is April 5, a big day for the Yankees, and they have sent one of
their stars up to bat. He is the tall man in business-suit
pinstripes in the corner of the crowded hearing room upstairs at
City Hall. He is watching closely as City Council members cast their
votes on whether or not to approve a new billion-dollar stadium for
the Bronx ball club. His name is Stanley Kalmon Schlein, and
although he has never run for elective office and most people don't
know his name, he is to politics in the Bronx what Randy Johnson is
to baseball in the Bronx: a crafty veteran with a wicked fastball
who can throw over the plate or at your head depending on what the
In the hearing room, Schlein is listening to every word as
intently as Joe Torre watches his players, alert for the slightest
flaws. It is not a shutout. One Bronx councilmember has dissented,
criticizing the new ballpark because it will snatch 22 acres of
parkland from the green-starved South Bronx with too little in
return. But this was expected. A Brooklyn councilman has also voted
no, denouncing George Steinbrenner, principal owner of baseball's
wealthiest club, for rampant greed. But the councilman is a
renegade, a member of no one's team, and this, too, was expected.
The committee hearing is a warm-up for the vote an hour later by the
full council. The tally there is a lopsided 45-2. The Yankees win.
The Yankees win.
Stanley Schlein walks quickly from the hearing room, his
BlackBerry to his ear. He is speaking in a low voice to Yankees
president Randy Levine, the Giuliani-era deputy mayor who hired
Schlein at $450 an hour to help guide the team to this moment.
Standing in the City Hall rotunda, the cell phone still glued to his
cheek, Schlein accepts congratulations from council aides, other
He is 58 years old, handsome with thinning brown hair and hooded
eyes that have been watching power traded in this building as long
as anyone. His first lessons came years ago from the Bronx's wily
Democratic Party boss, a man named Pat Cunningham, who also served
as a Steinbrenner counselor. When Cunningham went to prison, Schlein
worked just as hard for the new party chief, a goateed cigar chomper
named Stanley Friedman. Schlein carried out the laborious
election-law chores, maneuvering allies onto the ballot, knocking
foes off of it.
He held City Hall jobs as well, first as a top adviser to the
council's leader, then as an aide to Mayor Ed Koch, who named him to
an obscure patronage-filled body called the Civil Service
Commission. Schlein has remained on the panel ever since,
reappointed by Democrats and Republicans alike. When Friedman was
later convicted of bribery and racketeering, Schlein suddenly was
the last man standing, the party's political bulwark. As such, he
helped to school a new generation of leaders who came out of the
borough's now dominant Puerto Rican political clubs.
The current Bronx Democratic Party chairman, Assemblyman Josï¿½
Rivera, stands in the rotunda a few feet away from Schlein. Rivera
wears a grizzled white beard and a baseball cap, and carries his
ever present video camera, with which he obsessively records every
event. His title is not to be confused with decision-making power.
Rivera's key contribution here is his progeny. His 26-year-old son,
Joel Rivera, is the council's majority leader and the chief of the
borough's delegation pushing for the Yankees' plan. But Schlein is
clearly the shepherd. He has guided Bronx Democrats to an
arrangement with Steinbrenner's team under which the lost parkland
will be replaced with new open space and public ball fields, albeit
constructed with synthetic turf atop new parking garages.
The local community board hated the scheme, voting 2-to-1 against
it, citing high asthma rates and increased traffic. But their vote
doesn't count. More important to sealing the deal is a commitment by
the Yankees to supply $800,000 a year in grants that Bronx pols can
dispense at will. Also included are thousands of free game tickets,
as good as cash in New York. This is the deal Schlein has
successfully packaged and sold.
That he is on both sides of the negotiation by virtue of his
power within the Bronx Democratic Party and his Yankees lobbying
retainer is a problem only for ethics watchdogs and spoilsports.
"It's as though he sat in a room alone and negotiated with himself,"
remarked one dissident Bronx Democrat, one of many who have long
marveled at Schlein's staying power.
