My name is (name) and I was charged with a crime in July of 2004. At that time I was a single parent with one child in college and another living at home. I also had my brother living with me at the time as well. It is unfortunate that it was my brother that reported me the San Diego Fraud Unit, but I was charged with living fraudulently in my mother’s home. My mother purchased this home in 1997 and transferred power of attorney to my control in an attempt to convince me to move to California. However, my mother also had a farm in Florida, and in 2002 I drove myself and my kids across the country to visit.
At that time my mother’s mental faculties were failing and she did not recall my name, nor those of my kids. It was then that I called my older sister and informed her that something was in fact wrong with our mother, and a family meeting was needed. Unfortunately before this could happen my mother, not recognizing me, had called the police because she could not recall who I was. It took a monumental effort not to break down at that point, and even more to remain on an even keel as this same incident included my mother holding a gun to my head and demanding to know how I’d gotten into her house. To make matters worse my mother’s German shepherd attacked me in defense of my mother as I had her pinned to the floor at the time, attempting to wrest the gun from her.
The gun did go off, but the bullet missed my son and I quickly emptied the clip. At that point there was a knock on the front door. The police had arrived and mentioned that they’d heard the gunshot. I invited the police officer in to talk and he proceeded to take my statement after my mother had been calmed down and the dog had been quieted. The officer took both the gun and the bullets and several other weapons he found in her residence. When I inquired as to what would come next he informed me that he would write me out a report that would allow any other officers that might come to my mother’s home that she was mentally ill, even though only a doctor can give a proper diagnosis.
I was asked if I wanted to press charges on my mother, to which I replied that I did not this time. I did tell the officer that I was bleeding from several bites inflicted by her dog as I was attempting to handle the situation. I was told to see a doctor to get the bites looked at and perhaps get a tetanus shot, but other than that they could do little for me in this regard.
I was told that I needed to handle my mother’s condition and bring her in for help on a 72 hour hold. This took a long time as it is a drawn out procedure and cannot be done overnight. As such I was obligated to call her doctor and convince the doctor that I was the receptionist confirming that she did in fact have an appointment to come in. By this time I had come to know Dr. Patel and knew very well that my mother had seen this person for over 25 years. The following week we were scheduled to go in for a checkup.
During the appointment however my mother was asked several questions to which she could not provide adequate answers. Following this the doctor requested an MRI to determine what is going on with her brain functions. The following week I took her in to be scanned only to find out that according to the MRI there was no abnormal activity that could explain her condition. The technician that took the MRI could not give me a professional response, as I fully understand as my mother was a nurse at one time, a fact that gave me a fair amount of insight into the medical field.
I do understand how to read an MRI and an X-ray and was dismayed when we went back to the doctor to find out that my mother was diagnosed with full-blown dementia. This was not much of a surprise but was still devastating to discover. I understand that there is no long-term cure for dementia at this time, and in that regard I began to understand just how serious the matter was.
Around this time my brother began his attempts to get his hands on my mother’s funds. My mother was middle-class for most of her life and quite frugal. She was very intelligent when it came to her own finances and had amassed at least a moderate amount of savings.
At the same time this was happening my mother called the police on me again while we were waiting for her medication to kick in and for family members to arrive so that we could have a family sit-down. The next thing I knew was that I was being kicked out of my mother’s home by a uniformed officer. His only explanation was that her home was deemed a “hotspot” thanks to the numerous calls that had been made from my mother concerning the fact that she did not recognize myself or my kids and had been calling the police station anywhere between 5 to 10 times a week. After this I had no other choice but to move out and head back to California. I had nowhere to go at that time and so was technically living out of my car. Once I got back to California however the trouble continued when I received a call from Winn-Dixie grocery, stating that my mother had been caught stealing meat from the store. I was also informed that my brother was going to drive from Georgia to figure out the details and take care of the matter. I managed to get hold of my sister as well to let her know what was going on and to tell her that we desperately needed to find out what was going on and who was going to take care of our mother.
