SHAMEFUL ONGOING 2016 WATCHTOWER CULT ATTEMPTED HEIST
THOMAS LEHTINEN v. NORTH MANKATO MINNESOTA CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES is a still ongoing 2013-16 Minnesota WILL contest, which appears from the limited details provided in the February 2016 decision issued by the Court of Appeals of Minnesota to be an absolutely shameful, lustful attempted THEFT committed by a CULT which proclaims itself to be the "only true religion" that follows the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Thomas Lehtinen, born 1964, is the only child of Joan Caroline Lehtinen and her first husband, also Thomas Lehtinen, who passed in 1979. In 1980, Joan C. Lehtinen, then age 42, married her second husband, Howard Gayle Boyd, then age 50. Howard G. Boyd had four grown children. Howard moved into Joan's home located at 115 Belleview Avenue, in Mankato, Minnesota. Title to the home was solely in Joan's name, and Joan never added Howard's name to the title, despite Howard's multiple promptings. In 2000, Joan executed a WILL, in which Joan left her home to her only child -- Tom Lehtinen. The current appraised value is $271,000.00 to $312,000.00.
In 2006, at the age of 68, apparently as signs of dementia began to set in, Joan gave Howard a durable power of attorney, which gave her husband complete authority over herself and her possessions. In 2008, Howard Boyd, then age 78, initiated legal proceedings which resulted in Joan being declared "incompetent", and placed under guardianship, in October 2008. In January 2009, Howard used his durable power of attorney powers to transfer title to Joan's home into his own name. Howard's excuse to do so was that Joan needed to be placed into a long-term care facility, and in order to qualify Joan for financial assistance from the government, Joan's "estate" had to be reduced to under $3000.00.
Also in 2009, Howard Boyd executed a WILL that reflected and affirmed Joan's WILL -- including the devise of her home to her only child, Tom Lehtinen. HOWEVER, in July 2012, just six weeks before Joan DIED, Howard Boyd executed a new WILL that left all of his possessions -- including Joan's home -- to the North Mankato Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Interestingly, a different local attorney drew up the 79 year-old Howard Boyd's new WILL. It is not known who was named Executor. Joan died on August 21, 2011, and Howard died on November 6, 2012.
Probate of Howard Boyd's WILL was filed in January 2013, with objection filed by Thomas Lehtinen, and by Richard Boyd, one of Howard's sons, who did not participate in Tom Lehtinen's appeal. Initially, Tom Lehtinen's objection to probate alleged that Howard had acted contrary to Joan's express testamentary intent when he transferred her home to his name and then devised it to the North Mankato Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. However, in March 2014, Tom Lehtinen moved to amend his objection, asserting that Howard had a fiduciary duty to honor Joan's testamentary intent, and requested imposition of a constructive trust.
UNBELIEVABLY, in May 2014, the Mankato District Court denied Tom Lehtinen's motion to amend his objection for imposition of a constructive trust, and subsequently denied Tom Lehtinen's motion for reconsideration. The District Court granted summary judgment to the estate and struck Tom Lehtinen's objection to probate.
On Appeal, in February 2016, the Court of Appeals of Minnesota ruled that the District Court had "abused its discretion by refusing to permit the amendment, particularly when the estate was aware of Lehtinen's original allegation that Howard changed his will knowing that it was contrary to Joan's testamentary intent. We therefore reverse the district court's order refusing to permit Lehtinen to amend his objection to the probate petition. On remand, the district court should consider whether Howard violated a fiduciary duty arising out of his role as attorney-in-fact, his knowledge of Joan's testamentary wishes, the marital relationship, and whether a constructive trust should be imposed."
We have to wait to see whether the Mankato District Court will continue to violate basic law in order to rule in favor of the international Watchtower Cult, or see whether the Mankato District Court has been sufficiently embarrassed that it will now make the obvious ruling for the underdog citizen of the state of Minnesota.
Interestingly, there is NOTHING in Joan Boyd's obituary which would indicate that Joan had any connection whatsoever to the WatchTower Cult. In fact, Joan appears to have been a lifelong Lutheran. It certainly would be interesting to know the WatchTower Cult's connection, if any, to every single one of the above named and unnamed persons -- particularly to determine whether undue influence was brought on Howard Boyd during his final days to knowingly and intentionally violate the testamentary wishes of Joan Boyd. Readers should also understand that it is a 99% certainty that the cash from the sale of Joan's home would have been transferred in its entirety to WatchTower Cult World HQ by its local affiliate if the DC's decision had not been contested, and particularly if this entire situation had not been well publicized.
UNITED STATES v. MICHELE V. DELAINE was a 2011-15 Ohio federal criminal court case. In April 2012, Michele V. Delaine, a/k/a Michele V. Atwater, then age 54, who has previously resided in multiple suburbs around Cleveland, Ohio, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release following her November 2011 conviction by jury trial on two counts of theft of government funds. Michele Delaine was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $31,694.00 to the Social Security Administration, and $57,619.71 to the Office of Personnel Management. This conviction was upheld by the USCA in March 2013 and March 2015.