Even those who look askance at the wheeler-dealer's behavior have
long acknowledged his rascally charm. "Did I hear the word
'indictment'?" he said with wide eyes and a broad grin as he
approached a group of reporters chatting in a City Hall corridor a
few weeks ago. He has always been a good quote, a patient and
courteous handler of an often ill-informed media. He has a tendency
to speak in the staccato cadences of another of his mentors, former
Liberal Party boss Raymond Harding, who helped keep Schlein in the
fold during the Giuliani years and won him a midnight reappointment
to his Civil Service Commission post in Giuliani's last week in
He doesn't lack for fans. Former Bronx borough president Fernando
Ferrer, who used Schlein's legal talents for his mayoral campaigns
and even the real estate closing on his home, calls him "a lawyer of
extraordinary skill. He is a careful guy. An ethical guy."
But that talent and charisma have had zero effect on some of
those who have encountered him in his role as a court-appointed
guardian for those unable to care for themselves. His charm has been
lost on the families of an injured Bronx construction worker, an
ailing elderly Manhattan woman, and an aging Irish domestic servant,
all of whom depended on Schlein to guard the well-being of their
loved ones. If he attended to every little detail for his Yankee
employers with a hawk-like intensity, he has been deaf to these
A few weeks before he guided the Yankees to their victory
at City Hall, some of those complaints, many of them years old,
finally caught up with Schlein. They came in the form of a brief
letter from Ann T. Pfau, one of the state's top administrative
judges. The February 22 letter informed Schlein that he was being
removed from the list of those qualified to serve as court-appointed
fiduciariesï¿½those named by the court to handle large sums of other
people's money and oversee their property.
Such appointments are the stock-in-trade of every political
organization. They are part of the portfolio of perks, patronage
slots, and handsome lobbying fees that come with a strong party and
the successful exercise of power. Judges, elevated to the bench with
the party's approval, routinely name attorneys with clubhouse ties
to serve as guardians, receivers, or referees. Many of the
appointments are on behalf of the elderly or the infirm, those who
have become incapacitated for one reason or another and are deemed
no longer capable of managing their own affairs. The positions are
highly prized because they usually offer a light workload and a
virtually guaranteed payday that can range from a few hundred
dollars to many thousands for each case.
As befitting his years of service to the Bronx Democrats, Schlein
has long been a key recipient of appointments from judges who come
out of the borough's political machine. Since 2000 he has received
some $125,000 in fees. But that gravy train came to an abrupt halt
with Pfau's letter. While offering no specifics, the judge cited his
mishandling of property in two cases, that of a Bronx construction
worker named Vincent Robinson, who lapsed into a coma after a
construction accident, and an elderly Manhattan woman named Sylvia
Friedland, who was institutionalized due to dementia.
"Accordingly, you will be removed from the list of qualified
applicants by the Court as of the date of this letter," Pfau wrote.
Schlein refused to comment publicly about his handling of either
case, or several others where complaints were lodged about his
performance. "I am not going to talk about client matters," he told
the Voice repeatedly during three lengthy talks conducted
from his cell phone. "It's just not appropriate."
There had been occasions, he acknowledged, when he had failed to
file required documents in a timely manner. "Mea culpa. I
apologize," he said. "I take responsibility for that." But aside
from those occasional lapses, he insisted that his wards had always
received the appropriate care and attention. Moreover, he said that
his attorney who represented him on the investigation had been told
that if he chose, he could apply for reinstatement. Yet he had
decided not to do so. "I said it is not worth it to me. I don't make
a living out of this thing. It is not the core of my profession. I
don't need the aggravation."
His real problem, he suggested, was a heightened sensitivity
among judicial overseers to suggestions of political influence in
the courts. "I know the county I come from," he said. "Other people
may have conducted themselves differently. As for me, I have done
everything I can to be a person of honor and ethics."
