Las Vegas' Death Watch
The chain of events start
at Sun City Anthem and
end in private guardian
Jared E. Shafer's pocket
three world-class amenity centers, amazing views of the Las Vegas Strip
over 7,000 luxurious homes, Sun City Anthem is one of the most luxurious
adult communities in the U.S.
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
March 17, 2014
LAS VEGAS - The second largest industry
in Las Vegas is retirement. If Del Webb, the man who envisioned Sun
City Anthem and Sun City Summerlin, knew that his creations would lead
to a bunch of racketeers fleecing the elderly who bought into his dream
of spending their golden years in the sun, Webb would be spinning in his
The chain of events starts when wealthy
out of state retirees receive a brochure in the mail or an e-mail enticing
them to relocate to Southern Nevada and purchase an expensive Sun City
retirement home in one of two golf course communities overlooking the Las
The majority of the married respondents
can afford to buy the homes for cash, most costing over one half million
dollars. Unbeknownst to Sun City's developers and promoters, vultures
using Sun City's good name soon begin circling their potential prey, waiting
for the death of a wealthy spouse.
Also unbeknownst to the new home buyers
is an arcane Nevada law stating that after the death of a spouse, only
a Nevada resident can become the guardian of the surviving spouse in the
event a Family Court Judge determines they cannot govern their own financial
affairs alone, i.e. family members living outside Nevada are not legally
qualified to be the legal guardians of the surviving spouse and their assets,
and it all sounds legal enough with the Clark County Public Administrator
John Cahill telling INSIDE VEGAS; "....action in all cases are reviewed
in detail by the Court in a petition, and actions approved and ordered
are carried out."
That's the next problem. Who is the Clark
County Family Court Judge or "Guardianship Commissioner" approving
the placement of a "temporary" Nevada guardian? And how legitimate are
the guardians they appoint?
Immediately following the death of too
many Sun City residents, for-hire guardians Patience Bristol and Jared
E. Shafer and his PFSN, Inc.
(Professional Fiduciary Service of Nevada) are appointed by the Court to
care for the fortune of the surviving spouse. Soon thereafter, the elderly
person's bank accounts, house, jewelry, and other valuables are taken or
transferred to the guardian, while loved ones living outside Nevada can
only sit powerless and watch their inheritance being fleeced under color
of Nevada law while Shafer
charges their loved one's bank account a minimum of $422 per hour for his
guardianship services including charges for talking to people, reading
e-mails, snooping through safe deposit boxes, talking to neighbors and
snooping through the house.
Soon, unauthorized transactions like the
one below start to appear with the approval of Eve Mills and Susan Bull,
Shafer's cronies at Wells Fargo who are supposed to supervise his trust
disbursements. Note the $15,168.63 Shafer paid himself, and $8,760 he paid
to Patience Bristol who in 2013 plead
guilty to exploiting the elderly. Also note that Keep You Company
of which Shafer is a director received $3,080 on this bill, and continued
being paid $7,200 - $7,500 per month until and for months after Mr. Olvera
was rescued from Bristol and Shafer's custody.
When family members hire a Nevada licensed
attorney to try to terminate the trust, Bristol or Shafer time and again
tell the Court that the family members are "exploiters" or "incompetent,"
and the same Family Court Judge or Guardianship Commissioner who appointed
them guardians always agrees with Bristol or Shafer, leaving the guardianship
in place until the surviving spouse dies, and the remainder of their assets
are taken by the guardians to pay for their "fees," "legal expenses," and
other assorted bogus charges.
In the 1999 case of Anna Marie Gaule, her
son Thomas, hoping to care for his mother in her final years told INSIDE
VEGAS that he completed Shafer's $1,500 guardianship course that's regularly
scheduled in a meeting room at the Clark County Government Center. Thomas
described the course as mainly consisting of Shafer bloviating about himself,
and asking questions about the wealth of his student's loved ones.