Albert Smith and Michele Delaine first met in 1976 through their common Jehovah's Witness religion. Albert Smith retired from his career as a NASA scientist in 1995 -- with an above average pension income. Sometime in the late 1990s to early 2000s, the recent divorcee Michele Delaine (12/01/1999, re Daniel E. Atwater. See Danny E. Atwater v. Michele Delaine FKA Atwater) developed a friendship with Albert Smith, whereby Delaine assisted Smith with various personal and financial tasks, including taking Smith to doctor appointments. By 2002, Smith sufficiently trusted Michele Delaine to add her as a signatory to a joint checking account, with the right of survivorship, which was Smith's checking account which received his retirement and social security benefits payments.
Albert Smith died in April 2006, but noone informed either the Social Security Administration nor the Civil Service Retirement System. Retirement benefit payments totaling $57,619.71 continued until June 2007. Social Security benefit payments totaling $31,594.00 continued until December 2009. While Michele Delaine did use a small amount of the continuing benefit payments to pay bills related to Smith's house (Trust's responsibility), the vast majority of deposits were incrementally transferred to bank accounts belonging to Delaine as soon as such were deposited in the Smith account. Michele Delaine also forged Albert Smith's signature on other unidentified checks deposited into that same checking account after Smith's death -- thus indicating that not all irregularities were even included in this prosecution.
Additionally, in 2002, Albert Smith had also created a "trust" into which he placed all his assets other than what was held in the aforementioned joint checking account with Michele Delaine. Another longtime Cleveland-area Jehovah's Witness friend, named Bruce Morrison, was named "Trustee". Michele Delaine was listed as one of the beneficiaries of that trust. While the original amount is unknown, it is known that about one month before Smith's death, Smith increased Delaine's distribution from the trust. Delaine received her initial distribution of $100,000.00 from the estate in October 2007. In February 2009, she received her final distribution of $17,000.00. Delaine also moved into Smith's home about two weeks before he died to take care of him. With Bruce Morrison's approval, Michele Delaine continued living in Smith's home until it was sold by the trust in 2007.
Interestingly, although Bruce Morrison was called to testify for the prosecution, Morrison's testimony did little if anything at all to help convict Delaine. In fact, the probable Jehovah's Witness Elder TWICE emphasized that he knew NOTHING about Michele Delaine's handling of Albert Smith's finances. The prosecutor even had to "help" Morrison with his testimony providing background info on Smith's trust. (Who do you suppose was the largest beneficiary of Smith's assets.)
KENTUCKY v. ROSE ELAINE BENTLEY involved a 2011 Rowan County, Kentucky arrest after which the criminal prosecution apparently was dropped when the 85 year-old victim died only four months after the alleged events occurred, and considering that the victim's surviving relatives all lived out-of-state. In November 2011, Rose Elaine Bentley, aka Elaine L. Bentley, age 53, of Morehead, Kentucky, and wife of Douglas W. Bentley, and a longtime and well known member of the local Jehovah's Witness community, was arrested for exploiting an elderly person while being in a caretaker role. That arrest was made by a Kentucky State Police Detective at the home of Bentley's elderly employer, 85 year-old Marcella Lambert. Bentley was "care-giver" for Lambert for only an eight day period from October 27, 2011 through November 4, 2011. KSP alleged that during that short time period that Bentley first removed $900.00 from Lambert's purse, and thereafter Bentley escorted Lambert to her bank and had Lambert withdraw $3000.00 from Lambert's savings account as an "advanced payment" for Bentley's services. Allegedly, a few days later, Bentley again took Lambert back to her bank and attempted to withdraw $60,000.00 from Lambert's savings account. The local bank apparently blocked that withdrawal attempt and notified law enforcement. Bentley spent only a few hours in jail after someone quickly posted the $5000.00 bond.
FLORIDA v. PAUL is a December 2010 Florida state criminal court case. Francis L. Paul III, age 46, of Crescent City, Florida, was charged with "Exploitation of an Elderly Person" after a more than four-month investigation by DeLand, Florida police. Francis Paul reportedly also uses the alias, Francis P. Lipani III. DeLand police allege that Francis Paul a/k/a Francis Lipani first met the mentally incompetent 84 year-old Deland female victim when he knocked on her front door with a Bible in his hand. Paul allegedly befriended the vulnerable elderly female and eventually talked her into going into a lawn care business with him. Police allege that Paul had the woman sign blank papers, which he then used to steal approximately $255,000.00 in savings and stocks. Subpoenaed documents from seven banks showed the beneficiary on many of Frances Paul's bank accounts was the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
In her autobiography, Awakening Of A Jehovah's Witness, Diane Wilson repeated an "experience" that she had heard told at a local XJW support group meeting:
A young woman who had been raised in the organization told how her father, who served as an elder, habitually befriended frail, elderly persons with ailing health. His kindness and helpfulness were not extended out of Christian love, however, for she knew he had an ulterior motive: coercion to change their wills to leave their money to the Watchtower Society instead of their families, under the guise that this will facilitate their achieving everlasting life ... .
