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When F. Harvey Whitten was a medic in the Korean War, he held dying soldiers in his arm so they wouldn’t die alone, now at the behest of the Montgomery County (Pennsylvania) Orphans Court and its main players- Judge Stanley Ott and Diane Zabowski- Whitten is headed toward that very fate.

Harvey, a long term advertising executive, is by far the most financially successful, worth millions if not tens of millions, of his siblings, but he’s arguably only the third most successful. Harvey is also gay and was in a long term relationship with Robert Sprau.

In 2010, Harvey Whitten had a stroke and was diagnosed with vascular dementia causing some of Whitten’s nieces and nephews to petitioned the court to have Harvey Whitten guardianized and the case wound up in front of Judge Stanley Ott, of the Orphan’s Court of Montgomery County. Like in the previous case involving Jannie Myers, Ott eschewed Whitten’s request for his own counsel and ordered Diane Zabowski to act as his counsel.

During a fact finding interview with Zabowski, Coz remembers that Zabowski was fixated for most of the duration of the interview on Harvey being gay and at one point remarked that the Whitten family was one of the most dysfunctional she’d known.

In fact, both Mary and Coz say their family is far from dysfunctional and the charge was absurd and provocative.

Harvey’s brothers include Lester Whitten, who was a long time Washington Post investigative reporter turned author publisher of more than ten works of fiction, a biography of F. Lee Bailey, a book of poetry and two translations. Stanley Whitten is a long time Securities and Exchange Commission investigator noted for his long time pursuit of Tommy Quinn, a prodigious confidence man and financial swindler who’s estimated to have stolen $500 million. Whitten’s investigations led to multiple SEC sanctions and set the stage for a number of criminal investigations. Whitten died days after learning Quinn would finally be spending the rest of his life in prison. Mary Whitten is a former rocket scientist who worked for NASA.

A long protracted family legal fight was avoided, when Harvey Whitten was declared incapacitated and Coz and Robert Sprau agreed to be the guardian and co-guardian on August 11, 2011. Harvey Whitten went to live with Sprau at his retirement home at the Shannondell in Audobon, Pennsylvania. The Shannondell is considered among the most magnificent retirement communities in the country. Univest Bank was made guardian of the estate and their employee Julianna Van Duyne-King was the point person because Judge Ott had worked with her before.

In 2012 Sprau developed an aggressive lung cancer and passed away on September 22, 2012, but not before handpicking the aides who would be with Harvey twenty four hours a day while he continued living in Shannondell.

Zabowski then lobbied to have Deborah Klock, a nurse, to replace Sprau as co-gaurdian on November 16, 2012.

Both Mary and Coz told RebelPundit that Klock exhibited problems right away. Mary Whitten especially has written numerous complaints against Klock in which she alleges: Klock impersonated a family member, made herself the emergency contact, and changed the medication with notifying the family.

In November, both Mary and Coz, along with her lawyer, were in a meeting with Klock and Zabowski to air out their grievances, when Zabowski advised Klock not to answer a question.

“She was representing Klock,” Coz Whitten-Skaife said, “when she was supposed to be representing my uncle.”

The change in medications done behind the family’s back, say Mary and Coz, caused Harvey to have a psychotic break at the end of 2012. He began experiencing various ailments and outbursts went from Shannondell to three hospitals in January 2013, before winding up in the Meadows at the beginning of February 2013; the Meadows is a psychiatric unit for especially difficult cases also located within the Shannondell confines only unlike the rest of the place, this portion is much like something from One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest.

“F. Harvey Whitten had a psychotic outbreak in December, possibly due to adverse side effects from all the medication changes that were occurring behind my sister’s back. This led him through a series of stays in hospitals and he finally ended up moving to an assisted  living facility at the Meadows at  Shannondell.” Mary Whitten stated in a complaint to the state’s nursing board asking to have Klock’s license removed.

Soon after being transported to the Meadows, Klock approved Whitten on 5 milligrams of a drug called Haldol, which is an anti-psychotic generally used to calm someone down and it’s not supposed to be used long-term.