The family of Vincent Robinson, however, was
unconvinced. Stanley Schlein entered their lives in 1998,
eight years after an electric saw Robinson was using on a roofing
job severed the femoral artery in his leg, causing massive blood
loss and ensuing brain damage. Robinson's family received $2.4
million from a civil lawsuit. The family went to court to ask that a
guardianship be created to allow them to make decisions about his
finances. A Bronx Supreme Court judge named Anne Targum, who came
out of the Bronx Democratic organization, appointed Schlein as an
"evaluator" to determine if a guardian was warranted. When Schlein
reported back that a guardian was indeed necessary, the judge
promptly named Schlein to that post as well, allowing him to fully
oversee Robinson's property and finances. It was one of 16 such
appointments that Targum, who left the bench last year, gave to
Schlein in the past decade.
Robinson's wife and adult children objected. Through their
attorney, Brian Heitner, the family insisted that they were capable,
with the help of professional advisers they would enlist, of
handling the finances themselves. One of the things the family said
they wanted to do was to build a new home that would accommodate
Vincent Robinson so that they could take him out of the nursing home
where he had been kept since the accident. There, he would be cared
for by his wife, Esther, a nurse who had spent the prior seven years
commuting daily to the Westchester facility to care for her
husband's personal needs.
The judge, a transcript of that May 1998 session shows, adamantly
opposed the idea. "We have this all the time, where the family seeks
to invade the incapacitated person's funds and benefit themselves. I
would never allow that, sir," said Targum.
Heitner, the family's attorney, said that the judge was
"misconstruing" their intentions and pointed out that Vincent's
daughter, Veronica, had been handling her father's finances since
the accident, and that his son, Patrick, was a college graduate who
would help as well.
The judge responded that the earlier finances had been "minimal.
Now you're dealing with millions of dollars." The new assets, the
judge said, "should be handled very professionally." The Robinsons
"are not versed in property management," she said, "and have no
possible background in that particular field." On the other hand,
the judge said she was "fully satisfied with Mr. Schlein's
competency, his conduct and everything else."
A few weeks after Schlein's appointment, the Robinsons and their
attorney complained to the judge that they could never get in touch
with Schlein and that he was refusing to return their messages. The
family then moved in court to appeal the appointment. Two years
later, a five-judge panel on the appellate division unanimously
agreed, ordering that Schlein be removed, and that Robinson's
daughter and son replace him. The judges ruled that there was "no
evidence" that Schlein, "other than through his status as an
attorney, was any better suited to manage large sums of money than a
But the Robinsons had already learned that the hard way. Despite
repeated warnings, Schlein had somehow allowed a Florida condominium
that had been bought by Vincent Robinson for $72,500 to be sold at a
foreclosure action by a bank that held a mortgage on it. In a motion
to Judge Targum objecting to fees being demanded by Schlein, Heitner
said that his firm had served notice frequently over several months
on Schlein about the pending foreclosure, to no avail.
Nor was the condo foreclosure the only problem, the family said.
Because they hadn't been able to reach the guardian, they'd also
been unable to obtain the necessary funds to buy clothes for Vincent
Robinson, pay for a personal-care assistant to help him at the
nursing home, and even to make payment for a wheelchair they'd
sought to buy.
Schlein termed those charges "ludicrous" in a blast back in his
own court filings, in which he insisted no one had ever told him
that a wheelchair was needed. He also accused the family of having
purposely abandoned the condo in order to "blame me for the loss,"
as he wrote. He then went on to seek court approval to pay himself
$35,000 in fees from Vincent Robinson's holdings for the work he
said he had done on the matter.
There were others from the Bronx Democratic organization with
their hands out as well. Schlein also asked the judge to approve
$4,750 for his friend Gerald Sheiowitz, the treasurer of the Bronx
Democratic Party, who had served as Schlein's accountant and
attorney in the matter. In addition, he sought $5,000 to pay Flora
Edwards, another attorney friend who is a former law partner of a
top Bronx Democrat now a judge. Edwards's role, Schlein said, had
been to review the appeals motions made by the family seeking his
removal as guardian. In effect, he wanted the family to pay the
court costs even though they'd won the case.
