The Probate Murders:


Part Two

Melodie Scott and the State of California --

In the Business of Death?


by Janet C. Phelan



Archived here with permission

of the author, Janet Phelan

and Robert Kelly, Publisher,

The American's Bulletin

telephone:  541-779-7709



"Oceania is not at war with East or Eurasia.

Oceania is at war with you." — George Orwell, "1984"





On a quiet tree-lined street in Redlands, California, in a low,

architecturally unremarkable beige building, the war has come home.

Nestled behind the Redlands Police Department, the Redlands Superior

Courthouse is housing a systematic and covert assault on the lives

and life-savings of San Bernardino County's elderly and disabled.


A smiling, bespectacled security officer, sporting a platinum

blonde ponytail, runs the visitors through a metal detector as they

enter. One walks into a lobby area, with two courtrooms off to the

side:  Department E1 and Department E2. Only traffic and probate are

now heard in the Redlands Court. At the far end are the filing

windows, where smiling and attentive clerks will retrieve files and

accept court filings. In the California Superior Court system, one

must pay a filing fee in order to enable the court to dismantle one's

life and estate.


Across from the clerk's office, the East wall is lined with photographs

of San Bernardino Court judges, beaming beatifically, and

posing in their black robes. However, Judge Michael Welch is not

smiling. Welch is one of only two probate judges in the entire San

Bernardino County, and as such is the point man for the probate

conveyor belt, which is grinding up the elderly and turning them into

cash, through the court conservatorship and guardianship programs.


This is how it works:  A family member, or even a neighbor, may

notice that an elderly person is alone and may be increasingly

vulnerable. Depending on the morality and authenticity of the

concerned party, that person may contact Adult Protective Services,

or may attempt to file for guardianship over the elder, in order to

either protect or to gain access to that person's funds. The police

may become involved, if there are allegations of lack of capacity or

of financial or physical abuse. This opens the door for the

professional conservator, buttressed by her lawyers,

to "move in for the kill."


A linchpin in this system in San Bernardino County is C.A.R.E.,

Inc. -- Conservatorship and Resources for the Elderly -- which is

located a mere stone's throw away from the Redlands Courthouse, in a

quaint, two story building at 25 E. State Street. The "C.A.R.E.

Group" consists of two conservators -- Melodie Z. Scott, President and

founder of C.A.R.E. and Lawrence Dean II -- and their attorneys. Up

until last year, Scott was primarily represented by Hartnell,

Horspool and Fox, which has split into two firms -- Hartnell, Lister

and Moore, and Horspool and Parker.


J. David Horspool appears as chief counsel on the lion's share of

C.A.R.E. cases. Horspool, who was born in nearby Riverside, is a

Mormon, and was educated at the Mormon stronghold of Brigham Young

University, where he received both his undergraduate degree and his

J.D. He is a former mayor pro-tem of Moreno Valley, and was

implicated in a vote fraud issue there in the nineties, during his

campaign for city council.


Bryan Hartnell recently received some national press, as one of the

sole survivors of the infamous Zodiac killer, when the "Zodiac" movie

hit the big screen. Hartnell had a bit part in the movie. While some

detailed crime analysis has indicated that the attack on Hartnell and

Cecelia Shepard was a copy-cat and not a bonafide Zodiac attack, this

was not brought to light on the silver screen. Hartnell escaped with

non-life threatening injuries, but Shepard died as a result of the



A smattering of "independent" attorneys also serve the "C.A.R.E.

Group," such as President of the High Desert Bar Association, Sherri

Kastilahn. Some of the court-appointed counsel for potential

conservatees are known to regularly lob their clients in the

direction of Scott and Dean. These include attorneys Donnasue Ortiz

and Lenita Skoretz, among others. By some estimates, the "C.A.R.E.

Group" now has its tentacles in 60-70% of the conservatorship and

estate administration cases in San Bernardino County.


One attorney, speaking on condition of anonymity, voiced her

opinion that all San Bernardino Probate cases were moved to Redlands

recently to accommodate the "C.A.R.E. Group," most of whom maintain

their offices in Redlands, within walking distance of the courthouse.


