In early July, shortly after the July 4th holiday, my mom’s housemate and caregiver, L, kidnapped my mom from the convalescent facility where she was staying, took her to another cheaper facility in a town 70 miles away from my mom’s home, and left her there to rot. L did it under false pretenses, lying to the nurses and administration at the convalescent facility by telling them she was taking my mom home, and telling my mom the same thing. The nurses helped L bundle my mom in the car and get her settled, at which point L hit the freeway, drove 70 miles north to the other facility and left my mom there.
Two weeks prior to L’s decision to commit this heinous action, L had been threatening to send my mom to the cheaper facility 70 miles away, which she also told hospital admin. My mom, of course, didn’t want to go, and since her wishes must still be taken into account, hospital admin called an elder care advocate who got involved. The elder care advocate had serious sit down meeting with L, making sure L understood that my mom’s wishes couldn’t be ignored and that threatening to send her to another facility could be considered elder abuse. L was told to drop the idea about the cheaper facility and that she could not send my mom there against her wishes. L said she understood and agreed, and wouldn't take my mom to the other facility.
Two weeks later, L kidnapped my mom and left her at the other facility. When the elder care advocate found out that very same day what L had done, she called social services and law enforcement and got my mom back to her home town and the convalescent facility where she had been staying. L was told that her actions constituted elder abuse and kidnapping, and charges could be pressed if my mom wanted to. My mom was furious at L for abusing her in that way, but she didn’t press charges. It was also obvious that L was under the influence of K, the woman she’d invited to live in the family house rent free in 2011. L most likely would not have done such horrible things if K hadn’t convinced her to do them.
About a week after my mom returned to the convalescent facility in her home town, L hired an attorney to help her get sole conservatorship of my mom. If a judge granted L sole conservatorship, she could put my mom in any facility she wished and do whatever she wanted with my mom’s money and property. When the elder care advocate found out L had retained an attorney for this purpose, she contacted the public defender’s office and a case was opened on my mom and L. At the end of July, I was contacted by a woman named Ms. Wright, who is an investigator for the public defender’s office. She started her investigation into L, the woman K who L had invited to live in the house, and into my mom’s finances. As she learned things, she shared them with me. These are the things I've learned:
In January 2012, L fired my mom’s part-time caregiver for the past year, a woman named D. My mom trusted D like she hadn’t trusted any other caregivers in the past, and D really cared for my mom. I met D just a month before, in December 2011, when I visited my mom at home for the holidays. L asked D to come over on xmas day for 2 hours to help with my mom’s care. I remember thinking to myself, who does that? Who asks someone to come to their house and work on xmas day, when everyone else is taking the day off to spend with families and friends? But D graciously agreed and actually stayed nearly 3 hours, taking time away from her husband, to help care for my mom, while L puttered around the house. One month later, L fired D for “questioning her intentions” about my mom’s health care. It was later proved by my mom’s doctor that L was screwing up my mom’s health care and nearly killed my mom by unintentionally sending her into renal failure. D was aware of L’s mismanagement of my mom’s medications and other health care issues and tried to bring it up with her. Instead of listening and making improvements, L fired her, largely prompted by K’s advice. K didn’t want anyone around who might question L and stand in the way of K’s plan to get what she wanted from L – money and property. So she advised L to fire D, and in January, she did.
In February 2012, L and K went to an attorney’s office and tried to change my mom’s will without her permission. The attorney stopped L from making any changes. Had L gotten her way, she would have changed the will such that my mom and I would get nothing from the sale of the family house, or any money from my mom’s other assets (if L and K haven’t spent it all; Ms. Wright is still investigating this).
In April 2012, my mom’s doctor, Dr. H, noticed some new health care issues with my mom. She advised L to take my mom in for some tests, but L refused. She didn’t say so directly to Dr. H; she just simply didn’t take my mom in for the tests when the doctor expected her to be there. When Dr. H called back to ask why L hadn’t brought my mom in, L made excuses and said it was impossible to get my mom in the car because my mom complained of too much pain. Admittedly, my mom does complain a lot when she’s in pain, almost to the point of making in unbearable for those around her. But this was what L signed up for when she agreed to be my mom’s caregiver, and L should have found a way to get her to the doctor’s office. I believe part of the reason L stopped trying is because K prompted her to let my mom suffer.
