Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Another Mental Health Kidnapping in San Bernardino County

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Janet Phelan
Activist Post

A Redlands man has filed a writ of habeas corpus concerning release from confinement ordered under a conservatorship that may not even exist.

When Charles Castle was grabbed off the street by San Bernardino mental health court workers Bob Habel and Wayne Henkelman, almost nobody realized he was missing. Charlie was homeless and while a virtual fixture on the street scene in Redlands, California, he lacked family and social support networks. Some folks, such as Ken Stein with the YMCA, where Charlie went to shower, thought that he was possibly deceased.

Taken

Not deceased, but certainly disappeared, Charlie was taken to Arrowhead Regional Center hospital and held in a mental health unit while powerful parties determined his fate. He reports that he was not present at his mandated court hearing and only found out several months later that he had been placed under a mental health conservatorship.

His conservatorship proceedings were steeped in fraud. Charlie was represented by the same law firm, the law offices of Bryan Hartnell, which also represented the conservator, Melodie Scott. Initially, the Public Guardian was appointed as conservator and Scott quickly petitioned to take over this function.

According to Charlie, his attorney “terrorized” him out of his right to a jury trial. He recalls being told by attorney Ryan Sheehan (who has since left the law firm) that his best recourse was to waive his right to a jury trial. Castle recalls Sheehan saying “It will get real bad for you if you lose the trial. They can put you wherever they want to and you will never get out. Better to go along.”


After being conserved, Charlie Castle was subsequently moved out of San Bernardino County and transferred from facility to facility. He has been on lockdown in Chino Valley Health Care Facility and most recently has been placed into a locked ward at Ramona Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation in El Monte. Neither of these skilled nursing facilities offers a mental health treatment program, which raises questions as to conservator neglect. Since Charlie was deemed by the court to need a mental health conservatorship, one would question why the conservator has persisted in placing him in facilities which do not offer mental health treatment. Charlie has described the facilities as “warehouses for human refuse.”

Charles Castle was first approached by conservator Melodie Scott a few months before he was grabbed in front of the library by mental health workers Wayne and Bob. According to Castle, she asked him if he would like her to be his conservator and “take care” of him. He responded with an emphatic, "No ma’am."

According to a number of people who knew Charlie Castle, including a local schoolteacher and the pastor at the Blessing Center, he is considered to be eccentric but competent to handle his own affairs.

Police cover up

Reports about Charlie Castle’s plight have been lodged with Adult Protective Services in both Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties. One of those reports was forwarded to the Pomona Police Department for investigation and this reporter was shocked to discover that the report had been altered and did not reflect in any manner the report tendered to APS.

The original report focused on two issues: 1) the fraud inherent in court proceedings where the same lawyer represents both sides and 2) concerns as to why the conservator has repeatedly placed Charlie Castle into facilities which do not have programs to address his alleged mental health problems.

According to Lt. McDonald, watch commander with the Pomona PD, the report that was being investigated by Pomona alleged that the conservator Melodie Scott had misappropriated Charlie’s Social Security check back in July of 2011. As conservator, Scott would by law be the recipient of Castle’s social security checks. The report had been altered so as to make the original complaint into a non-issue, which would then result in a quick closure of the case, while at the same time making the complainant look foolish and ignorant.

An appeal was made to the Pomona PD Chief’s office questioning the genesis of the altered report and an angry Captain Michael Olivieri declined to further discuss the Charlie Castle report. This reporter has learned that the Pomona Police subsequently determined they lacked jurisdiction and sent the altered report back to Redlands Police Department for investigation. The report was then closed by Detective Andy Capps of the Redlands PD, who stated no action would be taken.

Deaf, Dumb and Blind

Other agencies were quick to follow in vacating their mandated responsibility to address Charlie’s plight. A supervisor at the Long Term Care Ombudsman in Los Angeles County opined that the Ombudsman was prohibited from investigating without the consent of the conservator. When asked for the legal authority (statute) prohibiting her from launching an investigation, she provided an irrelevant Welfare and Institutions code. Follow up phone calls to her were ignored until the agency’s Vice President was contacted and a complaint was lodged.

A similar fate met a report lodged with Rashied Gibri, who is with the Los Angeles County Patients’ rights office. After the initial report went uninvestigated, Gibri was recontacted. He then hunkered down and refused to take the report. Asked again for the legal authority governing his refusal, Gibri became combative and hung up.

On more than one occasion, a Redlands man, Keith Phillips, addressed the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Charles Castle’s behalf. An initial strong response by Supervisor Josie Gonzales quickly reversed, as the County began to allege that it had no jurisdiction to act. SB County public information officer David Wert has repeatedly stated that the San Bernardino County Public Guardian also lacks jurisdiction to step up and petition to take the conservatorship back from Melodie Scott, as Charlie Castle is now being held in Los Angeles County.

