The Kidnapping of Mary and Francis Leuschner by the State of Massachusetts
A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from Maryanne begging for help for her parents. What happened to them at the hands of an agency supposedly in place to help the elderly is chilling. These people simply came into her home and took her father away, just as the Nazis did during the Holocaust. They claim he needed “protection.” Unfortunately her story is true and this is happening all over America. What will you do to help?
by Maryanne Leuschner
My name is Maryanne Leuschner. The story I am about to tell you is one that I believed could not happen in this great country of ours. I was taught that America was the home of the free and the land of the brave. I believed that we, as American citizens, had freedom; that our basic God-given rights were fully intact; that elder abuse was not tolerated; that state agencies were put in place to protect the elderly, not do them more harm.
What I discovered was the exact opposite. We are not free. The state agencies in place to protect the elderly do not protect them. I started researching elder abuse and guardianship. What I discovered had me reeling; for days I couldn’t catch my breath. How could I be so unaware of such a huge issue? After all, I read the newspapers, listen to the radio and watch the news. Shouldn’t such huge criminal acts and travesties of justice be headline news items? Isn’t kidnapping illegal? I still remember hearing about the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, an incident that happened in 1932, a story that is as ingrained in America’s history as all of the World Wars and the assassination of President Kennedy. So why is the kidnapping of the most vulnerable members of our society being ignored? Why is it allowed to go on? Why aren’t the criminals that perpetrate these acts in jail?
After much research, I found the answer. Money. Plain and simple. The love of money and the greed of a conglomerate of individuals who prey on the elderly. The theft of the homes and estates of the elderly population is an extremely lucrative business. Guardianship abuse of the elderly is America’s dirty little secret. It is a nationwide issue that is being ignored by our government; by our politicians; by our judicial system and by mainstream media.
I am an only child, adopted by my parents when I was an infant. I am also the only living heir to my parents’ modest estate, their home in Dedham, Massachusetts. I was living in Indiana when my Mom asked me to please come home. Both of my parents needed help and in November, 2012, I moved back home.
Moving back home was bittersweet; my childhood home held many pleasant and some unpleasant memories. My parents needed help. The house needed some heavy cleaning and a number of repairs. Mom wanted to pay down their debts and make provisions for home care for herself and my Dad in the event it ever became necessary. She was thinking about taking out a reverse mortgage but was not sure if this was the best way to go. I went with her to a meeting with a broker from one of the companies to gather more information; nothing had been signed.
My parents and I discussed all of their financial needs and mine as well. I had no other means of support at this time and no savings; my parents had been helping me financially for a number of years due to a number of medical issues. I was hit by a drunk driver when I was 13 years old and while on crutches in school I was pushed down two flights of stairs. I also needed a car in order to start job hunting, to take them to their doctors’ appointments and provide other basic needs such as banking and food shopping. Their house was cluttered and unorganized; as soon as I returned home I immediately got to work on sorting old mail and throwing out trash.
There was also a personal situation that I needed to take care of in order to get my driver’s license reinstated. Fourteen years ago my ex-boyfriend wrote out checks on my account and forged my name. Although I never saw the checks and no handwriting analysis was ever done, I was accused of fraud by the District Attorney of Dedham and advised I had to plead guilty or I would go to jail. At the time I had no recourse or funds to hire a lawyer. My Dad agreed to help me pay the court fees until I got a job. I went to the court in Dedham, made the necessary arrangements and payments and received approval to get my license reinstated.
In December, I received a phone call from my mother’s doctor, Dr. Caliath from West Roxbury, MA. She told me that she felt Mom should no longer be driving. I agreed with her and advised the doctor that my father and I were attempting to do just that. About two weeks after that phone call, my mother fell out of bed and bruised her ribs. The bed itself had these old metal springs and no support; it was only a matter of time before the entire bed collapsed.