In May 2012, my mom’s health got worse. I spoke to her on the phone and she was in so much pain, she was more confused about her surroundings and what time of day it was than I’d ever heard before. A few days after I spoke to my mom on the phone, Dr. H called emergency services and had my mom rushed to the emergency room. They did the tests that Dr. H had wanted done in April and discovered that my mom was going into renal failure as a result of a urinary tract infection. Had L taken my mom to get tested in April, they would have found the UTI, cleared it up with medication and my mom would have returned home. Now, my mom was in the emergency room and Dr. H felt it was necessary to file a report with Adult Protective Services on L’s incompetence as a caregiver for my mom. Dr. H didn’t feel it was safe for my mom to return home with L as her caregiver, so my mom stayed at the hospital for a week and was then transferred to the convalescent facility where she is currently staying.
In June 2012, L fired Dr. H because she somehow discovered that Dr. H had filed a report on her with Adult Protective Services. This wasn’t the first time L had fired one of my mom’s doctors, according to Dr. H. She had taken over my mom’s health care in April 2011 after L had fired my mom’s previous doctor because that doctor had questioned L’s competence with my mom’s health care. I was starting to see a disturbing pattern.
Towards the end of June, L was informed by the convalescent facility where my mom was staying that my mom’s insurance would no longer cover payment for my mom to stay there, so L should apply for Medi-Cal to see if they would cover payment. L did apply for Medi-Cal, but she declined to answer the questions on the application pertaining to L and my mom’s liquid assets (how much money they earned each month from other sources) and the value of the house they both owned. L didn’t want to disclose that information to Medi-Cal. For that reason, Medi-Cal denied the application, and administration at the convalescent facility told L that she’d have to find my mom another place to stay. They recommended several other less expensive facilities in town, but L refused them all and said she’d found a cheaper facility in a town 70 miles away where she was going to send my mom. That lead to L’s decision to threaten my mom by saying she was going to take her to that facility and leave her there to rot, and L’s eventual decision to kidnap my mom in July and take her to the other facility.
At which point the public defender’s office got involved, my mom was brought back to the facility where she’d been staying, and Ms. Wright began her investigation of L and K and the things they’ve been doing with my mom’s money and property.
K, as it turns out, is not even her real name. Her real name is M______, but I’ll continue to refer to her as “K” in this journal since that’s the name I was given when I was introduced to her. She’s used many different names and lived all over the U.S., doing all sorts of odd jobs and scamming people out of money, although nothing quite as serious as what she’s tried to do with L and my mom. Her resume is padded with all kinds of b.s. jobs, and she claims to have a master’s degree in social work – as yet unproven. She has lied to Ms. Wright in the course of her investigation and tried to “play nice” while being questioned and in court, pretending that nothing’s wrong and she’s not at fault for anything that’s happened. At best, she’s an amateur con artist in the making and L has fallen for her b.s. – hook, line and sinker.
In late July, Ms. Wright learned that L was trying to give away my mom’s dog Teddy, who had been in my mom and L’s care for the past 12 years. Even though my mom couldn’t really care for him any more and her interactions with him were sporadic, Teddy was still very much a part of my mom’s identity as a “dog person” and it would have hurt her immensely if L had given him away. Ms. Wright learned this when she went to the house to question L and K as part of her investigation. Ms. Wright had called them the day before to schedule the meeting, but L kept changing the time and wouldn’t agree to any time Ms. Wright suggested. When Ms. Wright called and told me about L’s response when she tried to set a meeting time with her, I told Ms. Wright that the reason L most likely wouldn’t agree to a meeting time is that she and K wanted to be out of the house when Ms. Wright showed up and not deal with her questions. It turns out, my hunch may have been accurate.
Ms. Wright decided to go to the house early in the morning the next day, 5 hours before she was scheduled to meet with L and K. She brought a local police officer with her, in case L or K tried anything stupid. When Ms. Wright knocked on the front door, she saw K peeking from a window of the house, but no one came to the door. The police officer stepped forward and knocked again, but still no one opened the door. The officer tried again, and this time L opened the door maybe an inch, peeked out and told Ms. Wright and the officer that she thought they were coming later in the day. She then closed the door in their faces.
