Fil Am Lawyer Denies Wrongdoing In Chicago Elderly Man’s Case

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (jGLi) – The Filipino American lawyer, who prepared a living trust and a will of an aging ward of a Filipino American caregiver, said, “this is a case where the agent deceived or abused her principal, if the allegations are true.”

Attorney Alfonso Bascos said, “I did not know that Ms. (Carmelita V.) Pasamba was using Mr. (Marshall) Davies’s funds for her personal use. I have no idea how Ms. Pasamba gained access to the funds of Mr. Davies. I knew that Ms. Pasamba opened a checking account at Chase (Bank) in the name of Marshall Davies and Carmelita Pasamba (under a special power of attorney) as I was paid for my legal services from that checking account.”

Ms. Pasamba, a certified nursing assistant, was accused by the Cook County Public Guardian’s Office in Chicago of stealing more than $500,000 from her ward, Marshall Davies, an elderly man suffering from severe dementia, according to CBS TV News 2 Chicago.

“As far as the bequests from the Marshall Davies Trust to the FACC programs (are concerned), the FACC has not received anything. The trustee of this trust is Mr. Davies. As trustee, he has the sole control of the trusts.” Bascos added. “Since, he is still alive, he can always change his trust,” although it is now a little bit too late as funds of the retirement fund had appeared to have dissipated.

He said after preparing three documents (a trust, a will and special power of attorney) for Mr. Davies. Bascos added he did not see Mr. Davies again although Ms. Pasamba, as his representative, “consulted me when Catholic Charities wanted to see and interview Mr. Davies. Ms. Pasamba told me that Mr. Davies expressed to her that his privacy is (sic) being invaded and he did not want to be interviewed.” He said Ms. Pasamba told him Mr. Davies was able to talk to Catholic Charities eventually.

NOT TACTLESS

Asked by this reporter if he was not tactless for suggesting that Mr. Davies donate to the Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago (FACC) although Mr. Davies had never benefited from the FACC in the past, Mr. Bascos, a perennial officer of the FACC, said, “the issue of bequest or donation (to FACC programs) was mentioned by Pasamba. Remember that Pasamba is the agent of Davies. I assumed that when Davies and Pasamba came to my office on April 27, 2008 to have a will made for Davies and change the Davies’ Trust, they have discussed the changes or contents of the will or trust.

“As Pasamba was telling me the changes relative to bequest or donation, she asked me if I wanted bequest for FACC programs such as the free legal services, senior citizens and health screening programs. My answer was for her to ask Mr. Davies first if Mr. Davies would approve the bequests for the FACC programs.

“I heard Pasamba and Davies talked about these particular bequests and then Pasamba told me that it was ok to include those bequests.

“I did not seek a bequest or donation on behalf of the FACC programs. I was aware of my legal ethics in dealing with clients.”

When reached for comment, Corazon R. Sopena, one of the witnesses to the signing of will and trust, told this reporter, “When I was asked by Attorney Bascos to sign as witness “sabi niya mag-witness daw ako dahil magdodonate daw si Mr. Davies sa FACC pag-namatay na.” (When I was asked by Attorney Bascos to sign as witness, it was because Mr. Davies was going to donate to FACC after he dies.)

Ms. Sopena, a med tech employee, said she did not bother to ask Mr. Davies why he was donating to the FACC even if the FACC has not done a favor to Mr. Davies in the past nor was promised any future benefits by the FACC because “I trusted Attorney Bascos with whatever he says.”

“BUHAY PA PALA” (SO, HE IS STILL ALIVE)

Ms. Sopena demurred, “buhay pa pala” (so he (Mr. Davies) is still alive) after this reporter told her that Mr. Davies wants his money worth more than half-million dollars back. “This is certainly a black eye to the Filipino American community.”

Mr. Bascos recalled among those mentioned in the bequests were the Salvation Army, which was part of the old trust, and “Bantay Bata,” the FACC Senior citizens program, the free legal advices services, and the health screening program. “I believe the bequest is $5,000 for each program.”

Bascos clarified that the FACC programs have not received anything from Mr. Davies’s trust. As trustee, only Mr. Davies can make the deposition of the bequest.

Reached for comment, another signatory to the trust, Herminio Poblete, FACC president at that time, told this reporter in an email, “I am here in Manila since February and I don’t have any knowledge re: news from channel 2 and I don’t know those people you mentioned nor I can remember any such name.” Mr. Poblete said he is due back in Chicago next month. Another signatory witness to the will, Mr. Mauro Larracas, had already died.

The Cook county Public Guardian’s office in Chicago vowed to recover more than half a million dollars Pasamba and her family allegedly improperly took from Davies during the last two and a half years.

James Burton, an assistant public guardian, described Davies as “extremely vulnerable. He was nearly 90 years old in 2008. He was already exhibiting signs of dementia. And so he was the perfect prey.”

Pasamba and her family turned Davies into their “own personal ATM machine.” investigators said Pasamba brought Davies to the Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago’s (FACC) office at the Rizal Center in Chicago’s north side, where Attorney Alfonso Bascos, an FACC officer, holds office.

PASAMBA FAMILY GETS $175K AFTER DAVIES’ DEATH

The Public Guardian’s office said Bascos prepared a new will and trust agreement for Davies, awarding $20,000 to various social service agencies affiliated with the FACC and giving Pasamba and her family a total of $175,000 upon Davies’ death.
Bascos prepared a power of attorney, giving Pasamba authority to handle Davies’ financial affairs, including making withdrawals and writing checks from Davies’ bank account.

According to Public Guardian’s office, Pasamba used Davies’ $10,000 as down payment on a new $50,000 Mercedes. She also issued checks for thousands of dollars to pay her daughter’s tuition and to finance her son’s dance studio.
Her sister, Jocelyn Baker, also worked as caretaker for Davies, got more than $20,000 to remodel her apartment and to buy furnishings.

After Pasamba helped Davies sell his condo for $189,000, Pasamba gave herself $50,000 “bonus.” Pasamba also withdrew $50,000 from his bank account.

Pasamba now regrets spending the money. “I just realize that what I did is not right,” she told Ms. Pam  Zekman, investigative reporter of CBS News 2 Chicago.

Voice mail message by this reporter left on the phone of Ms. Pasamba was not returned. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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Photo Credit: Joseph G. Lariosa, JGL International

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