Links to CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

Frontispiece

 

Abstract

 

Dramatis

     Personae

 

Prologue:  

 Before the Stroke

 

Act I: The Plot

 

Act II:  

The "X" Secured

 

Act III:

  The Kidnapping

 

Act IV, Sc.1:

      The Isolation

 

Act IV, Sc.2:

   The Plundering

 

Act V, Sc.1:

      The Dumping>

 

Act V, Sc.2:<

          The Rescue

 

Epilogue:

    The Indictments

 

Appendix I:

  The Perpetrators

 

Appendix II:

    The Friendship

 

 

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                         Epilogue: The Indictments

                     Tell me, didst thou never hear

                     That things ill-got had ever bad success?

                                           (III Henry VI,ii,45)

 

 

Charles and Carole Dutton no longer possess Power of Attorney: On December 9, 1991, the courts, petitioned by Karren Ruesing on behalf of Amelia, appointed Craig C. Coyner, Jr., Attorney at Law, Bend, OR, as conservator.    Amelia has written a new Will; at her request, Charles & Carole are not noted.  Her only living relative, a sister, Betty Virginia Barney (Kettering, Ohio) has been contacted.  Although their relationship has not been close over the years, she now writes Amelia regularly.  (Betty Barney passed away January 2, 2007, in Urbana, OH.)

 

Physical and speech therapy, six years belatedly, was started.  Twice weekly Speech Therapy, under Randy Jenks, Ph.D., started on October 1, 1992  (10 months after the state intervened). 

 

             Speech Therapy was terminated two months later, on Dec. 22.   Medicare stopped payments because she had reached a "plateau."  Randy Jenks subsequently provided six free sessions between Jan. 25 and Feb. 12, 1993, because of her "motivation." 

 

Twice weekly Physical Therapy started with Anita S. Eisley, PT, from June, 1992 to July 1993.

 

Through the efforts of Joseph Quinn and Oregon Congressman Bob Smith,  Amelia entered Portland's Rehabilitation Institute (RIO) for a two-week residency on November 7, 1994, under Medicare.  Ami was under the guidance of Dr. Gary Ward and staff.

 

    It took over a year to navigate the unmarked path through the

    System's labyrinth.  Except for only two months of speech

    therapy prior to entering RIO, this woman who had contributed

    so much to the world community, has been denied much needed

    professional help since September, 1985; first by her captors,

    later by an underfunded system.

 

Upon Ami's discharge from RIO, she continued her therapy for a short period of time, one hour each week through the St. Charles Rehab Center, in Bend.  Amelia eventually lost interest.

 

       

Ron & Donita Rice no longer manage the nursing home; as of ca. March, 1992, the care home is now resident-managed by the excellent and very attentive care of Rick and Debbie Brose and their two teenage daughters, Echo (16), and Heather (18), and their affectionate dachshund, "Missy."   Amelia’s two beloved dogs were also dachshunds

 

            Rick Brose immediately replaced Amelia's wheelchair with a newer and larger one.   Her old chair was "too small" for her to fit into; once seated, it was near impossible for her to pull herself out.  Unlike the staff under the Rice's   management, Rick took it upon himself to spend each day working with her on physical therapy.

 

            Rick and Debbie report that when they took over the management (and ownership) of the business,  Ami would remain in her room, often crying throughout the day.  At night, she would have nightmares, screaming out loud.  It took the Broses several weeks to get Ami to come out of her room, and within a couple of months the crying and night time screaming had slowly ceased.

 

On Thursday, December 10, 1992, the seven-member Deschutes County Grand Jury handed down a five-count indictment, naming Charles F. and Carole J. Dutton as defendants.  On Tuesday, December 29, the two were arrested and charged with one count of Kidnapping II,   3 counts of Aggravated Theft, and one count of Theft I.  On Feb. 19, 1993, a new Grand Jury "fixed some technical defects" in the original indictments, and added an indictment of Criminal Mistreatment I, for withholding medical care.

 

Charles and Carole have not grasped the distinctive nature of human behavior:  The path through the labyrinth of deceit and greed is self-perpetuating by its own intoxication and denial.   But once they become hopelessly entangled and lost in their own self-serving vision, there comes finally the anxious and desperate quest for self-survival . . .

 

             . . . at their arraignment, Charles and Carole

               entered separate pleas of "Not Guilty."

 

 

           Joshua K. Marquis, Chief Deputy District Attorney, Deschutes County, represented the State.   Mary Ann Christman, a Victim's Advocate, volunteered her services to assist Joshua Marquis. (Joshua Marquis is currently the District Attorney for Clatsop County, Oregon.)

 

Charles & Carole temporarily retained attorney Steven K. Chappell, Bend, OR, their former civil attorney.  At trial, Charles and Carole were represented by Bob McClay (Eugene, OR) and Alexander J. Brendon (Bend, OR), respectively.

