Due to overwhelming response I have decided to make some cameos to my blog site. Now that I am a minivan owner I am sure my entries will take a different tone. Which direction they may go I am not even sure. I might even make things less static and start a facebook page then I will know what type of person likes this site and information. Even without writing an entry in months 1,000 people a week still visit here.
I am still pumped to see Defiance which opens next week and I also wanted to report that the only living brother which the film was based on has been cleared on the criminal charges he and his wife incurred for taking an elderly woman from their living community and dropping her off in Poland (where she was from several years prior) at a senior home and leaving her there. Story below:
Kidnapping charge dropped against Aron, Henryka BellCourt allows couple to return to Palm Beach Towers condo
By MICHELE DARGANDaily News Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Leaving a 93-year-old Palm Beach woman in a Polish nursing home against her will was "horrible and disgusting," but it doesn't warrant a kidnapping charge, a prosecutor has decided.
In a letter to Palm Beach Police Detective Nicholas Caristo, Assistant State Attorney Michael Rachel wrote that, because Janina "Nina" Zaniewska went to Poland voluntarily before allegedly being abandoned there, any criminal act occurred in a foreign country.
Rachel wrote that charges of grand theft, organized scheme to defraud and exploitation of the elderly can be pursued against Aron Bell, 80, and his wife, Henryka Bell, 58.
Rachel's letter was among 200 pages of discovery documents related to the arrest and prosecution of the Bells, whom authorities accuse of draining Zaniewska's bank account of $250,000.
The Bells remain free on $120,000 bail each. One of the conditions of their pretrial release had been that they not live at the Palm Beach Towers, where the couple and Zaniewska all live. But a circuit judge ruled Monday that the couple can return to their Towers home.
The Bells have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Steven Gomberg, attorney for the Bells, said he doesn't see "any smoking gun" in the documents released Monday.
"The woman was all alone, had no family, and she needed a great deal of assistance and care," Gomberg said. "They had a long-standing relationship. Everything was arranged and immortalized by lawyers, doctors and accountants. This was not some sort of back-room deal. They just wanted to help her with her finances. Hindsight being 20/20, it would have been better if it had gone through the courts. It seemed prudent at the time."
Gomberg said the money has not been lost and that the Bells merely reinvested it for Zaniewska.
"Mrs. Zaniewska hasn't lost a penny," Gomberg said. "The money was placed where she wanted it to be. The money is all available. It's all going to be restored. It could have been at any time had this taken a different course."
Witnesses, however, suspected more than altruism was at work.
Rose Marie Felice, the receptionist at the Palm Beach Towers, remembers Zaniewska as "such a happy, cheerful lady, always stopping by the front desk to have a chat and socialize." That is, Felice said, until Zaniewska was befriended by the Bells.
After that, Zaniewska became "almost like a stranger to all of us at the front desk. The Bells seemed to take over every aspect of her life, not letting her even say hello to us," Felice said in a written statement.
Pamela Leikala, manager of the Regent Bank at Palm Beach Towers, called police after she became suspicious of the Bells' involvement in Zaniewska's financial affairs.
"Mrs. Bell did all the transactions," Leikala wrote in her statement. "I did not see Ms. Zaniewska, so I asked Mrs. Bell to bring her in as I had not seen her for a while. Ms. Bell gave me a hard time and did not want to bring her in."
After looking into Leikala's suspicions, police found Zaniewska in a nursing home in Poland, where she says the Bells left her against her will. Police say the Bells took her to Poland in May under the ruse that it was to be a vacation. Instead, they left her in the home and returned to Palm Beach, according to Zaniewska's testimony.
The State Attorney's Office declined to file kidnapping charges because there was not enough evidence to prove the charge since Zaniewska went to Poland voluntarily, Rachel wrote.
"Ms. Zaniewska has fervently stated throughout that the Bells, while in Poland, left her at a Polish assisted living facility ... against her will," Rachel wrote. "This act was horrible and disgusting. But because it was done in a foreign country, and because none of the elements were committed here, the charge of kidnapping is not legally tenable in Palm Beach County."
In an Oct. 5 interview with police, Zaniewska said the trip to Poland was to be a good time and an occasion to see friends.
"From the bank records provided, it appears that most, if not all, of Ms. Zaniewska's funds were either transferred or spent by the Bells well before this trip to Poland," Rachel wrote.
Zaniewska was returned to the United States Oct. 4, after a U.S. Embassy official visited her in the nursing home and determined that she'd been placed in the home against her will.
The paperwork released Monday included:
* A living will signed by Zaniewska on April 1, 2005, designating Henryka Bell her health-care surrogate in case Zaniewska is incapacitated.
* A last will and testament signed by Zaniewska on April 1, 2005, designating Henryka Bell as her beneficiary. Aron Bell is the beneficiary if Henryka dies first.
* A last will and testament signed by Zaniewska on Oct. 26, 2007, leaving all of her property and insurance policies to her friends Marcella DeMuth-Gintowt and Yaga Oshesici. If neither of them survives her, her property will go to St. Edward Catholic Church.