Furthermore, the drug would only exacerbate symptoms from his vascular dementia.

“Elderly patients with dementia related psychosis treated with anti-psychotic drugs are at an increased risk of death. Haldol injection is not approved for patients with dementia related psychosis.” According to a National Institute of Health (NIH) warning.

“F. Harvey Whitten was being chemically restrained,” Mary Whitten charged in one complaint.

“His neurologist, Dr. Caplin, says that the amount of Haldol my uncle is being administered is enough “’to kill a horse.’” Mary Whitten followed up in an email to Univest on May 27, 2013.

Mary and Coz said that the family only found out weeks later from aides at the Meadows that Harvey Whitten’s medication had been changed. Coz feverishly complained to Klock, Zabowski, the court, and even to Univest.

In May 2013, Julianna Van Duyne-King, on behalf of Univest, filed a motion with the court to have Coz removed as guardian and on July 8, 2013, that was approved and finalized.

Having Univest initiate the removal was curious for two reasons: 1) Coz was the last family member involved in the process and a non-family member was attempting to remove her and 2) Univest was responsible for making sure his money wasn’t misspent but wasn’t accusing Coz of misspending any money but mistreating her own uncle, something the bank couldn’t know, even if such a ludicrous notion was true, in their role.

“You are probably unaware that one of your employees, Julianna Van Duyne-King, has filed a petition to the court to have my sister removed as co-health guardian to my uncle, F. Harvey Whitten, in the name of Univest Bank and Trust.” Mary Whitten said in an email to Univest’s executives from May 27, 2013 on behalf of the family. “The family of F. Harvey Whitten appreciates that Univest has been paying his bills, since he has been diagnosed with vascular dementia.  However, it is unclear to the family, why a court appointed financial guardian would be petitioning to remove a health guardian, especially a relative.

On May 16th, 2013, Ott signed an emergency petition that removed Coz as guardian.

Zabowski, Ott, and Klock didn’t respond to phone calls for comment. Dan Freed, director of the Meadows, said that he would be happy to provide statements after receiving approval from the co-guardians- Diane Zabowski and Deborah Klock- who of course never responded to Rebel Pundit’s initial request to speak.

Univest issued this statement: “Univest Bank and Trust Co. takes its fiduciary responsibility seriously, always operating with the highest level of integrity to serve our clients.  When we are faced with a situation that has or could impact the financial well-being of our clients, we always act responsibly to protect their estate and best interests.  Since we became qualified to engage in fiduciary business in 1928, our commitment to excellent service and quality financial management has earned us a stellar reputation.”

Harvey Whitten has held on. Despite being on a dangerous anti-psychotic at even more dangerous levels, Whitten continues to live at 84.

“He’s strong. He’s an old Korean War veteran,” Coz Whitten-Skaife said. “He’s fighting his last battle.”

RebelPundit is no longer the only media looking at guardianship corruption in Montgomery County, and specifically: Ott, Zabowski, and Klock. Marcia Southwick runs the Boomers Against Elders Facebook page which boasts more than 108,000 likes and over the last month working with a whistleblower Southwick has released examples of outrageous billing filed by Zabowski and/Klock and approved by Ott.

zabowski zabowski2

In one post from May 8, a ward, Jerry P. Masteller, an “incapacitated” person was charged $70,000 in one three month period for court-appointed “services”–guardians, attorneys, social workers, etc. Specifically, Ott approved payments of $5,366.25 to Klock and $2,300 (note these bills are supposed to be itemized and rarely wind up an even number) to Zabowski.

“Those fees are outrageous,” Southwick said.

30 Responses

  1. KRISTI HOOD

    Judge Otts is already on my bad judge page. This article makes it clear that in PA it’s not just kids for cash…but our elders as well. When will the DOJ get involved? Criminal.Division@usdoj.gov is the email for their official corruption unit.