Who is Melodie Scott?

Melodie Scott was the subject of a Los Angeles Times expose back in 2005 and the public outcry as to the revelations of conservator abuse prompted the California legislature to pass the Omnibus Conservatorship reform act of 2006. After Governor Schwarzenegger repeatedly stalled the funding for the nascent organization, the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau finally opened its doors for business in 2008. When Scott applied for her Professional Fiduciaries License with the newly formed Bureau, her license was initially denied on grounds that she lied on her application. A protracted legal battle ensued and Scott finally achieved licensure in 2010 on a legal technicality.


Scott was also the subject of a San Bernardino county Grand Jury investigation a few years back. Five separate county District Attorneys have received criminal complaints against Scott but her Teflon protection has endured each and every attempt to have her indicted. A recent federal lawsuit against Scott was dismissed when the lawyer promoting the suit, Jim Reiss, suddenly had his license to practice law suspended.

Lawyer Lies

In an effort to determine his legal standing, Castle also contacted the law firm of Bryan Hartnell, requesting a copy of his legal file. After leaving several voice messages, he did speak with a woman at the firm who told him it would be a “felony” for the firm to give him his file. At that point, several concerned individuals contacted Bryan Hartnell to request that Charlie’s file be given to him. All these calls were ignored. As mental health conservatorships are governed by privacy laws, the court is prohibited from releasing information about this case. Calls to San Bernardino Superior Court Presiding Judge Ronald Christianson were not returned.

Writ alleges legal abuse

On August 27, after determining that his conservatorship, which must be reviewed and renewed by the court every year, had apparently never come up for renewal, Castle filed a writ of habeas corpus. His writ seeks relief on two grounds—inadequate representation by counsel and the failure of the court to review and renew the conservatorship. A report was subsequently made to El Monte police department, alleging that Charlie’s current situation constitutes kidnaping. A belligerent police dispatcher Mr. Pool was more interested in finding out about the person making the report and angrily hung up the phone without listening to the substance of the complaint. An officer who subsequently went out to Ramona to do a welfare check was satisfied that Charlie was not in danger at the facility.

From his genteel prison in Ramona nursing home, Castle ponders the motive for his detention. He receives a social security check each month in the neighborhood of $900, hardly a financial carrot for such a concentrated effort to strip him of his rights and detain him.

During a period when mental health detentions are becoming more and more common for dissidents and activists, one might wonder if the homeless are the next to be sent off to the gulag.

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17 comments:

singularity said...

The big question is what and who are Melodie Scott's inside connections to the government mafia?

This kind of high level corruption against the poor and disenfranchised is reminiscent of the Errol Morris documentary The Thin Blue Line.

Joe said...

There has to be some motivation or reason for this. Is Melodie Scott simply trying to justify her credentials by occasionally using them? As the article points out, all that fraud, risk, and legal fighting isn't worth $900/month.

Especially since a conservator wouldn't get to keep the social security money outright. They'd have to then arrange for the care of the detainee. And in private prisons this costs real money.

Wonder how much effort they'd have gone to snatching him if he kept running away? Could it have blown up into a multi-service expensive manhunt? Would they use force and violence to apprehend him for his own wellbeing?


Anonymous said...

Maybe the SS check wasn't the real goal. How about Medicare or other programs that may be defrauded? Just wondering

Anonymous said...

this bitch probably made up lies about him this godamn system of injustice needs to be put down for good!

Anonymous said...

IMO, It's likely not about money, or a personal vendetta. This man was homeless and content, and must not be around to set an example for others. To be tossed into the bowels of the system for no crime has got to be a tough thing to deal with. I really wish people would shine more light on this Scott lady. Musicians, Artists, and Documentary Film-Makers! This means you!!

Anonymous said...

I have read about this before,apparently these people attach as a conservator to an elderly, and/or poor and/or homeless person and are able to make a living off these people by controlling any assets they may have by having them locked up in one way or another. Very, very scary and everyone needs to be on the look out for this especially if you have an elderly parent or relative or friend. The key is to sign nothing and say no to everyone that asks about being their conservator for any reason and to immediately tell someone they trust if they are approached with someone asking this question!

Anonymous said...

There are some facilities that PAY bonuses for every admit. I know. I've worked in them.

Janet Phelan said...