Finally, Schlein also presented a bill for $4,500 for the
services of a lawyer named Alberto Torres, at the time a law partner
of then Bronx Democratic boss Roberto Ramirez. Torres's role had
been to examine the objections raised by the family concerning
Schlein's conduct. Torres punted on that question, never offering
his own opinion on Schlein's performance. But he did note in his own
filing that, under one interpretation of the statutes governing
guardian compensation, Schlein could be entitled to $10,000 more
than he'd requested.
Ultimately, the Robinsons decided to drop their objections.
Schlein and the other Democratic lawyers all got what they sought.
"When push came to shove, the family decided they just wanted to put
it all behind them and get Schlein out of their lives," said
Heitner. A few months later, in September 2001, Vincent Robinson
died. He was 68.
The Robinson family's problems with Stanley Schlein would
likely have been buried forever in a Bronx court file if not for a
feisty freelance magazine editor named Lisa Goldstein, who waged her
own dogged pro se battle against Schlein after her 90-year-old aunt,
Sylvia Friedland, became institutionalized and unable to handle her
Here, too, the incapacitated person, as they are called in
guardianship-speak, was loaded. Friedland had about $2.5 million in
cash, stocks, and bonds when Schlein was named by Judge Lucindo
Suarez, a Bronx Democrat then sitting on a Manhattan bench. It was
one of six times Suarez chose Schlein to handle cases.
Because Lisa Goldstein insisted she wanted to share the
responsibilities for her aunt's care, Suarez allowed her to be
Schlein's co-guardian. To qualify, Goldstein took a required course
in court fiduciary procedures.
But the joint arrangement quickly fell apart amid mutual nasty
accusations. In a series of letters to the court and various
disciplinary panels, Goldstein complained that after she and Schlein
were appointed, she was unable to get in touch with him for months
at a time. She said that she had had to compile the court-required
filings on her own, with no help from Schlein.
"Mr. Schlein just didn't seem to have the time for the
guardianship," Goldstein said at a hearing last year on the matter.
"Any number of times, I called him, paged him, tried him at his
office." She had even asked the judge's clerk to track him down for
"I was always available, your honor," Schlein responded.
But Goldstein pointed out that there had been real consequences
from the communications gap. Her aunt, already advancing into
senility, had failed to file taxes for the two years prior to the
guardianship. Interest and penalties were piling up. Goldstein said
that she appealed to Schlein for help in getting the taxes
up-to-date, but that he was unconcerned. Goldstein wrote to the
appellate court disciplinary panel that Schlein had told her that
"he felt no compulsion" to file new tax returns since her aunt was
already behind in prior years and the interest could be waived. She
said that Schlein insisted a special accountant, his friend Gerald
Sheiowitz, the Democratic Party treasurer, would be recruited to
handle the task. But when Schlein made no move to prepare the
filings, Goldstein hired her own accountant.
Goldstein said that she had also entrusted Schlein with some
$500,000 in expired stock and bond certificates that her aunt had
held in a safety deposit box. The certificates were out of date,
either no longer earning dividends or in need of exchange for new
forms. Goldstein said that Schlein insisted he would handle the
task. But as Schlein acknowledged in the court hearing, his only
effort was to call an acquaintance at the state comptroller's office
to ask how the expired bonds should be handled. In the meantime, a
half-dozen corporations sent her aunt's stock holdings to state
offices as abandoned property.
An exasperated Goldstein finally got Schlein to return the
certificates so that she could handle the matter. She said Schlein,
whose law practice is conducted from his cell phone and his home on
City Island, had her pick up the documents from an office manager at
the Civil Service Commission's offices in the Municipal Building.
There, she said, she sat patiently with the clerk while they went
over a list of serial numbers to make sure she had them all.
