Oregon Department of Justice

Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum

Oregon Department of Justice - Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum
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Two Eugene Businesses Allegedly Misrepresented Financial Services to Elderly and Incapacitated Oregonians

March 6, 2000

Attorney General Hardy Myers today closed down two Eugene businesses that allegedly misrepresented financial services to elderly and incapacitated Oregonians. Named in an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance filed in Lane County Circuit Court is Michelle Bellah and her two companies, Oregon Care Options and Aging Services Network. The agreement admits no law violation.

"When financial representatives hold themselves out as fiduciaries, guardians and conservators, they must act in the best interests of their clients," Myers said. "In this case, the defendants did not manage clients'

financial affairs in a responsible and accountable manner."

Acting on information provided by the state Senior and Disabled Services Division, Department of Justice investigators discovered Bellah had an inadequate system of recordkeeping and was unable to account for how client funds were spent. In one instance, records indicated that client funds were spent to purchase a television. Investigators found the client was both totally blind and functionally deaf.

Bellah failed to screen employees or check criminal histories before sending them out to serve clients and in some cases, she would contract with her own companies to provide companionship, medical or financial services to clients.

The agreement puts Bellah out of the guardian/conservator/fiduciary business for five years, requires her to dissolve both corporations and to transfer all current client files to other provideers within 30 days. Additionally, Bellah paid $1,000 to the Department of Justice consumer protection educational fund.

Myers encourages families to do the following when seeking appointment of a guardian or conservator or seeking to hire a fiduciary:

  • Investigate the person's credentials. Ask for references and speak to current clients and their families, if possible.
  • Check court files. Recent legislation requires persons seeking appointment as a fiduciary to provide the Court with additional information.
  • Find out how many clients the financial representative has and if a significant number are from the same facility. If so, call the facility.
  • Ask whether the potential representative subcontracts with companies of which he or she owns an interest.
  • Obtain fee schedules and compare with others.
  • Ask if the person or company employs staff that provides direct services to clients and if so, ask if both medical and criminal history checks are made on those employees.
  • After selecting a financial representative, make timely evaluations of the individual's performance and review periodic accountings. Ask for clarification of confusing or unclear entries.
  • Families suspecting possible mishandling of a family member's funds should report the matter to the Senior and Disabled Services Division at 1-800-232-3020 or call the Attorney General's toll free consumer hotline at 1-877-877-9392 or (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only) or (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or write Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection at 1162 Court Street, N.E., Salem.

Contact:

Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) jan.margosian@doj.state.or.us |
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