I took my mother to Faulkner Hospital in Dedham where she was admitted after x-rays showed bruised ribs; other than that her health was fine. After a few days she was released. Shortly after that, a caseworker by the name of Tara Lemieux from HESSCO Elder Services of Massachusetts came out to my parents’ home. She discussed a number of services that were provided by her agency. My parents and I did not think her visit was anything to worry about; it did not raise any red flags with us. We just listened to what she had to say. Little did I know this visit was a precursor of what was about to happen.
I started job hunting and went back to school. Mom and Dad and I continued to work around the house. One night in February I awoke to the dogs barking and my father yelling for help. I ran to my father and found him in the bathroom with my mother. She had hit her head on something and was bleeding, but still conscious. I immediately called 911. The ambulance arrived and asked me if there was a preferred hospital; I immediately told them Beth Israel in Needham, MA. However, they took her instead to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in downtown Boston.
While the paramedics were there, one of them told me that because of the condition of the house, he had to report it to the Board of Health. While it was not in the best condition, the problem was the clutter, which I had been working on since I got home. I was only worried about my Mom at that moment and told him to just do what he had to do.
Once we got to the hospital, the doctor told us that Mom had taken a nasty fall and needed a few stitches. He wanted to keep her there for a few days for observation. He also mentioned that she might be suffering from dementia, but that it could be temporary because of the blood on her brain which was a result of the injury to the top of her head.
A few days later, Dr. Caliath called me and advised me that I needed to convince my mother to go to a rehab in order to get physical therapy to regain her strength. Because I was concerned about the injury to her head, I agreed that this might be the best move for her. After much discussion and arguments from my mother as to why she did not need to go to a rehab, she finally agreed.
I worked as a certified nurse’s aide in Oklahoma and Texas and I am quite familiar with nursing homes and rehabs and how patients are treated. I wanted to make sure my Mom was placed in one of the best homes for her care. My father and I decided to speak with someone at the Council of Aging (HESSCO) to find out what kind of help we were entitled to and where the best rehabilitation place was. I had heard that the Spaulding Home in Jamaica Plain was a good place. While we were in the middle of our meeting, I received a call from Brigham Hospital letting me know that they had found a bed for her at Golden Living in Norwood. They would place her there if I approved. The woman we were speaking to advised me that they had an excellent rating so I felt comfortable allowing the move. A few hours later Mom was transferred there for what was supposed to be a short-term stay.
That same day my father and I went to the home to see Mom. I met with the social worker to provide the family background information required. She also asked about my past and I told this woman everything; including my own medical conditions, past alcoholism and drug addiction issues and how my parents were considering a reverse mortgage in order to clean up and repair their home. I did advise her that I had been clean and sober since 1998. Unfortunately, that was a mistake. The next day when I went to visit my mother, I was followed by the social worker and advised I was not allowed to visit my mother without supervision. When we both asked why, we were advised that a nurse at Brigham Hospital advised the social worker that I was verbally abusive to my mother. We told her that was a lie; that the day I tried to convince Mom she needed to go to rehab she argued with me and insisted she wanted her pocketbook and wanted to go home. I refused to give it to her and told her I just wanted her to get physical therapy and get well and that I would take care of everything. That seemed to satisfy the social worker and nothing else was said about supervised visits; however I did notice that the nursing staff eavesdropped on our conversations every time I visited. The social worker was also continually telling me that my mother needed to go on Medicaid in order for them to get paid. I advised her that Medicare was paying for the first twenty days and after that Mom would need to be reevaluated to see if she could come home.
During this time period, I continued to work on cleaning up the house, handling minor repairs, paying the bills and taking Dad shopping for household necessities. We bought food with the food stamps I was receiving. One day a woman from HESSCO, Pamela, came out to the house to speak with my father. She suggested Meals on Wheels and discussed sending out a cleaning service to help with the clean-up. We agreed to accept the help.
My Dad also needed his medical care issues addressed. I contacted the VA and scheduled doctor appointments. He asked them to put my name in his file as Health Care Proxy and release all of his medical records to me. They did not ask for any signed forms nor did we provide one. I took my father to all of his appointments and picked up all of his medications.
