I don’t believe there is anything heroic about doing the right thing. Silently standing by and watching a crime is to condone that crime: Rendering you no better than the criminal.
Many of you know that I traveled back to Toronto in October 2012 to testify in a trial. I have been short on details as to avoid being charged with slander or libel against, those, which I knew to be, the guilty parties in this case. On December 21st 2012 (Winter Solstice), the decision was handed down. All issues were settled in Charlie’s favor. It’s fitting that Winter Solstice is a mythological celebration (in many cultures) of the virtuous Gods winning, in battle, against the darkness. Or such time that a soldier overcomes death and returns to bring light to his people: He rises like the sun, after a dark night. Charlie, at 94 years old, is that soldier, in my eyes.
Kazys Juzumas (Charlie: to his friends) was my landlord from April 2007 to September 2010. He is one of the loveliest souls it has been my pleasure to call “Friend.” Kazys was born in Lithuania in 1918 and immigrated to Canada at age 25. He met and married his first wife with whom he lived in their matrimonial home until her death in 1995. He loved her dearly. Charlie and I would sit on the sun-porch and he would talk about her, tearing up. Telling me that one day he would see her again. He bought the house on MacKenzie somewhere around 1954 and has remained there all of these years. Two friends (Joey and Josh) and myself rented the second and third floors of his home, as Charlie was content to live on the first floor and subsidize his small pension with rental income. That house was his pride. He continued to plant flowers, maintain the grounds, and do repairs himself. Joey assisted in changing the storm windows and removing snow. Charlie was willing to climb the ladder to the 3rd floor and shovel, but we had to insist that we help.
When we went to see the house as a potential rental, we met a woman, who I found to be very cold and gruff. She introduced herself as “Donna,” the niece of Charlie and his caretaker, (A lie: Her real name is GALINA BARON, and she is NOT blood related to Charlie). Myself, Joey and Josh didn’t like the vibe or manner of this woman. In our discussions about taking the apartment, we agreed that we would not move in if she lived on the premises. I asked her twice if she lived there. Though her English was broken, and she spoke with a thick accent, she clearly understood my question and said she didn’t live in the house on MacKenzie, and that she had her own house across town. Her son was with her on the day we saw the apartment, and a few days later when I returned to bring first/last months rent (which Donna demanded be in CASH!). I wouldn’t see YEVGENI BARON (Donna’s son) again until the 2012 trial, approximately 5 years later, despite his claims that he helped with yard work and repairs on the house, and that he and Charlie had a good relationship, which is why Charlie gave him the $600,000 house as a gift (All lies). YEVGENI did own title to Charlie’s house, at trial, but it was acquired through deception and coercion.
There were a great many schemes going on in that house: Schemes, orchestrated by Galina Baron, most of which I had no idea about until it was too late to stop them. What I did witness was a very abusive (verbally and mentally) “niece.” Donna/Galina would come to the house weekly Monday-Friday, to clean and prepare some meals for Charlie. She did little in the way of cleaning and lots in the way of yelling, screaming, and slamming doors. It was suggested at trial, by Galina’s lawyer, that because she was speaking loudly in a foreign language, that I misunderstood. That she was only communicating with charley, in a loud tone, because Charlie was hard of hearing. Well, what a load of crap! I know very well the difference between screaming like a banshee and raising your voice to be heard. I also recognize when a human being is cowering in fear of another. Many times I went down to see if Charlie was ok. He pleaded with me often, (in Galina’s absence), to NOT intervene or call the police, as “she is crazy and it will only make things worse.” Galina also showed up bright and early on the first of every month to collect my rent cheques. Charlie told me she kept most of the money as payment for her cooking and cleaning services. He also told me that Yevgeni never worked a day in his life (28 years). Donna told me Yevgeni was in his 8th year of University. I was not sure how he could afford that while not working and living with his mother in their government-subsidized apartment. Apparently at trial (after I was released and returned home), when Yevgeni was asked, by Madam Justice, how he managed to live and go to school, having never held a job, he replied “Gifts.” We should all be so fortunate to have such “gifts.”
Because I was experiencing health problems and going through medical testing, I was unable to work for a few years. I was home most days and I witnessed escalating abuse. I began to see strange behavior in Charlie, that made me wonder if he was being drugged. Charlie took a fall down the basement stairs after eating a meal Galina had prepared. He was left with a nasty gash on his head. He told me he felt sick/drunk after eating the food Galina had prepared for him. I told him to stop eating the food as I thought he was being poisoned. He agreed, he also thought he was being poisoned (Sadly, no tests were carried out on the food but when he stopped eating Galina’s food, his symptoms ceased).
