New Laws, Awareness Bring Accountability to Conservatorships

In Nashville this past week, court-appointed conservator Paul Gontarek recommended a criminal investigation be undertaken of his predecessor, now-suspended attorney John E. Clemmons. Gontarek, who replaced Clemmons in four cases, has completed a review of the cases and reports that Clemmons routinely submitted accounting reports that omitted payments made to himself, including more than $370,000 in one case. A review by The Tennessean suggests that the total misappropriated could exceed $1 million. The district attorney's office said it was reviewing the report.

Meanwhile, the head of one of Chattanooga's most distinguished families admitted last week that he drained the accounts and mortgaged the home of his mentally ill sister. The event underscores statistics that exploitation of the elderly and disabled frequently occurs at the hands of those closest to them, The Times Free reports. The paper cites a 2009 study by the National Center on Elder Abuse, which found that family members commit 90 percent of all elder abuse and 34 percent of financial abuse. TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur, interviewed for the story, talks about the association’s success in updating state law and helping judges stay informed about conservator issues.