IN RE THE ESTATE OF LOUIS HEE was a 1971 Florida probate court case which represents one of many similar cases over the decades, in which, shortly before their death, an elderly homeowner, either without immediate family or estranged from their immediate family, is befriended by door-knocking Jehovah's Witnesses who influence that elderly homeowner to make or change their LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT to make the individual JWs, and/or the local JW Congregation, and/or the WatchTower Society the beneficiaries of the elderly homeowner's WILL. In the case of Louis Hee, his brothers and sisters fortunately learned of the situation in time to have the JW WILL, which previously had been admitted to probate, revoked, and the appellate court upheld that revocation. Unfortunately, there have been many other cases in which the deceased's relatives did not learn about the matter in time, or the deceased's family was not able to develop sufficient facts about what occurred prior to their family member's death in order to convince the court that something amiss had occurred. The Florida probate court ruled, in part:
"This cause came on to be heard before the Court on the petition of Juliana Hee Toth, Maria P. Andras, Bertha Hee and Sandor Hee, sisters and brothers of the decedent, Louis Hee. They seek to revoke the admission to probate of an alleged last will and testament of the decedent, Louis Hee, heretofore admitted to probate by this Court on June 2, 1969. Petitioners allege that the last will and testament admitted to probate was the product and result of undue influence exercised upon the decedent by certain members of a religious organization known as Jehovah's Witnesses and that by their undue influence and coercion the decedent left his entire estate to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, a Pennsylvania Corporation, the parent organization of the religious organization known as Jehovah's Witnesses.
"The Court has heard extensive testimony in support of the petition for revocation and from the proponents of the will as well as argument of counsel. Being fully advised in the premises, the Court finds:
"Louis Hee was an elderly resident of Dade County, Florida prior to his death on May 21, 1969. He lived alone and had no immediate next of kin resident in Dade County, Florida. For some time prior to his death he had been in extreme ill health to the point of being confined to his bed a great deal of the time. He was primarily cared for by a friend, Stephen Bertok, who looked after his personal needs for some time prior to his death.
"The evidence before the Court discloses that some few months prior to the death of Mr. Hee members of the religious sect known as Jehovah's Witnesses called at the home of Mr. Hee to interest him in their literature and religious beliefs. Several return visits were made during which time other members of the religious sect also called upon Mr. Hee. Among these visitors were John Hartley, Jr. and William H. Payne, who are members or ministers of the Jehovah's Witnesses. During these several weeks of visiting, Mr. Hee remained a member of the Christian Church of his faith and just before his death attended his church on Easter Sunday for Easter Sunday services. He was never a member of the religious sect known as Jehovah's Witnesses or in any manner connected with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, a Pennsylvania Corporation.
"The evidence before the Court discloses that during the week of March 8, 1969 and shortly before that day Mr. Hartley had sought the services of A. C. Lowery, Esquire, an attorney at law of this city who was an attorney for the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society to go to the home of Mr. Hee to have a will prepared by him and that it had to be done immediately. Upon Mr. Lowery advising him that he could not immediately take care of the matter, Mr. Hartley then proceeded to prepare a will for Mr. Hee's signature. In company with William H. Payne and Lillie Mae Payne, who were also members of Jehovah's Witness, the three of them proceeded to the home of Mr. Hee where they obtained his execution of the alleged last will and testament on March 8, 1969 in which will Mr. Hartley and W. Harold Payne were named as Co-Executors and the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania was made the sole beneficiary of the will. The will also directed that the funeral services of the testator were to be conducted by a minister of Jehovah's Witnesses under the direction of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. No provision was made for the church of which he was a member, or for any services by the minister of his own church in any manner whatsoever. Immediately after the execution of the will aforesaid on March 8, 1969, the named executor who had prepared and obtained the execution of the will immediately forwarded the original of the will to the main office of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania at 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York, where it remained in the hands of officials of that corporation until the decedent's death some seventy-five (75) days later.
"No copy of the will was left with the testator. The decedent's closest friends and minister had no knowledge of the execution of a last will and testament and no disclosure of its existence was made until after the death of Mr. Hee. The Court finds that where a last will and testament, unnatural in its content and disposition, is procured and prepared by the sole beneficiary thereof, either individually or by its agents, officers or members, where they are the sole witnesses to the execution of the will and where it is kept in the possession of the beneficiary without disclosure to anyone, the burden is upon the proponent of the will to show by preponderance of the evidence that the will was in truth and fact the free and voluntary act of the testator and expressed his wish and desires and was not the instrument of undue influence, overreaching or coercion.
"Reviewing the evidence in this cause as a whole and even most favorably in behalf of the proponents of the will, the Court finds that there has been a complete failure on the part of the proponent of the will to carry this burden of proof. The preponderance of evidence in this cause demonstrates that the last will and testament of Louis Hee which was offered and admitted to probate in this Court was the result of undue influence and overreaching on the part of the members of the religious sect of which the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania is the parent head; that the last will and testament was not the free expression of the decedent, Louis Hee, but was the expression and desire of those who procured the execution thereof. The premises considered and the Court being fully advised in the premises, it is:
"Ordered and adjudged that the order of this Court of June 2, 1969 admitting the proffered last will and testament bearing date March 8, 1969 of the decedent, Louis Hee, be and the same is hereby revoked, cancelled and declared null and void, that the letters testamentary heretofore issued by this Court to John Hartley, Jr., as executor dated June 2, 1969, be and the same is hereby revoked, cancelled and annulled.
Readers should know that John Hartley, Jr. was no out-of-control low-level JW Elder. During the 1950s-60s, John Hartley served as the WatchTower Society spokesperson for the south Florida area.
IN RE LAURA M. BRACKETT (1956) and MARY LENORA BRACKETT and SARAH CORNELL v. A. G. WAKEFIELD ET AL (1957-59) were related Florida COMPETENCY proceedings and a WILL CONTEST which involved the WatchTower Society's chief spokesperson in south Florida, A. G. Wakefield (Extensive WatchTower Resume), and the two rightful heirs of deceased Laura M. Brackett, of Clearwater, Florida.