At the end of February we received a bill in the mail from HESSCO for a co-payment for the cleaning service. They wanted my parents to pay a monthly fee of $115.00 per month for two hours cleaning per week. When I told my mother about the bill, she told me to cancel the service; that I could handle what needed to be done around the house. After all, they were just barely surviving on their income and did not need another expense.
When the Meals on Wheels program started, the people who delivered the food reported to HESSCO that my father and I were not home when they came to drop off the meals. I advised them that they needed to come in the morning because we were both busy during the day. They eventually changed their drop-off times.
March 1, 2013 started off like any other day. My Dad and I got up, had breakfast, took care of the dogs and got ready to go visit my mother at the nursing home. The visit went well. For some reason Mom was getting speech therapy, which she did not need, as well as physical therapy. My Dad visited her daily and together they walked around the premises which gave her a fair amount of daily exercise. Before we left, I stopped at the nurses’ station to find out when Mom would be going home but as usual, I was unable to get an answer. A caseworker from Adult Protective Services, Tara Lemieux and the social worker Kaohna approached me and said we needed to have a meeting. My Dad and I went with her to her office. Once we were all seated, she proceeded to tell me that Mom was not going home and they were going to apply for Medicaid for her continued care. I was in tears and proceeded to tell her that everything was being done at home to provide for her care. My father then spoke up and said “I just want my wife home.” Tara said to my father “You, sir, cannot make decisions for yourself.” That was when I stood up and slammed my fist down on the table and said “That is enough!” I was devastated at how she blatantly ignored our wishes and disrespected my father. During this entire meeting they both continued to smile at us. The social worker looked at me and said “Oh do you act like this at home?” I said “No, this is what happens when you upset people to that point. You deliberately sat here pushing my buttons and finding it funny.” At that point the meeting ended and we went home.
We arrived home to find that my three dogs had escaped from the house. One of them was hit by a car and killed. Needless to say, I was devastated. My dogs are like my children to me. I called my Mom to let her know and of course she was upset. I asked her if I could take some money to cremate the dog and my mother was fine with that. Somehow the caseworker from HESSCO, Tara Lemieux, found out about this and the next day she showed up at our house. I was taking a nap at the time. My Dad slammed the door in her face and said he wanted nothing to do with her. I called her to find out what she wanted. That was when she told me they opened a “protective file” on my father! I was shocked and told her my father does not need protection. He is not a fall victim and he is in good health. She continued to insist he needed their protection.
A few days later we received court papers stating that they were taking him to court and assigning a court appointed guardian to care for him. This document went on to say that I was abusing, neglecting and financially exploiting my father; the home had a non-working refrigerator with black mold in it and the house smelled strongly of urine and feces from my three large dogs. None of this was true. When the caseworker did come out to our home one time she never once left the front room of the house, never looked in the refrigerator but she did state that my parents were hoarders. While there was a lot of clutter around, it was mainly books and paperwork and some household items that I was clearing out. The garage had collapsed years ago and my father had placed all of the items from the garage onto the front porch.
On April 8, 2013, the day we were scheduled to go to court, I drove my father to the courthouse with the hopes of putting a stop to all of this nonsense. When we got there, we discovered that the agency that is supposed to be protecting and assisting the elderly, HESSCO, wanted the judge to force my father to have a neuro-psych test done by one of their doctors. Their report was filled with a list of unfounded accusations against me, stating that he was in need of protective services because I had been neglecting, abusing and financially exploiting my father; that I am verbally abusive and that I provide inappropriate care. The judge then appointed a temporary guardian for my father and an attorney who was supposed to represent my father in court, referred to as a GAL—guardian ad litem.
My mother had already been forced to submit to one of these psych tests. Dr. Tabroff, the doctor that worked in the nursing facility told me that he felt she was competent and that she could return home. He did tell her that she should allow me to assist her in handling the bills and provide general assistance around the house, which is exactly what we had planned to do. The catch was that in order for my mother to leave, another doctor needed to examine her and come to the same conclusion. When I approached the new social worker at the nursing home I was advised that he would not be able to come for another four or five weeks. I was quite upset and told her we did not want to wait, that Mom wanted to go home immediately. She told me there was a possibility that a different doctor would be available in the next day or so. I was afraid that the doctor from Elder Services was going to do the exam and specifically advised the nursing home to call me if that happened.
