Callaghan & Callaghan – Attorneys – Rhode Island

 

 

Call (401) 294-4555

 

 

3 Brown Street
Wickford, RI 02852

Callaghan & Callaghan Helps a Client Recover Thousands

July 18, 2014 by ccladmin2 in Uncategorized

This week Callaghan & Callaghan worked with a client and the Attorney General to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen funds.  The money was taken from a senior citizen through a court appointed guardianship. Callaghan & Callaghan was appointed successor guardian in order to sort through and recover any outstanding funds.

After a thorough investigation by the Rhode Island State Police, Callaghan & Callaghan was able to work with the police and prosecution to identify the correct amount of money taken.  Then by collaborating with the executor of the estate, Callaghan & Callaghan hammered out an agreement that benefited their clients.

Warwick lawyer gets 30 months of home confinement in elderly embezzlement case

WARWICK, R.I. — A suspended lawyer who admitted stealing $129,107 from a cognitively impaired elderly stroke victim has been sentenced to serve 30 months of home confinement.

Superior Court Judge Walter R. Stone on Wednesday sentenced Janet A. Mastronardi, of Warwick, to seven years in prison, with 30 months to serve on home confinement and the remaining 54 months suspended with probation after she pleaded no contest to charges of embezzlement and elderly exploitation. A larceny charge was dismissed under the deal.

Mastronardi, 54, paid the full $129,107 in restitution in April, according to the attorney general’s office.

State prosecutors had been seeking for Mastronardi to do jail time, according to Amy Kempe, spokeswoman for Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin’s office. She had faced up to 60 years in prison and $40,000 in fines under the three original charges.

The criminal case against Mastronardi was built on information provided to the state police by Mastronardi’s former legal assistant and bookkeeper, Donna Halsband.

Mastronardi originally was charged with stealing $144,989 from a now-deceased 87-year-old woman for whom she had been appointed guardian. That sum was later determined to be $129,107, Kempe said.

The victim Jane S. Jacques, formerly of North Kingstown, suffered from cognitive impairment and died April 30, 2013, in a nursing home.

Mastronardi was appointed guardian in September 2005 after Jacques suffered at least two strokes and had been diagnosed with “vascular dementia with behavioral disturbance.” The doctor who determined she could not manage her own affairs noted she was “paranoid about people stealing from her.” Jacques had been married for 50 years but was a widow and childless.

Jacques, through her own lawyer, objected to the guardianship. In May 2005, she had given power of attorney to an 85-year-old neighbor who was trying to help her care for her home. That arrangement failed. The police got involved and referred the case to the Department of Elderly Affairs, according to Kathleen Herren, long-term-care ombudswoman for the state. Jacques was admitted to a nursing home, which then asked the Alliance for Better Long Term Care, Herren’s agency, to find her a guardian.

The organization asked attorney Mark Sjoberg to petition the probate court for the guardianship, Herren said. The court appointed Mastronardi as guardian.

The Alliance for Better Long Term Care previously had hired Mastronardi in six or seven cases as guardian for cognitively impaired clients, Herren has said. Mastronardi, she said, “was very good to her clients.” The Alliance did not refer the Jacques case to Mastronardi, who’s married to an attorney in Sjoberg’s office. It is unclear from court documents who recommended her.

In investigating the theft of Jacques’ money, the state police discovered Mastronardi had failed to report some of Jacques’ assets to probate court. The state police said a review revealed that she stole her client’s money by writing checks payable to herself.

During their probe, the state police said they discovered that Mastronardi had run up large gambling losses at three local casinos. She accumulated a net loss of $89,894 at Twin River, $140,655 at Foxwoods and $103,022 at Mohegan Sun.

Mastronardi’s lawyer, Peter A. DiBiase, said Thursday that, upon her arrest, she immediately sought treatment at Rhode Island Hospital for her gambling addiction and major depression. She also liquidated assets, including a home at 76 Goodwin St., East Greenwich, to pay restitution in full, he said. In doing so, she displaced her family, including her elderly parents.

Mastronardi’s sentence is “very appropriate” given her remorse, restitution and repentance as indicated by her commitment to her treatment regimen, DiBiase said. A lawyer for the estate, James M. Callaghan, also signed off on the disposition.

Mastronardi voluntarily surrendered her license to practice law in Rhode Island. Her license remains suspended on an interim basis subject to review following the resolution of her case, said state Supreme Court Chief Disciplinary Counsel David D. Curtin.

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