Laura M. Brackett had been an 81 year-old childless widow who had lived alone for twenty years after her husband had died in 1946. Shortly after the death of her husband, Brackett had executed a WILL naming her sister-in-law and sister (plaintiffs) as equal beneficiaries. When Laura Brackett died in December 1956, Jehovah's Witness Elder Averett G. Wakefield quickly offered for probate a later WILL executed by Laura Brackett in June 1956, which named Averett G. Wakefield as Executor, and which named the WatchTower Bible and Tract Society as her sole beneficiary.
Laura Brackett had been baptized into the WatchTower religion by Averett Wakefield in September 1955. In February 1956, Averett Wakefield contacted an attorney of his own choosing to draw up a "new" WILL for Laura Brackett, although Brackett already had her own regular attorney. Wakefield's new attorney dutifully had Brackett examined by a physician, who declared Laura Brackett to be legally incapable of making a new WILL. However, a second examination with a different physician was then scheduled, with A. G. Wakefield present for that second examination. Not surprisingly, that second physician declared Laura Brackett to be legally capable of making a new WILL.
More interestingly, Laura Brackett's sister and sister-in-law had been notified of the execution of that new June 1956 WILL, and they had quickly initiated competency proceedings in local county court. In July 1956, the county court adjudged Laura Brackett to be "legally incompetent" by reason of chronic senility. Her sister, Sarah Cornell, had been appointed guardian of her person, and The First National Bank of Clearwater was appointed guardian of her property.
Undoubtedly under the explicit instructions of Hayden Covington and the WatchTower Legal Department, Averett G. Wakefield persisted in offering the June 1956 WILL for probate in January 1957. After the probate proceeding, at which Averett Wakefield and a number of other local Jehovah's Witnesses testified, the probate court Judge declared the June 1956 WILL invalid for lack of testamentary capacity, stating in part:
The will here in issue, dated June 4th, 1956, was executed shortly before Laura M. Brackett was adjudged incompetent, and by its terms she completely departed from a long declared testamentary intent. Her acquaintance with the proponent A. G. Wakefield had been relatively brief and was related to their mutual affiliation with Jehovah's Witnesses. She had been baptized by A. G. Wakefield in September, 1955, previous to which time their association had been casual and confined mainly to an occasional meeting at religious services. At her home on or about February 9th, 1956 she indicated, according to A. G. Wakefield, a desire to will her estate to Jehovah's Witnesses. Thereafter, according to his own and other testimony, his visitations and attendance upon Laura M. Brackett became frequent and constant.
It was A. G. Wakefield who directly supplied the data for the preparation of the will and it was prepared by an attorney who was unknown to Laura M. Brackett and who now represents A. G. Wakefield as the proponent in these proceedings. Laura M. Brackett previously had been represented regularly by the attorney who prepared her will of June 7th, 1949, ... Attended once by the attorney's secretary and at another time by A. G. Wakefield, Laura M. Brackett was interviewed and observed separately by two doctors whose reports conflicted. ...
During the period prior to June 4th, 1956 Laura M. Brackett's sclerotic condition became more pronounced and marked changes in her appearance, speech and demeanor were observed by visiting friends and acquaintances who had known her for a considerable number of years. For example, she began to speak of her deceased husband as alive and physically present. She imagined that an airplane had dropped certain insects found around her home on Clearwater Beach. She would forget, remember and again forget the promised gift of a personal article to the son of one of her friends whom she greatly admired. On occasion she did not recognize the attorney who prepared her will of June 7th, 1949 and who had constantly represented her although the attorney was then present and conversing with her. After she was injured in a fall and was hospitalized on July 14th, 1956, she referred to the same attorney as her attorney. During the same period she referred to the disposition of her estate according to her will of June 7th, 1949 as though it were still her will, indicating that she had forgotten the will here in question.
... Mental illness in itself does not, of course, necessarily denote testamentary incapacity; but the entire factual picture of this case impels the conclusion that Laura M. Brackett could not form and retain a plan of disposition of her estate and, moreover, could not publish any such plan in the form of a will without active guidance and direction such as the evidence abundantly discloses on the part of A. G. Wakefield.
A holding of invalidity due to incapacity would seem also to be the most charitable basis for the decision of this case. It is assumed that the proponent A. G. Wakefield, representing a zealous and sincere religious society, is a kindly man who did not realize that he was promoting the execution of a will by a person incapable of making a valid will. His good intentions may be fairly postulated but, assuming Laura M. Brackett to have been competent, it is conceivable that his well intended acts could have amounted in law to undue influence. ... ...
Unbelievably, the WatchTower Legal Department would NOT give up. They directed A. G. Wakefield to APPEAL what any reasonable person could have seen as being a correct decision which had no chance of being reversed. In fact, the probate court's decision was affirmed in January 1959, and Wakefield's request for a "re-hearing" was denied in February 1959. We suspect that Wakefield and the WatchTower Legal Department probably attempted further appeals, but were denied.