About a week later, a woman by the name of Dr. Nassar, a psychologist, and Tara Lemieux , the caseworker from Elder Services, arrived at our home. Dr. Nassar told me that I could not be in the house while she was testing him but I told her she could do the test with me there or not at all. She started talking to my Dad and pulled out some cards. She showed them to him and asked him to pick out certain items. While he appeared to be doing ok, this doctor had no idea what my father’s educational background was which is crucial in determining a person’s overall score. The MMSE–Mini-Mental State Exam—scores should be adjusted or interpreted differently to account for a person’s age, education, race and ethnicity. Scores will decline as a person ages but a higher score will be seen in a person with a higher educational level regardless of their cognitive functions. My father quit school when he was in the 7th grade in order to join the Navy and fight in World War II. He worked in sweatshops his entire life and never pursued any higher education. Right before I came home he quit his last job as a bagger for Roche Brothers. As this test went on my father was becoming very nervous. I told the doctor this but she just shrugged it off and told me he was “fine.” As a professional, she should have recognized this but I now know her intent was strictly to make him fail the test so she could deem him incompetent.
I went outside to talk to the caseworker and I advised her what I was doing in the house and the different services I was in the process of setting up for my parents. I mentioned the fact that my mother was about to be released as soon as a second doctor completed another exam. At that point, Tara advised me that Dr. Nassar met with my mother that day and performed the same test on her. It is important to note here that I was the legal health care proxy for my mother. The day she was brought into Brigham Women’s Hospital the doctor asked her who she wanted to name to make all of her medical decisions. She chose both my father and I and we both signed the document that day.
What Dr. Nassar did was a violation of my mother’s civil rights and the HIPPA laws. Apparently she had gone to the nursing home that morning at 8am and tested my mother without my knowledge. I immediately approached Dr. Nassar and asked her what her official diagnosis was of my mother. She told me that Mom had vascular dementia due to a stroke or several strokes. My mother has never had a stroke.
On May 23, I took my father to his scheduled appointment at the VA. A geriatric specialist, Dr. Akon, did a thorough test on him, asking him many different questions and even had him draw a clock. He also did a complete physical on him and ordered blood work. I was there for most of the visit. He questioned my Dad about me; how I treated him; if I ever abused him. He said everything was just fine at home except that he wanted my mother home. When the exam was finished I asked the doctor for his test results. He told me that my father was not in need of skilled nursing, that he only needed someone to remind him to take his meds. I was looking into adult day care for the times that I was in school and working. I asked the doctor for his opinion and he thought it would be a good idea.
One day my father’s attorney (GAL) came to the house to speak with my father. He spoke with both of us and told me he did not see what everyone was talking about; that from the conversations with my father he did not believe my father had dementia. During that same visit I found out that the court documents stated that I was bipolar. I had previously presented a letter to the judge from my own doctor stating that I was not bipolar.
That same day my Father’s Court Appointed Attorney Alice Turner showed up at the house as well. She forced me to leave the house to speak to my Dad in private. When she was leaving, she stopped and asked me who the car belonged to. I advised her it was mine but in my Dad’s name since he had purchased it.
I received papers in the mail from Mary Kate Connolly, an attorney hired by HESSCO Elder Services. She is with the law firm of O’Sullivan & Connolly, P.C. in Norwell , MA. She filed papers with the court asking for guardians for my parents. She also filed a motion asking the court to seal all the records and the affidavit of Tara Lemieux, the caseworker for HESSCO. According to the court documents this is for my parents’ protection. It also states that my mother cannot attend the court hearing due to her “illness.”
