The Whistleblower blog was started in 2008. Look for posts by these contributors: James Eli Shiffer, Jane Friedmann, Brandon Stahl, Eric Roper and Alejandra Matos. | Check out the Whistleblower archive.
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Last year I wrote about a former professional guardian and conservator named Terri Ann Hauge, who had lost her license as a lawyer but found a new courthouse career overseeing the lives and finances of vulnerable adults, only to find herself in trouble again. Hauge pleaded guilty last week in Hennepin District Court to felony theft by swindle in connection with the theft of $53,000 from the estate of Foster A. Greene, an Edina man who died in 2003. She is scheduled to be sentenced May 21. Her co-defendant, Terrance Larpenteur, is scheduled to appear in court for a plea hearing March 30.
Hauge and Larpenteur ran Estate Resources, Inc., which at one time handled one of the state's largest portfolios of work as guardians and conservators. Hauge still faces numerous charges of theft by swindle, financial exploitation of an elderly adult and perjury in Rice County.
• Does this investment sound too good to be true? Use common sense and get a professional, third-party opinion when presented with investment opportunities that seem to offer unusually high returns in comparison to other investment options.• Did you have enough time to make the decision? Ask for written information that fully explains the investment. The documentation should contain enough clear and accurate information to allow you or your investment adviser to evaluate and verify the particulars of the investment.• Were you given confidential, “inside information”, or a limited offer? These phrases are often used in fraudulent investments to encourage a quick investment decision.• Are the seller and investment licensed and registered in Minnesota? The Commerce Department can tell you if they are. If they are not, they may be operating illegally.
My colleague Brad Schrade has been following the fact-finding mission of Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) as she moves toward legislation "to address shortcomings in the guardian system nationwide." Last week, Schrade reported on a hearing in Washington that featured testimony from Minnesotans about problems with these court-appointed decision-makers and the 2009 reforms that improved state oversight. This week, Klobuchar convened a discussion group that included Deanna Van de North of St. Paul, who became a voice of reform after seeing her mother's health and assets disappear while under guardianship.
Minnesota courts have improved their oversight by requiring electronic reports by conservators, which will be subject to regular audits, and for the first time, some training for guardians and conservators in Hennepin, the largest judicial district, Schrade reports.
Previous Whistleblower coverage of misconduct and lapses of oversight involving guardians and conservators is available here.
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