Contributed by Janet Phelan
On Tuesday, Pima County Superior Court in Arizona will hear a case involving a fugitive from justice and the request for extradition to Miami-Dade County, in Florida. The fugitive, a former New York attorney, is a 64-year-old woman named Barbara Stone.
Stone was originally arrested for feeding her mother.
Yes, you read that correctly. Specifically, the 2013 charges against Stone were launched after she took her mother, who was under a guardianship with a “professional guardian” named Jacqueline Hertz, to lunch. Stone had visited her mother, Helen Stone, in the facility wherein Hertz had placed her. Finding her mother on a feeding tube and clearly emaciated, Barbara Stone took her to Denny’s.
She was arrested the same day and charged with the following: 1) Custody interference; 2) Elder abuse; 3) False imprisonment, and 4) Violation of a protective order. According to Miami-Dade, there was no action taken on charges 2-4 and the threat of the five-year prison term attached to the first count was enough for Stone to take a plea. She was sentenced to three years probation.
The warrant for her arrest in Arizona, which was executed on June 16, 2017, states that she violated the terms of her probation on four counts. Three of them reveal a virtual gag on Stone.
1) Barbara Stone is charged with “failing to comply with the plea agreement…..(stating that Stone) shall not file any documents in the pending guardianship case, or in any other court of competent jurisdiction, concerning her mother or any other parties/participants unless said documents are filed by and through an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Florida, and as grounds for belief that the offender violated her probation, Officer Nakesha Tucker states that the offender submitted a letter to Linda Kearon, General Counsel, on August 27, 2016.”
2) As to the second count, “Officer Nakesha Tucker states that the offender submitted an email to Liz Consuegra, attorney ad litem on August 30, 2016.”
Got it. Letters and emails….it gets worse.
3) On the next count of probation violation, Stone is charged again with violating the plea agreement. This time, “Officer Nakesha Tucker states that the offender submitted a blog/review on September 9, 2016.”
Emailing, Blogging…..all of which surrounds the crime of taking her Mom to lunch.
4) On the final count of probation violation, Officer Tucker states that “the offender failed to report (to her probation officer) as directed since August 2, 2016.”
According to friend and neighbor Janet Pipes, at that point Barbara Stone was in Arizona, trying to rebuild her shattered life.
The Stone case was covered in an article in Miami New Times http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/floridas-guardians-often-exploit-the-vulnerable-residents-theyre-supposed-to-protect-6395605 , which discussed multiple cases of guardians preying on and abusing their wards. The article prompted new legislation in Florida, which is generally considered to have been no more useful than a band-aid on brain cancer.
According to Rick Black, intake director for Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianships (AAAPG), new laws have not slowed the pace of fraudulent guardianships across Florida in the least.
His perceptions are echoed by elder law specialists across the country. “We don’t need to change the laws; we need to enthusiastically and effectively apply the laws that we have,” said Sally Hurme, an elder law attorney in Washington, D.C.
Quoted in an article in Next Avenue, A. Frank Johns, a Greensboro, NC. attorney and a national leader in the field of elder law, said: “When you go out and try to look for the application of those changes, it’s nowhere to be found.” http://www.nextavenue.org/guardianship-laws-improving-problems-persist/
Barbara Stone is not allowed to speak with her mother and reportedly has not seen her in over a year.
It should be noted that none of the documents obtained in pursuit of this report were obtained from the Miami-Dade court. The court’s press officer, Eunice Sigler, has refused to reply to or in any way honor the requests for information filed under the Florida Public Records Act. I suspect the penalties for Sigler’s violating the Florida Public Records Law and the public’s right to know will be negligible.
After all, we must protect the public at all costs. Not only from daughters who want to feed their mothers but also from reporters who think that something might be rotten in Florida.
According to Rick Black, “The National Center for State Courts estimates there are 1.3 million adults under guardianship.” Black states that at this juncture …” the total assets under guardianship are $50 billion, nationwide.”
Miami-Dade County has recommended six months in jail for Barbara Stone, followed by reinstatement of the probation conditions. Her extradition hearing takes place on June 27, at 2: 30 in Pima County Superior Court, Judge Lee Ann Roads, presiding.