Ella Card had it made in America. After emigrating to the United States from her native Belize, she earned a masters degree and taught third grade in the New York City Public School system for three decades.
She and her late husband Raymond, who died as a result of taking the recalled painkiller Vioxx, had saved and invested their money wisely, so Card was looking forward to a comfortable retirement.
But her well-laid plans took a terrible detour when she suffered temporary dementia after being struck by a car in 2010. Her two sons, whom she says lost their jobs as corrections officers due to drug abuse, petitioned the Brooklyn Supreme Court for guardianship over her affairs.
And after recovering from her injuries, the 73-year-old widow -- a naturalized U.S. citizen who retains dual citizenship in Belize -- finds herself in an ongoing guardianship nightmare that has now gone international.
On March 16, Brooklyn Judge Betsy Barros held one of five ex parte hearings on Card, appointing a temporary guardian. On April 26, Barros ignored Card's durable power of attorney, irrevocable trust, and two quit claim deeds and read the still-very-much-alive woman's will in open court before declaring her "incapacitated."
"It felt like a hanging. I was the only one sticking up for my mother," Card's 43-year-old daughter Cindy told us. "Every one of them standing there and allowing it knew my mother was not incapacitated."
Card was then placed under the near total control of a court-appointed guardian, The Vera Institute of Justice, located in the same Brooklyn courthouse. The Vera Institute of Justice's website describes it as "an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit center for justice policy and practice." According to IRS records, $16.7 million of its $24 million annual funding comes from government grants.
Card told The Washington Examiner that The Vera Institute of Justice promptly froze all of her assets (valued at approximately $1 million), including her teachers' pension, began collecting rent on the property she owned, and forced her to live in her own home without heat, hot water or access to her own money.
Card petitioned the court to remove the guardianship. Her petition was denied.
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Retired NYC School Teacher Fights for her Freedom