Elder’s Rights Prevail — What do you call it when a daughter who failed to have her aged mother declared mentally incapacitated appeals and seeks a stay after being ordered to return about $900,000 in cash and bonds she took?
Donald Coburn, a retired appeals judge on recall who tried the competency case, had a word for it: chutzpah. He denied the stay, saying the appeal had no merit and the 88-year-old mother might die before she got her money back.
Ada Vocino was living in an apartment attached to the Kinnelon home of her daughter Patricia Femia when a fall sent her to the hospital. Subsequently, Femia had Vocino placed in Ramapo Ridge Psychiatric Hospital in Wyckoff and then in the Alzheimer’s ward at Paragon Village in Hackettstown. But Vocino was found to be so functional, she was moved to assisted living and then independent living, where she remains.
On April 5, Coburn ordered Femia to return $560,000 removed from a joint account with Vocino and 25 savings bonds worth $10,000 each and to turn over $66,514 from the sale of 10 other bonds.
Vocino had a court-appointed lawyer, Richard Diegnan Jr. of Diegnan & Brophy in Berkeley Heights, and one she retained herself, Robert Scirocco of Budd Lake. Femia’s attorney, Adrienne Burke of McHugh & Macri in East Hanover, did not return a call.
New Jersey Law Journal, April 26, 2013 — By Charles Toutant, Michael Booth, David Gialanella and Mary Pat Gallagher