    Reply
  2. Malinda

    Another excellent article Michael regarding the over reach of the state into the care of the vulnerable who cannot care for themselves. As a court watcher I have worked in the Family Law and Dependency Courts and sometimes those cases bleed into the Probate Courts when guardianship is at issue. A couple of ugly reactions Judges share in all these courts is that way too often they favor abusers…this is so, the cases are NEVER resolved… The vulnerable in the hands of abusers, provides fees to bad actors… Secondly safe, loving caregivers and family members are targeted to lose their roles as parents, and caregivers to the elderly. The safe parent, grandparent, adult child and siblings are systematically targeted in every case we watch…without fail the system blames victims and props up abusers. Cha Ching$$ is the result! Follow the lined pockets.

    Reply
  3. A Hunch

    You know, from those names in the previous article, would it be correct to suspect that the other family is African-American?

    And now this one involves a gay man. Michael, is this typical for this Judge do you know? I wonder if this cabal has connections to the KKK. If he’s going after minorities exclusively, he has to be some sort of white supremacist/neo-Nazi type.

    Reply
    • Michael Volpe

      You are correct that Ms. Myers is African American and Whitten is gay as I mentioned however in total I have not found this to be racially motivated. I think that the multi-millions which Mr. Whitten has attained is a much bigger motive for this than his sexual orientation.

      Reply
      • Malinda

        Bingo! Michael, from the hundreds of billions of federal funds to detain children and provide jobs for state and county players… it’s always the money, from any corner of a case that keeps the ball rolling and lining the pockets of the wrong people.

  4. Sylvia

    People churned into products to feed the probate machine.

    The first question that comes to my mind: Did Harvey Whitten, at any time prior to his illness, execute Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care & Property?

    Thank you Michael for your continued efforts to expose the dark side of the protection industry, that will make a difference.

    Reply
  5. Elaine Renoire

    The most critical time of a guardianship is before it’s finalized. A proposed ward needs every advantage to fend off a guardianship attempt. Why did Judge Ott deny Mr. Whitten’s attorney of choice and assign Diane Zabrowski instead? Did that denial seal Mr. Whitten’s fate?

    Join the national movement for reform of unlawful and abusive guardianships and conservatorships. Join NASGA!

    Reply
  6. Mary Whitten

    Thank you Michael Volpe for exposing the racketeering that is taking place in Montgomery County, PA. It is very disturbing that the state authorities in Pennsylvania have chosen to date to ignore the emotional, physical, and financial abuse of which F. Harvey Whitten has been subjected. Unfortunately, 1000s of people are nameless victims to this type of tyranny in Pennsylvania that appears to be state approved, state implemented, and state enforced. My advice to the citizens is never get the courts involved with your family. Additionally, I hope the people of Pennsylvania will write their lawmakers and request that the guardianship laws be more clearly defined that family is always first. A family member should never be denied being the financial guardian or guardian of the person unless they have been convicted of a felony, or in the case of a financial guardian has a poor personal credit rating. The following is a link to the email addresses of the lawmakers. You can make a difference. http://humane-pa.org/resources/pa-legislators-e-mail-addresses/

    Reply
    • nomorekidsforcash

      Mary Whitten – So very sorry for your family’s suffering. Pennsylvania Courts are a cesspool and have been for centuries. There is no recusal, no oversight, the Superior and Supreme Courts are scam rackets out for a buck.

      Now they are trying to work-around the state constitution by extending the retirement age for judges — but they just work as “senior judges” at $650 a day.

      There is no recusal, no videotaping or procedures, no reliability of transcripts (judges hire the court reporters!). All of the elements that brought us kids for cash still are in place. The Judicial review board is a farce made to lull the people into thinking someone is looking out for them. Not a chance. In the cesspool that is the Pennsylvania Courts, Montgomery and Westmoreland stand out for being more corrupt than even the others.

      Thanks for the very well done article, Michael!