DIETZLER, ET AL v. LEMAY, MISSOURI CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, RAMONA LYNCH, AND AL LYNCH was a 1986-91 Missouri probate court case whose outcome is unknow. The following facts are extracted from the 1990 appellate case opinion, which reversed the probate court's ruling, which had favored the JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, and remanded the case for further proceedings. Anna Marie Garrett died on November 18, 1986. Thereafter, Ramona Lynch, her husband, Alfred C. Lynch, and the LeMay, Missouri Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses offered to probate a will dated August 28, 1985, which the probate court admitted in August 1987. Garrett's will left her entire estate to a "pour-over" trust, which had been established the same date as the will. The Named Trustee was "Ramona Lynch", and the beneficiaries of the trust were "Al and Ramona Lynch" and the "LeMay Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses."
Helen Dietzler and the other named plaintiffs/appellants were Anna M. Garrett's "heirs-at-law". The HEIRS-AT-LAW filed a petition to contest the will claiming that the will was not properly attested, that the decedent was of unsound mind at the time she executed the will, and that Alrred and Ramona Lynch, exerted "undue influence" over the decedent. The HEIRS' petition named as defendants: Al and Ramona Lynch, individually, and the LeMay Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, an unincorporated association (as listed in the Trust document).
In April 1989, the LeMay, Missouri Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, A CORPORATION, entered its appearance and filed a Motion to Dismiss the petition on the TECHNICALITY that the petition failed to name them as a defendant, and thus failed to serve all necessary parties within 90 days of the filing of the petition, as required under Missouri law. In May 1989, Al and Ramona Lynch filed a motion to dismiss which incorporated by reference the SAME TECHNICALITY utilized in the CORPORATION'S motion. WWJD ---- WWJD ---- WWJD --- WWJD ----WWJD
In June 1989, the probate court dismissed the HEIR's petition and found that: 1) the plaintiffs did not timely serve all necessary parties; and 2) the plaintiffs failed to name and serve the Trustee of the trust, Ramona Lynch, as a defendant. On appeal by the HEIRS, the appellate court reversed and remanded, stating in part:
... the corporation was never a party to this will contest and never sought nor received the right to intervene ... . ...
... Ramona Lynch is not named in her capacity as trustee. ... It cannot be said that Ramona Lynch was unaware or without notice of the import of the present action upon the trust. Ms. Lynch had personal knowledge that she was the trustee and had actual knowledge of this proceeding. A dismissal in this case, we feel, would work an injustice, denying appellants their day in court, through a mere mistake. ...
ELLIOTT v. NASH was a 1995 Ohio probate court case which is extremely interesting even despite the fact that most of the juicy details never made it into the published decision. This drama involved several African-American members of a Cleveland, Ohio area Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, who apparently did not like each other, and the non-JW relatives of the deceased, who were prominent Cleveland citizens active in local politics and civil rights. Can you guess who the JW Elders sided with?
Howard Hawkins was an elderly, widowed, and childless Jehovah's Witness, who died in July 1993, without having executed a will. Hawkins' "heirs-at-law" were Clover Elliott, a prominent Cleveland political activist, and her son, Steven James Terry, a prominent Cleveland attorney. Clover H. Elliott was appointed Administratrix of Hawkins' estate. As Administratrix , Elliott brought an action in probate court seeking a declaratory judgment to set aside a quit-claim deed and a Veterans Administration Change of Beneficiary Form, both of which had been executed by Howard Hawkins in April 1992.
Clover Elliott and her son, Attorney Steven Terry, and her brother, Howard Hawkins, had been estranged since 1981/2, which was the result of previous litigation between Elliott and Hawkins, which involved a trust estate that had included a $100,000.00 rental house owned by Hawkins'. The Change of Beneficiary Form named Ples Nash as Hawkins' beneficiary, and the quit-claim deed transferred Hawkins' ownership of the rental house to Minnie Nash, wife of Ples Nash. The Nashs were fellow Jehovah's Witnesses, and longtime friends of Hawkins and his deceased wife. The Nashs began helping take care of Howard and Ethel Hawkins back in 1981, after Howard was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, because Ethel had already suffered a stroke. Ethel Hawkins died in 1991. The Nashs then moved into Hawkins' residence for a ten month period, and took care of all Hawkins' needs, including the inserting of catheters.
During this time, the Nashs and Hawkins agreed that the Nashs would move into the run-down rental house, and renovate it such that Hawkins and his elderly, invalid brother, Ulysses Hawkins, could live there with, and be taken care of by the Nashs. In exchange, Hawkins agreed to transfer ownership of the property to them. In March 1992, Hawkins gave Minnie Nash power-of-attorney over his affairs. The quit-claim deed and the Change of Beneficiary Form were executed a few weeks thereafter.
Soon after Hawkins gave power-of-attorney to Minnie Nash, the Body of Elders at the Nash's and Hawkins' local Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses decided that they needed to stick their noses into the dealings going on between Hawkins and the Nashs. Two JW Elders, Mark Smith (now of Toledo, Ohio) and Leroy Farmer, asked the Nashs and Hawkins to meet with them, which they did -- twice.
At trial, both JW Elders Leroy Farmer and Mark Smith testified on behalf of local power broker Clover Elliott, and against their fellow JWs, Ples and Minnie Nash. Farmer and Smith claimed that the local JW Elders intervened only after Hawkins asked for their help with his property matters, and that Hawkins actively participated in both meetings. At the second followup meeting of the parties, Farmer and Smith claimed that they submitted the BODY OF ELDERS' "Recommendations" as to how Hawkins should manage/dispose of his property, which are not disclosed in the appellate opinion. Curiously, Leroy Farmer (and probably Mark Smith) testified that Hawkins wanted his estate, including the rental house that had already been transferred to Minnie Nash, left to his estranged nephew, Attorney Steven James Terry. Hawkins lived another 15 months before he died. If those were in fact his wishes, he had opportunity to memorialize such.