At the apex of this group is Melodie Z. Scott, who has been

referred to as the richest and most powerful conservator in Southern

California. A tall, well-dressed blonde with a college education and

a Private Investigator's license, Scott has a reputation as a "high-

roller," and frequently parties with elected officials and other

members of San Bernardino's upper crust. Her resume reads like a

poster-girl for an accomplished and respected conservator, and

includes expert witness status, college level teaching experience (at

California State University at Fullerton) a stint as President of the

Professional Conservators of Southern California, as well as serving

as a board member for Redlands Family Service. Like her attorney,

Horspool, she has also run for public office.


However, behind the tasteful, expensive exterior at 25 E. State

Street, an entirely different picture has emerged, revealing a

reality as shocking and heinous as what went on behind closed doors

in Hitler's eugenics labs.  The "C.A.R.E. Group" is, in fact, preying

on the life-savings of its helpless and vulnerable clients, who

appear to die very quickly as soon as C.A.R.E. has sucked the

lifeblood out of their estates.


According to Jerry Villanueva, an investigator with the San

Bernardino County District Attorney's office, five separate counties

have received complaints alleging criminal activity by Melodie Scott

and her crew.  Villanueva recently revealed that all incoming reports

concerning Scott are being referred to the California Attorney

General's office, which is patently refusing to investigate

allegations of criminal activity by Scott's group.


"I don't 'do' families," stated a brusque Melodie Scott, in

response to a query by this reporter as to the services offered by

C.A.R.E. A review of the court files in Redlands Superior Court

largely substantiates this.  Time after time, C.A.R.E. has filed for

conservatorship of elderly women, left vulnerable after the death of

a spouse, with offspring or other family members either out of state

or otherwise absent from the picture.  When there are family members

present to witness the actions taken by Melodie Scott, in concert

with other members of the "C.A.R.E. Group," they generally end up

quite upset.


Case in point is the Elizabeth Fairbanks case, on file in the

Redlands Court. Mary Beth Fairbanks, the daughter of deceased

conservatee Elizabeth Fairbanks, first contacted this reporter in the

Fall of 2006. Following what Mary Beth repeatedly referred to as the

murder of her mother at the direction of Melodie Z. Scott, the

younger Fairbanks organized a demonstration in front of the SB County

Courthouse, timed with her appearance in Court on October 13, 2006,

to lodge her protest with Superior Court Judge Frank Gafkowski.

A number of family members, conservatorship victims and

others impacted by Melodie Z. Scott, showed up at the demonstration,

which was covered on the local ABC affiliate and by local press.


A review of the medical records prior to Fairbanks' death

substantiates Mary Beth's allegation that directives by Melodie Z. Scott,

conservator of person and estate for Elizabeth Fairbanks, were

instrumental in the elderly woman's death.  Unbeknownst to the family,

Melodie Scott had signed a "Do Not Resuscitate" order shortly after

achieving conservatorship over Fairbanks. TAB has retrieved the DNR

from the court file, and Fairbanks signature does not appear on this



In 2006, Fairbanks fell ill with pneumonia, and at the apparent

direction of Scott, received only two doses of antibiotics during the

entire course of the illness. At a critical moment in her increasing

respiratory distress, she was administered two doses of the opiate,

Roxanol, which put Fairbanks into respiratory arrest.  Two hours

following the administration of the second, more powerful dose of

Roxanol, Fairbanks died.  Roxanol is contraindicated for patients with

respiratory problems.


It was later revealed in the accountings that Elizabeth Fairbanks

had no money left to fund the conservatorship.


The following statement was filed by Mary Beth Fairbanks in San

Bernardino Court:  "I have attempted since 2003 to find an attorney to

help me with stopping what Ms. Scott was doing.  No attorney would

help me due to Ms. Scott's power in the San Bernardino area .... My

mother died of pneumonia, which has a good success rate if treated

aggressively and correctly.  Why would Ms. Scott think if my mother

was hospitalized and aggressively treated that she could end up a

vegetable?  If my mother had a stroke I could understand what Ms.

