The story

For a who's who see The Players

Carol was a 70 something divorced and remarried woman who lived in San Jose with her husband Gene. After many falls in the driveway of their home the couple moved to senior housing in the Willow Glen neighborhood. But due to several health complications, Gene died in 2015 and Carol moved to an assisted living facility only a few months after selling their home and moving to senior housing.

Carol's daughter, Sonya, who also lived in San Jose, complained how the assisted living facility was nickle and diming her mother and came up with the idea that she would care for her mother. She also thought that she would also open up her own hair salon or some how do both. So in March 2015 she became power of attorney for Carol. Mike, her bother, and his wife Mari (Me) who were visiting from Washington, DC witnessed the document.

In April 2015, using Carol's money, Sonya rented a 3 bedroom home in a nice San Jose suburban-like neighborhood. Because Sonya had poor credit and a history of bouncing around from place to place, she had to pay several month's rent in advance. The rent was $3800 a month. Prior to the $3800 place she was living in a 1 bedroom 1st floor apartment too close to the dumpster in a more urban part of San Jose, blocks from an awesome falafel joint. It is questionable as if she had custody of her two minor children, but she claimed that the extra bedrooms would be for her children. In the previous years she had broken up with longtime boyfriend, and father of the minors, Rocci and their split had been complicated. Being out in DC, Mike and Mari (me) did not know more than what could be observed from annual trips out to CA.

From the Spring and Summer of 2015 things were going well with Carol and Sonya. Sonya's daughter N Kim was helping with her grandmother's diabetes injections and making sure she was taking her medications. There was nurse or nursing aid who came around to assist with the care of Carol. Sonya was contemplating setting up a salon in the living room area of the house.

In the Fall of 2015 things began to fall apart. Because teenage boys can be, difficult, Mike1, Sonya's son, got into a heated argument with his mother and she threw her 15 year old son across the room. The nurse for Carol was there and witnessed the incident and reported it. The nurse also did not feel safe in the home and did not return. This was also around about the time Sonya brought a boyfriend to live in the home with the family. Mike objected, but could do nothing about it because he was 3000 miles away in DC.

Things fell apart in the Winter of 2015. Rocci, via Facebook, informed Mike that N Kim told him that Sonya was doing something bad to Carol but did not go into any detail. In late December Carol, despite her mobility issues, escaped the home and was admitted into a Kaiser hospital where Adult Services became involved. We don't know what she told the staff but it was determined that it was unsafe for her to return to the home she shared with her daughter.

In January or February 2016 Carol was placed in one of the cheapest assisted living homes in San Jose. It was a boarding house for old people with no activities beyond watching TV. It was months before she was allowed to walk around the neighborhood with staff.

It was about this time in early 2016 Adult Protective Services of Santa Clara County began harassing Mike. There were constant calls to Mike's phone demanding he get involved. At this time Mike believed his sister over the word of the government. In an April 2016 letter to the social worker dealing with the case Mike wrote that he believed that his sister did not purposefully mismanage their mother's money. Sonya was guilt tripping Mike about his lack of involvement and providing lame excuses of why she leased a SUV with their mother's money. Sonya was also demanding that Mike financially chip in. Adult Protective Services were attempting to build a case against Sonya and told Mike the way to prevent sending his sister to jail was to become Carol's conservator.

In May 2016 Mike began making steps to become Carol's conservator. Mike decided on an experienced lawyer with the Pelosi & Ferguson Law Firm. Unknown to Mike there was something going on at the law firm where the partners were going to go their separate ways. From May to late August he received excellent service from the law firm staff who told him what he needed to do. Early May we (Mike and Mari) took $5000 out of our savings for a retainer. Late May Mike was made the emergency conservator and in June was finally able to freeze Carol's accounts, but not before Sonya was able to drain $20K out of them.

Around September 2016 Mike was made and received paperwork recognizing him as conservator. The law firm broke up and Mike was stuck with the lawyer who did not have staff and who essentially fell off the face of the earth, not responding to calls or emails until December. It was also in September Mari demanded Mike obtain 2 years worth of statements from Carol's bank, it was then Mike learned the truth about his sister's mismanagement and how she drained their mother's retirement to almost nothing.

In late August 2017 Mike moved his mother Carol to the Washington DC area after failing to care for her long distance. It was clear that without a support system in California caring for Carol was nearly impossible. Sonya was unavailable for one reason or another and other San Jose area relatives who were difficult to reach even before all this, remained so.  She was sent to live at Independence Court in PG County Maryland, a facility with activities and a primarily American English speaking staff. There she made friends and was able to get the physical therapy she needed.

As a 74 year old with Parkinson's, type 1 diabetes, a history of smoking, and heart disease her health caught up with Carol. In December 2017 she experienced a mild heart attack and was in the hospital for a while and sent to rehab for a few weeks. In January 2018, not after a few days returning to Independence Court, she fell and hit her head. She went back to the hospital and spent several weeks at the same rehab facility. February 2018 she was having trouble swallowing, due to the Parkinson's and was not eating. Mike took her to the hospital on Thursday and by Sunday morning she had passed away.

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