According to the Nashs, Howard Hawkins had himself once been a JW Elder, but that he had been "deleted" at the instigation of Leroy Farmer. Farmer also had been noticeably absent from Ethel Hawkins' funeral. The Nashs claimed that Hawkins opened his mouth only one single time during both meetings with Farmer and Smith. On cross-exam, Leroy Farmer refused to discuss the deletion of Howard Hawkins as a JW elder by claiming "ecclesiastical privilege". (In June 2011, Judge Steven J. Terry was convicted on three federal corruption charges -- soliciting bribes for favorable rulings.)
Hawkins' attorney testified that Hawkins had discussed with her much of his dealings with the Nashs, and that he was of sound mind during that time period. A second attorney who drew up the power-of-attorney also testified accordingly; as did the LPN who regularly provided Hawkins with in-home care which the Nashs were unable to provide. Despite the testimony of the two JW Elders, the local probate court ruled in favor of the Nashs. On appeal, the Ohio appellate court affirmed that decision.
IN RE ESTATE OF EDITH KAM was a 2005 Hawaii court decision which is too lengthy and convoluted for a full summary on this page. Edith Ing Kam was a wealthy longtime Jehovah's Witness born in Hawaii in 1903. In the 1990s, when Kam began to suffer from dementia, a contest relating to Kam's estate developed between Kam's attorney, his paralegal, and Kam's JW friends and relatives. Interested readers should read the full text of the case easily found via google.
In 1996, Edith Kam's JW Friends and relatives filed complaints with the the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services, which included the allegation that the attorney's paralegal, Paz F. Abastillas, had developed a controlling relationship with Kam; and had told Kam that she was studying to become a Jehovah's Witness; but was not participating in JW activities.
Paz Abastillas countered that when she initially met Edith Kam that one of her Jehovah's Witnesses Friends -- a Hawaii real estate agent, named Paulette Paonessa, a/k/a Paulette Pearson -- had induced Kam to purchase a Cadillac for which she had no need, plus had involved Kam in a real estate investment which turned out to be a scam in which Kam lost her entire $150,000.00 investment.
ESTATE OF JESSIE D. WIILIAMS v. PHILLIP MORRIS, FRED MEYER, ET AL was a 1990s-2000s Oregon state "products liability" court case brought by the surviving African-American Jehovah's Witness relatives of the deceased former Jehovah's Witness, who had been disfellowshipped back in the 1970s, because he had refused to stop smoking within six months as then required by the WatchTower Society. The plaintiffs alleged that Jessie Williams had unwittingly died from cancer caused by the defendant's cigarette products, and that he had done so because he had relied solely on the cigarette company's claims that smoking was not harmful. We simply found some of the statements made by the deceased's Jehovah's Witness Widow, named MAYOLA WILLIAMS, which were made in a followup deposition in September 1998, to be extremely "interesting". Here are some scattered excerpts (defendant's attorney questioning and Mayola Williams answering) which I don't expect those unfamiliar with Jehovah's Witness beliefs and practices "to fully get". Even most Jehovah's Witnesses won't "get it", unless they were JWs back in the 1960s and 1970s, and lived with family who were smokers, or who grew tobacco. Keep in mind that Jessie and Mayola Williams became Jehovah's Witnesses in 1962, and had been faithful readers of the Watchtower and Awake magazines "cover-to-cover":
Q. Did the Jehovah's Witness fellowship teach that cigarette smoking was addictive or an addiction? A. No. They didn't teach that it was. There have been articles where -- that they've quoted other people as saying it was addictive.
Q. When did you first discuss with your husband the addictive nature of smoking? A. (Skipping non-answers) Basically, after he was disfellowshipped. That's the most time I mentioned it to him.
Q. Did you at all times agree with all Jehovah's Witness teachings about smoking? A. I believe in Jehovah's teachings about religious matters, all of what they teach about religious matters. And smoking is not a religious matter, so I didn't have to believe or not to believe.
Q. So even though his church taught [smoking] was harmful, he didn't believed that because he believed more in the tobacco companies? A. ... after he was disfellowshipped from the Jehovah's Witnesses, he didn't read the literature any more. ... Q. Do you recall testifying in your prior deposition that he read the Jehovah's Witness literature regularly up until his death?
Q. ... from the period of time when you joined the Jehovah's Witness fellowship until he was disfellowshipped, would you and he discuss what the Jehovah's Witness fellowship taught about smoking? A. ... No. We didn't discuss religious matters on smoking ... . Q. Did you talk about it when there would be an article in Watchtower or Awake about smoking that week? A. No. ... ... ... ... A. ... We used the Watchtower magazine for our religious teachings to study the Bible, as a bible aid. So that's what we did together as our family. We studied the Bible, not discuss articles that was, you know, such things, smoking and other articles that didn't have to do with teachings from the Bible.
Q. [During meetings at the Kingdom Hall,] were articles from the Awake magazine ever the subject of discussion? A. No. Q. Never? A. No. Q. Why not? A. ... [Awake] doesn't have anything to do with our religious teachings from the Bible.
