Margarita Zelada’s visit to Monterey County, California became a nightmare of civil rights violations and lack of due process. In March 2013, the San Francisco resident was with her daughter Patricia Conklin in Pacific Grove. Witnesses say ten police officers stormed the home, guns drawn and leveled at Patricia. The officers did not have a warrant.
Neighbor and friend Tara Robinson, LVN, said the officers rolled Margarita in a sheet, strapped her to a gurney, and carried her to an ambulance waiting outside. According to the nurse, Margarita was screaming, “Let me go” and “Put me down.”
Tara said Margarita’s screams were the most horrible sounds she had ever heard. The nurse had nightmares for several nights after the siege.
Deputy Public Guardian Jennifer Empasis petitioned for conservatorship of Margarita and her $1.5M estate. Under California law, a proposed conservatee has the right to be informed about the proceedings, has the right to object to the conservatorship, and has the right to demand a jury trial. Family said Empasis told Margarita, a Peruvian emigrant, that the hearing was for immigration.
Empasis unlawfully confined and isolated Margarita in long-term care at Senior Paradise in Del Rey Oaks. Administrator Margaret Eldred Camara keeps doors locked and denies visitors. Camara told advocates that Empasis instructed the facility to call the police if anyone asked to visit Margarita.
Licensing regulations require residential care facilities in California to honor a resident’s personal rights as stated in Title 22. Those rights include:
(6) To leave or depart the facility at any time and to not be locked into any room, building, or on facility premises by day or night.
(11) To have his/her visitors, including ombudspersons and advocacy representatives permitted to visit privately during reasonable hours and without prior notice, provided that the rights of other residents are not infringed upon.
The Notice of Conservatee’s Rights states Margarita’s personal rights as a conservatee of the California court.
Receive visits from family and friends
Margarita’s $750K home in San Francisco currently sits vacant. Empasis changed the locks to prevent family entering the home and retrieving personal property.
Empasis pays $7K/month from Margarita’s estate for Senior Paradise to imprison Margarita. Monterey County also charges Margarita’s estate for the services of the Public Guardian.
Seven months after her night of terror in Pacific Grove, Margarita was finally allowed a one-hour supervised visit with her daughter. Senior Paradise transported Margarita to a nearby Starbucks to see Patricia.
The elderly Peruvian was unsteady on her feet. She appeared frightened and bewildered. Patricia said she believed Margarita may have been drugged.
Margarita’s teeth, dental implants, were gone. She spoke in whispers so the guards sent by the Public Guardian would not hear her words to her daughter.
Margarita clung to her daughter and sobbed. She asked over and over where Patricia had been. The guards intervened when Patricia tried to answer her mom’s questions.
Margarita told Patricia that she “volunteers” as a care aide for other old people and changing sheets on their beds. Margarita said she was unhappy that she has to work without being paid for her labor.
Margarita was very clear in her wish to be free from the Public Guardian and Senior Paradise.
The most important thing for any person is their liberty. I want my liberty. I am in prison.
Margarita also pleaded for companionship.
Please come see me. It would make me so happy to have visitors, and I would love to talk to you. Please come to visit with me.
Moments later, Senior Paradise Administrator Camara arrived to take Margarita from her daughter. This Examiner asked Camara if she would now honor Margarita’s right to visitation at Senior Paradise. Camara replied, “I’m not going to get into this with you.” Margarita was taken back in her prison.