Once I got back to California I registered my kids in school and managed to move into a place where we could be relatively secure. Trouble didn’t stop however as I received a call not too long after stating that my mother’s dog had bitten my ex-sister in law. My sister then called me back and informed me that we would in fact have to do something that things were getting out of hand too fast and that matters had taken a turn for the worse. My mother had become increasingly unstable and had been spotted at her bank, at the post office, and walking all about town aimlessly and confused. She had ceased to trust anyone and would not drive her car as she wished to walk everywhere, which was strange enough without the added episodes she had been experiencing.
My brother and his wife Kim came to take care of my mother at that time and eventually moved her back to Savannah, Georgia, to live with them. Unfortunately they also began to clear out her bank account for various expenses that had little if anything to do with my mother’s care. The reason I say this is that I have legal documentation that shows my mother had a money market account in my daughter’s name, as my daughter was a minor at the time account was opened.
I received another call from my sister stating that I could step in and help out with our mother things might go a little smoother. I stated in turn that I was at least going to wait for the kids to finish school. Once they were out for the summer I moved us to Shreveport, Louisiana so that we were closer to my brother’s home. At this point I went to my brother’s home but was told by my brother’s wife to leave my mother in their care and that her condition was none of my business. She told me that everything is being take care of, to which I replied that I would do whatever I needed to do to make certain that my mother was being taken good care of and made comfortable. My brother simply sat watching TV saying nothing while this was going on. This conversation swiftly escalated when I told her that I was going to take my mother home, to which she replied no. I then replied by stating that if she had a problem with this by attempting to instigate a physical altercation. My sister-in-law then called the police and informed them that I had threatened her with physical violence.
In response I showed the police officer my mother and told him the entire story of what was happening with her, as well as the bruises on her body. At this point my brother finally stepped in and told his wife to close the door. I had to leave after that as I was in the wrong and out of state as well, so the only person getting in trouble would have been me.
After that I left and went back to Louisiana with my son as I had to think about the next step I could take. I knew this was going to be a big fight between myself and my sister in law, especially considering that she had found out my mother had nearly a quarter million dollars put away in a Bank of America account. I found out as well that my brother and his wife contacted the Sand Diego real estate fraud department and stated that I was trying to find my mother. I was also being accused of welfare fraud on top of this. Thanks to this I lost custody of my son after I myself was taken into custody. I was extradited from Louisiana back to California and forced to do a handwriting analysis test that was not available in Shreveport. Doing this test on a plane was almost impossible thanks to turbulence, which made my hands shake.
On top of all this I had a trial to prepare for with a public defender, and my house on Vivian Street caught fire. The insurance company was slow in paying me and I am still waiting on funds. The detective that bothered to call me a liar did not help the situation.
It took me nearly 15 hours to be processed into the San Diego County Jail, and in that time I found out that not only am I being charged for welfare fraud, but also abuse of the elderly, credit card fraud, and grand theft. The detective working my case was extremely rude, arrogant, and did not even bother to really listen to my side of the story. I have all confidence in stating that the detective did not like me at all.
I was offered a deal that would have put me away for six years and then on parole. I refused and stated that I was going to trial, as I am a certified paralegal in the state of California. The public defender I was issued did not like how I was going about preparing the case because I was actively attacking the lack of evidence for the charges that were being levied against me. I stated clearly and concisely that there can be no charge without strong, definitive evidence, particularly when there is no recorded history or account of me ever having put my hands on my mother. I stated that there was an incident when my brother broke her nose and gave her two black eyes. The attorney would not work with me as I would have liked, mostly because I was taking a more aggressive stance and standing up for myself. When I went back to jail I was told that I needed to see a doctor. I cannot recall her name but I do still have paperwork and I did not sign anything stating that I was sick or not in my right mind.
