by Tim King Salem-news.com (RIVERSIDE, Calif.)
The Public Guardian’s office in Riverside has been caught red- handed embezzling funds, it appears. And it is apparently going to get away with it.
The Public Guardian’s office is pledged with the task of acting as conservator over estates belonging to the elderly and/or disabled and also acts as Trustee in other estate matters.
In a recent routine accounting in Riverside Superior Probate Court concerning the Amalie Phelan Trust, a notation appeared in the attorney’s time records, indicating she had leached off funds without court approval and had apparently falsified the accountings to cover this up.
Attorney Toni Eggebraaten has declined to answer questions about this notation in her time records, which points the finger towards embezzlement of funds and falsification of court records. She has stated that the Public Guardian’s office has pooled a number of estates, an act specifically prohibited by probate code 16009 and cites this pooling as a reason not to open up the records to examination.
Another probate code exonerates the Public Guardian’s office from the necessity of keeping funds separate, however. The pooling of funds essentially occludes what would otherwise be a straightforward matter of reconciling checks with bank statements. Eggebraaten further raised alarm when she supplied minimal discovery in the form of some checks and then redacted (blacked out) a number of names of payees as well as bank cancellation information and the signature of the endorser on these checks, in more attempts to hide the transactions taking place in this accounting.
But it was business as usual in Riverside Probate Court last week. Eggebraaten’s alleged embezzlement was reported to the sitting Probate Judge, Thomas Cahraman, who ignored the fact that there are active subpoenas, yet to be satisfied, for Union Bank records which could resolve the issue of alleged embezzlement.
In a rush to judgement, Cahraman took the matter under consideration and then quickly issued a ruling which does not even touch on the matter of the implied embezzlement, and approved the accountings filed in this matter, which involves the decedent’s estate of Dr. Amalie Phelan, a former conservatee. “The Public Guardian’s office handles money for a lot of disabled and elderly people,” states Janet Phelan, who discovered the notation and filed objections with the court. “These people may not have anyone to even check the accountings for them and are entirely dependent on the integrity of the Public Guardian’s office.” “The court has stolen around $800,000 from me,” alleges Janet Phelan, who is a beneficiary of this Trust and caught the attorney’s notation after examining the accountings prior to their being approved by the court.
“They have nearly cleaned me out.” Phelan is pro per and states she does not have enough money to hire an attorney. Phelan refuses to speculate as to why Judge Cahraman approved obviously fraudulent accountings. “This judge has already showed us what he was all about back in 2009,” she states, “when as Presiding Judge he refused to investigate compelling indications that the Riverside judges were laundering bribes and pay offs through their property loans.”
Phelan, who is an investigative reporter, broke the story of the loan scam in the San Bernardino County Sentinel in September of 2009. “A little digging and we came to the realization that Cahraman’s loans are also questionable,” she states. “The judge is on the take, the PGÂ´s office is looting the estates of Riverside County’s most vulnerable citizens and Barack Obama is bailing out Wall Street,” she said. “Let’s get clear on what is going on here. The little guy is being raped and no one in power will lift a finger to stop this.