      Reply
      • Mary Whitten

        According to law, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives can remove a judge. I don’t see them taking action until enough people voice their opinions. Las Vegas was notorious for abuse, but there seems to be some changes from vocal citizens. Hopefully, the citizens of Pennsylvania will have their voices heard!

      • Malinda

        This is nationwide and is being suppressed by gag orders.

        I was a court watcher/advocate in the courtroom of Judge Colleen McNally of Phoenix Arizona last week as she assembled a courtroom full of 5 US Marshalls, Assistant Attorney Generals, social workers, case mangagers, guardian ad litems, all to hold in contempt a safe, non offending mother, whose children have been medically kidnapped… with breaking a gag order. Judge McNally threatened the Melissa Deigel with jail if she did not turn over the names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of all her contacts and Facebook supporters. The week before Melissa had over 8 thousand supporters…the day after the hearing she had over 9 thousand. The judge threatened not to go on with the proceedings if I did not submit to a gag too! I refused, told her that’s what I do, watch these horrible cases and report. I also asked her for a statement of decision based on law and for an audit of the money spent that day on a proceeding that did nothing to protect Melissa’s children… but violate the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments rights of American citizens. She refused to allow thirty courtwatchers and supporter who came from far and wide to watch the proceedings. They were blocked by three armed bailiffs.
        “Best interests” who coined that phrase?

      • Bill Schultz

        Michael, My uncle is Bob Sprau who provide Harvey Whitten with care and more important co-guardianship. His case does not only involve our family, but is being used to stall the closing of my uncles estate. Please send a message to my email at beetzsenior@yahoo.com so I can fill in the blanks and provide you with information that mirrors a Dateline episode. My family wants to put this in our rear view mirror.

        Thanks, Bill

    • Michael Volpe

      I’m not sure if this is in jest but I called the bank last week, after this happened.

      Reply
      • Taisha Miller-Lee

        Months later after being unsuccessful in removing me as the executrix on my grandmother’s valid Will, only to find out that the guardian has invested the majority of her assets in a trust company.. My grandmother never would have been interested in those type of investments, especially in her later years. These guardians have too much control..

      • 00-0180

        Hi Michael,

        Would you mind if I spoke to you about my case. My husband is the one I wrote about a few months ago. He has been incapacitated for the past 16 years with Ott in complete control. I have a few questions. If you kindly email me, I would like to give you my number.
        My email is 99tstein@gmail.com

        Thank you,
        Traci

  7. UniPest - a more fitting name

    Univest Bank’s statement claiming that they always act responsibly to protect their client’s estate and best interests is a bit disturbing and alarming. Perhaps the Directors of Univest Bank should take 5 mg of Haldol daily so they can see for themselves the “best interests” that they had for Harvey Whitten.

    Reply
  8. Taisha Miller-Lee

    Michael Volpe, you have done yet another superb job exposing the corruption within the Montgomery County Orphans Court yet again, thank for your your dedication, time and detail reporting that you do. You are wonderful!!!

    To Mary and Coz Whitten, I must have read this article about 10 times yesterday and my heart bleeds for you both and Mr. Harvey Whitten, recounting my own fight with these criminals Judge Stanley Ott and Diane Zabowski in regards to my grandmother, Jannie Myers, may her soul rest in peace. I know how difficult it is to see the decline of your loved one and feeling helpless, while these non-caring, money hungry, arrogant, ungodly, lower than pond scum, people have total control of your uncle. I pray that your uncle continues to hold on, he seems to be a strong willed individual. Other families who have experienced the nightmare of Judge Stanley Ott and Diane Zabowski, please continue to come forward, there is strength in numbers!!! These guardians are breaking so many Chapter 55 and 56 PEF Codes, it is absolutely criminal. Keep fighting, soon someone with have to take the blinders off and really attempt to rectify this injustice called …ELDER ABUSE, it is like being an insect in a spider web, once your family has fallen into the Guardianship system, it is almost impossible to get out. SEEKING JUSTICE FOR OUR ELDERLY AND THEIR FAMILIES.

