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Elderly, mentally ill and children trapped in broken court system

Thousands of Ohio’s most vulnerable residents are trapped in a system that was created to protect them but instead allows unscrupulous guardians to rob them of their freedom, dignity and money. Even judges who oversee the system acknowledge that it is broken, that it has ripped apart families, rendered the mentally ill voiceless, and left some elderly Ohioans dying penniless in nursing homes, a yearlong Columbus Dispatch investigation found.

Children under guardianship are all but forgotten. Adults without an estate are virtually ignored. And those who aren’t really mentally incompetent find it nearly impossible to end a guardianship. The 5-day series, which concludes May 22, has prompted criminal investigations by the Franklin County Prosecutor and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.

The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.

For six months, CNN has been reporting on extended delays in health care appointments suffered by veterans across the country and who died while waiting for appointments and care. But the new revelations about the Phoenix VA are perhaps the most disturbing and striking to come to light thus far.

Read the story here.

During the 26 years that James Preston spent incarcerated for murder, he always told his family that he didn't commit the crime.
            
Now, the FBI says their analyst's testimony about key hair evidence in the case exceeded the boundaries of science, raising the possibility that Preston, who died in custody, was wrongfully convicted if not, as his family believes, innocent.
            
"I sat with him as he passed away and I kissed him and I told him, I said, ‘I'll let everybody know that this is not right, this is not true, and you shouldn't be here,'" his brother, Erick Preston told WFXT-TV in Boston. "That's all they had from the FBI lab, a hair with ‘negroid features'… but he swayed it to make it look like it was my brother's."
            
The FBI's review of Preston's file is part of a nationwide effort by the Department of Justice and the FBI to re-examine the testimony of FBI forensic experts in serious cases like murder and rape, all done before the advent of DNA testing. More than 2,000 cases involving hair analysis are being reviewed.

Watch the report here.

"A USA TODAY examination finds that MRSA infections, particularly outside of health care facilities, are much more common than government statistics suggest. They sicken hundreds of thousands of Americans each year in various ways, from minor skin boils to deadly pneumonia, claiming upward of 20,000 lives. The inability to detect or track cases is confounding efforts by public health officials to develop prevention strategies and keep the bacteria from threatening vast new swaths of the population."

Use only as directed | ProPublica and This American Life
“About 150 Americans a year die by accidentally taking too much acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. The toll does not have to be so high.” Read the stories from ProPublica.

Company Behind Snowden Vetting Did Check on D.C. Shooter | Bloomberg
“The U.S. government contractor that vetted Edward Snowden, who leaked information about national surveillance programs, said it also performed a background check on the Washington Navy Yard shooter.”

Archdiocese knew of priest's sexual misbehavior, yet kept him in ministry | Minnesota Public Radio
“A memo written in 2011 obtained by MPR News from police shows the former vicar general – the top deputy of the archdiocese – did not want parish employees to know about Wehmeyer's past. ‘At every step of the way, this could have been prevented,’ Haselberger said. ‘This is just failure after failure after failure after failure.’”

Insiders Allege Fraudulent Accounting at SamTrans | NBC Bay Area
“Insiders say they were asked to make changes to the San Mateo County Transit District’s financial records that they believe were illegal; they say SamTrans made up expenses to create the appearance it needed more taxpayer money.”

D.C. Fire Stations Near Navy Yard Understaffed in Shooting | NBC Washington
“News4 I-Team has learned some D.C. firehouses were understaffed during Monday morning's shooting at the Navy Yard. Twelve people were killed and eight others injured when 34-year-old Aaron Alexis opened fire inside Building 197 in Southeast D.C. around 8:30 a.m. Alexis was later shot and killed by police.”

Legal problems sent midwife to Utah, where another baby died | Salt Lake Tribune
“This is not the first time El Halta has been accused of straying beyond her expertise. It is not her first encounter with the law, nor her first delivery that ended with a death. But for decades she has remained committed to natural childbirth, and some clients say she has helped countless women avoid complicated surgeries and provided choice in births where hospitals may offer few options. ‘They’ll have to cut off my hands to stop me,’ he once told a Michigan newspaper.”

