Abuse and Corruption Rampant in Probate Court of Cook County, IL

July 2, 2011

The end of life has many challenges for the elderly.  It can be a fast or a long goodbye and might involve a transition to assisted living, a nursing home, or a live-in caretaker. 

Now is the time to guard against opportunists, who like vultures are circling to claim flesh, whether the person is alive or dead, even if a large sum of money isn’t involved.  For elder abuse bi-passes color, race or creed and extends also to disabled children. 

Although the presence of wealth often brings out the worst in human kind, preying on the elderly can amount to nothing more than gaining access to the individual’s monthly Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security or Veterans Disability payments.  

Twenty percent of the elderly are subject to elder abuse.  Nine times out of ten the abuse is done by lawyers they trust.  Having developed a rapport with their lawyer, the elderly client signs over control of their personal and financial transactions, many times without realizing what they are doing.  The greedy and opportunistic lawyer then proceeds to charge for every minute spent talking and overcharging for every bill paid, while pretending to care.

More far reaching abuse happens in situations where the appointed guardian is removed from his/her position by a court order and replaced by a court-appointed guardian (Guardian ad Litem). It now becomes the responsibility of the the court-appointed guardian to make judgments about medical care, property, living arrangements, lifestyle and potentially all personal and financial decisions.  

But it doesn’t end here, the court appointed guardian, in collaboration with the lawyer, presiding judge and the nursing home, use the very judicial system they are part of to profit financially by functioning as partners in the management and control of all aspects of a vulnerable person’s life.

Cook County Probate Court Corruption Addressed

What I have described is common practice on the 18th Floor of  Daley Center, home to Probate Court in Cook County. Thievery is taking place and savings are being milked in a massive transfer of wealth that is disappearing into the pockets of judges and lawyers instead of the legitimate heirs. 

So wide spread is the corruption in the Chicago Probate Court System, that Bev and Ken Cooper created up a website to expose and remedy corruption in the Probate Court of Cook County.  www.ProbateSharks.com   

Their Illinois website assists, educates and enlightens families of the dead, the dying, the disabled and the aged to better understand their rights in order to protect themselves from the excesses of the Cook County Probate Court.  As the site depends on networking, it invites you or someone you know to send stories that tell of probate abuse.  Names are kept confidential if there is fear of retaliation against a loved one.  The site postings reveal up-to-date incidences of abuse in Cook County Probate Court.

Ken and Bev Cooper first became aware of abuse in the Chicago Probate Court system after a highly emotional and devastating experience with Beverly Cooper’s mother. 

About Beverly Cooper, she is producer and host of North Shore “Live” Cooper’s Corner, a weekly cable Comcast TV program that is broadcast live every Wednesday night from a studio in Highland Park and then shown throughout Lake County.  This is Bev Cooper’s 30th year as producer of the show.    Bev.cooperscorner@yahoo.com 

Bev has quite a story to tell about the elder abuse of her own mother, Alice Gore, which has expanded  to include 10 videotaped testimonies from individuals appearing on Bev’s North shore “Live” Cooper’s Corner program, all of whom experienced similar gross injustices as did Bev Cooper in dealing with her mother in Probate Court on the 18th Floor of the Daley Building.

Elder Abuse as a National Industry

It might be questioned how individuals as people savvy as the Coopers could be caught up in a probate court swindle involving a loved one? 

Both Coopers believe in law and justice and that the courts and those involved in the court system serve as protectors of the public and not predators. This same trust in the judicial system is held by the American people, which is why abuse of the most vulnerable is a nationwide problem.     

Consider what happened to 90-year old film actor Mickey Rooney.  Court documents allege that Rooney’s stepson, Christopher Aber, “prevented the actor from leaving the house, forced him to sign documents against his will and withheld food and medicine.” The order also allowed Rooney’s legal team to secure his financial assets and obtain control of his website and any personal documents.” http://www.contactmusic.com/news.nsf/story/mickey-rooney-made-a-prisoner-by-stepson-says-lawyers_1202365

Rooney’s son, Christopher Aber, set in motion his step father’s abuse.  In Bev Cooper’s case, a daughter born and diagnosed at age seven with Borderline Personality Disorder, Psychotic Behavior with Suicidal Ideation — documented by the Juvenile Court of Lake County in 1982 — deemed Kimi a danger to herself and others.   As such Kimi was taken advantage of, which resulted in a chain reaction culminating in the death of Bev’s mother, Alice Gore, on Feb. 25 of this year from dehydration.   Having had no disabilities other than arthritis, Alice Gore died a pauper.  She had saved a million dollars throughout her lifetime so as not to be an end-of-life burden on her children.  Her million dollars was gone through in less than three years. 

The Case of Alice Gore, Beverly Cooper’s mother

As with so many individuals who have fallen prey to a growing uncaring and unjust judicial system, the Coopers trusted their attorney of 27 years, Karen Bowes and her associate Bruce Lange, who then guided the Coopers toward what was to become a hellish experience involving Bev Cooper’s mother. 

