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Inside Vegas - Steve Miller

Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. In 1991, the readers of the Las Vegas Review Journal voted him the "Most Effective Public Official" in Southern Nevada. Visit his website at:

Embattled Private Guardian April Parks
Censured For Exploiting The Elderly,
Mastermind Jared Shafer Stays
Under The Radar - For Now
        Private "guardians" April Parks and Jared E. Shafer (KTNV TV News photos)

INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
December 21, 2015

LAS VEGAS - Where are the Feds when the fleecing of wealthy Southern Nevada retirees continues even while local and state law enforcement agencies claim to be conducting in depth investigations of at least two of our city's most prolific private guardians?

This week, April Parks, the jolly lady who is often appointed by the Clark County Family Court to look after vulnerable, and always wealthy, local seniors is still in business despite scathing censures by the national agency entrusted to certify persons who conduct business as private for-hire "guardians."

The Center for Guardianship Certification (CGC) on December 10, confirmed a complaint against Parks claiming she had looted the savings, and allowed the deeply discounted sale of a home owned by a "ward" she was appointed by Hearing Master Jon Norheim to care for. Even after this revelation,  "Hearing Master" Norheim, an appointed court official serving under Family Court Judge Charles Hoskin, remains in high esteem in the Las Vegas judicial community and was just appointed by the Nevada Supreme Court Guardianship Commission to serve on a prestigious committee to hear complaints of elder exploitation.


Investigative reporter Darcy Spears of KTNV TV News reported on December 17, that Parks is still being allowed to stay in business despite an ongoing police investigation and CGC censure.

        (Click on image above for KTNV story and video)

In the meantime, not a word has been written in recent months about Jared Shafer, the mastermind of the decades old guardianship scam in Southern Nevada.

I don't wish to belabor writing about April Parks. She has the real potential of going to prison in the near future, and that may be just what Jared Shafer is wishing for - the appearance of a clean out of our corrupt family court guardianship cesspool - but with one exception, the exclusion of Shafer in the process.

Reliable sources tell INSIDE VEGAS that Parks may have stashed most of the cash she's stolen from her wards in off shore accounts, and may be planning to file bankruptcy to avoid having to pay back any wards or their family members who are suing her at this time or in the future. (There are two civil lawsuits pending against her.)  Hiding cash and filing bankruptcy is part of a well known local modus operandi used when someone has been caught red handed and does not want to pay restitution.  The case of Rick Rizzolo comes to mind.

However, because Parks is small potatoes just like another of her ilk, convicted former Shafer employee Patience Bristol, Parks may also be used as a scapegoat to distract from the real mastermind of the local guardianship scam, Jared Shafer, owner of Professional Fiduciary Services of Nevada, Inc. (PFSN).


For long-time INSIDE VEGAS readers, you may recall my coverage of the Crazy Horse Too strip club and its owner Rick Rizzolo. After three years of stories appearing on and on the front page of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, nothing happened in local law enforcement to stop the nightly robberies and beatings taking place at Rizzolo's topless bar.  That's when reporters began to realize that Mr. Rizzolo was untouchable within the state of Nevada, and it was coincidentally discovered that he was as big a political campaign contributor as many Strip hotels around election time.  So it was hands-off Rick until the Feds finally stepped in and put him and his crew in prison, and shut down his night club.

Now, we are watching Jared Shafer and asking the same question. Why is it taking so long?

Jared and Rick are friends and serve together on the board of Youth Charities of Southern Nevada (yes, its for the kiddies).  Its  obvious that Jared has taken some political pointers from Rick that may, like with the Crazy Horse Too, have kept the heat off his back for the time being.

But there's an important difference; how the local District Attorney has reacted to complaints, first against Rizzolo, now against Shafer.

In Rizzolo's case, then-DA David Roger was an unabashed supporter of Rick, and let his feelings be known on his first day in office when he discarded five LV Metro Police Requests for Prosecution of Rizzolo and his goons that had been filed with his predecessor Stewart Bell. On a local TV program, Bell was asked why he hadn't acted on the five requests? He responded that he wanted his successor to decide what to do with them.  His successor threw them in the trash, and that opened the door for the Feds to step in.

