This story is unbelievable but it needs to be told so that others are not taken advantage of at thier most vulnerable time. In May of 2007 my Father passed away. He was a physician, well known in the community, a very religious man and a very ethical person. My Father was a cautious investor. He socked all of his money, throughout is long and distinguished career with Shearson, Lehman, conservative investments, no huge gains, no huge losses. My mother is a homemaker, and a wonderful one at that. She donates time to local charities and is a daily church-goer. She really never paid any bills or managed any of the family's finances. My mother has broken english and is unfamiliar with many financial and legal terms - she's just a Mom.
Once my father passed away, we received a call fom his attorney, Dennis Mitzel of Barry Moorman, PC. It was a condolence call and he requested a meeting with the family.
Mr. Mitzel billed my Mother several hundreds of dollars for the condolence call which lasted no more than 5 minutes. What a nice gesture!
Within a week, we met with Mr. Dennis Mitzel. During our first meeting with him, in which my Mother was still crying and grieving for the recent loss of my father, Mr. Mitzel puts a piece of paper in front of my mother and asked her to sign it, not telling her what it was. My mother said she was in no condition to sign anything at the time but would look at it later. The document that Mr. Mitzel's law firm tried to slip under the radar, was, in fact, a 100% transfer of all assets (over $1 million) to Chase Bank from Shearson Lehman. After being prodded many, many times, my Mother signed the form transferring all of my Father's assets and the estate to Chase Bank and a trustee appointed to oversee the estate. At the time, we did not realize there was a relationship between the trustee and the attorneys' office.
The trustee's name is Loretta A. Baker. Ms. Baker immediately befriended my Mother, visiting her at her home, accepting gifts and even asking if her daughter could stay with my Mother in a foreign country that they happen to be traveling in at the same time. The relationship had become one of friendship and complete trust.
After several months, Ms. Baker asked my Mother to sign a form that would give Ms. Baker and Chase Bank the ability to write checks from my Mother's account without her permission.
This is where the problem began, and I believe where the premeditation comes in, Ms. Baker asked for signing priviledges knowing she woudl later use this as a way to funnel money to her longtime friend, Dennis MItzel and BArry Moorman, PC.
My Mother felt as though she had complete confidence in Ms. Baker and the large institution that she worked for J.P. Morgan CHase Bank, one of the most well known banks in the world, certainly protocol and procedure at a large firm like Chase would or should have provided My mother with the security she so very badly needed.
IN April, tax season had come around, Mr. Dennis MItzel told my entire family in writing and in person that the tax preparation would cost $12,000. We felt the price was very high, but wanted to keep continuity with the estate's attorney and agreed to the fee. Before leaving on her trip, My mother told Ms. Baker to pay $10,000 of teh $12,000 and wait for her return to the US to pay the balance once the taxes were reviewed.
Once my mother left out of the country, almost automatically Ms. Loretta Baker began writing checks from my mother's account to Barry Moorman, no bills were being sent to us or Loretta, just payments being made and checks written - not just for the $10,000 but later it was learned that Ms. Baker wrote checks totalling nearly $50,000 for the tax preparation that was to cost no more than $12K.. Prior to my mother's trip out of the country, she expressly told Loretta to not pay any mor money to Mr. MItzel until she returned. Ms. Baker, took my mother's trip as the perfect opportunity to begin to send checks to Mr. MItzel unbeknownst to My mother.
At no point did she tell my mother about the checks being issued to Mr Mitzel and Barrry Moorman, PC. Once the issue was discovered, I became involved. I spoke to Ms. Baker about the money and the checks that were issued. My questions to her were answered with, "I don't know why I paid out so much to Dennis, I was in a fog." These are her exact words, "I was in fog, yes, this is a gross error of judgement on my part." She completely admitted to the roost.
Once this came to light, as you can imagine, the cockroaches all ran and hid. Mr. MItzel was unable to account for the overcharge and began to offer money back to my Mom, in the forms of discounts to fees. HE started by offering her back $14,000.
Chase Bank also offered money back to my Mom, they agreed it was a major mistake and "oversight" and should have never happened. My mother wants all of the money back, not it terms of credits but the money itself back in her account where it should have been.
Later it became known that Mr. Dennis Mitzel and Ms. Loretta Baker are and were very close personal friends from high school! This plan to commandeer my Father's estate and fleece my mother, a helpless widow is truly unbelievable.
Since this incredible breach of trust and fiduciary duty by Ms. Loretta Baker, my Mother has lost complete confidence in Ms. Baker, Chase Bank and Barry Moorman, in particular Mr. Dennis Mitzel. My Mother was vomitting and shaking for two weeks after learning of what had happened. Incredulous as to how someone like Loretta Baker, representing Chase Bank could do this to her. Her health issues continue now, months afterwards, my mother has lost weight and has spent countless hours trying to gain counsel to assist with the reclamation of all the money that was wrongfully taken from her.
My father's main objective in going with an institutional brokerage and a larger law and accounting firm was to ensure that when he was gone, his finances woudl not be an issue for my Mother.
My father's portfolio has lost almost 50% of its value in two years and Dennis MItzel and Loretta Baker have conspired to overbill my mother to the tune of nearly $50,000.
Keep an eye out for an investigative report by WDIV TV called, "Who's watching our senior's money?" for more info on this unbelievable story about greed, manipulation and organized defrauding of our most helpless citizens.
I have taken time to write this as I am hoping that others are not being atken advantage of in the same manner - I see the damage it has done to My Mother, financial damage is obvious, but more importantly is the emotional and toll on her health this has all taken.
As of today's date, we have yet to see any billing from Barry Moorman, PC. and both groups have begun to bill hours for the fact finding we need to do to track all of the money.
When we met with Loretta Baker's direct supervisor, Mr. Reginald Nizol, he agreed that the bank made a mistake but hardballed my Mom and his last words to her were, "sue us."
So Mr. Nizol, we will sue you and I will also ensure, to the best of my ability, this plays out in the court of public opinion, I have certified letters going to the banking and regulatory agencies that oversee your industry - along with the State Attorney General, the Better Business Bureau and the Division of Consumer Affairs and several other agencies.
Mr. Dennis Mitzel of Barry Moorman, PC and Ms. Loretta Baker should be ashamed of their behavior and in my opinion do not deserve the trust of their clients, I see them both as white collar thieves, and the worst kind, praying on the weak... shame, shame.
Boca Raton, Florida
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