 

The trial without jury was heard before Circuit Judge Stephen Titkin, August 10 - 19, 1993.  On August 30, a verdict of acquittal on all charges was announced.  

 

            In announcing his decision, Judge Titkin called the Duttons "freeloaders" who'd taken advantage of Amelia.  He said they used her and then abandoned her.  "I actually think it was shameful of the defendants to take the last large amount of money Mrs. de Gremli would ever have and spend it on themselves," he said.  "They were simply riding Mrs. de Gremli's  gravy train."  They were "very, very good at making what was hers, theirs."

 

             But he ruled they were not guilty of a crime.

 

            The information in the indictment did not cover the year 1991. Judge Titkin added that he believed the 1991 purchases made by the Duttons indicated a clear intent to steal.

 

In late October, a new grand jury issued an indictment of first degree theft, for the year 1991.  On December 13, Judge Michael Sullivan up held the Duttons' defense of Double Jeopardy and dismissed the charges.   The Attorney General's office appealed the decision.  The appeal was dismissed by the Appellate Court on July 13, 1994.

 

 

After a year and half as conservator, Craig Coyner did little if anything to protect Amelia's assets, and he had not been sensitive much less responsive to her needs.  Six months after Mr. Coyner became conservator, it was Rick Brose and Karren Ruesing who urged him to finally release some of Amelia's money for her personal expenditures.  For the first time since she signed the Power of her "X" over to Charles and Carole, she started receiving a $30.oo monthly spending allowance from her fixed monthly income, to spend as she pleased.  

 

Without explanation, Mr. Coyner wrote Amelia that she had no money left.  Confused as she attempted to read the letter, she later turned to Karren Ruesing who took the patience and empathy to fully explain the meaning: Amelia broke down and cried.

 

On July 29, 1992, Mr. Coyner wrote a letter to Amelia stating, " . . . maybe you will have a little more spending money.  The Duttons will know by the end of September . . . whether or not they will be able to refinance the home."  Although Amelia has lost the ability to fully communicate, she did possess the facility to question, if only to herself, how Charles and Carole, no longer with a Power of Attorney, can refinance the house to which she holds title.   (Shakespeare, always in the market for source material in the Royal Halls of London, undoubtedly would be quick to twist this letter around into a conspiracy.)

 

One of Mr. Coyner's first letters on behalf of Amelia set the stage of what to expect under his conservatorship.  The letter was to her sister, Betty Barney, of Ohio.  She, in turn, wrote Dorothy:

 

 

    "Surprise,  surprise.  On October 24, 1991, I received a

    letter  from an attorney Craig C. Coyner, from Bend, Oregon. 

    In this I was in shock, for he claimed I was Ami's

    daughter  and Ami my mother to boot, a Libby Lloyd was

    Ami's sister.  Wanted me to sign a waiver of consent to

    have  Mr. Coyner as Ami's conservator. . ."

 

    (She wrote back, asking who was Libby Lloyd,  refusing to

    "sign any waiver with so many errors and mistakes."  Mr.

    Coyner responded with an apology, blaming his computer.)

   

Unfortunately, Mr. Coyner did not pursue eviction of the Duttons from Amelia's house, nor document accountability and the return of her assets.   He did write one or more letters of demand, but Charles & Carole called his bluff and did not respond.  They continued to live in Amelia's 3-bedroom, 3-bath $125,000.oo  house (1993 appraisal), not paying rent (but made the $422 monthly mortgage).  They retained possession of Amelia's car and the RV vehicles, furniture, washer-dryer & freezer, and, most important to Amelia, her jewelry, beloved photo albums and treasured books.

 

No legal action was taken by Mr. Coyner to protect his charge.  He later said he questioned if there would be money to pay his fee.   And, undoubtedly, he was hoping the criminal trial would resolve the problem.  It did not.

 

             Mr. Coyner's inaction caused prolonged litigation down the road, and resulted in the statutes of limitations  blocking  civil recourse with the Duttons children for the recovery  of money and assets they received from Amelia.

 

 

Amelia and her caseworker Karren Ruesing, and Joseph Quinn were the first to become impatient and frustrated with the lack of civil progress on her behalf.  Karren was instrumental in the appointment of Daniel Re (of Holmes, Hurley, Bryant, Lovlien & Lynch) to represent Amelia as conservator, as of mid-June, 1993.

 

    Mr. Coyner resigned from active law pratice in early April,

    1993.  He delayed several months in signing off as Amelia's

    conservator,  but first, he placed a lien on Amelia's house for

    his fee: over $7,000.oo.  This fee, based on his hourly rate,

    included his ten minutes or so with the media when Amelia's

    story broke.  He was not responsive to Karren Ruesing and

    Daniel Re's request to reduce his fee.