    Reply
  9. Mary

    Michael Volpe how can I get my mothers story out, a week ago she was taken from her home and put into a nursing home against all of her written and expressed wishes that a Chester County Judge Platt decided to just null and void in 2011 after both mom and I were sued by my brothers in 2009. This story is almost unbelievable and I am her daughter who has been in this court battle for seven years where it has now branched into other court battles where I am in the orphans court, civil court and district court. I have spent my life savings trying to protect my mom where my name is constantly smeared by the court, by attorneys, by caregivers and others involved. But what is worse my mother was handed over to the son she feared the most and has done despicable things to mom all with the immunity of being a guardian…how can I contact you?

    Reply
    • Elaine Keno

      Judge Katherine B.L. Platt is THE most corrupt judge I have ever run across in 57 years on this planet – 30 of those years as a reporter covering crime and the courts.

      Reply
  10. john coffee

    Mary and Coz,
    I would like to make this note to the readers of Mr. Volpe article re: abuse and this Judge, These two sisters are very honest and compassionate people. I have come to know them over several months and find them to be both a comfort and a joy (hang in there God sees) they are just like the rest of us. Americans! One day we will face these same or similar circumstances. It’s important that the people who have experienced these or similar circumstances come forward to tell their story. You have a duty to the citizens of this state and this county to point out what is going on. You will not only be helping yourself but you will be helping future litigants to be treated fairly. There are some that I would even imaging work in these court houses and you are privy to information and how this court acts unjustly. Do what’s right. You can write Michael and he can direct you.
    This particular Judge I have personal dealt with. He is a man that I believe entered his service to do a noble thing for the right reasons as a servant of the people but lost his way. This is based on my experience and opinion. These judgments that are adjudicated are to be what the law states and what is fair and just, what is applied to everyone else under the constitution. In my opinion, they are operating on the end justifies the means even if the evidence doesn’t support that. I will make the record support it by massaging my opinion and record to reflect my outcome. Egos, and mis-applying the law to circumvent a fair and unbiased hearing, motions, trials. Keeping things off the record and discussing matters in chambers, to stack the deck i.e. ex parte communications, not following the cannons they swore to uphold, allowing parties to break the law, while aggressively using sanctions and fees to punish parties for rightfully standing up for what is right, because you don’t want to be proven wrong or have on your record cases are reversed. This is where in my opinion this court has lost its way. In the end there are real people with real lives in the balance. This cases are not just numbers, their real people with loved ones and they too have feelings and a right to live in peace and tranquility as anyone else. This is a prime example of cronyism and why these cases need to be transparent. There needs to be rotating lawyers and judges in these courts. Not just a bunch of yahoos thinking they know best. They’re not living your life nor are the living with the outcome they impose on you or your loved ones. These aren’t criminals these are hurting people with needs. If you have information Please speak up, make a change, take a chance and stop this injustice. Thank you Michael and Mary and Coz and the others who have stood up to a system that has not been kind to them. “Put your foot on the gas and don’t stop!!!” God Bless you!!! He is with you, his justice will prevail…

    Reply
    • Mary Whitten

      Thank you John Coffee for your kind words. In my opinion, if this judge was ever legitimate, he lost his way by getting kickbacks from corrupt attorneys and guardians who he appoints and subsequently approves their outrageous bills.

      Reply
  11. Bill Schultz

    To Mary and Coz,

    Please contact me when you have a minute. I’m Bob’s nephew and beneficiary. This awful situation that your family finds itself is also affecting the closing of my uncles estate. I would love to get involved and proove that there is power with a collective voice. Please email me at the above address and I will provide you with my phone number then. I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out a way to address this problem and stumbled onto this website. I look forward to hearing from you!!

    Bill

    Reply
    • Coz

      Thank you Rebel Pundit for publishing this article. Bill, Mary and Coz have made contact.

      Reply
  12. Patricia

    As an AZ state licensed professional fiduciary I am stunned and saddened by this awful case. So many of the situations appear to be in conflict as do the participants.