Q. Isn't it fair to say that Jehovah's Witness literature has been consistently critical of the tobacco industry over the years? A. I would not say that, no.
Q. Isn't it also fair to say that over time that Jehovah's Witness publications have attacked tobacco company advertising as misleading and deceptive? A. I don't recall Jehovah's Witnesses attacked anybody for any subject or anything.
Q. Did you ever discuss your belief the tobacco industry was deceptive and not to be trusted with your husband? A. No, I never.
These are simply scattered excerpts extracted to give readers a "feel" for how went this deposition. Interested readers should click the link and read the entire deposition.
STATE v. STEPHEN VAN DER SLUYS was a 1986 New York criminal court case which involved Stephen Van Der Sluys, 34, who was an active minister in the Syracuse, New York; Farmington, New York; Mechanicsville, New York; and Canandaigua, New York Congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses. Van Der Sluys apparently first came to the attention of law enforcement in Spring 1985, when he was convicted and jailed for one year for sodomizing and raping a teenage foster child ($$$) who had been placed in the family's home through the state foster care program. At some point, New York authorities also began to investigate the deaths of Stephen Van Der Sluys' three children, which had occurred in the late 1970s. Heath, age 16 months, died in 1976, supposedly from choking on a quarter. Heather, age 3 months, died in 1977, supposedly from SIDS. Vicki, age 14 months, died in 1979, supposedly from SIDS.
"If any person before the granting of letters testamentary or of administration, embezzles or alienates any of the moneys, goods, chattels or effects of a decedent, he is chargeable therewith, and liable to an action by the executor or administrator of the estate, for double the value of the property so embezzled or alienated, to be recovered for the benefit of the estate."
An accomplice charged in this murder was Vela Mabena, who was a then 46 year-old male JEHOVAH'S WITNESS MINISTER, who reportedly was Thandi Maqubela's business partner in a Forever Living health products distributing business. Interestingly, Vela Mabena was previously the "Chairman" of a School District in South Africa, and a media report links him to efforts to supply needy schools in SA and other African countries with "books". More interestingly, Vela Mabena was arrested at his residence on the grounds of the French Consulate, where his wife was employed.
In the months leading up to the murder, Thandi Maqubela had went to great lengths to document the multiple affairs of her philandering husband. Thandi Maqubela then took the acquired evidence and began a campaign of character assassination against him. In June 2009, after Thandi Maqubela learned that her husband had made plans to divorce her, security staff at one of Judge Patrick Maqubela's apartments which he used when he traveled as a judge discovered Judge Maqubela's partially decomposed corpse in his bedroom. The death was initially attributed to a heart attack, but a criminal investigation was quickly began when more and more incriminating evidence gradually came to light which pointed at the Judge's wife, and eventually her JW friend and business partner, Vela Mabena. The JW Duo were formally charged with the Judge's murder in March 2010.
In November 2013, Thandi Maqubela was found "guilty" of altering her deceased husband's WILL, and forging his signature thereto, as well as fraudulently submitting such into probate as her husband's Last Will and Testament in an attempt to defraud his surviving children by previous wives and/or mistresses. Thandi Maqubela was also found "guilty" of the charges related to murdering her husband, but her fellow Jehovah's Witness business partner was found "not guilty", due to the prosecutor's inability to prove his guilt to the satisfaction of the jury. The sentencing process has been drawn out until mid 2015 as Thandi Maqubela's attorneys have done everything they can do to postpone such. The presiding judge made the point that Vela Mabena had not been proven to have been "innocent" of the murder charge, but that there simply had not been sufficient evidence to convict him. Notably, during the trial, fellow JWs Vela Mabena and Thandi Maqubela claimed to barely know each other. That, despite the fact that Mabena visited Thandi Maqubela at the apartment where Maqubela was found to have murdered her husband, on the day of the murder. The JW Duo also telephoned and texted each other multiple times during the two days before the judge's corpse was discovered, and thereafter.
Finally, in March 2015, after 60 year-old Thandi Maqubela had done everything she could possibly do to delay her sentencing for 16 months -- including changing attorneys multiple times and even feinting "mental incompetency" -- she was sentenced to 15 years for murder, three years for forgery, and three years for fraud. The three years each for forgery and fraud are to run concurrently, so Thandi Maqubela was effectively given an 18 year prison sentence.
Over the decades, JWC's Grandpa opened his home to WatchTower Society Special Pioneers and Regular Pioneers -- both for them to room and board in without cost, plus in which for them to hold WatchTower Society meetings in his living room. During the 1960s, when Grandpa only brought home around $40-50.00 per week, Grandpa would purchase far-over-priced, high-commission $800.00 vacuum sweepers and $800.00 sets of pots and pans from Jehovah's Witness Pioneers. One of such Jehovah's Witness Salespersons even cheated Grandpa out of $1000.00 --which was Grandpa's entire savings at the time. Grandpa was such a "known easy mark" that JWs living in other areas would travel to take advantage of his generosity. Nearly every time that Grandpa attended a Meeting at the Kingdom Hall, he deposited a significant donation in the contribution box. When he did not attend meetings, he often gave Grandma or one of his children or grandchildren money for the contribution box (whether that money made it in there is another story).
