The Detroit News

Court pulls chief judge

Judge removed from top spot on Macomb probate bench amid allegation­s over guardiansh­ip cases.

- By George Hunter

MOUNT CLEMENS — The Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday removed Kathryn George as Macomb County’s chief probate judge months after the high court appointed her.

Retired Macomb Probate and Circuit Judge Kenneth Sanborn will take over as acting chief judge following the unanimous vote by the state’s high court. One of Sanborn’s duties will be to look into allegation­s that George, who remains on the bench, appointed an inordinate number of cases to Shelby Township-based ADDMS Guardiansh­ip Services.

“One of my primary functions will be to look into that issue,” Sanborn said Wednesday. He said he expects that to take several months.

A recent audit by the Whall Group, an Auburn Hills fraud investigat­ion firm, found “flagrant violations of both law and practice” by ADDMS. The audit uncovered several cases where the conservato­r and guardiansh­ip agency mishandled the estates of people it was charged to care for, including one case where the agency sold a man’s classic cars, furniture and other possession­s without his consent.

The audit was commission­ed at the request of state Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver and Macomb Probate Judge Pamela Gilbert O’Sullivan, the court’s former chief judge, after questions arose about George’s ADDMS appointmen­ts.

The court’s policy calls for its two judges to appoint guardians and conservato­rs from a list of agencies on a rotating basis, but a Detroit News report in November found that George sent far more cases to ADDMS than to the other agencies.

The News also reported complaints from families who say ADDMS over-billed them or mismanaged their relatives’ assets.

“The damage that has occurred to the vulnerable Macomb County citizens needing guardian and conservato­r services … must cease, and those responsibl­e must be held accountabl­e,” Weaver wrote Wednesday in a concurring opinion to the court’s decision. “With the removal of

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