I was at a total loss as to what to do to save my parents from these people, these strangers. They were all very condescending toward me and my parents. They treated us as if we were ignorant, as if what we wanted and what we said did not matter. I cannot even begin to explain my frustration and fear. I just started calling and sending e-mails to anyone and everyone who I thought would help, including the President. At the time I had no idea how truly deep the corruption went. I was still naïve and believed that someone was going to come to our rescue and stop this nightmare we were all living. I called legal aide lawyers as well, but everyone I spoke to uttered the same response, “Sorry, there is nothing we can do to help you.” I talked to the lawyers at the Canton probate court; their response was that elder services was always right. At this point my stress level was so high that I could no longer attend my classes. I promised my parents long ago that I would never place them in a nursing home and I had already failed my mother. How could I save my father? Someone told me to contact the ombudsman from HESSCO because her job was to act as the mediator between my parents and the judge. While she appeared to be listening, she never did anything to help them.
I continued to clean out the house and obtained estimates on necessary repairs. I got a medical alert system from Home Health Care Specialists. I also spoke to the broker again regarding the reverse mortgage. My parents had already been through credit counseling and passed the necessary requirements. I also called a few lawyers regarding bankruptcy to see if it was possible to file and obtain a reverse mortgage; yes, we could do that.
At my father’s next doctor’s appointment, Dr. Sandman said she was very happy with his progress. She said Dad looked so much better and to keep up what he was doing. There were no plans to put him on any medication for dementia at this time because an MRI still needed to be done before they could officially diagnose him. Their opinion was that he did not have it. She ordered blood work to check his cholesterol and then we left to head home.
My room is in the basement of my parents’ home. When we got home that day I went downstairs to do some paperwork. After a short time, my Dad yelled down to me to hurry and come upstairs, that quite a few people had arrived at the house. I ran upstairs and found the temporary Guardian, the GAL, Alice Turner, Tara Lemieux, the caseworker from HESSCO and the Dedham police standing in the front doorway. They were telling him how much he wanted to go and live in the nursing home with my mother because he missed her so much. He said “no, I do not want to be there. I want to visit my wife, yes, but I want her home with me.” George Rodriguez, the guardian, and Alice Turner, another attorney assigned to my father told him “Well, that is never going to happen.” At that point they pushed their way into the house and tried to go into my Dad’s bedroom, saying they were going to get some of his things. I told them “No, I will get them.” I watched as George Rodriguez and The GAL stole my parents’ mail. They both looked all around the house, as if trying to memorize it. They then asked if Dad had any medication and I handed that to them. Although I had told them all at first to get out of my house, I was told it was not my house, it was my parents’ home. The police officer told me to stay back and shut my mouth or he would have to take me in. It was all so surreal. I felt as if I was watching a movie and this wasn’t really happening. I followed this caravan to the nursing home. When we got there my mother came out of her room and asked the temporary guardian, George Rodriguez at least eight times what he was doing there. He never answered her; he did not even look at her. I told her what was happening. At that point George Rodriguez, an attorney at 21 McGrath Highway, Quincy, MA, came over to me and told me that if I ever tell my mother another thing he would make certain that I never see her again.
How do people just walk into your home and kidnap you and tell you where you are going to live? I was in shock. I had nowhere to turn; no public official would help me or my parents. I was sickened by the way the nurses spoke to my father, as if he was a baby, even going so far to tell him that he could not go outside without one of them. One day my mom and dad were getting ready to go outside for a walk with me when one of the nurses came up to us, turned my mother around and told her it was too cold for her to go outside. Their treatment of my parents is appalling but I have to sit back and bite my tongue lest they stop my visitation.
The staff at Golden Living is anything but helpful to the patients and the medical care is severely lacking. The majority of the nursing staff is Haitian and I often observe them standing around in the hallway conversing with each other in their own language; all the while buzzers are going off and patients are calling for help. Not long after my mother had her stitches removed from her head, I noticed that there was a crust around the area and mentioned it to the nurse. Nothing was ever done. It was almost two months later before they finally agreed to take her to a dermatologist. The doctor discovered that the wound was badly infected and needed immediate attention.