 

 

Mr. Coyner's inaction was matched by the Duttons audacious gall.  The Duttons no sooner walked out of the courtroom, infused with acquittal in hand, with unbridled confidence, gave notice they intended to seek half ownership in Amelia's house (for improvements they made, using Amelia's money), and $1,700 per month for her care (based upon what Carole claimed she would have earned as a real estate agent, if she did not have to care for Amelia.  This claim flies in the face of their proverty when they took over the care of Amelia.)

 

Daniel Re had the Duttons out of Amelia's house on November 1,  1993.  (Amelia always displays a large theatrical smile when Daniel Re's name is mentioned.)  The Duttons' request to remain in Amelia's house and their offer (at long last) to pay rent was promptly rejected. 

 

On April 22, 1994, three days before Mr. Re sold Amelia's house (for approx. $124,000), he successfully blocked the Duttons injunction against the sale.  (One can surmise that the Duttons planned to buy out Amelia's half interest after being awarded "their half;" thus, to continue to live in the house they originally purchased with her money.

 

Much of Amelia's remaining jewelry was returned. 

 

       To avoid prolonged and expensive civil litigation which may not be cost effective for Amelia, Daniel Re offered to let the Duttons keep the Ford LTD Station Wagon and RV vehicles, the furniture, appliances and other assets purchased with Amelia's funds, if they would drop their claim of one-half interest in Amelia's house.   

 

Predictably, they refused the generous offer, and agreed upon binding

arbitration.

 

They should have left well enough alone.  Wearing the mask of a face-saving acquittal from criminal charges, and the confidence from the possession of some ill-gotten assets, they still wanted it all.  Greed did them in: 

 

            The two-day arbitration was heard by retired Circuit Judge John M. Copenhaver, on August 15 & 16, 1994.  He found that: 

 

"The fraud committed here was aggravated by reason of its

             duration, evil purpose and the extreme vulnerability of the

             victim." 

 

         He ruled that the "Conservator shall be entitled to apply to the Circuit Court for a judgment against the Duttons" for the return of certain antiques and jewelry; $23,858.08 for improper expenditures; and $22,785.95, at 9% per annum from  date of purchase, for the vehicles.  To this total of   $46,644.03, Amelia was also awarded $50,000.oo in punitive damages (rarely imposed in arbitration cases).

 

John Burge, Daniel Re's partner in law, argued on behalf of Amelia.  He was assisted in preparation by attorneys Lisa Bertalan and Kevin Keillor.

 

On September 15, 1994, the judgment was filed, and the Duttons wages were garnished.

 

On September 28, 1994, Carole J. Dutton terminated her employment with the Oregon Division of State Lands.  She was hired as a secretary on June 26, 1989.

 

Two days later Carole renewed her real estate broker's license, listing her Bend residence as her business address.      

 

On November 3, 1994, the Duttons filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, listing $112,885.oo in debts, $9,102.oo in assets.  The debts included an undisclosed (unlisted) amount to Ami, $25,000.oo to Carole's sister, $6,402.oo to Charles’ mother and aunt, $10,979.oo to attorneys,  $14,500.oo to the IRS, among many others.  (This was in Duttons second Bankruptcy Petition; the first filed in November, 1984, just before moving to Carson City.)

 

Ami's conservator, Daniel Re, filed a motion seeking to block the bankruptcy discharge of the judgment owed Ami.  (Debts incurred by "fraud" cannot be discharged by bankruptcy.)   Ami prevailed.

 

On January 4, 1995, Charles Dutton resigned from his job with Deschutes County, citing "family problems."   After nine years with the County, Charles was employed as a "lead" Building Safety Inspector 3, earning $3,689.oo per month.   Reportedly, he was employed as an electrician in Clackamas, Oregon.  Their Bankruptcy Petition listed Charles’ address in Clackamas, Carole's address in Bend.  Apparently they briefly separated.

 

 

                                        &

 

As a result of Amelia's case, the State Attorney General worked on a bill to address financial fraud of the elderly.  At the time, there were no criminal statutes in Oregon against financial abuse of seniors.  Lisa Bertalan, Bend attorney, along with Karren Ruesing, were actively involved.   Daniel Re, Ami's conservator, worked on a plan to establish a reserve fund for attorneys to use, to represent elderly financial fraud victims who no longer had access to funds.  The 2005 Legislature adopted strong elder-abuse laws, including the Oregon Elder Abuse Prevention Act.

 

 

The community theatre in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, The Lake City Playhouse, under the direction of Dennis Redford, General Manager, gave a benefit performance of Cheaper By The Dozen, (January 22, 1993), in honor of Amelia Lewis de Gremli: as a tribute to a lady who gave their community a priceless gift (she was the founder-director of the Lake City Playhouse, early 1960s).   In March, the Lake City Playhouse sent a check for $816.oo to Amelia via her former conservator, Craig Coyner.  (There was a two-month delay in sending the check because Mr. Coyner did not respond to their several requests for instructions.) 

