(First posted on angieslist.com)
Description of Experience: My wife and I met with Henni in 2000 to discuss my father's investing with my mother's home care attendant. We communicated by phone and email a couple of times in 2007 after he passed away.
Member Comments: I cannot speak to Henni Fisher's qualities as a counselor or therapist since I only met her once. My father started going to her support group for spouses of Alzheimer's patients in the late 1990's while my mother suffered from the disease and he continued going even after my mother passed away in 2002, so he must have felt it was worth his time and money.
Early on, my father told us that Henni referred a home attendant named Virel Maxwell to care for my mother. From that time on, we pretty much treated Virel as part of our family. Since he was always independent, and I live with my family some distance away, I never got involved in his personal decisions.
In 2000, 3 of my in-laws, living in different states, all called me with concerns about my father's safety as an elderly man traveling to the island of Jamaica with Virel. She was already borrowing money from him and he was going to look at investing in a nursing home Virel owns. My wife has worked in home care supervision and believed it was a conflict of interest.
My wife and I met with Henni (and paid her usual fee) to discuss our concerns. Unfortunately, my father was unable to attend. I dont remember the exact words Ms. Fisher used, but it seemed that Virels borrowing money from my father was not too serious, but was questionable and he should not have given her money. Since my wife and I thought that Henni would tell Virel to return the money to my father, I didnt bring up the subject with him again.
After my father passed away in 2007, I learned that he had continued to fund Virel to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, and at our memorial service, Virel even told me he had asked for his money back. Virel told me other things that I later thought sounded suspicious. I called Henni a couple of times to ask, among other things, what she told my father after our meeting and not only did she cut me off, defending Virel as honest and hard-working, but she grew rude, hung up on my wife one time. When I tried to follow-up to make sure I understood their relationship, Henni left me an angry phone message telling me not to call again and implied someone else referred Virel to him. According her message, she does not remember meeting with us at all!
That is the icing on the cake. Of course, I didn't expect her to remember a meeting from 5 years earlier off the top of her head. I do think that a competent licensed therapist would have made notes at the time that she could have looked up.
I should mention that I have told parts of my story to lawyers, police sergeants, city agencies, a district attorney representative and to family members who knew and liked Virel. Only one person has taken her side - Henni Fisher. Rather than investigating my allegations, as of 2010, she has continued to give glowing references for Virel.
Ms. Fisher responded to my report; I won't quote her in case of copyright concerns.
On 4/02/2012 I replied:
Ms. Fisher has brought up some interesting additional points. Only #5 and #6 require a response, as the others are irrelevant or evasions.
5) Ms. Fisher asks why I didn't resolve the issues while my father was alive. A better question would be "why didn't he tell his closest relatives that he was still involved in those transactions"?
Why did he tell us that he was going on 2 or 3 cruises to Jamaica every year, but not that the reason he was going was to look at his investment (the nursing home and neighboring property that he bought)?
Why did he tell his lawyer that the investment was "a mistake and he wished he never did it", but not tell us?
Why didn't he tell us that Virel's son Chris would call him at all hours to get money?
Is it possible that my father's girlfriend was right when she told us that Virel had been poisoning his mind against us?
6) Ms. Fisher claims that I "became verbally abusive" and that I "wanted to argue" with her about Virel.
In what way was I abusive? Did I raise my voice? No. Did I insult her? No. Did I threaten her? No. Did I accuse her, judge her, criticize her or blame her for anything? No.
And no, I did not want to argue with her.
And I wouldn't have had to make a third phone call had she responded to the questions in my email.
All I did was ask her questions about Virel and my father and try to make her aware of Virel's actions which, as I originally wrote, were described to me as being fraudulent by lawyers, police and government agencies. Remember, we had always given Virel the benenfit of the doubt, and when my cousins and my father's girlfriend told me how she had been abusing him, I thought they were nuts. But Virel soon betrayed herself and hours of poring over his checkbooks and printed records had me convinced.
We may never know how much money she obtained, and may never recover any of it, but we would like to help prevent other senior citizens from being victimized.
If I were in Ms. Fisher's position, I would ask myself a few questions:
1) If my relationship to Virel is so distant, why put so much effort into defending her, going so far as to contradict myself in doing so?
For example, first she sided with Virel in her claim to own all the expensive new furniture in my father's apartment, then she told me his investments were actually a gift to Virel, because she had no money. Which version of her finances is true?
2) Do I really want to stake my reputation on Virel's qualities by continuing to give glowing references, without even making the effort to look into these allegations?
After all, if Virel is such a paragon of virtue and an exemplary employee, why would she have lied to the family about the ownership of the father's cars, then stick them with the insurance bill, and not return the license plates as promised?
Why would she say that she would meet with them and return the "investment" but not do either for 5 years and counting?
Why would she say that the hard drive on his computer was full, when actually all his personal files, including tax returns and financial records, were deleted?
3) Do I really want clients to know that in the case of dispute, costing the family tens of thousands of dollars, I won't remain neutral, and won't listen to their side of the story, but instead simply take the side of the worker?