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Family claims 95-year-old swindled by Council on Aging director

4 months 3 weeks 2 days ago Wednesday, March 29 2017 Mar 29, 2017 March 29, 2017 4:42 PM March 29, 2017 in The Investigative Unit
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE- There are allegations of coercion and violations of state ethics rules at the East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging.

All of this centers around a will that was drawn up late last year for a 95-year-old woman. Helen Plummer died this month, and that's when the family discovered the will that was drawn up by a member of the Council on Aging's board, Dorothy Jackson. The will is particularly lucrative to the executive director at the East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging, Tasha Clark Amar. Clark Amar refused to answer any questions about it or why she never told Plummer's family about the will until after Plummer's death.

Plummer began going to the Council on Aging two years ago. Her family said she had the ability to make people laugh. Her legacy of love that she instilled in all of her family members lives on.

"My grandmother was a hardworking woman," Dan Freeman, Plummer's grandson said. "We were a close family. My mom, grandmother, they had a good relationship. She was a loving person."

A family photo that was taken recently is the last memory they all have of everyone together.

"She was a short little old lady who minded everyone else's business," Jacquelyn Antoine, Plummer's daughter said with a smile. "She knew everything that went on."

Though, finding the time to grieve isn't easy for this family.

They said after Plummer began attending the Council on Aging about two years ago, she met Clark Amar. In July of last year, Plummer signed documents that were drawn up by attorney and the agency's board member, Dorothy Jackson.  The documents made Clark Amar - the agency's director - the overseer of Plummer's estate. Jackson admitted to WBRZ, she wrote the document and even notarized it. The family didn't have a clue it existed, until they said they got a call from Clark Amar less than 24 hours after Plummer's death.

"After my grandmother passed, we were preparing for the funeral and my sister received a phone call saying she (Clark Amar) was the executrix over my grandmother's estate," Freeman said. "We never heard of her before then."

The family was shocked to hear that news and were floored when they read the document that Helen Plummer signed. It states, the trustee, Tasha Clark Amar, shall pay herself from the trust a compensation of $500 per month for services rendered as a trustee. Records show that will happen for the next 21 years until the oldest beneficiary turns 30.

"I know my grandmother," Freeman said. "I know this isn't something she would do unless she was coerced into doing something like this."

The family says Mrs. Plummer and her husband worked in the railroad industry and saved a good bit of money. Her estate had $300,000 in liquid assets according to the family at the time of her death. That does not include the two properties she owned in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

When the family was afraid that Clark Amar was going to take their grandmother's money, they withdrew all the money from her accounts and kept all documentation for it. Now, Clark Amar is suing the family over this estate battle that appears to be deeply rooted over Plummer's money.

Outspoken critic of the East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging, Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso, believes state ethics laws were violated, and so do state workers over elderly affairs.

"This would definitely be a violation," Amoroso said. "You can't do business with someone who is your client in this case, or constituent. This is why we have ethics laws in Louisiana."

In another shocking twist, the family says when the document was drawn up last July they never received a phone call about it. It's another concerning point for Amoroso.

"We are public servants," Amoroso said. "We just passed a huge tax for the Council on Aging. We have an obligation to serve the public, not to enrich ourselves. That's why we have ethics laws."

The Investigative Unit went to ask Tasha Clark Amar about this case, and whether she thought it was a conflict of interest.

"Have a great day," Clark Amar said, avoiding questions and wanting to be left alone.  She continued numerous times, "Have a great day."  And, when asked again about the situation, responded: "You've got to be kidding me."

Clark Amar refused to answer any questions. Eventually, her assistant got touchy and another employee, Trudy Bihm - who happens to be listed as an alternate overseer on Plummer's estate - tried to block the camera from capturing video of Clark Amar being asked questions.

"I'm not answering any questions," Clark Amar repeated.  

She was asked whether she felt like the public deserved an explanation over this.

"No sir," Clark Amar responded.

Watch the interview below

Elected officials are concerned over this case. They believe Clark Amar and the Council on Aging's Board Member Dorothy Jackson should have steered clear away from Plummer. Plummer's family had a message for Clark Amar and Dorothy Jackson.

"Damn you," Jacquelyn Antoine said. "I shouldn't say that, it's the wrong thing to say, but I hope the same thing that you're trying to do to us retaliates and you have the same problem."

An email went out to Council on Aging Board members Tuesday alerting them of what Jackson and Clark Amar did involving Plummer's estate. At least one board member says, they will collectively talk about this issue about possibly preventing the council from drawing up client's wills in the future. Meanwhile, the lawsuit Clark Amar filed is set to be heard Monday in District Court before Judge Don Johnson. The lawsuit alleges Plummer's family was taking money from her estate. Despite that allegation, Jackson refused to provide documentation to back it up. Plummer's family vehemently denied that claim and said they have records for every last dime.

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