When Thomas revealed how much his mother's estate was worth, Thomas said
that Shafer went to Family Court and told Judge William Voy that Thomas
was an exploiter, and was incompetent to care for his mom even though he
had completed Shafer's guardianship course. With the Judge's approval,
Shafer then transferred much of Mrs. Gaule's real property and over a million
dollars in cash to himself while sending Anna Marie to a rest home in Pahrump
80 miles from her son, who does not drive, where she soon died. Thomas
to this day has been unable to recover any of his inheritance, and this
is not an isolated story.
According to this writer and others, there
have been dozens, possibly hundreds of additional victims of this scam
in Southern Nevada, and it continues unabated with almost the identical
M.O. and players in each case.
George Knapp, two-time Peabody Award winner as well as a 19-time Emmy Award-winning
The arrest of court-appointed guardian Patience Bristol for allegedly
stealing piles of dough from the accounts of the elderly people she was
supposed to protect is truly the tip of a very large iceberg. The
guardianship racket that has been sanctioned by local courts has allowed
untold numbers of people to see their bank accounts fleeced by unscrupulous
thieves. There is SO much more to come.
In the late 1970s, Jared Shafer was originally
appointed Clark County Public Administrator and Public Guardian by then-County
Commissioner Manny Cortez, current Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto's
late father. Cortez-Masto has twice refused to respond to complaints
filed with her office that involved exploitation of the elderly by her
father's old friend. Current Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson
also appears to have an alliance to Shafer because he just dropped 19 of
20 felony charges against Patience Bristol who will be sentenced on April
28, 2014, and may not spend another day in jail with Wolfson's help.
How can this happen? Shafer is closely
associated with Signs of Nevada, a company that rents hundreds of A-frame
portable billboards used by most of the local judge candidates during elections,
and I'm told he can donate or discount signs to his favorites to gain favors.
The signs are owned by two of Shafer's closest associates, guardianship
attorneys Patricia Trent and Elyse Tyrell who often represent Shafer
in Family Court. Shafer's PFSN office manager Amy Deittrick
is listed as the sign company's manager by the Secretary of State. Anyone
who has run for election in Clark County knows that roadside signs can
make or break a political campaign, and Jared Shafer is the man to know
for cheap signs.
No wonder local politicians like the AG,
DA, and certain Family Court Judges have turned their backs on numerous
complaints filed against Shafer, et. al. It looks like the U.S. Department
of Justice is the only unconflicted law enforcement agency that can put
an end to his exploitation. If so, it won't be Shafer's first brush with
In 2009, Shafer and his CPA's narrowly
avoided criminal prosecution by the SEC by returning money they invested
in a Ponzi scheme in which investor funds were used, among other things,
to pay promised returns to earlier investors and for family living expenses.
Most of the money was fraudulently obtained from unknowing senior citizens.
According to court records, Shafer and two accomplices were accused of
receiving commissions for the sale of securities without a license.
Thankfully, Patience Bristol was caught
in 2013 after the families of several of her PFSN, Inc. "wards" reported
thefts, but her boss and mentor Jared Shafer is still operating his PFSN,
Inc., though he has drawn the attention of the local and national media
for being the poster child of a guardianship racket involving greedy guardians,
lawyers, bankers, and judges, a racket that has been copied from coast
to coast. It's also believed that Shafer
cut a deal to blow the whistle on his protégé Bristol in
exchange for letting him off the hook, at least for now.
Back to the original chain of events that
often start at wealth management seminars in Sun City Community Centers,
soon after a wealthy retired couple move into their Southern Nevada dream
home, a group of connected attorneys and private guardians begin waiting
for a spouse to die so they can take power of attorney with the help of
a so called Clark County Family Court Judge or "Guardianship Commissioner."
After a death, with references coming from
what seem to be legitimate lawyers or Family Court staff pretending to
be concerned for their welfare, recommendations are made to the surviving
spouse and their out of state family that a private guardian be appointed
on a temporary basis to help them handle financial affairs during
their time of grief.
This is when the nightmare begins.
But before the death of a spouse and the
nightmare began, the happy couples always report that they are invited
to attend an orientation gathering in their community's plush club house.
There the elderly couple are introduced to "asset protection" lawyers who
are about to involve them in a chain of events that could rival a horror
According to a witness, "Several years
ago, Sun City allowed a lawyer from Lionel, Sawyer & Collins to promote
their ?estate planning?? services through Sun City Community Centers.
