In a scathing petition filed by the daughter of wealthy socialite Mary Montgomery, widow of famed litigator Robert Montgomery, a court appointed guardian for the 86-year-old is accused of spiriting her mother from her Palm Beach mansion to an undisclosed nursing home where she is being kept in a small room, fed institutional style food and provided sub-standard medical care.
According to court documents, filed on Sept. 7, 2016, Courtnay Montgomery claims that John Cramer violated state law by never seeking or obtaining a court order for the removal and relocation of Mary Montgomery, who suffers from dementia from her home known as Sin Cuidado.
Jennifer Carroll, Courtnay Montgomery’s attorney wrote on her behalf, “This guardian has abused his power and failed to properly discharge his duties. He has not acted in good faith and has acted contrary to the best interests of his ward.”
Adding complexity to the case is the fact that Courtnay Montgomery has been charged with funneling nearly $200,000 from her mother in Minnesota and has been ordered by the court in that state, to refrain from contacting her mother pending a probable cause hearing.
Attorney Carroll says that people in Florida are pushing misinformation to law enforcement for their personal agendas and the charges in Minnesota, against her client, are frivolous.
“This is an egregious case. Carroll said. “I took it because I thought both Mary and Courtnay are not being treated right. There are so many components to it. It is a mess that has to be unraveled.”
John Cramer, through e-mail, referred questions to his attorney Mitch Kitroser, who indicated that he will be filing a response with the court. He noted that Courtnay Montgomery agreed in March to the appointment of a guardian for her mom.
“John Cramer is my client and he’s doing everything he believes is in Mary’s best interest,” Kitroser said. “Any disagreements are best left to the courts and should not be fought out in the public. I’d like to respect the family’s privacy.”
This is not the first time that Carroll has fought to have Cramer removed as a guardian. She was successful in a case involving Boynton Beach senior J. Alan Smith who was placed in a nursing home against the wishes of his wife. Cramer then successfully annulled Smith’s marriage. The annulment issue is in front of the Florida Supreme Court.
The contrast between the two cases is that Montgomery is worth millions and her daughter is the sole beneficiary. Her mother receives $1.5 million every four months from payments from the tobacco industry, the result of her husband’s landmark award that forced the tobacco companies to pay $11.3 billion to Florida. Her husband passed away in 2008 after a battle with cancer.
Earlier this year the state legislature moved to regulate the professional guardianship industry which has come under national scrutiny for bilking and abusing seniors.
The Story Begins with a Routine Trip
The saga began last year when Mary Montgomery took a routine trip to Minnesota to visit her daughter. After she did not return to her Florida home, and fired all of her staff, her accountant Richard Rampell contacted Minnesota Authorities. Olmstead County sheriff’s deputies paid a welfare visit to Mary Montgomery at which time Courtnay was charged with trying to bite an investigator and was placed on probation. Last month she was charged with trying to skim off more than $188,000 from her mother’s accounts, charges which Courtnay denies.
In December she returned to Florida with her mother, after the expiration of a temporary guardianship of her mother in Minnesota. In a meeting that was closed to the media, Cramer was appointed in March as Mary Montgomery’s guardian.
Courtnay learned shortly after that her mother had been relocated to a 500-600 square-foot room in downtown West Palm Beach and fed institutional food on trays in front of a television for entertainment, her petition claims. She is denied telephone contact and given generic medications to which she is known to be allergic, the petition also claims.
The petition goes on to say that Cramer has sought the” least expensive” care for Mary Montgomery even though she has the means to receive the highest quality and is accustomed to such care.
“Cramer caused Mary Montgomery to be taken from her family home of 20 plus years – away from her familiar and comfortable surroundings, away from her social life and care by her only daughter, away from her parrots, swans and dogs,” the petition states.
Courtnay Montgomery, in a separate complaint filed last month, is seeking to remove Hilda Santana as trustee for her mother. Santana is being accused of financial exploitation of her mother.
The Need for Change in Guardianship Regulations
In a series run in early this year, it is made clear that senior citizens are being bilked and conned by appointed guardians in many cases, although many lives have also been improved under the program. It is evident that there needs to be more changes made.
If you have a parent or other relative who is under the control of an appointed guardian you should retain an attorney to be your watchdog against practices like double billing, spurious and inflated legal fees and unapproved purchases. A petition by the is attempting to gather more than 680,000 signatures needed to put a cap on the fees charged by guardians via a constitutional amendment.
Dolman Law Group
Dolman Law Group is committed to fight for the rights of the millions of senior citizens of Florida. If you have a loved one who you feel is the victim of elder abuse by a guardian, nursing home personnel or anyone who is responsible for their well-being, contact an elder abuse attorney today by calling 727-451-6900 for a free consultation.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
Source: My Palm Beach Post