Holocaust Survivor’s Florida Guardianship Saga — Never Stops!

In August, 89-year-old Florida State Ward and Holocaust Survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto Marie Winkelman got another bill.  This time, Marie owes her attorney, Audrey Bear of Sarasota, more than $17,000.00 for services she provided to Marie from before she became Marie’s attorney until January 2014.  Amongst the multitudes of charges claimed by Bear are over $1,600.00 for the hours Bear, Marie, and Beverly Newman, elder advocate, spent together on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, reviewing Marie’s case of gross guardianship abuse.

For four hours on December 31, 2013, Bear, Marie, and Newman discussed Marie’s appeal of the court order that ended her freedom as an independent woman and seized all of her bank accounts, investments, and a trust worth millions, pursuant to a mediated settlement agreement signed by Bear’s friends and fellow attorneys, Rebecca Proctor and Christopher Likens, in addition to attorneys Kimberly Bald and Barry Spivey.

On November 25, 2013, these attorneys had signed the mediated settlement agreement without Marie being present or even seeing the agreement, without any record being made of the secret mediation meeting held at attorney Gary Larsen’s office, and without Marie’s consent to its terms or her signature upon the document.

The secret meeting produced an agreement that was subsequently adopted by Probate Judge Deno Economou on December 3, 2013, without holding the mandatory incapacity evidentiary hearing, thus denying Marie her Constitutionally-guaranteed rights to due process.

The order issued by Judge Economou sealed Marie’s fate as a Ward of the State of Florida, removing all of her rights to her own trust account and placing her step-son-in-law, New Jersey resident and Rutgers financial administrator Robert Szychowski, in charge of gathering all of Marie’s assets into Sabal Trust Company, located in the same building with Szychowski’s attorney, Christopher Likens. Indeed, it was Likens who filed the original fraudulent documents in behalf of Szychowski to petition the court to declare Marie to be incapacitated and to put her into guardianship.

Although Bear charged Marie over $1,600.00 for the time she spent telling Marie about her rights to appeal the court order that stole her freedoms, Bear never filed the notice of appeal that she promised would be filed with the court that same day, when Marie gave Bear $400.00 in checks to pay for the appeal.  By failing to file the notice of appeal, Bear forever fatefully cost Marie her right to appeal.

Now, hundreds of thousands of dollars later, dozens of attorneys, guardians, psychiatrists, physicians, and other service providers have reaped windfall benefits from Marie’s guardianship.

Szychowski’s wife and sister-in-law, by order of the court, have become the permanent primary heirs of Marie’s trust, despite her fervent opposition to said provision, emanating from the mediated settlement agreement that improperly converted Marie’s trust from revocable to irrevocable and permitted Sabal Trust to pay enormous attorney bills and other bills directly from Marie’s trust without the statutorily-required court oversight and approval.

Despite Florida law that permits its Wards to be speedily released from State control upon a determination by a licensed physician that the Ward is not incapacitated, Marie’s Ward status has languished for 8 months after a psychiatrist found her to be capacitated. 

Thereafter, another psychiatrist concurred and filed multiple reports with the court declaring that Marie Winkelman can live independently; yet, the court has kept Marie in guardianship. Rutger’s long-time administrator has zealously opposed Marie Winkelman’s release from Florida guardianship and will fight Marie’s right to be free on September 22, 2014, at 10:00 AM, in a day-long battle before Judge Economou, when Szychowski’s lawyers, Likens and Bald, will interrogate the psychiatrists who have determined Marie to be capacitated.

Psychiatrist Matthew Nessetti, who has been paid over $15,000.00 from Marie’s trust to evaluate her, will be interrogated by Szychowski’s attorneys, costing Marie thousands of dollars per hour during the hearing. Meanwhile, Rutgers University has intransigently refused to accept numerous ethics complaints filed against its administrator, Robert Szychowski, who has cost his elderly step-mother-in-law endless grief for well over a year and a fortune in money that she diligently earned after the Nazis stole her childhood, family, and possessions from her as a child-victim of the Holocaust.

Will the one who escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto alone as a child ever escape guardianship, she wonders?

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Marie Winkleman  (left) with Dr. Beverly Newman. Those wishing to support Marie Winkelman at her guardianship trial may go to:

Courtroom 8B
Lynn N. Silvertooth Judicial Center
2002 Ringling Blvd.
Sarasota, Florida  34237
Judge Deno Economou
Monday, September 22, 2014, 10:00 AM