We all make certain assumptions about retirement. As conventional knowledge goes, saving enough money and planning ahead will keep you happy and independent throughout your golden years.
However, it doesn’t always work out that way. Due to legal loopholes, there are criminals out there who prey on the elderly while facing no repercussions whatsoever. For this family, one unexpected visit brought them to the brink of losing everything.
Julia Belshe was lucky enough to live just a few minutes drive away from her elderly parents, Rudy and Rennie North. Because they were in their 80s and Rennie suffered from neuropathy, they appreciated seeing their daughter most days.
Rudy and Rennie lived in Sun City Aliante, an active adult community near Las Vegas. It was the perfect place where they could be independent and have access to help when they needed it. But they were about to be torn away.
Las Vegas News
Rudy woke up one morning and fell into his usual routine of eating breakfast and reading while his wife put on her makeup. He paused when a heavy knock sounded on the front door.
Flickr / Friesian22
A stocky woman stood on their doorstep, backed by a few muscled thugs. She introduced herself as April Parks and told Rudy to pack his bags. They had to move to a new retirement home immediately.
Parks stated she filed paperwork to become the North’s new legal guardian and take control of their estate. Confused, Rudy glanced outside at Parks’ Pontiac convertible. It had a vanity plate that read ‘CRTGRDN’ for ‘Court Guardian.’
Rudy didn’t know how this was happening, but Parks and her posse threatened to call the police if he didn’t comply. He knew he and his wife wouldn’t survive in prison, so Rudy had no choice but to play ball.
He and Rennie hastily packed their bags with just what they could carry. While they drove off to their unknown destination, Parks strolled into the Norths’ empty home and started digging through their possessions.
“We open drawers, we look in closets, we pull out boxes,” Parks later explained. She trashed the place looking for valuables and ended up taking a watch, some rare coins, and several important documents. And she was only getting started.
Though she was a total stranger, Parks’ status as legal guardian allowed her to seize any property. She could also sell off anything in order to allegedly cover fees for her services or provide for the North’s well-being.
National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse
That afternoon, Julia visited her parents but panicked when they were nowhere to be found. She could hardly believe it when she learned a stranger legally kidnapped them. Julia sped off to their rescue.
Julia was relieved to see her parents, but they were not in good shape. The nurses in their new building intentionally overmedicated them, so Rudy and Rennie could barely even go outside, let alone resist Parks’ scheme.
Julia spoke with several other residents in the building. Shockingly, they too fell under Parks’ guardianship and lost everything. All these senior citizens were victims of the same loophole. And of April Parks.
Public Radio Tulsa
The Norths were miserable. They received word that they had to move to yet another nursing home and that Parks sold off more of their assets. Julia knew she had to act fast.
Las Vegas Review-Journal / Christian K. Lee
Julia reached out to Rana Goodman, the political editor of the Vegas Voice newspaper. Rana published an article exposing the ‘elder abuse racket’ and circulated a petition to reform these laws.
Thousands signed the petition. That was just enough traction for Julia and her parents to secure a court date against April Parks. She couldn’t hide from them anymore.
Flickr / Garry Knight
Though the judge previously approved of Parks’ business, he now revoked her guardian powers over the Norths. They were thrilled to regain their freedom. However, Julia knew she had to take down Parks once and for all.
As the case continued, Rudy testified about his harrowing experience, expertly weaving in quotes from the Bible, Thomas Jefferson, and Euripides. Clearly, he was not the helpless old man that Parks painted him to be.
For all her cunning, Parks could not come up with any way to defend herself. She was a crook. Right as the hearing ended, she texted her husband, “I am finished.”
In the end, the court indicted Parks for perjury and theft and ordered her to pay the Norths $8.5 million in damages. Justice was served for the Norths, though not everyone in their position was as fortunate.
As long as Nevada and other states keep laws that allow virtually anyone to apply for legal guardianship, elder guardian abuse will continue. Only reform and swift justice can bring down the April Parkses of the world.
Julia and her parents won a monumental victory over a career criminal. But can you believe this type of legal guardian abuse still exists?
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