Metro Phoenix housing market’s turnaround creates new issues | Arizona Republic
Now, buyers and renters live in those places — in properties re-floored, repainted and relandscaped. The number of empty houses in the Phoenix area today stands at about 10,000, according to an Arizona Republic analysis of housing data.

Scoring errors jeopardize tests: Poor oversight raises risk | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“It can mean the difference between college and a factory job; between scraping by and a chance for more. The former principal is still haunted by the few times he told parents their children wouldn’t receive a high school diploma because they had failed the exams.”

Carolinas HealthCare’s planes used for business, personal trips | Charlotte Observer
A Charlotte Observer story published Sunday revealed that the CEO of one of the nation's largest nonprofit hospital systems enjoys a rare perk: the freedom to fly hospital planes for both business and pleasure. Flight logs provided by Carolinas HealthCare System show that chief executive Michael Tarwater took at least 29 personal flights on the system’s planes from 2008 through 2012. Tarwater, an accomplished pilot, often flew hospital planes on business trips as well. Some experts believe the practice is rare – and questionable. “It seems inappropriate for them to use (planes) for personal purposes, given that they are being supported via tax exemption,” said Gerard Anderson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management. “So we are all paying for the vacation the CEO is taking.”

Lee Zurik Investigation: Hingle to jail, taxpayers pay him $400k | WVUE New Orleans
“Former Plaquemines Parish Sheriff Jiff Hingle surrendered himself Monday, reporting to a federal prison in South Carolina where he'll serve most of his nearly four-year sentence. And even while he's behind bars, the public will still be paying Hingle.”

UCI doctors downplayed risks of surgical robot | Orange County Register
“Two top UC Irvine surgeons have spent a decade working with a California company to promote a $2 million surgical robot despite a lack of reliable scientific evidence showing that it is safe or gives patients better results.”

Justice Dept. watchdog never probed judges' NSA concerns | USA Today
“In response to a FOIA request from USA TODAY, the Justice Department said its ethics office never looked into complaints from two federal judges that they had been misled about NSA surveillance.”

DeVry Lures Medical School Rejects as Taxpayers Fund Debt | Bloomberg Markets Magazine
“DeVry, which has two for-profit medical schools in the Caribbean, is accepting hundreds of students who were rejected by U.S. medical colleges. These students amass more debt than their U.S. counterparts -- a median of $253,072 in June 2012 at AUC versus $170,000 for 2012 graduates of U.S. medical schools.”

DWP says it can't track millions in ratepayer money | Los Angeles Times
“DWP ratepayer funds flow to two groups run by agency managers and union leaders, with little accountability.”

"In the 12 years since American troops first deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, more than 2.6 million veterans have returned home to a country largely unprepared to meet their needs. The government that sent them to war has failed on many levels to fulfill its obligations to these veterans as demanded by Congress and promised by both Republican and Democratic administrations, a News21 investigation has found."

The nation's state medical boards continue to allow thousands of physicians to keep practicing medicine after findings of serious misconduct that puts patients at risk, a USA TODAY investigation shows. Many of the doctors have been barred by hospitals or other medical facilities; hundreds have paid millions of dollars to resolve malpractice claims. Yet their medical licenses — and their ability to inflict harm — remain intact.

"41 Action News has spoken exclusively with a woman who is convinced the taxpayer money was used to help keep a sexting scandal out of the public spotlight. And she’s shared her story with the FBI."

After finding out that the Cleveland Police Department had no idea how many rape kits were in their evidence room, Plain Dealer reporters Rachel Dissell and Leila Atassi started digging into how sexual assault cases were handled in their city.

Finally, "unsolved crimes by the dozens are returning to Cleveland with DNA matches and the expectation that this time, justice will be served. Each new DNA "hit" stems from evidence collected as part of a so-called rape kit in a hospital room years ago."

Condemned killer Debra Milke still sits on Arizona's death row. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed her conviction largely on the testimony of Phoenix Police Detective Armando Saldate, who claimed Milke confessed. He didn't record it, write it down or have it witnessed. Investigative reporter Wendy Halloran from KPNX (NBC) Phoenix uncovered Saldate had a history of misconduct documented in his personnel file. What’s more, other officers who worked with Saldate knew he regularly engaged in misconduct as a detective. And when he was elected as constable, the misconduct did not appear to end.

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