Kristina Berger, the person who turned in Patience Bristol, had her mother
living in a house in Sun City Summerlin and her estate planning attorney
was reportedly John Dawson from Lionel, Sawyer & Collins. Flyers/brochures
can be found at the Summerlin Community Center Association: http://www.suncity-summerlin.com/scscai_home_about.html
Mr. Dawson reportedly prepared documents naming a family friend in CA as
guardian for Berger should her mother die. When Margaret Maul died, Dawson
reportedly told Kristina that the friend in CA could not serve as guardian
and referred her guardianship to Shafer and Bristol."
A victim told INSIDE VEGAS: "My parent's
home in Sun City Anthem, also has a Community Center Association and through
them, they also fell into the estate planning trap of Lionel, Sawyer &
Collins (John Dawson). https://www.sca-hoa.org/sub_category_list.asp?category=60&title=Anthem+Center
Dawson poorly advised my parents to name Wells Fargo as trustee should
my mother die first. Eve Mills of Wells Fargo, Vice President and
Senior Trust Officer, has close ties to Shafer and aided him in financial
exploitation by not monitoring duplicate and triplicate invoices and paying
many billings without court approval."
Most likely, without the knowledge of Sun
City or its management, many new Sun City residents have been exposed to
some of Las Vegas' most unsavory characters.
(L to R) Ralph Rizzolo, Guardianship Commissioner Jon Norheim, convicted
racketeer Rick Rizzolo,
Asset Protection lawyer John Dawson, private guardians Patience Bristol
(mug shot) and Jared Shafer
Does Sun City Summerlin and Sun City Anthem
management realize what they expose their residents to when they allow
a mob lawyer like John
Dawson, ESQ. of Lionel
Sawyer & Collins to conduct financial planning seminars on their
property? Dawson was the "Asset Protection" lawyer who hid racketeer Rick
Rizzolo's ill-gained fortune in the Cook Islands to protect it from
being seized by beating victim Kirk Henry and the IRS.
Then there's Guardianship Commissioner
Jon Norheim. He was once Rizzolo's mob lawyer.
Should such people be allowed to advise
Sun City seniors, or teach a guardianship class in a government building?
But there's still hope. On
March 11, 2014, JARED
SHAFER vs. REBECCA SCHULTZ was Dismissed without Prejudice.
If you've been following this story, you
know that Rebecca Schultz was sued in 2012 for allegedly defaming Bristol
and Shafer along with several of their crew including the CPA's who were
involved with Shafer in the Ponzi scheme. On March 11, Clark County
District Court Judge Joanna Kishner agreed with Schultz' attorney Brian
Boggess that Shafer, et. al. had failed to prove that Schultz was the author
of over 100
Ripoff Reports that the plaintiffs objected to even though many have
proven to be factually accurate.
During the drawn out and purposefully expensive
litigation (Shafer pays is lawyers from money he bleeds from his wards),
court observers believed that Shafer filed the SLAPP
suit to harass Schultz in retaliation for rescuing her then-91 year
old war hero father Guadalupe Olvera from an exploitive guardianship approved
by Clark County "Guardianship Commissioner" Jon Norheim at Shafer's behest.
Rebecca and her husband Bob Schultz did
what no other family has ever done - rescued a loved one from Jared Shafer's
death watch. This infuriated Shafer, Bristol, and their cronies. They sued
Rebecca to extract revenge and send a message to other "ward's" family
members to not interfere with their schemes.
In 2010, after witnessing their then-91
year old family patriarch plead with Judge Norheim to be allowed to return
to his home in Central California to spend his final years with his family,
and being denied, (Click HERE
to watch 2:27 court video of Mr. Olvera's ignored plea), the Schultz' followed
the old soldier's orders and removed him from his Sun City Anthem home
against Bristol and Shafer's orders.