Scott did but not to give my mother a chance is incomprehensible to



Judge Michael Welch wrote a decision in the Fairbanks case, and

diligently avoided any questions of possible criminal behavior by

Melodie Scott.  He took a quick detour around the issue of whether

Fairbanks herself actually requested or even knew of the "Do Not

Resuscitate" order.  He wrote:  "Apparently, shortly after Ms. Scott

became the Conservator, the Conservatee had requested a "Do Not

Resuscitate" (DNR) order.  Ms. Scott's notes reflect that the

Conservatee had the capacity to make such a decision ....  The children

all testified that they did not know their mother had made such a

request.  In fact, they were adamant that their mother had expressed

to them just the opposite …."


Several points need to be made here. First, to state that

"Apparently" Fairbanks had requested the DNR does not resolve

the issue that there is no indication, other than the statement by

her Conservator, that Fairbanks did so.  Second, Fairbanks was under

an LPS conservatorship, which was initiated because of her lack of

capacity.  She had a medical diagnosis of substantial mental illness.

To state that a person who has been deemed incompetent has capacity

to make a decision of this magnitude is a contradiction in terms. As

Welch waltzed into a veritable legal briarpatch he only revealed his

own intent — to exonerate Melodie Scott, no matter how absurd his own

statements became.


Welch then quickly moved on. In a manner reminiscent of former

President Bill "I feel your pain" Clinton, Welch wrote, "The last few

days and, later, the last few hours before (Fairbanks') death were

very painful for her children. I could not help but note their grief

and sorrow at the news of her passing."


That being said, Judge Welch summarily approved all accountings and

actions by the Conservator, Melodie Scott, and closed the case.


TAB has retrieved the DNR order, signed by Melodie Z. Scott and

dated at the inception of the conservatorship. This is echoed by the

DNR order issued and signed by Victoria Rains, M.D., on July 13, 2005,

and featured here.  In tandem, these orders amount to Fairbanks' death



Dr. Rains is one of the doctors generally used by Melodie Scott, to

care for her elderly clients. A review of death certificates reveals

that Dr. Rains has listed "pneumonia" as cause of death for a number

of C.A.R.E. conservatees.  Calls to Dr. Rains requesting input as to

whether she regularly withholds life-saving antibiotics from her

elderly patients went unreturned.





After gaining conservatorship over an elderly or disabled

individual, Scott, as a matter of course, applies to the court for

a "Power of Health Care."  Armed with this legal sanction to

make life and death decisions, Scott usually signs a DNR order,

thus cementing her power to withhold medical care at the point when

her client is no longer of financial use to her.


In the case of Stevie Price, Scott used this "Power of Health Care"

both to limit medical care and to issue directives for medical

procedures which proved unnecessary and life-threatening for her

disabled client.


At age nine, Stevie Price was critically injured in an emergency

room foul-up, which left him with a permanent brain injury. His

parents, Steve and Fae, sued Loma Linda Hospital and won.


A couple of years after the incident, Steve and Fae separated. It

was during a custody hearing in 1997, in San Bernardino, when the

elder Steve Price noticed an attorney sitting in the back of the

courtroom, taking notes.  The attorney, he later discovered, was one

Walter Moore (now a partner in Hartnell, Lister and Moore), one of

the attorneys who regularly appears as counsel for Melodie Scott.


Before they knew it, the court had determined that an 'impartial'

third party was needed to represent Stevie.  Judge Kathleen Bryant

appointed Walter Moore as Stevie's attorney, who immediately

nominated Melodie Z. Scott as guardian of Stevie's person.


Scott soon gained control over Stevie's trust, as well. After being

appointed temporary guardian, Ms. Scott used $300,000 of Stevie's

trust, in attorney's fees, expert witness fees, etc., to achieve the

status of permanent guardian in a trial inexplicably held in a

different city, before a traffic court judge, Judge Frank Heene of

Chino Municipal court.


It should be noted that Heene was subsequently brought up on nine

counts of misconduct, and retired from the bench.


According to Steve Price, the "C.A.R.E. Team" manipulated Fae in

order to gain control of the Trust, promising her standing in the

case, which never materialized.  Steve Price ended up in a

protracted legal battle with Scott, in an attempt to protect his

son's life and the funds so necessary to care for the child.


On the very same day that Melodie Scott was finally removed from the

case, Stevie Price died. The elder Price was then to discover, to his

further horror, that Scott had run through the entire multi-million trust.


