Las Vegas police have announced that court-appointed guardian April Parks and her codefendants Mark Simmons, Gary Neal Taylor, and Noel Palmer Simpson entered guilty pleas in Clark County District Court to felony charges arising from a scheme to financially exploit elderly wards they were appointed by the court to serve.
“This is probably the most significant event when you talk about guardianship abuse cases,” said Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson during an interview with 8 News Now.
April Parks was the owner of A Private Professional Guardian, LLC. Last spring, April Parks, her office manager Mark Simmons, her husband Gary Neal Taylor, and her attorney Noel Palmer Simpson were collectively indicted on 270 counts for elder exploitation, representing the most significant guardianship indictment in Nevada’s history. They collectively committed 117 counts of Perjury, 73 counts of Offering False Instrument for Filing or Record, 42 counts of Theft, 37 counts of exploitation and one count of Racketeering. The fraudulent acts were committed between December 2011 and July 2016.
“These four people for a long time in the Las Vegas community victimized helpless, vulnerable people,” Wolfson expressed.
“Protecting Nevada’s most vulnerable is a cornerstone mission of my office,” said Attorney General Adam Laxalt. “Today’s pleas resolve the most significant guardianship exploitation case in Nevada’s history. I am proud to have earned the bipartisan and unanimous approval of lawmakers for my proposal to create the first-of-its-kind Elder Exploitation Unit in this office. That support enables my investigators and prosecutors to work hand-in-hand with local law enforcement to send a message that financial predators face prison time for exploiting Nevada’s seniors.”
“This is the most significant development in the prosecution of those who violate the trust of some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” added Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson. “Guardians have a duty to protect their wards, not steal from them and destroy their lives. These individuals violated their duty and they will be punished for their crimes.”
Parks pleaded guilty to five felony offenses, including two counts of Elder Exploitation, a category “B” felony, two counts of Theft, a category “B” felony, and one count of Perjury, a category “D” felony. Simmons pleaded guilty to one count of Elder Exploitation, one count of Theft, and one count of Perjury. Taylor, who was named in seven counts of the original indictment, pleaded guilty to one count of Elder Exploitation.
The pleas entered today contain all of the facts alleged in the original indictments. Several of these defendants also pleaded guilty today in a second related case where Parks, Simmons, Simpson and James Thomas Melton are alleged to have exploited an elderly couple through the use of guardianship between Dec. 2010 and May 2017.
“It is scheduled to go to trial and it will probably go to trial unless he decides to plead guilty as well,” Wolfson said of the case involving now former Metro Police Lieutenant Melton.
In this case, Parks, Simmons, and Simpson each pleaded guilty to another count of Elder Exploitation, a category “B” felony.
Under the terms of the plea agreements with Parks and Simmons, the State and the defense have retained the right to argue for what sentence they will receive. Parks faces a maximum prison sentence of 84 years in prison between the two cases. Simmons faces a maximum prison sentence of 54 years. Taylor’s plea agreement jointly recommends a sentence of 24 60 months in prison. Simpson will receive the recommendation of probation in exchange for her cooperation.
Parks, Simmons, and Taylor have been detained in the Clark County Detention Center since their arrest in March 2017. Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Tierra Jones set a sentencing date of Jan. 4, 2019, for the defendants.
“I hope it sends a message,” Wolfson stressed after Monday’s guilty pleas. “If you take advantage of the elderly, if you exploit the elderly, if you steal money from them, you’re going to get caught and you’re going to get prosecuted, and you’re probably going to go to prison.”