As the story unfolds in 2008 (actual names are used as all are part of the public record), Beverly Cooper’s mother, Alice Gore, was living in an apartment building owned by Mr. Morris Esformes who likewise owned numerous nursing homes, to which Alice Gore had divulged her complete financial information upon moving in.  At this point of time Bev Cooper had Power of Attorney for her mother’s health and financial needs, per her mother’s request, and Court-arranged by her attorney, Karen Bowes and associate Bruce Lange who works for Harris Bank and Trust.

Attorney Bowes was able to convince Bev Cooper that she should go to court to seek guardianship of her mother, being told by Bowes that guardianship trumped Power of Attorney.  Represented by attorney Karen Bowes, Bev Cooper was granted Plenary Guardianship of her mother by Cook County Probate Judge Kawamoto.  At the same time Judge Kawamoto appointed Miriam Solo, a cousin of apartment building owner, Mr. Morris Esformes, to serve as Guardian ad Litem on the case.

The plot thicken.  Beverly Cooper’s attorney, Karen Bowes, and the court-appointed Guardian ad Litem, Miriam Solo, cousin to Mr. Morris Esformes, had been close friends for ten years.  Karen Bowes knew that Bev and Ken Cooper had a daughter born with severe personalty disorders and psychotic problems for she had served as legal counsel to the Coopers for psychiatric and legal issues their daughter Kimi had endured during her childhood.  As such Miriam Solo had heard about the Cooper family and realized their was money involved with Beverly’s mother, Alice Gore.

Bev Cooper’s Plenary Guardianship turned out to be short-lived, from February to August, 2009.  It was then that Beverly Cooper’s mentally disabled and psychotic daughter, Kimi Cooper, was set up to make a complaint to Judge Kawamoto against her mother.  Kimi testified that her mother had stolen $300,000 from her grandmother’s account, which was found to be an error made by the bank.  It never happened

Appointment of ad Litem Guardian for Alice Gore 

Consequently, Bev Cooper lost her Plenary Guardianship role and Judge Kawamoto granted Kimi Cooper guardianship of her grandmother.  Judge Kawamoto was well aware of Kimi Cooper’s long-standing history of childhood psychiatric illness and that Kimi was unfit to carry out her guardianship role.   

Shortly thereafter the Court, urged by Miriam Solo, removed Kimi as Guardian of the Estate and made her Guardian of the Person, thereby relegating Kimi to a puppet role.  Miriam Solo was retained as Guardian ad Litem on the case.

Alice Gore, subsequently, under the direction of Guardian ad Litem Miriam Solo, was moved out of the apartment building owned by her cousin, Mr. Estofmes, into one of his nursing homes, at which time a feeding tube was inserted in Alice Gore’s stomach unnecessarily, for their convenience.  In this facility Mrs. Gore’s health declined.  

(To be noted:  Mr. Morris Esformes has been under investigation by Lisa Madigan’s office in the past for allegedly placing homeless people into his public aid nursing home.  These placements were done without proper criminal investigations prior to the placement.  Regarding Probate Judge Lynne Kawamoto, an Associate Judge in Circuit Court, she was found not qualified in 1994 by the Chicago Council of Lawyers.)

Attempts by Beverly Cooper to bring her concerns about her mother’s decining condition to Judge Kawamoto resulted in Bev being restricted from visiting her mother without supervision for a number of years.  Rehab Assist was assigned to supervise Bev, and allegedly brought false statements to Judge Kawamoto about Bev’s interactions with her mother while visiting, resulting in further visitation restrictions.

By the time Alice Gore died in February of this year, an estate worth over a million dollars was depleted.  Annuity checks went missing and an inventory and accounting of how and for what checks were written has not been provided by the Cook County Probate Court, despite repeated requests by Beverly Cooper.

Alice Gore died a pauper.  She lay six days in a morgue before her body could be claimed.  To add insult upon insult, the Coopers had to pay for the burial of Bev Cooper’s mother, Alice Gore.

Court-Appointed Guardians Require Monitoring

As has been demonstrated, court-appointed guardians have the authority to make judgments about medical care, property, living arrangements, lifestyle and potentially all personal and financial decisions for high-risk adults with cognitive impairments and for disturbed and mentally challenged children who become threats to themselves and others.  Absent the monitoring of court-appointed guardians, opportunities arise for abuse and malfeasance.  

Individuals associated with ProbateSharks.com, known as Sharks, have found that the Corrupt Cook County Probate Court is indeed proficient in the quick-sales of properties, 6 weeks on the average; placing of wards’ estates into OBRA Special Needs Pooled Trusts (resulting in public aid placement, even for the rich); maintaining cases that are out of Cook County’s jurisdiction (wards live in another county, yet funds are held hostage by OPG (Office of Public Guardian); spending down of disabled wards’ estates with guardian and legal fees; restricting family members from inquiring about their loved ones(s), and restricting family from visiting their loved one when concerns over the spending of the estate are raised to the court.