Rebecca Schultz believed that had she not
removed her father from Shafer's custody, her father would have died soon
thereafter in a rest home of Shafer's choice, and her father's half million
dollar home, car, and personal possessions would have also been taken by
Shafer to pay his "fees" and other expenses to try to force Olvera to return
Several nights after his court testimony
that had been discouraged by Shafer (Olvera?s caretaker stated that she
had been ordered in the past to NOT allow Olvera to attend his own hearings),
Bob and Rebecca drove Olvera to their home in Santa Cruz, County where
he remains today living a healthy and happy life with his grandchildren
and great grandchildren.
Olvera and family celebrating his first Christmas after being liberated
from Shafer's custody
Within hours of learning of Olvera's escape,
Shafer went to his friend Family Court Judge Charles Hoskins who obediently
granted Shafer a Warrant
for Rebecca's arrest.
Then, at Olvera's expense, Shafer hired
expensive California lawyers and tried to have the arrest warrant transferred
to that state. The Superior Court in Los Angeles denied Shafer's expensive
Motion, however, Rebecca was barred from bringing her father back into
Nevada to list his half million dollar house that had fallen into a state
of disrepair under Shafer's supervision. Shafer hired the Grunsky Firm
in California at Olvera's expense, whose billing was over $12,000 to eventually
lose in court when the judge ruled for Mr. Olvera.
In the meantime while the Nevada guardianship
languished, Shafer continued bleeding Olvera's bank account of over $350,000
to the last day, paying himself $422 per hour and his attorneys over twice
what legitimate LV family court attorneys charge per hour to unsuccessfully
try to force Olvera to return to his imprisonment in Las Vegas, and allow
Shafer to sell the house and probably keep most of the proceeds to pay
his burgeoning "fees."
Then, in 2013, a miracle happened, A Santa
Cruz Superior Court Judge ruled that Olvera was competent to handle his
own financial affairs, never needed a guardian, and based on his ruling,
a Nevada court terminated
Shafer's guardianship against the pleadings of lawyers that were being
paid out of Olvera's dwindling bank account that Shafer had control of
until the moment the judge made his ruling.
During the course of the Nevada guardianship
and an expensive California conservatorship Shafer forced Olvera to agree
to in exchange for quashing the arrest warrant against his daughter so
she could return with her father and husband to Sun City to list
the house with a realtor, Olvera's bank accounts were drained
by Shafer of over $411,000.00 for "guardian fees," "e-mails," court appearances,
and excessive legal fees paid to his attorneys Solomon
Dwiggins & Freer, LTD. as well as fees paid to the CA attorneys
fighting what I call GUADALUPE
And sadly, these stories are only the tip
of the iceberg when it comes to the sins committed by Shafer and his gang
of thieves, and through reading the website of the National
Association to Stop Guardian Abuse, I have learned that such crimes
are becoming commonplace across the nation.
Thank God, officials outside Las Vegas
are starting to pay attention.
In a recent paper entitled Who
is Guarding the Guardians? A Localized Call for Improved Guardianship Systems
and Monitoring written by Judge David Hardy, Second Judicial District
Court, Washoe County, Nevada, Judge Hardy states; "64%
of all Washoe County guardianships begin as temporary guardianships in
which an order is entered before the proposed ward is given notice of the
action and an opportunity to respond. The judges granted
99% of the ex parte petitions for temporary guardianship. Few
proposed wards are represented by counsel or guardians ad litem.
Only 7% of the petitions sought limited authority in recognition of the
proposed wards? situational capacity. Inventories, personal status reports,
and financial accountings were late or missing in alarming
numbers. There were also recurring substantive problems relating
to the content of petitions and medical evidence, sufficiency of notice,
consistency of orders and financial accountings, statutory
noncompliance with inventory requirements, widely divergent administrative
expenses, and post-death property disposition orders. Finally, judges
have no county resources with which to investigate the propriety of guardianship
or monitor the performance of their guardians."
Hopefully, now that a courageous person
like Rebecca Schultz is free of Shafer's frivolous lawsuit intended to
prevent her from telling her story, her victories will inspire other
victims of guardianship abuse to step forward and expose this insidious
problem plaguing our country so it can be eradicated through comprehensive
new laws, and those guardians, bankers, lawyers, and judges who prey on
our elders, veterans, and disabled (Click HERE
to hear man with cerebral palsy tell how his inheritance was stolen), be
prosecuted for their immoral crimes.