"The Trust should have been banking, not losing money," states Steve

Price.  Prior to Melodie Scott's appointment, Price had carefully

researched his son's options, and had made decisions which would

guarantee excellent medical care, while protecting the Trust, which

was anticipated to last Stevie's lifetime.  Price saw no reason that

his son should not live to a ripe old age, if given appropriate care.


He had enrolled Stevie in a medical insurance plan which was funded

by state tobacco taxes -- MR/MIP (Major Risk Medical Insurance

Program) with Medi-Cal as a secondary insurance.


A chunk of Stevie's malpractice settlement had gone to settle his

Medi-Cal bill, and to enable his enrollment with MR/MIP as his

primary.  With less than $100 as a monthly premium and no pay-back

requirement on death, MR/MIP also provided a far higher standard of

care than the bare bones, minimal coverage provided by Medi-Cal.

Upon achieving guardianship, Melodie Scott voluntarily removed Stevie

from this program, thus severely restricting his medical care to what

the limited Medi-Cal program would cover. This also unnecessarily

incurred a Medi-Cal claim of $532,607.39 at Stevie's death.

What remained in Stevie's trust at that point in time was inadequate

to cover this claim.


Steve Price claims that this action by Melodie Scott "seem(s) to

have intentionally defrauded Medi-Cal into paying Stevie's medical

expenses and exposed both him and his estate to harm."  In a report to

the California Attorney General's office, Price also states that "we

believe that this was a major factor in his death."



In another aggressive move, which Price believes was an effort to

remove Stevie from his father's watchful eye and to place him further

under Scott's control, she ordered that Stevie undergo a tracheotomy

in 2000. Most institutional facilities which would be appropriate for

someone with Stevie's injuries generally only accept patients with

tracheotomies.  Scott failed to provide any diagnostic proof of the

necessity of this procedure, and in defiance of the opinion of

Stevie's long term pulmonary specialist and home-health nurses,

applied for and received court permission to have the tracheotomy



Perched on the corner of a pleasant Yucaipa street, Steve Price's

sprawling, ranch-style home is a virtual shrine to personal tragedy.

The walls are bedecked with photographs of his young son, surrounded

by family and friends.  A framed poem, by Stevie's former nurse and

now Price's fiancée, Tammy Hull, urges those on this side of the

grave to remain strong and loving, even in the face of such wrenching

loss.  But for Steve Price, justice has become elusive. The

California Attorney General's office expressed disinterest in his

meticulously documented complaint, which included evidence of Scott's

attempt to further pad her pocket by taking out TWO burial plots on

young Stevie, one of which went unreported to the court, and was to

be cashed in by Scott on the death of her client.





The California AG's office received another bundle of complaints

this past March.  The carefully documented complaints alleged

embezzlement, property theft, perjury, denial of due process by

judges in C.A.R.E. cases, attempted murder and continued suppression

of reports received by lower level justice agencies, including the

Redlands and Temecula Police Departments and a local District

Attorney's offices. These reports powerfully buttress the perception

that the "C.A.R.E. Group" is wielding undue influence all the way up

the California justice system.


These reports were received by Senior Assistant Attorney General

Mark Geiger on March 6, 2007 and put back into the mail to the

senders the same day. Casting around for a plausible explanation to

explain his failure to act, Geiger lamely states, "... these are

matters beyond my area of developed criminal expertise." In a

shocking effort to continue to cover-up C.A.R.E. criminal activity,

he also falsely states that "... the statute of limitations has run

on many of the alleged offenses," in direct contradiction to the

evidence supplied in the March reports that the alleged crimes were

reported well within the proscribed statutory time limits to local

law enforcement agencies, which dutifully and consistently dropped

the ball. Most tellingly, Geiger also neglected to assign a complaint

number to the March reports.


As a matter of course, and for tracking purposes, an incoming

complaint to the Department of Justice is always assigned a complaint

number. By first omitting then stubbornly refusing to assign a

number, Geiger tacitly revealed that he buried the reports. Legally,

he put himself at risk for prosecution as an accessory after the fact.