    Reply
  13. Mary Whitten

    Patricia, there was no conflict in our family when Univest Bank petitioned the courts to have my sister removed as co-guardian. Additionally, at the original hearing to have my uncle deemed incapacitated, my cousins and Bob Sprau had something very important in common and that was a great love for my uncle Harvey. All parties wanted the best care possible for him. The only disagreement was who was going to provide the outstanding care that he deserved. Unfortunately, the court appointed Deborah Klock, a stranger, eventually, who approved and in my opinion orchestrated my uncle being chemically restrained on 5 mg of Haldol daily, which is against the black box label on the drug and against federal guidelines. NO FAMILY MEMBER OF F. HARVEY WHITTEN WOULD EVER HAVE WISHED THAT OUR UNCLE BE CHEMICALLY RESTRAINED AND ISOLATED IN PENNSYLVANIA AWAY FROM ANY FAMILY. Below I am copying excerpts from the cover letter in the response to Univest Bank’s petition to remove my sister as co-guardian to confirm to you Patricia that sometimes there isn’t conflict in the family, and really there is a KANGAROO COURT.

    Dear Sir or Ma’am,
    I am writing to object to the petition filed to remove Cosmas Skaife as co-guardian by Julianna Van Duyne-King.

    F. Harvey Whitten was moved to Pennsylvania from San Francisco, CA to live with Robert Sprau after F. Harvey Whitten had a stroke in the summer of 2010. Unfortunately, Robert Sprau died last Fall. Since Robert Sprau has died, there is no need for F. Harvey Whitten to remain in Pennsylvania. It is my wish that my uncle Harvey move closer to family. I would like F. Harvey Whitten to move to be close to my sister Cosmas Skaife, his grand nephews, and my sister’s husband. I would like Cosmas Skaife to be the sole health guardian.

    Cosmas Skaife has experience caring for elderly, since she was the one who drove our father to doctor’s appointments, moved him, cleaned for him, shopped for him, etc. in his declining years. She showered our father with love and attention as she does F. Harvey Whitten. It is my wish that F. Harvey Whitten relocate so that he can get personal care from someone who has known him her entire life, Cosmas Skaife. Cosmas Skaife knows things about F. Harvey Whitten that strangers wouldn’t. For example, she knows he likes to sing show tunes, drink herbal tea, and pick his teeth with toothpicks, etc. She has a disabled brother with behavioral problems, so she has experience with handling any potential issues.

    I would also be agreeable to F. Harvey Whitten moving as a second choice, to be closer to his brother, Leslie Whitten, and his nephews, and the extended family including spouses and grand nephews.
    I would also like my cousin to be F. Harvey Whitten’s sole financial guardian, as he is a certified CPA.
    The family wishes are unified and succinct. Therefore, it seems that there should be no need for deliberation on this issue. However, if anyone is not agreeable to the family’s unanimous wishes, I have outlined reasons why F. Harvey Whitten should not stay in Pennsylvania in the attached affidavit of truth in Re: Estate of F. Harvey Whitten.

    Sincerely,

    Mary Whitten

    Reply
  14. Sokie

    Dear Ms. Whitten,

    Are you aware that 5 MG of Haldol and chemical restraining is against the 1987 Nursing Home act? I don’t mean to alarm you but the side affect of such drugging is early death. There are all sorts of studies that this sort of medication should NEVER be given to elderly patients with dementia. This sounds like murder. Is Harvey still alive? If he is not alive then do you think the bank had a hand in his death? I mean could this be? I am so sorry for all this. It seems so unreal.

    Reply
    • Mary Whitten

      Dear Sokie,

      Thank you for your concern. For now our uncle is still alive, but his quality of life is not as his family would wish, since he is being administered Haldol, which as you have pointed out is a completely inappropriate drug for a person diagnosed with dementia. Uni-Pest, in my opinion, has certainly lowered his quality of life and helped him be sent to an early grave no matter how much longer he lives!

      Mary Whitten

      Reply

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