Schlein scoffed at that account, in- sisting that he had never
used the city offices for his private work. But others dispute that.
The commission's former general counsel, a Bronx woman named Willena
Nanton, said that she and others were often asked to assist Schlein
with his own legal chores. "I remember that there was a niece of a
woman for whom Stanley was the guardian and that she had complained
about him," Nanton told the Voice. "He had the office manager
xerox all the stocks for her and then meet with her there."
Nanton, who worked at the commission for seven years, shouldn't
be believed, Schlein said, since she is currently suing him and the
commission in federal court for racial discrimination in her
termination from her post. But two other people who used to work at
the commission and are not involved in the lawsuit also said that
Schlein used the office and its assistants for private tasks,
ranging from filing motions in election law cases to meeting with
"It's absolutely not true," Schlein responded. "I do civil
service work there, not business. If I ever met a client there it
was to go out to lunch."
He said that in Goldstein's case, her animus against him had been
sparked because she coveted her aunt's fortune. "Ms. Goldstein's
only concern," he wrote in an oddly worded letter to the court
disciplinary panel, "was preserving estate assets to the detriment
of her aunt. My dwarfing her efforts exposed me to her ire." He
added that he had intended to seek Goldstein's removal as a co-
guardian but that, "sadly, Sylvia Friedland died shortly thereafter,
rendering any motion I may have had to remove her moot."
A few days after Schlein leveled those charges in his letter,
Goldstein fired back a response, saying that she had never
considered herself her aunt's potential beneficiary, since her
father was still living. Schlein's accusations, she wrote, were "a
fruitless attempt to deflect attention from his own inaction as a
Goldstein also decided to find out if other people had run into
similar problems with the attorney. She went to the Bronx Supreme
Court clerk's offices and read through all the files where Schlein
had been appointed as guardian. She found four cases where family
members had complained to the appointing judge about Schlein,
including the Robinsons'. Goldstein then sent letters to several
authorities asking for an investigation. Among those she wrote to,
she said, were Judge John Buckley, the presiding appellate justice
in Manhattan and the Bronx; state chief judge Judith Kaye; the
Commission on Judicial Conduct; and the attorneys' disciplinary
Eventually she wrote directly to the inspector general for the
state's court system. It was an investigation by that office that
resulted in Schlein's removal last February.
Up on Gun Hill Road, on the other side of the Bronx from
where the Yankees will soon start building their new temple, resides
another of Stanley Schlein's wards. Mary E. Johnson, 87, resides in
Kings Harbor Multicare Center, and according to her closest friend
from childhood she is happy and well cared for, even though she has
been largely unaware of her surroundings since 1997, when she
fainted at her residence in Manhattan and was found to be suffering
An immigrant from County Kerry in Ireland, Johnson came to
America as a young woman and worked as a domestic servant for
wealthy families. An ardent Catholic, she was a member of the Blue
Army of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an organization of laypeople
devoted to promoting Christian values. She never married, but she
kept close to her few friends and saw her family when they visited
from the other side. Her needs were few and she had a substantial
sum, about $400,000 in savings, when she was admitted to the nursing
The original plan of Johnson's three nephews in Ireland and a
niece who lives in Florida was to have their aunt relocated back to
the old country, to live in a comfortable seniors' residence near
her family. But while she was uncertain about many things, Johnson
expressed herself clearly in her desire to stay in New York. "She
considers herself a New Yorker now," said one of the attorneys who
The matter of her guardianship landed in the court of Judge Anne
Targum, the same judge who handled the Robinson case. An attorney
representing the family, Elaine Harrison, suggested that one of the
nephews was willing to make regular visits from Ireland and could
serve as guardian. But when Targum said she couldn't appoint someone
who lived outside the country, the family offered no strong
The one specific request attorney Harrison made of
Schleinï¿½memorialized in a December 19, 1997, letter to the
judgeï¿½was that he use Johnson's finances to pay for car service so
that Johnson's oldest and sole surviving friend in America, a woman
named Catherine O'Neill, could visit from her home on Webster Avenue
in the north Bronx. Harrison even asked that such a provision be
included in the judge's order. "It will be very beneficial for Ms.