Scott's influence appears to go all the way up to federal. The head

of the Civil Rights Division for the Riverside F.B.I. told one

complainant that there were "massive civil rights violations"

substantiated by the complainant, but that agency took no action." An

agent in the Los Angeles office of the F.B.I. stated, with brazen

inaccuracy, that conservatorships were a "civil" matter and that the

F.B.I did not investigate civil matters. When that complainant

provided evidence that crimes were being committed under the mantle

of "civil" court procedures, she was funneled into a telephonic "black hole,"

and was refused any more access to a duty agent.





Melodie Scott's business dealings have regularly benefited members

of her family.  Her mother, Jo Williams, aka Anna Williams, works out

of the 25 E. State Street offices as a "Client Care" specialist.

Williams' name also appeared on the property at 26735 Redlands Blvd,

which was formerly the site of Orange Blossom, an unlicensed Assisted

Living center, previously owned by Melodie Scott.  The property,

which burned to the ground recently, was subsequently sold to Loma

Linda Hospital for a cool seven figures.  Scott's sister, Dona Zinck,

has appeared on accountings as being reimbursed for grocery go-fer

services.  Another family member, Alvin Zinck, has been the recipient

of at least one property transfer, which he apparently received free

of charge.  In 1994, Alvin and Lois Zinck were the recipients of a

1958 Terry Trailer, which had previously belonged to one Lois B.

Nightingale, who was under conservatorship with Melodie Scott.  The

Bill of Sale, signed by Melodie Scott as Conservator for Lois Nightingale,

notes that "This trailer traded for yard clean-up services and labor."





Under the laws governing conservatorships of estate, Scott has

total access to all the conservatee's bank accounts and may, with the

court's approval, sell the conservatee's property, in order to

further pay for her services. An unusual pattern has emerged

concerning the sale of real property, which is always approved by

Scott's judges. Probate property, as it is called, be it under a

conservatorship case or under the estate administration of

the "C.A.R.E. Group," is generally substantially under-appraised and

sold at a still deeper discount from the initially low appraisal.


Here is a short list of such transactions, garnered from the

Redlands Probate files and matched up with the San Bernardino's tax

assessor's office:


Elmer Archie Heath 23538 Court St, San Bernardino

Appraised at $60,000

Sold at $28,600


Heath's vacant lot on Joshua Road, Palm Desert

Appraised at $8,000

Sold at $1,000


Mary Titus 49888 Senilis Ave, Morongo Valley

Appraised at $35,000

1/2interest sold at $3000


Evelyn Townsend 1244 Ramona Drive, Redlands

Appraised at $140,000

Sold at $110,000


Mattie Kirby 1028 W. 9th, San Bernardino

Appraised at $65,000

Sold at $43,000


After selling off property at bargain basement prices, many of

these properties suddenly and without explanation dramatically

increase in assessed value.  For example, the "C.A.R.E. Group" handled

the estate administration for Rachel Norris, whose single family

home in Victorville, California, was appraised at $2,788.  No ,

that's not a misprint.  The home was sold to a Gary Salonsin, in

November of 2004.


Incomprehensibly, the assessed value then jumped to $76,000, and

Salonsin quickly sold it in a "flip" to Ilona Winegarden, where it

was re-assessed at $96,900. Conservatee Arthur Gurley's vacant

Victorville lot jumped in assessed value from $7,273 to $44,880 when

it passed into the hands of Eagle Assets & Management LLC in 2005,

and his Victorville cabin also skyrocketed in value from $8,312 to

over $57,000 when Eagle acquired this property, also in 2005.


The list goes on and on. Lena Peden's retail business, appraised at

$15,392, jumped in appraisal to over $81,000 as soon as it was

acquired in 2006. The jumps and flips are too numerous to list here;

however, it should be noted that the San Bernardino Tax Assessor,

Bill Postmus, is currently under Grand Jury investigation.


As the sole heir of the estate of conservatee Una Haley, Sheryl

Morgan received absolutely nothing.  Morgan, who was Haley's

granddaughter, had applied to be her conservator, only to have this

strong-armed away from her by the "C.A.R.E. Group."  Morgan has

stated that this group outright stole the proceeds from the sale of

Haley's home. The court file reveals that conservator Lawrence Dean

and his attorney Craig Parker (of Hartnell, Horspool and Fox) did an

even divvy of the remains of Haley's estate.  In the final

distribution, Dean and Parker declared to the court on August 26,

2003 that they each received $4,775.15.  This poses some alarming

questions.  Parker's fees as an attorney are roughly in the $200-$250

range, while Dean's services are generally in the neighborhood of

$40.00 an hour.  There is simply no probable mathematical equation

which could have resulted in the even divide of the remaining money.