For the favor, Roger received $50,000 cash from Rizzolo and the donation of his campaign headquarters.  But David Roger was not the only politician receiving Rizzolo's largess at the time, and keeping the club open.  Then-LV Councilman Michael McDonald lived rent free in a house owned by Rizzolo's cousin, and was also receiving a $5,000 per month "consulting fee" from the Crazy Horse Too.  Rick happily gave money to politicians who could help him stay in business and out of jail, that's until the Feds stepped in, but only after it was proven that no local or state law enforcement agency was going to take action.

Jared Shafer has something even better to offer politicians than money; political billboards!

Shortly after leaving his elected position as Clark County Public Administrator and opening his private guardianship service, Shafer bought out former Justice of the Peace Mark Peplowski's political sign company, Signs of Nevada, Inc.

Peplowski needed to get rid of the business so he could take a teaching position in the College of Southern Nevada Political Science Department. Owning over a thousand portable A-frame signs that advertise judges, DA's, assembly and state senate candidates would be a conflict of interest for a political science professor, so Shafer bought him out to become the new go-to guy when it comes to plastering your name on every vacant lot in the state if you want to get elected, especially to judgeships.

The effectiveness of the signs was so evident that soon after he bought the company and put PFSN office manager Amy Viggiano Deittrick in charge, the Clark County Family Court bench was full of judges who used Jared's signs to get elected.

Its not known how many of the signs were donated or discounted by Shafer, but those signs remain the mainstay of low budget political campaigns in Clark County making Shafer a very popular guy at election time.

(Shafer's signs are stored on two large lots, one in Apex, the other along I-15 in North Las Vegas. He also has a warehouse off the Boulder Highway in Henderson where his art work is produced in-house and affixed to the A-frames before they're placed across the valley during the weeks before an election.)

After the signs began appearing,  strange decisions started being made from the Family Court bench. Shafer and his firm became the choice of judges and hearing masters when it came to awarding guardianships over the persons and assets of wealthy retirees, most deemed mentally incompetent by persons without credentials to make such a determination. Most guardianships made to PFSN were without the knowledge or consent of the potential "ward's" family members.  The first to come to my attention was the late Guadalupe Olvera and his estate worth over a million dollars much of which ended up in Shafer's possession (See: Guadalupe Olvera's War)

The bilking of Olvera's estate is the subject of an ongoing very revealing Federal Civil Racketeering lawsuit:

Then came the late Leanne Peccole, the only heiress to the vast William Pecolle fortune.  Shafer was granted guardianship by the family court, and since that time drained hundreds of thousands of dollars from the estate, plus taking her palatial Kings Ridge Estates home in Henderson.  Even though Leanne died in 2008, Shafer is still her legal guardian, and continues receiving interest from her accounts and annuities with full family court approval. (See: Grave Robbery Under Color Of Law)

I fully believe those signs with judge's names plastered all over them are the reason Shafer has never been brought to justice. And, they may have been responsible for keeping District Attorney Steve Wolfson at bay, thus discouraging the FBI from stepping into "pending" or "ongoing" investigations.

Only after a year of extensive TV and newspaper coverage of guardianship scams did Wolfson call a press conference to announce the formation of a new unit to study complaints of guardianship abuse.  He neglected to say that his office has been in possession of dozens of such complaints, mostly against Jared Shafer, ever since Wolfson took office from his predecessor David Roger.

I believe Wolfson's new found interest in the subject is merely a subterfuge to discourage the Feds from taking action against his friend Shafer.  The DA will probably throw the book at April Parks, but watch, Jared Shafer's name will be conspicuous by its absence.

As long as the investigations remain local, I believe Shafer will skate along with little trouble.

I also believe that, based on the Rizzolo example, only the FBI can take down politically connected Las Vegas people like Rizzolo and Shafer. Our last two DA's are allegedly Shafer's cronies.  Since his appointment as Clark County DA in January 2012, after David Roger's unexplained resignation,  Wolfson has ignored too many complaints about Shafer to be objective.  His actions, or lack thereof, speak volumes as did his predecessor's.

(Disclosure: Steve Miller in March 2011, authored and filed a complaint against Steve Wolfson's wife, then-Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass, with the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline that caused her to resign her judgeship.)