Johnson," she wrote, "if her friend is able to visit her regularly."
But as in the Robinson and Friedland cases, friends and family
reported problems soon after Schlein's appointment. Catherine
O'Neill, who grew up with Johnson in County Kerry, wrote Judge
Targum in the fall of 1998 to state that "Stanley K. Schlein has not
performed his duty." No one can reach him, she said, "and many of
the things that Miss Johnson needs are being neglected, for example
warm clothes." In addition, she said that she had never heard from
Schlein about the cab fare. Winter was approaching, she said, and
"being that I am 74 years old I fear walking the 18 blocks round
trip to the nursing home from the closest bus stop in the ice and
snow. Please do not deny Mary the only person in this world she
recognizes, and that visits her on a weekly basis."
Catherine Vitanyi, Johnson's niece in Florida, also wrote to the
judge that she had tried repeatedly but failed to get in contact
with Schlein in order to arrange a meeting with nursing home staff
when she visited her aunt. "As far as I know, none of the family has
had any communication from him," she wrote. "The social worker at
Kings Harbor also said that they have not met him nor has he met
Harrison, the family attorney, also wrote Judge Targum about the
matter. Harrison said the staff from Kings Harbor had called her
recently seeking permission to buy Johnson some winter clothes.
"When I suggested that they contact Mr. Schlein, I was informed that
the home was unable to reach him by phone because there is no
answering machine. Thus, the only way to reach Mr. Schlein is by
letter." She also reminded the judge about the order requiring that
Catherine O'Neill's car fare be provided. "I doubt that this has
been done," she stated.
Harrison's letter, which sits in the court file of the Matter of
Mary E. Johnson, is accompanied by two unsigned, handwritten notes
by court staff. Both suggest that Schlein was treated with deference
in the judge's chambers. One reads: "On November 13, I spoke w/
Stanley. He stated that he gave her his pager and telephone . He
will go to nursing home. I told him that I would call Ms. Harrison
and tell her to 'cc' him if she is going to write letters about
him." A second note appended to the letter, dated November 16, 1998,
states: "I spoke w/ Elaine Harrison. I told her to page Mr. Schlein
if she needed to speak w/ him and to write to him if she had
anything to say to him."
According to rules governing court-appointed guardians, Schlein
is obligated to visit his wards at least four times a year, and to
file annual accounts of their finances. But records show that
Schlein made no such filings for Johnson until 2002, five years
after his appointment. He then submitted so-called "annual inventory
and account" filings for years 1998 through 2001. For this, Schlein
requested and received a total of $16,358 from Johnson's holdings.
There were no further filings until late 2005 and early this year
when Schlein submitted more late reports covering the years 2002,
2003, and 2004. He sought and received permission, this time from
Judge Bertram Katz, who took over the case after Targum stepped
down, to receive $12,655 for the work. To assist him with the
filings, he retained Hillary Sheiowitz, the daughter of Gerald
Sheiowitz, who worked with Schlein on the Robinson and Friedland
Like her father, Hillary Sheiowitz is also active in the Bronx
Democratic Party, serving as treasurer of Bronx Young Democrats, as
well as other political committees. She was awarded $2,250 for
assisting Schlein. There was one more legal layer applied to
Johnson's finances. An independent court-appointed attorney received
$2,955 for examining the accountings to make sure they were properly
The Mary E. Johnson case was not one of those cited by Judge Pfau
in removing Schlein from court-appointment eligibility. But despite
the close scrutiny it was supposed to have already received, a
review of Johnson's file suggests there are a few important
questions that could be raised.
Back when Harrison, the family's attorney, was involved with Mary
Johnson's case, she had written to the state comptroller's office of
unclaimed funds to see if any of Johnson's assets had gone astray.