 

             At Amelia's request, this money was used for her teeth.  

             (The years of medical neglect has resulted in her losing one

             tooth, leaving a gap in her smile, and four others decaying with "pain.")  

 

 In September, 1993, Joseph Quinn drove Amelia to Coeur d' Alene, Idaho for a four-day visit.  The Playhouse honored her with a special performance of the "Odd Couple;" her many friends honored her with dinners and many hours of reliving their "acting days” through the numerous scrap books they proudly shared.  Dorothy and Fontella also drove to Coeur d' Alene (from Carson City) to share with Amelia her joy. 

 

(Fontella, then 89, purchased a new car for the trip.  She said she told the dealership in Carson City she will be back in three years to trade it in.  At age 93, Fontella returned to the car dealership. She had made plans to rent the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City to celebrate her 100th birthday: she passed away 3 months before reaching her goal.  Her younger sister, Dorothy Dutton, preceded her one and half years earlier, on February 7, 2007, at age 90) )

 

  In July, 1994, Quinn accompanied Amelia by air to Carson City for a five-day visit.  After an eight-year absence, she returned to her home town.  Her days were filled with visiting old friends and haunts.  Amelia stayed with her friends Dorothy and Fontella. 

 

 

At Quinn's request, the actress Patricia Neal, herself a stroke victim, has sent Amelia a note of encouragement along with an autographed photo.  Patricia Neal, along with Orson Welles, have always been Amelia's two most admired actors.

 

On Quinn's frequent visits to Bend, he often took Amelia for wheelchair assisted walks in Drake Park where they feed the ducks and swans.  (The walks are clothed in memories: a half century ago they often chased the flocks of ducks in Mexico City's Chapultepec Park.)

 

 

On March 8, 1995, through the direct efforts of Karren Ruesing, necessary arrangements were made for Amelia to move into the Bend Villa Court Retirement Community, as a permanent resident with her private apartment.  Karren and her husband also assisted in moving Amelia's possessions.  Amelia now had a meaningful degree of independence and freedom she so richly deserves.   She was ecstatic!   After two days at the Villa, Amelia responded, "This is my home!"

 

 

Amelia Lewis de Gremli, like Prometheus, is a testimony to the resilience of the impenetrable human spirit.    For six years her magnanimous endurance of unmerited suffering and strength of will resisted her rapacious captors.   She has not lost that sparkle, that love for life, that infectious creative response to the smallest wonder of each day that has made her so special to so many.   Marie Phillis, Retirement Counselor at the Villa, has observed that Amelia "is the spark we needed here."  She would often lead a group of seniors in singing in the activity room (singing is not controlled by the same part of the brain controlling speech), and had established a romantic relationship with another resident.  She has been a “regular” at the Bend Senior Center and, in her wheelchair, dancing with volunteer, Bill Hughes.

 

 

After living four years at the Bend Villa Court on her own, at age 79, and in need of personal assisted care, she was moved to Loretta’s Foster Care home.  There, she had her own room, and lived in the home with five (limited by Oregon law) other residents.   She remained there for six years.

 

At age 86, Amelia moved into the Cascade View Nursing Center where, having a private room, she also had 24-hour access to nurses.   She would often visit the other residents in her wheelchair.  The nurses described her as an “exceptional lady,” “bright,” and “dramatic” in her grand theatrical gestures and interaction with others.  

 

            Doug Bates,  Associate Editor of  The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon penned a May 13, 2008 editorial, “The woman who put a face on elder abuse,” paying tribute to Amelia.  Doug Bates wrote, in part:

 

            “Before the nightmare began, Amelia Lewis de Gremli had led a rich,              exhilarating life.” 

 

“The former actress had received a marvelous education. She had been a Rhodes scholarship finalist.  She had directed theatres and taught drama all over the world.  And she had saved for her retirement and owned her own home in Nevada.”

 

“In 1986, however, when de Gremli was 66, she suffered a crippling stroke and became the vulnerable victim of outrageous exploitation.  Seven years later Oregon authorities found her – ill, lonely, unable to walk or speak – in a Bend foster care facility where she had been secreted by a married couple who had drained her assets.”

 

“……Those who suffer this abuse are usually helpless and without a voice.  de Gremli, with her desperately scrawled postcard, did much to raise public awareness of this emerging field of crime.”

 

          When Quinn would visit her, and in private, she would make a sweeping gesture with her arm as if to take in the totality of her world and say, “Nothing.  This is it, nothing. Terrible.  Terrible.”                                                                

 

 

            On the 3rd of May, 2008, Amelia came under the care of hospice.  On Friday, May 9, 2008, at 2:00 AM, she passed away.   She was 88.  Joseph Quinn spent many of her last hours at her side, holding her hand.

 

 

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