TAB has uncovered another source of potential fraud.  This reporter

has unearthed partial General Ledger reports on two C.A.R.E.

conservatorships -- Dora Pakuts, in San Bernardino and one from a

Riverside case. In both ledgers, there are numerous skipped check

numbers, with no explanation provided, such as a "Void" notation,

should a check be cancelled out. TAB has been able to obtain a copy

of one of these checks, written by Melodie Scott on a conservatee's

account for over $4,000 and never reported to the court or noted in

the General Ledger.


TAB subsequently contacted Melodie Scott, with questions about

skipped check numbers, but she did not respond to these calls.


A phone call to C.A.R.E. attorney Sherri Kastilahn, however, was

indeed returned. After poring over the conservatorship file of

William F. Burke, now deceased, I had some concerns about what

appeared to be a substantial amount of unaccounted for money. Burke

had gone under conservatorship with C.A.R.E. conservator Larry Dean

in late 2000, and had died in January of 2003. There was some

ambiguity in the court file on a number of issues. Kastilahn and Dean

reported to the court the sale of Burke's residence in September of

2001, but were still listing the house as an asset in March of 2002.

The house had sold for $130,000, but Kastilahn and Dean reported only

$45,000 left in the estate in February of 2003. To further confuse

matters, Judge Pro-Tem E. Joan Nelms documented as estate assets over

$87,000 — nearly twice what Dean and Kastilahn had just reported -- two

months later, in April of 2003.


Two months after Burke passed away, Kastilahn requested the court

approve her placing $30,000 of the decedant's estate into her own

State Bar attorney-client account, for "further conservator

compensation, costs and attorney fees to be incurred in the

administration of the conservatorship proceeding." (direct quote from

court file)  I wanted to ask Ms. Kastilahn what possible conservatorship

services could be offered a dead man.


I was also intensely curious as to the distribution given the sole

heir, one Lester Leroy Lorge. Kastilahn and Dean had declared to the

court that it took them two years to locate Lorge. In an unusual

departure from the typical receipt, Lorge only signed for his "full

distributive share."  I could find no notation in the court file as to

what that might be, and had never before seen a receipt for

distibution in these files which failed to note how much was received.


It only took me one call to a Private Investigator and forty-eight

hours to locate Lester Lorge.  He expressed surprise that Dean and

Kastilahn seemed to have such trouble locating him.  He stated that he

had been close to conservatee William F. Burke for about fifty years,

and was called by the hospital the day he died.


Lorge revealed to me that his "full distributive share" was, in fact, $25,940

a mere fraction of what Kastilahn and Dean had declared

as the remainder of the estate.


Attorney Sherri Kastilahn's response to my call is recorded on my

voicemail. She threatened me with a lawsuit, a Restraining Order and

told me, in no uncertain terms, that I was not a reporter, and had no

standing to ask questions about this case. It should be noted that

none of the above questions were ever tendered to Ms. Kastilahn.

When I spoke with her secretary I merely imparted that I had questions

about "financial irregularities" in the Burke file.


So much for the First Amendment.  And how about that "life, liberty

and pursuit of happiness" stuff?


Well, maybe the Founding Fathers weren't referring to the elderly.

Or, as an alternate explanation, maybe our country is in battle mode.

With the U.S. government waging wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and wars

now spreading like forest fires across the globe, maybe what we are

seeing is another war, against those least able to protect themselves,

right under our very noses.





I am requesting that those reading this article take action, and

contact the California Attorney General's office and demand that this

office step up to the plate and DO THEIR JOB.  The number for

Dane Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General (and Mark Geiger's boss)

is (916) 445-2030.  Attorney General Jerry Brown's number is (510) 622-

4180.  Judge Larry Allen, Presiding Judge for San Bernardino County

Court, may be reached at (909) 457-5680.  The Fifth Commandment

reads "Honor thy mother and father," not "Honor thy mother and

father's cash, rob them blind, and then throw them away like old dishrags."