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt seems to want to go after Shafer, but hasn't been aggressive in his investigation of late. But like with Rizzolo who was also well connected all the way up to U.S. Senator Harry Reid, I believe the Feds will only go after Shafer when the local yokels exhaust themselves, and they seem to be taking their sweet time, probably on purpose.

In Rizzolo's case, the then-DA, David Roger, had flatly refused to do anything. His inaction created the opening for the FBI to launch its Organized Crime Strike Task Force investigation and gather enough evidence for indictments followed by a trial in Federal Court that led to 17 convictions.

In Shafer's case, the DA and AG are still pretending to investigate possibly giving Shafer enough time to ride off into the sunset, but I sure hope I'm wrong.

And then there's the Nevada Supreme Court Guardianship Commission.

According to court observer Richard Black: "Each month new victims come forward to speak to the Nevada Supreme Court Guardianship Commission of the atrocities committed by the people the judiciary assigned to supposedly protect their loved ones.

Sadly several Clark County attorneys seem to be intent on minimizing reforms by the Commission.  Judge Steel was absent from the last meeting, but we found out she has assigned Commissioner Elyse Tyrell (Shafer’s attorney), Shelley Krohn (Shafer and Comastro’s attorney), and Dara Goldsmith (Shafer’s attorney) to lead her committees, and they have put Jon Norheim (yes, the embattled former adult guardianship hearing master who was removed in May for sponsoring elder exploitation), Alan Freer (Shafer’s attorney), Lee Drizin (Parks’ attorney), Bradley Richardson (Shafer’s attorney), Linda Sisson (former family court compliance officer), and Alan Pearson (victim’s real estate broker) on committees.  All have either represented or defended Jared Shafer and/or April Parks' actions over the last 20 years.  Guardian April Parks' offices were raided in September by law enforcement.  Parks, Shafer, and Denise Comastro have all been named by multiple families for their exploitive actions as Commissioner Norheim’s court appointed guardians."

Another INSIDE VEGAS source writes: "Steve, Thanks for your continued diligence on this story.  I too am frustrated that KTNV, or anyone else including law enforcement, has not picked up on specific evidence concerning Jared Shafer’s wrongdoing.  His influence of the Commission as well as Judge Steel by his former attorneys; Dara Goldsmith, William Voy, Elyse Tyrell, and Shelley Krohn is appalling.  Shafer continues to influence and has begun using Bradley Richardson for new guardianship cases.  Richardson worked for the DA’s office for years.  Of course Patricia Trent’s 40 year influence is surely there as well.

Judge Steel’s judgement is either quite flawed or highly influenced…either way she continues to be bad for the victims and the vulnerable.  Her recent handling of the Franze (Shafer), Lasco (Shafer), Bernard, and Hernandez (Shafer) cases are highly suspect.  No confirmation of assets and the final accounting also being the first accounting on cases as much as 10 years old.  No fines, sanctions, or charges for no annual accountings.  Shafer still has at least 4 guardianships, Steel has recoded guardianship cases so you really don’t know how many are active.  One thing we do know is Shafer has 32 probate cases, the oldest of which is 41 years old.  The consistency by which Shafer had his attorneys set up trusts (most often through Premier Trust) for his wealthy Wards and then transfer the Ward to summary guardianship and onto Medicaid is quite apparent.  With the help of his lawyers, he appears to save their assets for his personal consumption.  What a wonderful and illegal retirement annuity.  Also we are now at 3 recusals by Judge Steel: Ruth Braslow to Judge Miley, Phyllis Moskowitz-Crowe to Judge Sturman (was Shafer's attorney before becoming a judge), and Elizabeth Indig to Judge Allf.

My best guess is that someone is dictating to Steel in order to get the cases to other judges that may be more open to being influenced by the guardians and their over priced attorneys. These people are going to fight tooth and nail to make sure their guardianship business keeps going, They are too dependent on the money it generates for them to back down."


    Judge Steel           Judge Voy       Commissioner Tyrell    Judge Hoskin   Hearing Master Norheim

Las Vegas Review Journal - Legal Representation Urged for Adult Guardianships

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