Michael Volpe Investigates
Michael Volpe Investigates
Michael Volpe Investigates Podcast The Impromptu: Episode 42 An Interview with Sandi Cobianchi

Michael Volpe Investigates Podcast The Impromptu: Episode 42 An Interview with Sandi Cobianchi

Her mother was put through legal hell by the Orange County probate system.
photo of a skin tear left untreated on Bertha Bernal

Sandi Cobianchi is the latest guest on the podcast.

Sandi’s mom, Bertha Bernal, was another victim of corruption in Orange County, California’s probate system.

Check out the interview with Jodee Sussman, with another Orange County probate nightmare.

Her story started like many stories of guardianship abuse: with a family dispute.

After her mom began experiencing dementia, the family decided she needed someone to help take care of her.

One of Bertha’s children didn’t like the way things were going, he took it to court and before the family knew what was happening, the case wound up in probate.

As with many stories of guardianship abuse, the court appointed several professionals: a guardian, a fiduciary and even an attorney.

“Dismissive” was how Sandi described the court professionals.

These court professionals were far more worried with billing their fees than taking care of her mom, and when the family pushed back, these appointees punished the family.

The Frank Report covered this story and explains more.

There is ample evidence, as seen in the graphic above, that clearly shows Bertha’s preference for her daughters Sandi and Cat, and her son Anthony over the hostile strangers that she is now subjected to.

Bertha’s daughter Sandi spoke exclusively to the Frank Report, sharing the distressing reality of a family fighting the madness in the Conservative System imposed by the Probate Court on her mom.

By relentlessly calling state-appointed people to properly perform their sworn duties, she became feared and hated by them, who repeatedly labeled her “disruptive”, thus progressively mining her image with the probate court.

“Well, if standing up for my mom is disruptive, I will be disruptive all day long!” Sandi reminds us that Board and Care elders have clear residential rights – and that these rights are being denied to Bertha.

The more the family insists on respecting Bertha’s rights, the more the Conservator and Caregivers become restrictive in their arbitrary rules.

The original guardian asked off the case and eventually a woman named Suzette Smith was appointed; she was especially nasty in putting roadblocks on Sandi and Bertha’s other children when they tried to see their mom.

Below is one email from Suzette to Sandi from July 26, 2018.

Sandi ,

Per the visitation guidelines the required information for your requested visit was not provided. Therefore, I am unable to approve a visit for Saturday, July 28, 2018.

If you would like another copy of the visitation guidelines please let me know and I will forward it.

Sandi responded like this.

Sure, send me the state government guidelines where I have to give the exact time I will be walking up the walkway to visit my mother. First it was 3 days notice, now its particular time. Suzette, would it not be easier to prohibit me from seeing my mother all together? That is what you want, EVERYONE says it is so apparent you make it as difficult as you can for me to see my mother. Why are you separating my mother from her children?

Suzette and the other appointees made things especially difficult for the family as Bertha was near death. Here is more from the Frank Report.

The family has engaged in a nonstop, grueling routine of legal proceedings to get to see their mother. They could not find a competent lawyer in Orange County who appears to be willing to stand up against the powerful conservatorship system, so they have represented themselves as best as they can.

Keep in mind that they simply want to take charge of the care of their mother. They want her to be her conservator. They want her to be able to live with them and place her in a suitable facility that affords her mother overnight visits and day trips – the kind of thing that will accomplish one thing – take away the incredible loneliness Bertha is experiencing now, deprived of her family.

This goes beyond pandemic restrictions, for that will not last forever, and in the meantime [until they can become her conservator] to be able to speak at will, Face Time at will, without constant monitoring and mandated short phone calls – so that at least their mother will see and hear the faces and voices of those who love her.

Sandi gave a warning to those who think that because they have an airtight trust they have nothing to worry.

She said such thinking is naive, and everyone is vulnerable to this sort of abuse.

She called guardianship abuse a national epidemic. She is a member of CEAR, the Center for Estate Administration Reform.

CEAR is an advocacy group for reforming guardianship; Sandi said CEAR receives approximately one and a half calls per day from victims of guardianship abuse.

As with many who have gone through this, Sandi said the movie I Care a Lot was very realistic and many of the things she saw in the movie were similar to things she witnessed.

Finally, I mentioned a video her mom made at the end of her life: stating that she wanted to live with Sandi. Find that video below.

Post Script

Check out the previous articles in the series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8. Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, and Part 13.

To support the continued investigation into Orange County please find the fundraiser here.

Michael Volpe Investigates
Michael Volpe Investigates
I give voice to the voiceless with true original reporting on topics the rest of the media is too afraid or lazy to cover.