Over the decades, as a child, teenager, and even adult, on multiple occasions, JWC overheard many of those same Jehovah's Witnesses whom Grandpa had put food in their mouths and a roof over their heads, speak disparagingly about his Grandpa time after time after time -- often sitting in his home while he was at work earning the money they lived from -- because Grandpa refused to be baptized as a JW due to the WatchTower Society's rigid requirement that he "sell" WatchTowers door-to-door. When Grandpa passed away in the 1990s, a prominent JW Elder, whom Grandpa had once housed for several months decades earlier, and whom had thereafter failed to help Grandpa with the JW Salesman who had cheated him out of the $1000.00, grudgingly returned to deliver Grandpa's funeral talk -- because there was no local JW Elder willing to do so. The only positive thing that JWC recalls that that JW Elder said about Grandpa's "christianity" during the funeral talk was that Grandpa "had allowed JW Elder to study the Bible with him" during the time that JW Elder had lived in Grandpa's home.
JWC's Grandma died two years before Grandpa died. By that time, JWC lived several HOURS drive time from his home area. Several months after Grandma's death, during a visit back "home" and a after visit to Grandma's gravesite, JWC discovered that no monument had yet been erected at the gravesite which would soon include his Grandpa, who also was in rapidly declining health. JWC went to visit Grandpa to inquire why he had not yet purchased a headstone for his plot.
Grandpa initially complained of financial difficulties -- stating that his youngest JW Daughter, her daughter, and another granddaughter regularly DRAINED his bank account DRY every single month when his retirement and social security proceeds arrived. (Although a moderately well-off person by the time that he retired at age 72, Grandpa lived like a pauper in smelly, dirty clothing the last two or three years of his life.) However, JWC knew that Grandpa also had one small asset that the vultures could not get their hands on, and such could be easily liquidated for more than enough to buy a gravestone. Grandpa acknowledged such, but then gave JWC a lesson in family ethics and morality. His poor financial situation was NOT the issue. The frail and elderly Grandpa became angry and stated that he was aware that his five children were REFUSING to buy the headstone, and he further stated that he absolutely REFUSED to pay for his OWN headstone when he had FIVE CHILDREN whom he had given many TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS over the decades, because THEY had the moral and ethical OBLIGATION to pay for their own parent's gravesite monument. Then, Grandpa began to CRY, and eventually, so did JWC. JWC does not recall what all was exchanged thereafter, but JWC knew that he must take the bull by the horns and get the five children on the ball.
Grandpa's five children consisted of one son who was a successful business owner, two daughters who were schoolteachers, and a son and step-son who were state government employees. JWC already knew that most of them were soul-less and moral-less CRETANS, but given that they were the heirs to Grandpa's significant estate, JWC never for a moment entertained the thought that a headstone split five ways would be a problem with any of them. Boy, was JWC ever WRONG. JWC only spoke with three of the children. That's all it took. The best response was that they would kick in their share when they saw that the other four children had paid in their share. The other two children stated: "LET DAD PAY FOR IT!!!" as they ended the conversation. Even then, JWC did not really take the A-Holes seriously. JWC again assumed that if he simply would take the bull by the horns that his father, two uncles, and two aunts would come through with the money when the time came for them to do so.
JWC went and picked up Grandpa, and the two of them traveled to the local monument company. There, while shopping for the headstone, both Grandpa and JWC fought sporadic outbreaks of tears -- not over the deceased Grandma, but over the antics of the five children. JWC could stand things no longer, and JWC told his Grandpa that if he would pick out a monument that he would write the check. Grandpa flatly refused. Once again, Grandpa informed JWC that payment for his and Grandma's headstone was the sole obligation and responsibility of their five children. As they continued to walk amongst the display models, JWC came up with another angle that he hoped Grandpa would find acceptable. JWC proposed to Grandpa that he would write the check then and there to facilitate the purchase of a headstone, but that JWC would then collect the proportionate share back from each of the five children. Although Grandpa was receptive to this proposal, Grandpa would NOT give his consent until JWC swore an Oath that he would collect his money back from Grandpa's five children. JWC swore that Oath with every intention to honor that Oath in that he would collect the full amount back from the five children. JWC has long forgotten the exact amount, but JWC wrote a check to the monument company for something around $2500.00.
Grandpa died less than two years later. By that time, not a single one of the five children had repaid or even had offered to repay a single penny to JWC for their parent's headstone. Despite relating the story of HIS SWORN OATH TO GRANDPA to those five children months later at the final settlement meeting of Grandpa's estate, at which the five children received a check for around $55,000.00 each (plus interest in Grandpa's home and personalty), NOT A SINGLE CHILD repaid or even offered to repay JWC for their parents' headstone before scurrying out of the meeting like cockroaches. STUPIDLY, JWC had even decided to attempt to teach those FIVE CRETANS a moral lesson by declining the standard Executor's fee for having settled Grandpa's Estate. Not a single one of the CRETANS has ever said so much as a "Thank You" for JWC's having done so.
THAT WAS 20 YEARS AGO. JWC has never received a SINGLE PENNY from even one of the FIVE HOODLUMS -- including his own father, who is now deceased, as is the stepson. May "GOD" repay each and everyone of the CRETANS accordingly!!!
If any of you CRETANS ever read this, you no longer owe JWC 1/5 of $2500.00. Each of you that are alive now owe JWC the full $2500.00. That is the interest rate and penalty charged to CRETANS for 20 years of unpaid debt. Whoever of you DIE before this is paid, "May GOD take it out of your arse."