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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Mother's Keeper: A weird, sad family drama only gets sadder, weirder

Posted By on Thu, Oct 4, 2007 at 2:51 PM

Last week, Scene brought you the story of Joan Hall, a mentally ill mother of two who was convicted of shoplifting more than $1 million dollars in an elaborate buy-and-return scheme that crossed 28 state lines ("Mother's Keeper," Oct. 1). Daughter Lisa Hall, who’d spent her life caring for her mother, and who’s name was mixed up in her mother’s financial records, was offered leniency if she testified against Joan. Lisa refused and was indicted on eight counts of theft and conspiracy to commit fraud. She was later convicted of theft and money laundering -- with help from the testimony of her brother Brad Hall, who claimed that he had personal knowledge of Lisa’s thievery. Family friends were flummoxed as to why Brad, of all people, would turn all Benedict Arnold on his sister. He’d admitted in testimony and on paper that Lisa was the only stable support in his life. The answer might well be money. ... Last May, Brad, who dropped out of law school and is currently jobless, filed suit against Lisa for fraud. He’s trying to gain possession of his mother’s Westlake home. In 1994, when Brad and Lisa were still in good standing, each drew up documents granting them the right to act on one another’s behalf -- to sign legal documents for the other, to take control of their financial and wellness concerns. “I wanted Brad to be the person to take charge … in the event that something happened,” Lisa said. In 2001, they updated these documents, according to court records. But in the mid-2000s, Brad wasn’t doing well. He dropped out of school, and was living in a Seattle apartment that looked like a landfill, according Brad’s sister and his former best friend, Damon Ansell. Concerned, Lisa arranged a drug intervention that ultimately failed. The two became estranged. Joan, who’d previously had papers drawn up making Brad the heir to her Westlake home, became concerned. “After the failed intervention, she became more and more concerned about her house and it being at risk given the change in Brad’s behavior,” Lisa testified, as well as “the fact that she had received several calls from creditors asking after Brad.” So, in order to protect both Brad and the house, Joan asked Lisa to draw up papers transferring ownership of the house from Brad to Lisa . As Brad’s power of attorney, Lisa says, she was legally allowed to do so. Not true, claims Brad. He is now suing Lisa to get control back of the house, claiming in the lawsuit that his Power of Attorney form had been forged. And even if it hadn’t been forged, he claims Lisa had not acted in her brother’s best interest. We're no legal experts, but you might say Brad has the advantage here, what with everyone else in jail and whatnot. -- Rebecca Meiser

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