My story began December 8, 2008, when I found my mother on the floor in her home in Massapequa. I arrived there that day to move in to her home part time due to some memory loss and her need for household help. I had been caring for my mother's needs for three years since my father passed, in February 2006. She was on the floor, incontinent, and gravely ill. I called an ambulance and my nightmare began.
My siblings and I do not speak due to a long family history of verbal and emotional abuse and lies and drama. My family advised me that I needed to apply for guardianship of my mother because they feared what my siblings would do to her. I had health care proxy and power of attorney. I applied, not knowing how corrupt the courts were. My intentions were twofold; to prevent her house from being sold; to never place her in a nursing home. My siblings fought it, on the basis that "I would tell my mother what to do." A long, drawn out court battle ensued, and I was cast as the villain. According to everyone involved, including the judge, I did everything wrong. They all lied about me constantly. A reverse mortgage of $275,000 was taken out against my mother's home in August, 2009. Judge Asarch stated, for the record, in open court, that this money, along with her monthly income of $2300, would allow my mother to stay in her home with an aide for the next five years. By August, 2011, only two years later, the money was gone. Mary Giordano had managed to spend more than $350,000.
During the past three years, my mother and I were subjected to legal terror tactics. I have listed some of the things that happened during the past three years.
• I was denied visitation for weeks at a time, based on false allegations that I “violated” the judge’s order.
• My Mom was locked up against her will for 30 days in an assisted living facility, the Bristal in Massapequa, at a cost of $53,000 to her. No breakdown of the charges was ever provided by Mary Giordano despite my request for same. Mom was not allowed any phone contact or visits with her family for a period of two weeks. She was not allowed out of the building for Thanksgiving, shopping or even a cup of coffee. She was not allowed to attend her great-granddaughter's christening; denied by both the judge and the guardian. When I was finally able to see her, I recorded her pleas to take her home. I gave her a cell phone which the guardian stole from her purse.
• Mom was locked up in her own home with an aide by the guardian and care manager during a number of weekends that she was supposed to be with her family, with no explanation.
• Mom’s HIPPA rights were consistently violated by the geriatric care manager, who has forced her way into the doctor’s office where my mother had to disrobe in front of her. When my mother complained to me, I reported this to her attorney and a smear campaign began in earnest attack against me. The violation of her HIPPA rights continued until her death, with Judge Joel Asarch’s awareness of this egregious violation.
• When Mom complained about the removal of an aide from her home that she had grown to love and who was her friend, Anne Recht, the care manager, threatened to call the police and have my Mom thrown in jail. There were two witnesses to these threats.
• Court conferences were called and held over and over again for minor issues which could have been resolved with one simple phone call.
On Monday, August 1, 2011 there was yet another court conference held so Judge Asarch could make his decision whether to place my mother in a nursing home or be allowed to live with me. He made a decision to sell her home and force her to live in a nursing home although it was against her wishes, and despite the fact that I was able and willing to care for her in my home. Judge Asarch claimed that he thought long and hard about it but he decided that I cannot care for my mother, that I have no idea what her medical needs are, and that he was only concerned with her “safety.”
One of the factors Judge Asarch used to make his decision was the fact that she fell in her home once and my brother was called to go there and pick her up. My brother notified the guardian and care manager about what happened, which led to the aide being fired for not notifying the care manager immediately. The fall happened at approximately 2 am. My mother and I called her attorney requesting immediate intervention but her attorney, Jamie Butchin of Mental Hygiene Legal Services in East Meadow, NY, did nothing.
I was fully aware of what my mother’s medical needs were. She was cared for in her home with one aide during the week and she stayed with me on the weekends; occasionally one of my siblings. She needed to have her meals made for her, her pills handed to her and her colostomy bag changed, which she was able to do on her own. She needed to be driven to the doctor or anywhere else she needed or wanted to go. I was capable of picking up her prescriptions and reading the instructions as to how many she gets per day. For a little over one year, at a cost of well over $12,000, a nurse was hired by the guardian “to pour her meds.” I did this for both of my parents for years.
The geriatric care manager was sent to my home on Wednesday, July 27, 2011, to determine if it was “safe” for my mother. The care manager sent a letter to the judge stating that while my home is safe, I don’t know what her medical needs really are so I can’t care for her. During the hearing, the judge criticized me over and over again. He claimed that I wanted to micromanage my mother’s care, that according to my letters and faxes and testimony “things were never Diane Wilson’s fault; they were everybody else’s fault.” Not once did Judge Joel Asarch ever state or note for the record that my correspondence and testimony were my responses to the correspondence and testimony from Mary Giordano and Anne Recht and my siblings. During this entire guardianship proceeding, I have been accused of doing anything and everything wrong in every case. I have been crucified by the court and the guardian because I was the only one speaking up for my mother. The court has consistently refused to accept any truth from me.
