80°F
weather icon Clear

Ex-guardian pleads guilty to exploitation, theft

As a guardian, April Parks once controlled hundreds of Southern Nevada’s most vulnerable people.

As an inmate, she pleaded guilty Monday, Nov. 5, to exploitation, theft and perjury charges. The hearing came more than a year after she was first indicted for swindling many of the elderly and infirm in her care.

In court, she only spoke when agreeing to the terms of her Alford plea — a type of guilty plea that requires a defendant to admit only that prosecutors could prove their case. She shuffled her once bright red hair — now gray — in front of her face, shielding herself from the handful of victim families who came as witnesses.

Parks, now 53, was one of the most active private professional guardians in the region. She often acted as the surrogate decision maker for 50 to 100 elderly and mentally incapacitated people, called wards, at a given time. As guardian, she had full control of their finances, estates and even medical decisions.

Her business, A Private Professional Guardian LLC, was based in Boulder City.

She originally faced more than 200 felony counts. On Monday, she pleaded guilty to six: three counts of exploitation, two counts of theft and one count of perjury.

But she still faces a maximum prison sentence of 84 years. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 4.

Parks appeared in court Monday with three co-defendants, who also entered Alford pleas.

“They’re pathetic!” one of Parks’ former wards, Rudy North, yelled in court after the pleas were entered.

Under Parks’ care, North and his wife were taken from their home and put into an assisted living facility in Boulder City. Parks sold nearly all their possessions shortly after moving the couple, North has said.

“I want you to put that in,” North continued in court. “They’re pathetic!”

The man was escorted out of the courtroom. Parks did not look at him.

“Today’s pleas resolve the most significant guardianship exploitation case in Nevada’s history,” Attorney General Adam Laxalt said in a statement Monday.

Throughout the hearing, District Attorney Steve Wolfson sat in a back row of the gallery, silently observing.

“Guardians have a duty to protect their wards, not steal from them and destroy their lives,” Wolfson later said in a statement. “These individuals violated their duty and they will be punished for their crimes.”

In her amended indictment, Parks in accused of exploiting Jerome and Beverley Flaherty out of more than $708,000. Another has her exploiting about 40 others out of nearly $418,000.

Parks’ attorney, Anthony Goldstein, declined to comment after the hearing.

The three other people who entered Alford pleas were Parks’ business partner, Mark Simmons; her husband, Gary Neal Taylor; and her former attorney, Noel Simpson Palmer.

Simmons entered pleas to two counts of exploitation, one count of theft and one count of perjury. Taylor and Simpson Palmer each entered a plea to one count of exploitation. One of Simpson Palmer’s cases was dismissed.

Simmons faces a maximum prison sentence of 54 years. Taylor’s plea agreement recommends a sentence of 24-60 months in prison. Simpson Palmer will receive the recommendation of probation in exchange her cooperation.

Parks, Simmons and Taylor have been in the Clark County Detention Center since their arrest in March 2017.

“This is not judicial process,” North’s daughter, Julie Belshe, said as she walked out of court.

Belshe now works as a guardianship reform advocate. She said the past five years fighting for her parents, who now live with her, have been trying.

“This isn’t justice,” she said after the hearing, standing next to her father. “It’s a slap on the wrist. What kind of message is this sending?”

Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3801. Follow @rachelacrosby on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Schools report smooth return

Parents can finally exhale after a long summer of kids in the house as school is back in session in Boulder City. On Monday, Aug. 8, all four schools in town welcomed back students for the 2022-23 school year in an orderly fashion without any mishaps.

Council OKs plan to remove turf

Water was once again the main focus for City Council. At its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 9, an agreement with the Southern Nevada Water Association that will remove turf in Boulder City to save on water was approved 4-0 by the council.

Council gets first look at Nevada Way remodel

The Boulder City Council was introduced to a project that will remodel and rehabilitate the stretch of Nevada Way from Wyoming to Park streets during its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 9.

More human remains found at Lake Mead

More human remains have been found at Lake Mead, according to officials at the national recreation area.

Fire department targets sites to improve response times

Two locations are being targeted for a new Boulder City Fire substation that the City Council approved last month to help the department improve response time to emergencies. The proposed new fire station, labeled Station 122, is looking at sites at Quartzite Road and Nevada Way as well as near the library at 701 Adams Boulevard. The city owns land in both locations.

Ex-manager sues city; claims retaliation

Former City Manager Al Noyola filed a lawsuit against the city Friday, July 29, alleging that his civil rights were violated when he was fired Oct. 13, 2020.

School begins Monday

School is almost back in session for the quartet of schools in Boulder City.

Storms cause minor damage

Monsoon season brought damage to Boulder City as the town was hit with a collection of storms last week. Luckily, the city was able to handle the storms in an efficient manner, according to officials, who dealt with the typical gravel and rock erosion, power outages and roof leaks.

Lend A Hand awarded $101K from state

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Nevada has awarded $30 million in Community Recovery Grants to nonprofit organizations including Lend A Hand of Boulder City. The local organization was one of the 30-plus applicants that received money funded by American Rescue Act Plan dollars.

Drought drives tough talks to cut water use

Nevada and two of its neighboring Southwestern states are still working on ways to drastically cut water use from the Colorado River as a deadline set by the federal government to address the worsening conditions along the river quickly approaches.