UNDERSTANDING THE ISSUE: State Sponsored Elder Looting

The State of Texas has two agencies charged with protecting the elderly and disabled from abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation; Adult Protective Services (APS), and the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) .

Elements inside these agencies have gone rogue, kidnapping elderly individuals and couples, looting their assets and incarcerating them for life in asylums.  The rogue system is organized as a loosely coordinated conspiracy of APS, DADS, probate judges, and professional guardians.

The Mission
Adult Protective Services is a division of the Texas Department of Human Services.  Its mission is to “to protect elderly Texans from abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation”. DADS is another division responsible for caring for Texas elderly and disabled.  Mostly DADS dispenses Medicaid funds to nursing homes and asylums.

The agencies are governed by the Texas Human Resources Code http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/HR/htm/HR.48.htm

Unraveling the Scam
Elder looting is almost the perfect crime because it is almost impossible to detect due to the following:

– APS possesses emergency power to take a individuals into custody “to protect them from harming themselves or others”.  No prior notice, due process, show cause hearing, or any judicial approval is required.
– Captured individuals are often immediately committed to a psychiatric ward thereby rendering their records and future hearings private under HIPAA.

In effect APS can disappear an individual or couple without a trace.

The cases that are discovered are done so by nosy neighbors or relatives.  Otherwise there is no means to detect them

Open Records volunteers have been researching the system for the past 4 years and have identified several common elements of State Sponsored Elder Looting:

1. The victim is targeted due to their assets, particularly a home with equity.
2. APS kidnaps the victim from a hospital or home.
3. Family members are ignored or threatened by APS.
4. Victims are immediately heavily drugged.
5. A probate judge chooses a friendly psychologist to find them incompetent.
6. The judge appoints “professionals” to “manage” affairs.
7. The “professionals” stop paying taxes and insurance and liquidate the home and other assets.
8. The estate is substantially looted within 6 to 12 months.
9. The probate judge sentences the victim to life in an asylum.

From our research and from developing internal whistleblowers we have also been able to determine a little more detail to the process from the perspective of APS and DADS.

Step-by-Step Guide to Elder Looting

1. Identify the mark

The optimal mark
– Owns a home, other assets, and a pension,
– Has no physically close relatives,
– Doesn’t have a will other than one with a spouse,
– Doesn’t have a pre-selected guardian agreement,
– Is law abiding, legally unsophisticated, and trusting.

In summary APS seeks moderately wealthy soft targets.  APS will avoid targeting an elderly woman whose son is a local attorney.  However a retired couple whose children have moved out of state would be considered rich pickings.

The way the elderly protective system is supposed to work, concerned family members or friends are supposed to report possible abuse to APS who will investigate the abuse.

The reality in many cases is quite different.  APS depends on informants to identify suitable elderly marks,  Informants may include:

– Disgruntled neighbors,
– Disgruntled family members,
– Disgruntled health care workers,
– Unscrupulous hospital employees.

APS has extraordinary legal powers and unlimited financial resources and as a result can inflict a great deal of pain without consequences.  A vindictive neighbor upset over a tree leaning in their yard or a dog barking or even a spurned suitor can sit back and watch APS tear into an elderly couple by making a single phone call.

The problem is similar to using community informers in Afghanistan.  The locals discovered that an easy way to settle a grudge was to tell the Americans so-and-so was Taliban.  A Predator would pay the individual a visit a short time later.

Family members can similarly rat out the elderly to APS.  Often this follows a dispute over money.  For example an elderly woman might refused to give a grandson money she suspected would be used to buy drugs or alcohol.  The grandson would then retaliate by calling APS.

Unfortunately in today’s system of Medicare and Medicaid funded medicine, the health care provider no longer works for the patient but rather works for the government.  As a result, if APS wants them to rat out suitable elderly marks, they are more than willing to comply.

Some hospitals ask patients a series of questions at admissions:

1. Will you be paying with private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid?
2. Do you have a will?
3. Do you have close relatives?
4. Do you have a Durable Power of Attorney?
5. Do you have a Physicians Directive?

If the individual is a Medicaid patient, has a will, and has lots of local relatives, they will likely be passed over.  On the other hand if the individual has private insurance, has no will, and the nearest relative is in Colorado, an unscrupulous nurse or administrator can made a report to APS that she has concerns about a patient\’s ability “to care for himself”.

That is all that is required for APS to take the patient into custody for “investigation”.  At this point most victims disappear and are never heard from again.

2. Rope Them In

Even APS cannot enter a home without a warrant.  Therefore they must trick victims into coming outside.  The elderly grew up in a different time where a nicely dressed woman knocking on their door could be trusted or even invited in for tea or coffee.    APS workers take advantage of this trust.

An example ruse is an APS worker knocking on a target\’s door and tell them that something looks wrong with their roof.  When the target steps outside he is nabbed by armed police, “in the interest of his own safety”.

Capturing targets at hospitals is far easier and less likely be captured on video by nosy neighbors.  The elderly often have elective surgery such as knee replacements or hernia operations.  Often then seek medical care following a fall.

When the inside person at the hospital identifies a suitable mark, APS can move in and take them into custody, “for their own safety and the safety of others” or some other similar aphorism.  Hospitals are great for capturing the elderly because they usually have an associated psychiatric ward.  The captured victim can be safely stashed in the psych ward while APS gets its story straight and finds a judge.

Admission to a psych ward appears to be rather simple.  If APS says they want a mark committed, they are committed.  Several days later APS will need to either get the victim to sign pre-dated document saying they “voluntarily” committed themselves or find a doctor willing to give his signature.  The doctor of course never saw the patient before they were admitted.

An additional advantage of committing the target to a psych ward is that access from friends and family can be curtailed and all records can be covered up due to HIPAA.

3. Dope ‘em High, Dope ‘em Often

Once the mark is committed, the disabling can begin in earnest.  It is important that the individual has as few mental faculties available so a psychologist can “test” and find him “mentally incapacitated”.   Commonly prescribed drugs include the psychoactive drugs Risperdal and Seroquel. as well as depressants.

When the victim is reduced to minimal consciousness he can then be given one of the standardized mental tests such as the MMSE which includes questions such as counting backwards from 100 by 7s.

4. Here Comes ‘da Judge

The final piece necessary is for APS to make a presentation to a probate judge.  An irony of elder looting cases is that APS is represented by the local District Attorney.

The DA will present a perfunctory case featuring testimony by APS social workers featuring standard phrases; “mentally incapacitated”, “unable to care for himself”, and “a threat to himself and others”. The psychologist chosen by the judge or by the asylum will present the “scientific” test given the drugged victim and diagnose “dementia”, “psychosis”, or some similar malady.

The judge will appoint a “Guardian” to “manage” the victims affairs.  The Guardian is often an employee or contractor to the Department of Aging and Disability Services or an employee of the asylum that benefits from the individual being committed.  At that moment, the individual ceases to exist as a person and his assets and income is no longer his.

The final coup de gras is a life sentence to an asylum.

The looting is complete and the mark eviscerated.