When a person becomes incapacitated, he or she is not able to make financial and other important decisions for himself or herself. At this point it is sometimes necessary to appoint an individual who can be legally in charge of making these types of decisions for the person. In Florida, this agreement is known as guardianship, and it becomes the legal responsibility of the guardian to act in the best interest of the incapacitated person. However, one former city prosecutor has been accused of badly abusing this responsibility.
The 43-year-old former city prosecutor was in charge of managing a guardianship established in 2000 for a World War II veteran. This arrangement was established while he was still serving as a city prosecutor. However, the guardian was arrested in July on contempt charges, due to his inability to account for money missing from the veteran’s bank account. The former city prosecutor is being accusing of misappropriating more than $130,000.
The case has been temporarily stalled due to outstanding subpoenas for bank records on the guardianship account and the former prosecutor’s operational account. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is also involved in the case, since most of the money in the guardianship comes from federal payments related to the veteran’s military service. Court records also indicate that the former prosecutor was recently court-ordered to repay unpaid student loans, including fees and interest totaling $87,423.17. Authorities are currently investigating other guardianship accounts which the former prosecutor was responsible for.
This case illustrates how vulnerable a guardianship arrangement can be to abuse by the guardian. However, careful planning of the guardianship terms, along with screening of the potential guardian, can help to avoid abusive behavior in Florida and elsewhere. Anyone considering setting up or making changes to an existing legal guardianship should be sure to obtain comprehensive knowledge of applicable laws within the state of residence, as well as all local rules and procedures involved.