To Anonymous who posted at 7:32 AM on August 30: Could you please contact me via email? I would very much like to know what you have witnessed concerning bonuses for admits. You can email me through my website at janetphelan.com. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I don't know about you, but I might prefer a "genteel prison in Ramona nursing home" to living on the streets. Of course, if he's on forced medication, that's another story. But if he's left alone, allowed fresh air and 3 square meals...

4403548106 said...

This has happened to Donna Kaczmarek, as well, in Cleveland Ohios North Coast Behavioral center, (330)467-7131. She is in 22F, call and talk to her. Locked up for 3 months now, NO trial or court papers given to her, and now ilegally cut off from calling home or getting calls. Forced to take meds under coersion, as well. Fraudulent papers stating homelessness originally, yet she lives here with me, for over a year, even on public records. Visitations cut off for having welfare checks by the OHP and local police. Ohio Dept of Mental Health refuses to help. Please Help send Donna Kaczmarek home, somehow, if you can. She is being robbed of her life, at 35 yrs. old! Thanx .....Ed

14403548106 said...

Today is Sept. 19th, another 2+ weeks of Donnas' life "Stolen" from her, and us. She is still being forced to take unneccessary meds, making her worse. Mr. Mark Colletti, the CEO of Northcoast, tells me they will NEVER let her come home? They want to Probate her, for life? Why? Just to collect the tax and Medicaid $$$ on a LIE ? How many others are going thru this? Donna is a Wonderful, Intelligent woman that needs to come back Home.....Please HELP US !!!!..........ED

14403548106 said...

5 weeks ago, they stole Donna away from Northcoast, and moved her to another facility. It took me 4 weeks to find her, as they would not tell me where she was. I called Sheriffs and Ohio HP. They would only say she is somewhere safe. I started to visit her again, as she is now being held at Franklin House in Cleveland, Ohio.She has been forced to sign up for SSA against her will, as well. Can she come home for Thanksgiving. No answer. I asked about taking a walk outside. No! Dr. Wise had no reason for his decision. I finally asked to see the court papers she is being held under, yet they could not produce them. She is being still held against her will, and my visits have been cut off for calling the police about this. We still need HELP !!! .......ED

14403548106 said...

How can they legally kidnap a person from their home and hold them for life, if they have not committed a crime? Donna Kaczmarek has committed no crime, yet is still held captive at Franklin Plaza, (1-216-651-1600)on the west side of Cleveland for 6 weeks now. They have now refused to let her use the phone, at all, either way, and cannot have any visitors, male or female, at all. Call and see for yourselves. Oh Dept. of Mental Health won't help us...Will You ?...I Love this young woman very much, and she needs to come HOME ! ...They are slowly killing her with the illegal meds and NO Activities, just a small hallway to walk in...Help Donna Kaczmarek Please. She is only 35 yrs. old.....ED

14403548106 said...

Donna Kaczmarek is still being held against her will. The CEO of Legacy Health Care freely admits that they have no legal hold on her. The Cuyahoga County Ombudsmans office met with her, and she also told them she does not wish to be held there, yet the facility still refuses to allow her to leave. The 2nd district police dept. of Cleveland Ohio has been called to there, twice, by me, yet they refuse to help. Donna has even hand-written a statement, that she wants to be released immediately, yet she is still being held. Where do we turn, when the police refuse to uphold the law? Franklin Plaza has no legal hold on her, yet refuse to release her. I have contacted every legal, political, media, and law enforcement entity in the area, and the state of Ohio, yet Donna still can't come home. Donna does not deserve this. No-one does. How many more "Donnas" are trapped in these facilities, against their will? We will not stop fighting for her release against this illegal holding of another human being. If you have any ideas for us, Please call me at the screen name........Thanx.....ED

Erika Bauman said...

I have hired Bryan Hartnell to write a letter for me, which he never did...but he did cash my check! I am totally disgusted by him & Melodie Scott. People in Redlands have heard Charlie has recently passed away,if this is true...I pray Melodie and Bryan possibly ponder the sad effects their mere existance in the later days of this mans life was gross.

Anonymous said...

I used to work with the firm at one point. I left the firm about a year and a half ago. I left them due to bad terms on how they treated me as an employee. However, Scott is a really cool and sincere woman. Every once in a while, these stories pop up about how the system abused them, and the conservator is to blame, blah, blah, blah. I, of all people, have a right to complain about the firm, but in this case I don't believe that Scott, nor Hartnell, are doing anything wrong. They can't give their side of the story because the case is confidential. I'm willing to bet, however, that he was refusing to work with them.

Linda Scroggin said...

Ryan Was my Attorney, I was contacted by someone that now works the Law group, he has not knowledge of what he is doing, my case is done and I will represent myself now, but they are charging me for excessive charges that I was not informed of. Anonymous, why is the case Confidential?

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