Guardian Gouging?

Contact 13 Investigation

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - This story will make you sad. It'll make you feel scared and helpless. And it could happen to anyone.

It's a family tragedy where an elderly couple is yanked from their home.

Their daughter is left in the dark.

And the person put in charge by Clark County admits to serious mistakes uncovered by Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.

It can happen in the blink of an eye.

Life as you know it changed forever.

Darcy Spears: Did you feel like you and your wife were kidnapped out of your own home?
Rudy North: We were kidnapped and raped. Both.

Maybe not literally, but Rudy and Rennie North feel like they were violated--stripped of the life they were living together for 60 years.

He cared for her through her cancer and claims they were doing just fine.

Until a knock on their door in the Fall of 2013.

"They said they were officers of the court."

Rudy says "the officers" gave the couple three options.

"One: We call the police. Two: We have you go to a psychiatric ward."

Choice three? An assisted living facility.

The people who came for Rudy and Rennie were private professional guardian April Parks and a member of her staff.

"Mr. and Mrs. North were not in a good situation when we initially got the guardianship," says Parks. "There were lots of concerns about what was going on with them health-wise."

Parks says a hospice company referred the couple to her out of concern that they could no longer care for themselves.

Darcy Spears: Were they allowed or given the choice to stay in their home?
April Parks: At that time they were not. They were not given the choice.

And they've never been allowed to go back home.

Parks says threats of police and jail never came up, but... "Psychiatric ward probably came up."

Frightened, and worried about being separated, the couple went with Parks to Lakeview Terrace senior home.

Their only daughter, Julie Belshe, had no idea they'd been taken.

"Who believes they're gonna get taken out of their home?!" Belshe asked, incredulously.

Julie eventually tracked them down.

She took video of her parents in January, 2014, asking them about their experience being taken into guardianship.

"I felt like I was being arrested... was kidnapped out of my house," Rennie North said in the home video. "I wasn't even fully dressed."

Court records show Rudy and Rennie were deemed incompetent by a pain management specialist and a physician's assistant.

April Parks used those evaluations to gain temporary guardianship, which the court has since made permanent.

In the court record, Parks also calls the North's only daughter, Julie, a drug addict who has no contact with her parents. 

Both Julie and her parents say that's a lie. 

And there's no evidence in the record to back it up.

"They defame your family," said Julie. "They do that in case after case after case."

In the North's case, we discovered mistakes, over-billing and double-dipping.

Darcy Spears: Should it take Contact 13 to be the one that's finding this stuff and asking these questions?
April Parks: No ma'am it shouldn't.
 Darcy: That's scary when you're in charge of someone else's life and money.
 April: Yes. I'm not happy.

Shockingly, Parks sold a bunch of Rudy and Rennie's belongings through an estate sale company who made $4,150, but she only got $923 which went into the North's account.

Court records show Parks said it wasn't worth the legal effort to pursue the other $3200.

Darcy: But why would that ever be the determination? This is someone else's money.
April: You're right.

She says they're going to pursue it now.

Contact 13 also uncovered double dipping .

Rudy and Rennie were charged $780 each for court filings and travel time to court on the same days in 2013.

Darcy: That's over $1500 to this couple that you're saying doesn't have enough money already.
April: You're absolutely right. You're absolutely right. And we will happily reverse those charges out.

How about $108 Parks charged Rennie to buy her a pair of stretch pants?

Darcy: Does $108 for stretch pants seem reasonable?
April: No it doesn't, and I'm happy to reverse that.

So far, Parks and her lawyer have charged the couple more than $25,000 in fees.

Plus, almost $50,000 has been spent for the couple's room and board and medical expenses.

Parks says this is the first time she's hearing Rudy and Rennie are unhappy and want out.

"I was dealing in fear," Rudy explained.  "I thought Nazi Germany was done in 1946. I didn't know it still existed in America."

April Parks also told us guardians are officers of the court, but the court says that's not true. 

The North family is scheduled to take their case back to court later this month as they fight to reunite and end the guardianship.

Contact 13 has been investigating the guardianship system for six months.

Since our first story aired, new laws are in the works in Carson City.

Also, both the Nevada Supreme Court and Clark County Commissioners are working to create panels to look at alleged systemic failures in guardianship court both locally and state-wide.

Darcy will stay on the case.

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