Media Watch: NBC Picks Up Activist Post Story, Turns It Upside Down

Janet Phelan
Activist Post

Up is down, black is white and truth, my friend, is in the mouth of the speaker. And whomever has the biggest loudspeaker has a good chance of convincing you that his version of the truth is reality.

On December 3, 2012, under the headline “Landmark asset seizure case to be heard in California court”, Activist Post broke the story of how a conservator for the elderly, Melodie Scott of Redlands, California, was trying to persuade a judge to revoke a 28-year-old deed of sale, notarized and recorded in order to take the property from the buyer and return it into the conservatorship. Scott’s stated purpose here is to get a reverse mortgage to pay for her fees as conservator.

To briefly recap, a Yucaipa woman, Lois Risse, had sold her home to a friend of hers nearly three decades ago with the stipulation she could live in the house for the rest of her life. When Risse went under a conservatorship in 2012, her conservator discovered that neighbors had been heavily preying on Risse and had been accessing her bank accounts, to the tune of about $70,000 in withdrawals in the last year.

Rather than report the neighbors to the police, Scott chose to go after Glenn Neff, a friend of Risse’s for decades, who had bought her Barbara Lane home from the elderly woman 28 years ago. Neff has been maintaining the property and paying taxes and insurance while Risse lived in the house, rent-free per their agreement.

When NBC reported on this story on March 19, reporter Jacob Rascon did not bother to speak with Glenn Neff. Nor did he bother, apparently, to check the court record. If he had, he would have discovered that a judge in San Bernardino County Superior Court had ruled that the deed of sale was valid. If Rascon had checked the court record, he would have discovered that Scott has moved for a new trial based on what she termed as a “surprise” in the initial trial.

But why confuse your audience with the facts when you have a dear old lady on camera accusing her friend of robbing her blind? Everyone loves children, lost animals and dear little old ladies.The chance to get your audience all worked up about a little old lady who gazes woefully into your camera accusing someone of taking every penny she had was apparently too rich for Reporter Rascon to pass up. What matters if there is no evidence that Neff took advantage of Risse? What matters if the documentation abounds that the neighbors went into Risse’s accounts, not Glenn Neff?

What matters if you ruin a perfectly decent person’s reputation? This is television and dear little old ladies in distress would raise the ire of any red-blooded American.

Lurking behind the spin Jacob Rascon gave this story lies the politically inconvenient and uncomfortable reality of conservator abuse. Reports of conservators financially and medically abusing their wards are now rampant and Melodie Scott leads the pack. Questions should have been asked as to why conservator Scott failed to make a police report about crimes committed against Risse, crimes well within the statute of limitations and where the evidence is clear and compelling. Questions should also have been asked as to why Scott is so eager to claim back the property that Risse sold Neff when he continues to keep his word—Risse can live in the house for the rest of her life.

Instead, Rascon presents a picture of a woman “fighting for her home” — as if that home is about to be yanked out from under her. If Jacob Rascon had bothered to look at the court record, if he had bothered to actually go into the courtroom and listen to the proceedings, he would have heard Melodie Scott state her intention to put Risse into a nursing home if her petition fails to take away the house bought by Neff. Might Rascon have wondered why that would be necessary, given that Risse has life-long tenancy in that house, per her agreement with Neff?

I think I might be able to answer that question, should Jacob Rascon want to ask me. “It’s the conservator’s fees!” Melodie Scott wants the reverse mortgage so she can pay herself.

Rascon might also have looked at Melodie Scott’s record: two grand jury investigations, an initial refusal by the State of California to grant her a fiduciary’s license and beaucoup lawsuits. Maybe he might have gotten a whiff of something skanky about the conservator.

In fact, if he had taken a look at Lois Risse’s deposition in this matter he might also have realized that Risse is suffering from acute dementia and memory loss and is sadly very confused as to who did what and when.

Several calls were made to NBC by this reporter concerning the inaccuracies of their report. As a result, an addendum was made to the story, which states “In the original report, NBC4 did not indicate that a judge had ruled Neff correctly put his name on the deed. Next, a judge will determine the validity of the deed.”

No, Jacob, the court already determined the validity of the deed and conservator Scott has moved for a new trial based on some confusion about the implications of a previous case, “Patel.” The only issue on the table in the new trial is whether or not the fact that Neff recorded the deed before Risse passed on is a fundamental or superficial part of their original agreement. Neff admits that he had agreed to record the deed after Risse passed away and states he recorded the deed early to protect the property from those who were now preying on Risse’s assets.

But let’s not get ourselves confused with facts, shall we? We have a dear old and very confused lady making wild and unfounded accusations and a tainted conservator to protect. Lights, cameras, action!

Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist whose articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The San Bernardino County Sentinel, The Santa Monica Daily Press, The Long Beach Press Telegram, Oui Magazine and other regional and national publications. Janet specializes in issues pertaining to legal corruption and addresses the heated subject of adult conservatorship, revealing shocking information about the relationships between courts and shady financial consultants. She also covers issues relating to international bioweapons treaties. Her poetry has been published in Gambit, Libera, Applezaba Review, Nausea One and other magazines. Her first book, The Hitler Poems, was published in 2005. She currently resides abroad.  You may browse through her articles (and poetry) at

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