Checks & Imbalances

How the state's leading private fiduciary helped herself to the funds of the helpless

But, cautions attorney Alisa Gray, "Without excusing anything that Nancy may have done, I'm concerned that if there's an overreaction to her situation at Probate Court or at the Legislature, that we could see matters like these driven underground. With the use of non-court-supervised people, or people who just have powers of attorney, you have no oversight at all, no bonding. Nine times out of 10, the victims are just out of luck."

Josephine Jellie and her husband moved to Sun City in the 1970s, after selling their costume jewelry shop in their native Kansas. They had no children. Her husband's death in the early 1990s left her an estate worth about $500,000. Jellie's only immediate surviving family member was a brother who lived in California.

Greg Maruda is one of many of Elliston's alleged victims.
Paolo Vescia
Greg Maruda is one of many of Elliston's alleged victims.

Like Norah Brinkerhoff, Jellie's plight came to the Probate Court's attention when someone told authorities that a caregiver seemed to be spending too much of her money. The court asked Elliston to take over as Jellie's guardian/conservator in March 1993.

And, again, Elliston breached her fiduciary duty -- putting it politely -- by stealing at least $14,500 from Jellie's estate in a period from November 1997 until March 1998. That didn't stop Elliston in August 1998 from asking a commissioner to allow her to reimburse herself for a few things.

From the Probate Court files:

"Food -- $11.76."

"A doll -- $33.36."

The commissioner had no reason to deny Elliston's request.

Josephine Jellie died in March 1999.

Read Paul Rubin's related story "As Helpless As Children," from September 8, 1993.

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help
Phoenix Concert Tickets