When I went to prison I was 160 pounds, but after being forced to take medication against my will and so long in a confined setting I bulked up to around 274 pounds. Life in prison was not easy nor was it justified despite what I was accused of as the evidence was all circumstantial and not at all solid. I do happen to know that in the state of California that a person cannot be diagnosed without going through proper channels. According to those who diagnosed me I am bi-polar and was prescribed what was called a “fixer”, with the dosage being 500 mg per day. I was also taking 500 mg of Depakote, which is a narcotic after I was diagnosed.
After that all I recall really are the moments with the detective who worked my case and his ill treatment towards me. He knew very well that if I was allowed to testify in front of a jury that I would tell the truth. I was regrettably rather feisty in his presence and did not inspire the better half of his personality as I disrespected him and in turn was disrespected when he spat in my face.
Were I allowed to tell and show the whole truth it would be to reveal that my brother is a bully and a woman beater, as he has been physical with other women and his own mother. On the other hand I do have a gun charge against me, which is not a plus in my favor but is not the point of this letter. The situation was bad enough, but it only became worse when I went before a judge and was told that my family does not love me and that if I was smart I would earn up enough money to just up and move away from the problem. This same judge also told me that I was a waste of oxygen and that my mother would be ashamed of me. I have the a recording of the minutes of this proceeding and can provide them.
I have always loved taking care of the elderly, and for a time that was my calling. I wanted early on to become an RN in the state of Florida. I have been a CNA for over 10 years in the state of Florida until this mess. In prison I was drugged, I lost custody of my son, and found out later that my brother put my son in the Foster care system. My sister also told me that she’s not equipped for kids and doesn’t like them all that much. In the meantime I’m doing 3 years and 8 months for a crime that I did not commit. I tried to ask what would happen to my mother’s estate, but the detective and the judge both shut me down. I pleaded with them that my brother would seek to clean out my mother’s account as they were living off of my mother. I was also notified that her house was being foreclosed on within 90 days unless we could come up with almost $5,000. It would appear that property taxes were not paid for the past 2 and a half years, nor was the lawn taken care of, which meant the city came out and did what was needed, charging $100/ day.
I was given the power of attorney to take care of my mother’s estate. After getting out I was forced out of a place called Providence Place and had to rely on my daughter, who was still in college, to pay for a place at a hotel. Throughout all of this I still had to take care of my mother’s estate. I attempted to call my parole officer but the office was closed, and until I managed to procure a hotel room I had nowhere to go. My parole officer contacted me the following Monday and told me to come down to his office. I apologized and told him my story, but he was less than sympathetic and actively berated me for my behavior, stating that I was a grown woman and should know by this point in my life how to take care of myself and make the right decisions.
I had to apologize as well to the District Attorney’s Office after I threatened him after being denied the chance to attend my mother’s funeral. I cannot leave the state of California at this time and would have been risking a warrant being placed for my arrest had I gone against the DA. Because of this I am still tormented by all that has happened and have not been allowed to gain any closure in the matter of my mother and the events that have led to this point and time. I was wrongfully accused and want the truth to be told. I have the proper paperwork to prove that I am not a criminal, as anything over $300 that is accepted is a felony and anything that is under $300 is a misdemeanor. I was wrongfully charged with a felony and can prove that I wasn’t even on welfare at the time. The claim against me still stands however, and I have filed an appeal and have procured all the necessary documentation stating that I am innocent and the mistake was on the part of the welfare department.
Following this I have requested that the charge of welfare fraud be taken off of my record. At this point I believe my past is catching up to me. I have since attempted to adopt foster children and have been told that I cannot thanks to a criminal background that comes up during all background checks. I would very much like to see my name exonerated and for compensation to be dispensed as I believe this is necessary and warranted.
This mess did not just affect me, as my son eventually developed a drug habit that was quite difficult to recover from. I have prayed and prayed to God that my life would turn around and that I would be rewarded for my faith and perseverance, and it has been hard, so hard, to keep the faith as more and more has been heaped upon my shoulders. In prison it was even harder as I had to fight each and every day just to keep myself in one piece and to keep my faith, both in God and in people, strong and well.
