Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What works and what doesn't

With no money, you can’t fix this. Otherwise, what you’d do is call your lawyer, say you have a problem, write the check and forget it.

I’ve worked day and night for months on an effort that’s gone nowhere, so here’s some advice. Don’t waste time with things that don’t work. Because I receive SSDI, I’m eligible for support from the state’s Department of Human Services Adult Protective Services (DHS APS). It’s a great program.

The APS specialist and I have assembled much needed for a department’s investigative report to submit to a prosecutor. Legal Aid advised me that APS could submit a report to a prosecutor, but that is incorrect. APS can, however, provide persuasive evidence to police, and the specialist’s opinion matters.

Police want a legal team to examine the complainant’s statement and documents. They want an accountant’s forensic audit. Then, they want a definitive report linking events and figures with violations of statutes, including citations and possibly a case law study.

Most lawyers run from this job, saying they don’t do litigation, don’t want involvement with a possible criminal case or for some other reason. Certain lawyers handle litigation and interfacing with law enforcement.

The willing few want a sizeable retainer, as in cash up front. They are wise to want that. The figure regularly mentioned is twenty-five to thirty thousand dollars. I’m on SSDI and don’t have a bundle like that.

Someone asked me why I need a lawyer. The answer is I shouldn’t. Police want someone to do their work in regard to this sort of case. They don’t know how trusts work, and are too overloaded to face the entire learning curve in hopes of straightening out this unholy mess. I can sympathize. The police are actually trying to help me. They figure my fastest, best road to recovery lies elsewhere.

The problem for me is that is not the case. I require their signed investigative report delivered to a prosecutor who files charges. Until that happens, the clock is ticking. Statutes of limitation for the various causes will run. I either achieve timely filing or I don’t, and timely filing refers to the filing of charges.

People repeatedly advised me to contact the district attorney’s office. I called them. When I asked what the report should contain, they hung up. I went to their office with my document package.

I was told their office doesn’t begin work until it receives law enforcement’s investigative report, and that they can’t talk to me. I can’t submit a report myself. They told me any department or agency in the county can submit a report. Whether or not that presents jurisdictional problems I don’t know, but the district attorney’s office represented to me that it doesn’t.

That’s why you need a lawyer. You see it isn’t easy to explain.

I would like to hire a lawyer for a few hours to make a short report about events and give citations. That might be enough. My case is blatant, obvious, open and notorious. The trustee committed the one cardinal sin: he put the bulk of the money in his own accounts. I’ve asked several lawyers to do this. They want a retainer and open billing arrangement at best.

I need a more exact work description, because I can’t waste money.

I need a pro bono lawyer. No one can predict what will happen. Every case is different. This one is very different. Thousands of people want a pro bono lawyer at any given time and place. One needs a referral I don’t have. Legal Aid doesn’t handle this kind of case, but said they’d help me find a pro bono lawyer. The federally funded Disability Law Center also filtered it.

The local police kicked this case out because the trustee’s office is in a different suburb. The trustee’s police department kicked it out, saying they lacked the capacity to investigate it. They referred it to the attorney general’s office for the purpose of investigation.

The attorney general’s office did not understand why they were contacted. Based on the APS specialist’s comments, the documentation and the extraordinary nature of the complaint, the AG’s public protection unit committed to turning it over to their investigators.

A week later, we were told they decided to wait two months, then review the case and consider its disposition. The following week, I asked what they thought would happen. They told me the FBI was interested in the case, and that they had taken up the investigation. The APS specialist delivered a document package.

Not knowing that, I delivered my own document package. The duty agent knew nothing about the case.

Three weeks later, the FBI and attorney general’s office both declined to investigate. The FBI told the APS specialist they were shorthanded. The AG’s staff said they don’t handle this kind of case.

Meanwhile, I contacted the state securities commission. They don’t recover money. They prepare cases to punish investment wrongdoers. They don’t handle this kind of case, only cases involving stocks.

Five months have passed. The case went everywhere and nowhere. The criminal case can provide for recovery. The defendant either pays back the money or goes to jail. The measure of damages can include an exemplary award that is the amount in controversy times three, plus costs.

That happens in a fairy tale dream world where the victim is a company or association that has other money and can hire a lawyer to perform the audit and analysis. Many eyes are watching. Police don’t have to guess, and they’re on the spot to perform. Here, stealing isn’t tolerated.

The private individual who has no other money is filtered. Stealing from him is tolerated because he can’t do the police investigation himself, and fewer people are watching.

The civil lawsuit is another story. Certainly one should launch an aggressive collection effort, and that takes cash up front. So, what just happened? A man took a whole lot of money out of my account. He’s getting away with it. It’s the wild, wild west. The man who can fight is the man who is right. Stealing is legal. CPAs can steal from gimps.

Those are the real, unsatisfying facts, and this isn’t finished. Everyone agreed the trustee should face a judge, yet no one wanted to be a part of it. I listed all the checks the trustee wrote himself from December 2011 to August 2013. He paid himself $10,752.50 with 15 checks. The money he says he invested was 92 checks written to his business and personal accounts totaling $174,450.00, plus one $450.00 withdrawal. I paid $11,000 for a man to steal $175,000.00 and do my taxes. This bad deal was his idea, not mine.

What works? DHS APS helped me. Nobody else did. That’s ridiculous to the point of insanity. Everyone I’ve talked to says it makes no sense at all. The house where I live is owned by the trust, and the trustee wants to liquidate it, too. He continues to withdraw money as it arrives. What a nice guy. Stay tuned for the exciting, specific details.

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