Monday, 18 April 2016

   CREEPS  (Part XII)

This story is based on Justice Susan Lang’s court judgment, an affidavit and a newspaper article I recently read.

In 2007, Charlie Juzumas was an 89 year-old man who lived in Toronto. He was living alone in his own home and his greatest fear was that he would end up dying in a nursing home. At the time of this writing, he is 91 years of age.

Charlie’s wife, Malvina, died a decade earlier and they had no children, but his memories remained in his house. It was a three-storey Victorian house, with stained-glass windows and was located near the west Toronto neighbourhood of Beaconsfield.

Age was not Charlie’s weakness. He did yard work, planted flowers and seemed entirely self-sufficient, although he once accepted his tenant’s offer to climb a ladder and remove storm windows in his home. His vulnerability came from a fear of dying in a nursing home.

It’s unclear if Galina Baron (the creep whom I will refer to as the spider) really knew all this about Charlie when she knocked on his door in 2006. She later learned that they were both born in Lithuania therefore the spider also spoke the language of his home country. They were 24 years apart which means that the spider was 65 when they first met. At the time of this writing, she is now 74 years of age.

The spider wanted to latch onto another of her victims, to wit; Charlie. After all, he owned his own home, and at his age, his death could be imminent and if she spun her web properly, she could get his entire estate.

As her visits increased to three times a week, he started to see her as a possible saviour who could keep him at home instead of him spending his final years in a nursing home.

The spider pushed him for marriage, saying she merely wanted a widow’s pension. She clinched the deal by promising him that he would never go to a nursing home while she was with  him.

Previously to the spider marrying Charlie on September 27, 2007, the 65-year-old bride had been offering caretaking services to other vulnerable widowers with the expectation from them of a mention in their wills.

Right after the wedding ceremony was completed, the spider left her 89-year-old husband at a Toronto subway stop. Charlie then took a street car home, alone. He didn’t know it yet, but he had just become entangled in a predatory marriage.

Juzumas was Charlie’s sixth or maybe eighth husband. She had trouble remembering them all; according to a 2012 Ontario Superior Court judgment filed by Juzumas to reclaim the house she took from him.

The day before they married, the spider and Juzumas went to see a lawyer named Stan Mamak in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood. The court judgment detailed Mamak’s actions which in my opinion were disreputable to say the least.

In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, Mamak said he did his best to independently represent Juzumas’ interests and that he believed that the elderly man was a willing participant. Mamak said, “Just because someone is old doesn’t mean they are infirm.” I presume he meant ‘mentally infirm’.

Without meeting Juzumas separately to ask him what he wanted, Mamak wrote a will making the spider the sole executor and beneficiary of Charlie’s estate as stated in the judgment. Now you know why I referred to this lawyer as being disreputable and a creep to boot.

The spider never actually moved into Charlie’s home. However, when she spent her daytime visits to him, she berated him, according to witness testimony in court. She got joint access to his bank account. He paid her $800 a month for housekeeping and she took all but $100 of his tenants’ $1,300 monthly rent, said the judgment, which found that the spider had “unclean hands.”

The moment the spider marched through his front door, Charlies’ shoulders slumped. He was so afraid to speak that she initially thought he was mute. Later, he’d confide his troubles to his tenant, Detlor by saying, “I am a stupid old man.” I don’t think he is stupid. He was tricked into marrying a con artist. He had no way of knowing in advance that a con artist would wiggle her way into his life.

Two years after the wedding, Charlie realized that he had made a terrible mistake, both in marriage and in the will in which he supposedly given the spider his entire estate.

By then, he was a smarter man. He went to a different lawyer who wrote a new will. (The judgment doesn’t say why he didn’t choose Mamak, the original lawyer who wrote the first will of their marriage.) The spider would now only inherit $10,000. The rest was bequeathed to his niece in Lithuania. The bulk of his estate came from his home that was worth roughly $600,000 in 2009. How sad for the spider, Instead of getting $600,000, she was only getting a pittance of $10,000. Personally, I wouldn’t have given that creep a cent.

The spider soon discovered Charlie’s act of rebellion. She went to see Mamak again. The judgment stated that Mamak believed it was the spider who was the victim, a “wronged, vulnerable spouse/caregiver.” Give me a break. But then what can you expect from a disreputable lawyer?

Mamak later told the Toronto Star that Baron—the spider described Charlie Juzumas as a violent man, saying she claimed he threatened to cut her in half with a sword. Mamak later admitted. “In retrospect, I feel she was probably trying to manipulate my image of her — that she was an innocent victim.” Ahh! It is a sign that is brain in functioning again.

According to her affidavit, his new tenant, Pamela Detlor, studied Juzumas’ reaction to Baron. (the spider) according to the judgment. Together, Baron and her lawyer Mamak had come up up with the idea to transfer the title of the house to her son, Yevgeni.  The judgment found that Mamak had said that he added the agreement, that Charlie Juzumas could  live in the house with his name on title until his death.

Previously, a meeting was arranged to add the spider’s’ son Yevgeni to the house title. That morning, 91-year-old Charlie ate a bowl of the spider’s soup, resulting in him becoming dizzy, as if he’d taken a strong drink.

At home, his tenant thought he was “doped up.” His neighbour questioned the large gash on his forehead. Juzumas said he passed out, adding that Baron told him he fell down the stairs. He didn’t want to go to the hospital, fearing he’d be taken to a nursing home. During a rare evening visit, the spider called an ambulance claiming Charlie was sick. His tenant, Detlor, told the attendants of Baron’s abuse against Charlie.

Questioned by hospital staff, the spider called Charlie a violent, pathological liar who should be sent to a nursing home. Instead, staff sent him home where helpful tenant, Detlor insisted that he change the locks. The day the spider came to get her few possessions left on the porch, Charlie laid flat on the couch so she couldn’t see him.

Tired and disoriented, Charlie unfortunately signed the papers, giving away his financial security to a young man he disliked. The judgment later found there was no evidence Mamak spoke to Juzumas without the spider being in the room, nor did he tell him the new agreement was “virtually eviscerating” his recent will. Mamak said he believed that he spoke to Charlie independently but he has no notes to prove it. What does that tell you about that lawyer’s credibility? 

When Charlie learned of the spider’s’ ruse through a legal follow-up letter two weeks later, Charlie’s long-time neighbour, Ferne Sinkins, drove him to the lawyer’s office. The spider arrived a few minutes later, but was told to wait. Charlie emerged from his meeting with Mamak saying he was told by Mamak that the transfer of his property was “in the computer; it can’t be changed.” What hogwash but one can expect that from lawyers like Mamak whose sole interest was directed against Charlie and solely on behalf of the spider who was a con artist.

Charlie returned the following week with the same request. Again, the spider appeared — an “unexplained coincidence,” the judge found. Mamak denied tipping off Baron, saying she was probably following Charlie. If you believe that man, I have a property I want to sell you in Florida’s marshes in the Everglades. This time, she demanded a new will and power of attorney over his medical care. When is that spider going to stop weaving her web about that poor man?

Charlie was successful when he took his case to court. The spider fought back. Unfortunately for her, the judge gave Charlie a divorce and reversed the transfer of his house. The judge made that decision by blaming Charlie’s misfortune on the evil actions of the spider and her fellow creep, Yevgeni’s through their “undue influence of a vulnerable elder.”

Two years later, Charlie Juzumas sold his home for $910,000 and returned to Lithuania with his niece.

Charlie Juzumas was the husband who got away from the clutches of a notorious con artist but it was a precarious escape.

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