She received a letter back listing several accounts and stocks that
appeared to belong to Mary Johnson. One of the accounts was with
Republic National Bank of New York and was supposed to contain about
$38,000. Harrison then forwarded the state comptroller's letter to
Judge Targum with a note suggesting that the new guardian should
seek to obtain the funds, a practice known in the field as
"marshaling the assets."
But Schlein never acquired the accounts. Instead, state
comptroller records show that the office sent a July 2001 letter to
Schlein's City Island home address stating that since it had not
heard from him in over a year it was rendering Johnson's request
file "inactive." The state representative then provided instructions
to be followed if Schlein decided to "re-establish" his claim.
A spokesman for State Comptroller Alan Hevesi said last week that
the funds were still being held as unclaimed property.
Asked about the matter, Schlein said his recollection was that he
had been told that there were no assets to be claimed.
But the slipshod handling of the finances isn't the only question
raised by the filings. After Schlein took charge of Johnson's funds,
he merged most of her money into a large savings account at Doral
Bank of New York that currently holds more than $240,000. Yet
records show that the funds are barely earning any interest. In
2003, the Doral account earned just over $2,200ï¿½about 1 percent.
In 2004, the account brought in just $1,200, about 0.5 percent. The
bank's rate listings show that its highest deposit rate is 4.6
percent for a three-year CD. Its lowest is 0.5 percent. That's for
its Christmas and vacation clubs.
Schlein, maintaining that it would be improper to discuss his
client's affairs, suggested that he had deliberately kept the
earnings on the account low because Johnson faced the likelihood
that her assets would be taken in a Medicaid repayment action. He
declined to provide specifics, and his filings contain no reference
to a potential Medicaid problem.
But Doral, a Puerto Ricoï¿½based bank, appears in Schlein's own
personal financial disclosure statements, which he is required to
file with the city's Conflicts of Interest Board. Those records show
that Schlein holds 22,500 shares of stock in Doral Financial
Corporation. In 2004, he listed the stock as worth more than
$500,000 and indicated that he earned more than $30,000 in dividends
Did he know Doral officials?
"I did a litigation and a lease for them," he said. "About
$35,000 worth of legal work. And I bought their stock. They are the
largest bank in the Caribbean. They are a growing bank here in New
York, and I think they are a good bank that services the community.
The financial investments are appropriate."
As for his elderly ward Mary Johnson, Schlein insisted he had
visited her "periodically"ï¿½as required under guardianship
regulations. He said he hadn't heard from any of the relatives or
from Catherine O'Neill, Johnson's friend, but he denied that anyone
had had trouble contacting him. "I am never missing in action," he
told the Voice. "You know that."
In Florida, Catherine Vitanyi, whose mother was Johnson's sister,
said last week that she had been able to make just that one trip
north back in 1998 to visit her aged aunt, a circumstance she
regretted. "The last thing my mother said was 'Take care of Mary.'
And I am in this situation where this man doesn't even want to talk
to anyone, so it makes it kind of difficult. He wouldn't cooperate
to even send a Christmas card. Easter, I have always sent a plant to
her. I have never gotten any acknowledgment back. I asked Mrs.
O'Neill one time about a poinsettia plant I sent. She said there was
Officials at the nursing home said they were not allowed, under
federal privacy rules, to comment on whether or not Schlein has been
to see his ward, Mary Johnson. Catherine O'Neill, however, said
she's never met him.
"I visit Mary all the time. I can't tell you anything about him.
I never heard from him. I never saw him." She said her visits had
been interrupted last fall when she underwent a hip replacement.
"But I do keep in touch with the social worker there."
Up until the operation, she said, she had made all of her visits
to the facility on the bus, walking the 18 blocks back and forth
from the bus stop because the promised car service money had never
been provided. "I take the bus," she said. "The cab fare they don't
give at the nursing home, and I can't afford it."