The judge has allowed his court appointees to have total control of my mother and her finances. Her civil and humanitarian rights were stripped from her. My mother was intimidated by them and very much afraid to use her own voice. I was her voice to express her wishes in every case. She stated in court emphatically many times that she did NOT want to go into a nursing home. My siblings were so angry that I brought this to court that they did everything they could to make me look wrong on every level, despite the fact that they were hurting my mother. When the judge announced his decision my siblings were actually gleeful. My siblings also stated in court that they would never see my mother if she lived with me and they want her to remain in a nursing home. Although I stated that they could come and pick her up anytime, that I would facilitate this, that she would have unlimited telephone contact with them, they stated that they would not even consider it or drive out to my house, which is a 30 minute drive from where they both currently live.
Mom was kidnapped from her home in Massapequa of 60 years on August 22, 2011 and imprisoned against her will in a nursing home by Mary Giordano. Mom did not commit any crimes. My siblings were notified this was taking place on that day. I was not.
On August 22, 2011, the guardian, Mary Giordano, along with a caseworker, Lynn Vaughan from Anne Recht’s office, AMRecht Associates in Plainview, NY, went to my mother’s house and told her they were taking her to the hospital for a problem she had with her recent surgery. That is the only reason she willingly got in the car. Instead, they took her to Meadowbrook Care Nursing Home in Freeport, a sub-standard nursing home with substantiated reports of abuse and registered her there as a resident. This location isolated Mom from her family, friends and healthcare providers. That same day she was transported to South Nassau Community Hospital where she was admitted for low white blood count. A few days later she had a minor surgery for a small complication from a previous surgery. She was held there for 11 days, without her clothes, without her walker, without her wheelchair, without physical therapy, which she had been getting at home prior to Judge Asarch’s order. She was forced to use a bedpan because the nurses would not assist her to walk to the bathroom, approximately two feet from her bed. She was heavily drugged, and became weaker and disoriented. She cried daily, begging to go home. On September 2, 2011, the guardian transferred her to Maria Regina Nursing Home in Brentwood, NY, where she unhappily remained to the end of her life. Since the guardian stated Mom was there for rehab, Mom was receiving physical therapy at this location, Medicare was fraudently charged for her stay, at the taxpayers’ expense.
On August 23, I filed an Order to Show Cause. Judge Asarch refused to sign this order until September 2, 2011, the same day my mother was moved to the new nursing home. We went to court on September 19, 2011. My siblings, Anne Recht, and Mary Giordano spoke against me during the entire hearing. Judge Asarch listened while my siblings spouted lie after lie about me. Mary Giordano, under oath, perjured herself and stated that I moved $20,000 out of my Mom’s account. When I objected and stated that I never took one penny from my Mom, that every single penny was accounted for, Judge Asarch, while leaning on his bench, waved his hand twice at me and said “I know, I know…I’ve been with this case from the beginning.” Mary could not even look at me, yet the judge did not say anything to her about her perjured testimony. Mom’s attorney did nothing.
Mary Giordano refused to allow my mother to attend the hearing. The conference ended with the judge stating that he wanted an “evaluation of my mother from the nursing home” before the next conference. We left court without a conference date being set. On that same day, September 19, Mary Giordano handed the keys to my Mom’s car to Douglas Wilson, as a reward for getting on the stand and agreeing with Mary that Mom should be confined to a nursing home. Candice Bruder also got on the stand and stated that she wanted to see Mom in a nursing home. She handed the keys to the house to Candice Bruder, allowing her to go in and take whatever she wanted before the tag sale took place. I was not allowed to go in the house or even on the property. Mom was not allowed to have her clothing or any of her personal possessions.
I was advised by letter that a tag sale was going to be held on October 2, 2011, to sell all of Mom’s furniture, clothing, etc.; that if I wanted anything I would be given one hour to buy things before the public was allowed in. Since the tag sale was illegal, I did manage to stop it.
On Saturday, October 8, 2011, I was advised that Mom’s house was in contract and awaiting the signature of Mary Giordano to finalize the sale. I discovered that Mary Giordano actually signed the contract on October 6, 2011.
On October 18, there was yet another hearing, this time with Mom in attendance. Mary Giordano had put in a petition requesting to resign as guardian. She showed up in court with counsel from her own firm, Maria Begley. Mom was there; however Judge Asarch refused to hear anything except Mary’s petition to resign. The hearing lasted less than an hour. Judge Asarch said he would hear my request for guardianship at the next hearing which he scheduled for November 4.
We never made it to that hearing. The stress and fear of permanent incarceration became overwhelming for Mom. She passed away on October 23, 2011, in fear and unprotected by our courts and government. The New York State Judicial Commission was fully aware of everything that was happening and did nothing to stop it.
I am the executrix of my parents will. I relisted her home and closed on the sale March 30, 2012. The car was never returned to the estate; many items were missing from the house. In addition, more than $10,000 worth of jewelry has been missing since March, 2009, when Mary Giordano was appointed by Judge Asarch as guardian.
My intent in going to the courts was about protecting my mother; yet all of the parties involved used her as a pawn in a venue against me and to siphon the last penny of her small estate. The financial exploitation, psychological and emotional abuse my mother and I have suffered at the very hands of the agencies that are supposed to protect the people was allowed to go consistently unchecked.
Guardianship is a person’s worst nightmare. Mom’s cause of death was guardianship abuse.