“No man is above the law and no man is below it: nor do we ask any man’s permission when we ask him to obey it.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Can you imagine your grandmother died, your family was awarded one million dollars for a botched surgery and the Queens Surrogate Court gives you a run around, then the public administrator get involved and now you are in a fight for your life to get money that is due to your family. While this sounds like the opening plot to the movie of the week, this is a real life drama for Dorothy Kozlowski of Garden City and her family.
This is just one of the many families affected by the corruption the runs rampant in the Queens Surrogate Court system. In November of 2011 the New York Times reported that Gerard J. Sweeney, Esq. the General Counsel for the Public Administrator of Queen County’s office pulled down $2.284 million administrating estates in 2010. By the time the article was published his take was $993,764 through end of October 2011.
The necessity of Sweeney’s involvement in Kozlowski’s families case is questionable at best because according to what their website states:
The Public Administrator handles estates in several instances, including but not limited to, the following:
when no one else is available to handle the estate
whenever there are no known heirs
when the executor or administrator of an estate becomes ill, dies, is convicted of a felony or otherwise disqualified from serving while administering an estate and no one else is available
So using their website as a reference point, Kozlowski’s aunt was the guardian, who goes to prove there was someone available to handle the estate who was a known heir. Since she didn’t become ill, die or wasn’t convicted of a felony, there was no plausible explanation for the Public Administrators office to be involved in the first place.
Then to add insult to injury you have to appear at an upcoming trial for the potentially fraudulent $350,000 lien from Medicaid on June 22nd. This is after a kinship trial to establish kinship, between the family members which none of the heirs were objecting to anyone. An unnecessary trial that cost $1000’s of dollar.
Retired Surrogate Judge John Riordan, appointed the Guardian Ad Litem in this matter (a job that often goes to the judges friends, associates or campaign contributors), is in place to represent the unknown heirs. After the redundant kinship trial in February 2015, he should not have been in play any longer, if his presence was ever necessary in the first place, costing further futile fees, because there are no unknown heirs to represent.
Then you have Surrogate Court Judge Peter J. Kelly ignoring the family’s motions requesting to be appointed in charge of their own money since January 2014. The judge who has the power to put the money back in her family’s hands only actually showed up once out of the numerous hearings that were scheduled, delegating authority to a referee, Lee Coulman to make the judicial decision, but still no decisions were made.
“I was told my motions and requests to be appointed would be ignored by the referee,” said Kozlowski. “Sweeney the Gen’l Counsel said you can keep putting motions in, but it wont do anything.”
You come away from yet another hearing to establish your grandmother passed away in Nassau County not Queens, to object to the public administrator’s accounting and to get appointed in charge of your family’s money and instead are victim to backroom behind close door discussion and deals. The lawyer you hired, Jason Wolfe never puts in the motions to get your family appointed and then become abusive, causing you to have to write a grievance on your own lawyer for not doing his job.
“He didn’t even attempt, to do what he was hired to do. He did stand in front of the judge representing me only later to claim he didn’t represent me at all,” Kozlowski tells BW.
So what do you do, when you feel the system and everyone who should have your best interest at heart fail you? When Lady Justice who is often depicted wearing a blindfold to represent objectivity, in that justice is or should be meted out objectively, without fear or favour, regardless of money, wealth, power, or identity; blind justice and impartiality. So what happened when Lady Justice peeks under the blindfold before dispensing justice?
“When you’re a law abiding citizen coming into the justice system to receive the blessing that is rightfully yours and that of your family, your estate is being looted by huge legal fees and unnecessary court costs, it’s an act of career criminals, who are not following their own laws and should be held to account,” Kozlowski states. “To whom is the court accountable? For they are not above the law.”
With nowhere else to turn Kozlowski contact BW to get her story out.
“Sorry I had to ask you in a public forum, but Your Honor, can you please do what is in the interest of justice and righteousness for my family?”
We will continue to follow this developing story til the end.