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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:

Las Vegas' Death Watch

The chain of events start at Sun City Anthem and
end in private guardian Jared E. Shafer's pocket

With three world-class amenity centers, amazing views of the Las Vegas Strip
and over 7,000 luxurious homes, Sun City Anthem is one of the most luxurious
active 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 grave.

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 Vegas Strip.

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.
KLAS TV's George Knapp, two-time Peabody Award winner as well as a 19-time Emmy Award-winning journalist wrote: 
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 the feds.

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 and jailed 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 movie plot.

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:    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).   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 to Nevada.

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.

Mr. 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 OLVERA'S WAR!

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.


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