I have since called my brother and the detective that handled my case regarding the drug charges that nearly helped to ruin my life. I am required to take a drug test every month despite having no history with drugs at all. Despite my innocence there is no end to the doubting by others, even my parole officer, who think that I have been abusing drugs for so long, despite my words and innocence that proves them wrong.
This has been a very trying time for me, as I have lost my children, I have lost my freedom, and I have been vilified in a way that I did not expect nor deserve. I want my children to know the truth about me, not what they have heard from others. I want them to know that their mother is a good person, not someone who would ever attempt to commit fraud or abuse to anyone for any reason.
I am tired of living with the shame of this, as it has nearly destroyed my life. I cannot obtain a realtor’s license, I cannot be a CAN or a paralegal, and my options are severely limited by the fact that there is a felony on my record. Even if I can prove that I was innocent the mark on my record is a stain that won’t go away on its own. Also, concerning my power of attorney status I have found out that in Georgia such a power needs to be notarized, as mine was in 1997. My brother, who has attempted to take power of attorney from me, was notarized in 2006. Though no one will listen at this point I could very easily disclose a number of illegal activities my brother has been involved in and the abuse he heaped upon my mother.
My sister relayed that she saw a great number of bruises on our mother’s body at the funeral, and that my a friend of my brother’s wife stole the notary stamp to gain the power of attorney. She has since been terminated from her position. This means that my brother’s power of attorney was fraudulent, and that I now have a witness that can attest to my innocence.
There is a great deal of ugly history between my brother and I and our mother. In June of 2002 I took my mother to the doctor’s office, and was at that time the power of attorney for her estate. His notary was signed in 2004 when she was already in the latest stages of Alzheimer’s, and could not consent to such a contract. I also have in my possession a copy of all legal documents that have to do with her Bank of America account.
One thing that was not brought to court thanks to it being buried was that my brother had years ago beaten my daughter, an offense that prompted me to pull a gun on him. I was protecting my daughter but still received a gun charge. He is an abusive individual and does not hesitate when it comes to beating up women, as I can rightfully attest to in the matter of my daughter and my mother.
At one point I was going to have my mother’s doctor write out a statement so that I had further proof of his abuse. Now that I am back in control, at least partially, of my life and my memories I have been taking supplements, working out, and fighting the fog within my mind that was caused by the drugs I was forced to take while in prison. While it is a common technical glitch that is often overlooked, I was greatly over-medicated while in prison, which accounts for a good deal of memory loss and the foggy-headedness that I sometimes feel. Legally it is only allowable to give an inmate 1500 mg per day of such a strong medication in the state of California, but I was receiving around 2000 mg a day, which more than explains why my memory was faulty at times and my head was a constant fog that did not allow me to function properly. To say that I was abused in prison is putting it mildly, and to say that I have suffered a great deal of humiliation, degradation, and unfair criticism is also putting it rather lightly.
My life has been torn apart by this matter, as has my family, and I am now seeking reparations for what was taken and what was lost. Officially I am a convicted felon, and will, for as long as my status remains so, be forced to take what I can get, become close to a second-class citizen, and be forced to climb my way back to a stable living. I have had nearly everything taken from me by people who consider themselves entitled to abusing elderly women and robbing from those who fail to protect themselves adequately enough.
I have prayed and thought on this for some time now, and as my memory returns and the fog clears from my head I continue to remember and continue to believe that I will be shown justice at last. I would gladly see my brother and his wife punished and brought to justice for what they have done, but only insomuch as they deserve. I am a feisty, spirited person, but I am not vengeful, nor do I desire the punishment to not fit the crime. I have lost my mother, my freedom, my children, and very nearly my entire life. I would like to regain what I can and do so as a free woman in every way. If it pleases the court I have the proof to show that I was and remain innocent of all charges, and can provide proof that will clear my record and seek to apprehend those who are truly guilty.