Distraught citizens are discovering ProbateSharks.com website via the Internet.  Subsequent contacts with Beverly Cooper are providing them with opportunities to present their testimonies on Cooper’s North Shore “Live” weekly Comcast TV program.  Not all of Bev’s contacts have been from the Chicago area. 

Beverly Cooper’s Testimonies of Abuse

So far ten individuals have been featured on North Shore Live “Coopers” Corner, all with stories to tell of the abuse and fraud they experienced in their dealings with Cook County Probate Court, with more to come. These videotaped interviews have already been viewed all over Lake County and surrounding collar counties on community public TV stations.  DVD’s can be had by contacting Bev Cooper at Bev.cooperscorner@yahoo.com.

On five of the occasions, Janet Bedin drove from Rockford, IL over concern for her 84-year old mother; Annie McKenna flew in from New York also to talk about her mother; Nancy Schneck drove from Hanover Park, IL on behalf of her disabled Down Syndrome son, having been denied any contact with her son for two years by GAL (Guardian ad Litem); the Mary’s (Beth, Katherine, and Sue) arrived from Arizona, Michigan, and Illinois to talk about their beloved Aunt Lydia; and Lois Jones came all the way from the south side of Chicago to tell about the travesty perpetuated on her father, a military veteran, from whom she was ordered to stay at a distance of 10,000 yards. 

Egregious Cases of Probate Fraud in Cook County

One of the most egregious cases entertained by Beverly Cooper on her weekly TV show involved a huge estate where millions of dollars of payments were made by Special Trust officers at the First Nation Bank of Canada Manatoba Fiduciary (FNBC)  Is it just a coincidence that the First Nation Bank of Canada was chosen, seemingly as a ploy to deceive, in so far as its initials are identical to the First National Bank of Chicago?

Thomas Pool, a veteran, starting with nothing, worked his butt off doing manual labor, formed a successful company — Leedester Pool — and became quite successful.  Bottom line:  His entire estate was depleted throughout guardianship proceedings in the Cook County Probate Court.  Driving home from Hines Veterans Hospital, Thomas Pool claimed he was followed by Kevin Carter, an agent from Rehab Assist.  Carter talked his way into Pool’s home and proceeded to write out a report stating that he would see Thomas Pool in court in 3 days.  The following week Thomas Pool was declared incompetent in front of Judge Kawamoto and an ad Litem guardian was appointed.  Thomas Pool’s daughter stated that all $13 million of her dad’s estate was taken prior and throughout her father’s guardianship proceedings.     

In the case of 93-year-old Lydia Tyler, with an estate in excess of $12 million, it was to be bequeathed in equal amount to her 13 nephews and nieces.  One of the nephews, not satisfied with 1/12 of his aunt’s estate, manipulated his Aunt Lydia into signing her entire estate over to him.  Taking his Auntie out for a drive from her residence at Lake Point Towers condo, he drove her directly to a nursing home where a drugged Auntie may have unknowingly changed her will.   Auntie died within a week at the nursing home.   An unwarranted guardianship assigned by the Cook County Probate Court was used as the tactic for looting Lydia Tyler’s  $12 million plus estate.  In addition, all of Aunt Tyler’s valuable jewelry, pictures, and antique furniture disappeared from her Lake Point Towers condo.

Collusion Among Probate Court Participants

What do all of the above cases have in common?  l)  All have experienced situations involving fraud and deceit.  2) All have contacted ProbateSharks.com as a means to tell their story.  3) All were abused by the same pool of judges, ad Litem Guardians, and nursing home facilities, which then acted in consort, through rotation, to remove a loved one from a caring relationship and to summarily deplete their estates.

The level of proficiency in the Cook County Probate Court System of Illinois to prey upon the most vulnerable is indeed amazing.  The FBI should be looking into the Chicago Probate Court fraud of the most vunerable and interested in investigating the proficiency of the fraud that is occurring on the 18th floor of the Daley Center, such as:  Just why is the First Nation Bank of Canada Manatoba Fiduciary being used for Chicago Probate Court funds? 

Reporting Elder Abuse

It is up to all of us to expose elder abuse when it happens around us.  A national website has been set up To GUARD “incompetent” people from harming themselves, To CONSERVE  their assets and property; and To PREVENT them from becoming a “public charge.   www.nasga.com  

In Illinois connect with the website set up by Kenneth and Beverly Cooper to report, expose and help remedy corruption found in the Probate Court of Cook County.  www.ProbateSharks.com  All contacts have the opportunity to tell their story on live cable TV on North Shore “Live” Cooper’s Corner.

Many of the individuals involved in the “mischief” within the Cook County Probate Court system can be found on “wanted” lists at  www.nasga.com and www.ProbateSharks.com.


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