On or about July 3rd, I brought a few checks to the nursing home for my mother to sign. I had to pay the water bill, my cell phone bill and the car insurance. The payment for the car itself was paid automatically from their account. I then discovered that on July 5th, the guardian, George Rodriguez, opened a custodial account and moved my parents’ money into that account without notifying my parents’ or me. Their monthly pension and social security checks were still being deposited into the original account which allowed me to watch the activity.
My father had an appointment with the VA that month at the High Risk Foot Clinic. He never made that appointment because the staff claims they “forgot.” I rescheduled his appointment and provided them with the new date but again, they refused to take him there. I made two appointments for my mother with her eye doctor but they refused to take her there either. When they finally did take her for her exam, they would not get her the new glasses she needed.
Due to George Rodriguez’s handling of Mom’s accounts, the automatic payment for the car was not being made. When I called and advised him what he had done, he made two car payments and the cable bill but nothing else. He then told me that there was no more money to send me.
I called the bank to find out what was going on with the equity loan and found out it was sent to collections and the house was in pre-foreclosure. I explained what had happened to my parents’ and they told me they could do a loan modification and would mail me the necessary paperwork.
My mother was taken to the hospital in August and admitted for pneumonia. The nursing home never called me. I just had a bad feeling and went to visit them. My Dad was sitting in the waiting area and when I asked where my mom was all he could say was they took her to the hospital and they went that way. They never told my father what hospital they were taking her to. When I got down to the Norwood Hospital and told them that I was never called they were appalled. I told the doctor that my mother has a guardian but the doctor said no one called or came to see her and he needed someone to talk to about her medical care.
The next court date was the end of September. The temporary guardian, George Rodriguez, did not show up that day. Mary Kate Connolly, and the GAL, Henry E. Bock, were there but my mother never showed. Mom’s attorney never made arrangements with the nursing home to bring her there. We had to request another conference which is now scheduled for December 5th.
During the September hearing, HESSCO presented the evaluations on my mother from two doctors, Dr. Nassar and a Dr. Mendoza. The findings were all presented in one report but I was not allowed to see them. Dr. Mendoza is the president of Boston Forensics in Dedham, MA. My Mom told me that when she was talking to him everything went well but according to the report, he agreed with Dr. Nassar’s findings.
I also found out that the guardian had stopped making payments on the equity loan and the car. According to the arrangements made in court, the guardian was required to send me money for food and gas each month until I could find a job and support myself. Since the time the guardian took over my mother’s finances, I only received two checks; one for $125.00 and $75.00.
I spoke to my mother’s GAL and my mother and advised her that the guardian was not making any payments on the truck. I then asked the guardian for an accounting of my parents’ finances. None of the household bills were being paid; property tax, phone bill, truck payment and insurance, water, gas, electric or the sewer bill. I received a bill on October 24th demanding $3500 for property taxes. He is not doing anything to protect their assets.
When I go to visit my parents’ in the nursing home, my father is constantly saying he was tricked and he does not want to be there, he wants to be at home and he misses his dogs. My mother still does not have her glasses. In the court order it states that my parents are each supposed to get $20.00 in their personal accounts each week for spending money. They never even got that from the guardian.
My parents cannot get their laundry done because the nursing home actually expects their family to do it. The only thing they do day after day is sit in my Mom’s room and watch TV; they often dose because they are so bored. They don’t do any of the activities there because these are things they have never done and do not enjoy.
It would be much less expensive and safer for my parents to live at home with an aide. They are both ambulatory, bathe, dress and feed themselves. The guardian never visits my parents’ in the nursing home.
My mother’s lawyer told me that I need to get rid of the dogs and go live in a shelter. That’s it. They want me to just go away and let them have my parents. The judge has not declared either one of my parents incapacitated. I am frightened that they are both going to give up hope and lose their will to live if I don’t bring them home soon…
Posted on November 27, 2013, in GUARDIANSHIP ABUSE and tagged Boston, Dedham, Dedham Massachusetts, Faulkner Hospital, Massachusetts, November 2012, United States, West Roxbury. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.