Unfortunately my mother was partially to blame for the situation that it turns out had been going on for a long time.  In the end she was not responsible for her actions as she was suffering from Dementia, which made it easier for Samuel to get the money.

1 24Like I have said in prior posts, I called Adult Protective Services and had a case opened.  They were very thorough in gathering as much information from me for their investigation. A few days later the APS case worker went and visited my mother and asked about the $13,000 that my mother had given (sic) Samuel. She stated that she had not given him that much money.  The case worker took my mother to the bank and the bank confirmed that was the amount written out of her account in the past year.  My mother was shocked as she did not realize or remember giving him the money.  During his visit the case worker gave my mother the  St. Louis University Mental Status (SLUMS) Test which is a test for diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment and dementia.  My mother scored in the Mild Cognitive Impairment range just barely below the Dementia threshold.

The APS case worker attempted multiple times to contact my brother Samuel Hornedo but to no avail.  As such, he finally decided to file a criminal police report.  Once Samuel found out about the police report he finally responded to the APS case worker.  If I was being accused of something I knew I had not done or had an explanation for, I would get in front of it and prove my innocence or explain myself.  This did not ever happen with Samuel.  The silence spoke volumes!

The next chapter of this story will be written by my wife Andrea who finally spoke with Samuels wife (Christina Meehan Hornedo) regarding the Elder Financial Abuse of my mother.

Dementia puts seniors at risk of financial abuse | Money | Dallas News

Why Elder Financial Abuse Is Such A Slippery Crime – Forbes