OHIO - Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Civil Judge Sherrie Miday is scheduled to decide this week whether to dismiss a retired surgeon’s complaint against a construction company, 8 lawyers, his estranged daughter and a CPA regarding the guardianization of his 85 year old wife of sixty years.
Dr. Mehdi Saghafi, 88, filed the complaint in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas under the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 after he was forced to divorce Fourough Bakhtiar Saghafi by a court appointed guardian, according to a press release.
“Given their advanced ages and Mrs. Saghafi’s advanced, progressive dementia, filing an action for divorce was not in the best interests of either party, and there existed no reasonable, rationale or good faith basis for filing the Divorce Action,”wrote Dr. Saghafi’s attorney Charles Longo in the opening pleading.
Defendants include the Plaintiff's guardian daughter Jaleh Saghafi Presutto, Custom Contractor C. Francis Builders and Accountant Stephen Sartchev.
Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Spokesman Darren Toms declined to comment on the litigation.
As recently as 2013, Dr. and Mrs. Saghafi amassed marital assets in excess of $8,000,000, according to court records.
The forlorn, aging husband and two of his adult sons are licensed medical doctors but they were not appointed guardian of their family’s matriarch. Instead, the court assigned guardian is Jaleh Saghafi Presutto and court records allege the estranged daughter is “a convicted felon having plead guilty on or about May 16, 2018 to various crimes involving forgery and dishonesty.”
Once appointed by a Judge, a guardian of a senior citizen, such as Fourough Bakhtiar Saghafi, is empowered to liquidate their assets, sedate the individual with physician-prescribed psychotropic drugs, to deny choice of food, marital status, health insurance, medical care and even ban visits with friends and loved ones.
“The Defendants had, and continue to have, the common purpose of profiting from and receiving payments from and through the Guardianship," Mr. Longo stated.
Defendants claim, however, that the Plaintiff father failed to allege facts that could support a collateral attack on prior judgments.
“Every single alleged act of fraud, theft, conversion or other wrongful conduct or act — including the underlying and predicate wrongful acts required to support the conspiracy and RICO claims — requires the judgments and orders of the Lorain County Probate Court and Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court to be void,” wrote Defendant’s Attorney Harry Cornett of the Tucker Ellis law firm in the Defendants’ Aug. 2 Motion to Dismiss. “Otherwise, the transfers of funds from Plaintiffs to support [Fourough] Bakhtiar were legal transfers.”
The Plaintiff's lawsuit claims spending on the part of the guardian have been frivolous and unnecessary and that prior court judgments were obtained without jurisdiction, having been unlawfully issued in alleged sham proceedings.
Lorain County Probate Judge James Walther, who presided over some of the underlying proceedings, declined to comment.
Dr. Saghafi’s complaint comes at a time that the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C. under the direction of Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is considering a proposed law called the Guardianship Accountability Act that would overhaul guardianship proceedings involving the elderly and people with disabilities across the country.
Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Aging, and Maine Senator Susan Collins, chairman of the Senate Committee on Aging, introduced the bipartisan bill last year. “Without proper oversight, unscrupulous guardians can abuse these legal relationships and exploit the individuals they are supposed to protect,” wrote Collins and Casey in a joint statement online. According to the National Center for State Courts, some 1.3 million adults are guesstimated to be under the care of a family or professional guardian who control roughly $50 billion of their assets.