When a police officer and investigator for the public defender’s office show up at your door, it’s usually a good idea to let them in, but L and K are obviously not the sharpest tacks in the box. The police officer went around to the back of the house, in case they tried to sneak out the back door (although they still would have had to come around to the front of the house to get to the cars in the garage, if they wanted to use the cars to make their escape), and Ms. Wright knocked on the front door again. This time L and K let them in and they sat down to have their talk. Ms. Wright informed L, within K’s hearing, of all K’s false information and shady past. K denied all of it, and continued to claim that she has a master’s in social work and “knew” that what Ms. Wright was doing was “against the law,” and that K and L could “sue her for harassment.” (Never mind that Ms. Wright, as a representative of the public defender, is the law.) Ms. Wright also forced L to be honest about her plans for Teddy, and L admitted that they’d found a permanent home for him and his new owner was coming to get him later in the day. Ms. Wright explained that, just like L’s decision to send my mom to the other convalescent facility, because Teddy is my mom’s dog – aka, her property – he can’t be given away without her permission. They agreed to find a temporary placement for Teddy, which they managed to do the following week.
The thing that makes me angry about the whole Teddy issue is that while it was perfectly fine for K’s dog Homer to remain in the house, Teddy had to go. The only reason they wanted to get rid of him is because he’s my mom’s dog and because he has a barking issue that L and my mom were never able to break him of. They did kind of spoil him, as they’d done with all their previous dogs, but Teddy’s barking issue was a little worse than the others’. My mom and L should have dealt with that from the moment they adopted him, but they didn’t listen to me when I made suggestions. So Teddy’s barking issue never went away, and K got her wish and had him removed from the house. I also have a feeling Teddy’s temporary placement won’t be so temporary, and we’ll eventually have to find a permanent home for him. My mom’s physical and mental health have deteriorated to such an extent that she can’t care for him on her own.
In August, Ms. Wright and the public defender presented their case for temporary conservatorship over my mom to a judge. The judge agreed that L and K have done a lot of wrong things that constitute elder abuse towards my mom, and the public defender was granted temporary conservatorship. Once that happened, Ms. Wright was able to investigate my mom’s finances, which she started doing. That’s when she learned about L and K’s visit to an attorney in February of this year, attempting to change my mom’s will without her permission. In January, L also closed out two large investment accounts – hers and my mom’s – with a large investment firm. Ms. Wright has yet to find out what L did with all that money. Ms. Wright also learned that L had removed all the money from the joint account in her and my mom’s names at Bank of America, as well as her own account there. L took the money in those accounts to a local credit union and opened two similar accounts – a joint account, and a separate account for her.
A week or so after L opened those accounts at the credit union, my mom’s disability and social security checks were mailed to the house. L took them to the credit union to deposit them into her own account. They told L she had to deposit the checks in the joint account because they were in my mom’s name. L complied, but the very next day, she transferred the funds into her own account. Who knows how many times she may have done the exact same thing at Bank of America and spent my mom’s money on herself. Ms. Wright is still investigating this.
In addition, shortly after she moved her and my mom’s money to the credit union, L went there and applied for a $250,000 loan against the house. L and my mom own their house and have excellent credit, so it wouldn’t have been too hard to get the loan. The day after L applied for the $250,000 loan, L went back to the credit union and changed the name on the loan from hers to K’s. Meaning, if the loan was granted, K would receive $250,000 of my mom and L’s money. Fortunately, once the public defender’s office was granted temporary conservatorship of my mom, Ms. Wright was able to freeze all the accounts, and the loan did not go through. Had Ms. Wright not acted so quickly, I’m sure K would have skipped town as soon as she got the loan and we wouldn’t have seen or heard from her again.
One of the other things Ms. Wright learned at the conservatorship hearing was that L and K planned to sell the house. Their attorney was present at the hearing, as he was supposed to be, and revealed to the public defender and Ms. Wright that plans to sell the house were underway. Yet again, another instance of L and K attempting to do something illegally, without my mom’s consent. Half of the profits of the house belong to my mom, since she bought the house with L and both of their names are on the deed. L cannot sell the property and get all the proceeds without my mom’s consent. The public defender quickly put a stop to L and K’s attempt to sell the house, which upset them pretty well.
Lastly, one of the most recent things Ms. Wright uncovered in her financial investigation was that L had written two checks totaling $15,000 to a woman named L.C. The money came from my mom’s account. Ms. Wright asked me if I recognized L.C.’s name, which I didn’t. I called and asked my mom if she knew who L.C. was, and she didn’t either. After further investigation, Ms. Wright discovered that L.C. owned a vacation rental home in Mexico and had been contacted a week prior by K, who said she wanted to rent the vacation home. L wrote the checks and K mailed them to L.C., later telling L.C. that she wanted to rent the house because she was writing her dissertation for her Ph.D. (complete b.s., I’m sure) and “needed some peace and quiet.” K told L.C. that she would be joined a few weeks later by her “elderly aunt” – L.
K left for Mexico last week, and L is currently in Minnesota, visiting her sister. She is supposed to return home and apply for a passport next week to join K in Mexico. I’m in complete disbelief at this new information. Racism and bigotry are hardwired into L’s DNA. Like my mom, her fear of anyone “different” (aka, Latino, black, middle eastern, etc.) has caused deep racism and fearful, negative comments about “Mexican people,” never mind that they might be from Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba, or any other Latin country. How she expects to live in Mexico with those kinds of racist beliefs is beyond me. But it only further proves how far she’s fallen for K’s line of b.s. and how willing she is to believe this amateur con artist in disguise.
When Ms. Wright learned that both K and L were out of the state, she went by the house to see what condition they’d left it in. She found that K had taken all her things with her, including her dog, indicating that she most likely has no intention to return. Ms. Wright had the locks changed on the house, so that if K tries to return, she won’t be able to get in. It also means L won’t be able to get in the house when she returns from Minnesota next week, but I expect we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Ms. Wright says the public defender’s office is also seeking temporary conservatorship of L, and the hearing is next week. So hopefully by the time L returns from Minnesota, the public defender will have conservatorship of her and they’ll find her someplace else to stay.
Ms. Wright explained to L.C., the woman with the vacation rental, that it was paid for illegally, and L.C. is returning the checks. The $15,000 will be returned to my mom’s account. I don’t know what that means for K, and I don’t really care. Obviously, she won’t be able to stay at the vacation rental once she discovers it’s not paid for. Where she goes from there is up to her. Her actions may result in criminal charges and, if necessary, I hope Ms. Wright is able to find her and put her behind bars.
I have no idea how to process all the shit I’ve learned about K and L’s activities in the past few months. It’s so completely overwhelming to me. To think that people who I considered family and never wanted anything bad to happen to them would treat my mother and I with such disdain is beyond me. If L and K had gotten their way, the money and property that belongs to my mom and me, by default, would have been spent and used up. L’s son R is completely oblivious, thinking that he and his mom will benefit from all of K’s money fraud, that they’ll get all my mom’s money and property, refusing to understand that K is only out for herself and if she could get all the money for herself without getting caught, she would. He was present at my mom’s conservatorship hearing, making statements like “everyone needs to leave us alone, quit investigating L and E (my mom); K and L haven’t done anything wrong, and E (my mom) is perfectly capable of making her own decisions.” Which is completely untrue. If R knew anything about dementia, he’d understand this. My mom’s dementia is so far gone, she can’t remember things that happened the day before, or something we discussed in conversation 5 minutes prior. She’s not in any position to make decisions for herself and needs someone to help her – someone who doesn’t have fraud and elder abuse in mind. But R’s been convinced by K and his mother L that my mom is just an aging bitch who needs to be dumped wherever they decide to dump her, and they can spend her money and use up her property in any way they choose.
I always knew I had a dysfunctional family, but I didn’t think they would turn out to be as weak-willed, stupid and evil as this. It makes me sick to consider it, and makes me feel like I’m living through a Jerry Springer episode, or “As The World Turns.” I’m extremely grateful to the public defender for stopping all this b.s. from happening, and I deeply hope that Ms. Wright is able to find some money left – that L and K haven’t spent all my mom’s liquid assets, except the house. Now we have to start thinking about how my mom’s care is going to be paid for and where she can stay, in addition to who will continue as her conservator – whether it should be the public defender or me. I’m not sure I’m cut out for the job, and my mom might not have enough money left to help pay for in-home care. So I’m waiting for Ms. Wright to do some further investigating into my mom’s finances before we come to a final decision. And all I want is a magic door to take me away from this crazy hell.