A week or so after the fall, an ambulance arrived at the house, late at night. Donna was there. Donna was never there at night or on weekends. I was very alarmed and convinced that she was trying to kill Charlie. I was not the only one with this concern. Our neighbour had also witnessed the yelling and strange behavior. She was also privy to the fact that Charlie had unknowingly signed over his house to Galin’s son. I didn’t know this at that time. (A great many things were revealed after Charlie’s trip to the hospital). I informed the ambulance staff that Charlie was the victim of elder abuse at the hands of Donna/Galina, who was standing on the sidewalk, glaring at me, as I spoke to them. I didn’t care. I felt terrible that I hadn’t done something sooner.
When Charlie returned home the next day he told me “Donna” had woken him from a dead sleep and said the ambulance was there for him. He was groggy and didn’t know what was happening. Galina told the hospital staff that he had taken another fall and that he was abusive to her on a regular basis. She told them to “keep him.” It was on that day that a lawyer got involved and Charlie and I changed the locks to keep “Donna” from returning. She did return twice and was very angry, but I didn’t let her into the house. It was after this that the lengthy legal battle began. Charlie told me the details about Donna coercing him into marrying her, under the agreement that she would care for him and he could die in his house and not in a nursing home. She held this threat over his head for financial/property gains. She never held up her end of the agreement. She didn’t take care of him.
It was revealed at trial that Galina Baron has been married somewhere in the area of 8 times. She has attached herself to elderly men and gotten control of hundreds of thousands of dollars (all the while, collecting disability from Social Services). She knows her way around the law, where property and monetary acquisition in relationships is concerned. She is savvy in transferring large sums of money and though she represented herself as a victim, the nature of her cunning abilities to deceive, was revealed, and ultimately led to Galina/Yevgeni’s loss in all claims.
It was a nerve-wracking thing to place my hand on a Bible and be sworn in: To sit in a Superior Court of Justice and do my best to help a friend. Knowing full well that if my testimony didn’t ring true, that Charlie would lose all that he had left. Yet, I didn’t hesitate to be involved when contacted by Rita Chrolavicius, (Advocacy Centre For The Elderly), more than a year earlier. During my approximately four hours on the witness stand, opposing council suggested at one point that I, “had to rush in and play the hero,” (paraphrasing). This declaration has annoyed me from the moment it was uttered till present. Though I was told I was the “star witness,” before the trial, I didn’t feel like a “star” or a “hero.” Helping another living soul is not heroic. It is in MY OPINNION, a MORAL OBLIGATION! I am my brother’s keeper and hopefully my brother will be my keeper, each time a need arise: so far so good. From childhood, my mother instilled in me values and respect for all living things. For the most part I’ve been surround by good people who have been there for me. The others… they’ve revealed themselves and have fallen away.
I wish we lived in a world where doing the right thing, by our brothers and sisters, was the norm. That choosing to NOT step up would be seen as a travesty. This culture of “only me,” “not my fight,” “none of my business,” has not served humanity. I am one person who chose to do the right thing and this time, the good guys won. They don’t always win: they often lose. Money talks: corruption is king. This doesn’t matter. It is up to US to change the world, or change one life where we can.
To trade my life or my comfort for the life of another would make my life worthless. If I had chosen the, “not my problem,” path in Charlie’s case, I would never be able to look at myself in the mirror. Being heroic was not my motivator. Protecting the dignity of another human being and retaining my own self-respect: these were my motivators.
I must give huge thanks and respect to Rita Chrolavicius, Krystyne Rusek, and all at the Toronto Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, for the countless hours they gave to Charlie and this case. This was not a feel good process for anyone to be involved in. At times it looked dyer. In the end their dedication paid off. I am grateful to have been on their team! Thanks also to all of the people who encouraged me and asked about Charlie, during the entire process. Your well wishes helped. Good energy surrounded us. It took a village… your positive thoughts were part of that! Special thanks to Charlie’s real Niece, Virginia, who has traveled from Lithuania to take care of him, and allow him to remain in his home.
I was informed on Jan 21st, 2013, that the Baron’s are appealing the decision. This doesn’t surprise me nor does it sadden me: Most losers appeal, it’s part of due process. The Baron’s have no new/earth-shattering evidence to provide (in my humble opinion), Madam Justice left no stone unturned. Her Decision is airtight. It is my hope that appeal is denied or tossed out in a fashionable manner. What matters now is that Charlie has his home and his dignity. He is the only HERO in this and I’m proud to call him “friend.”
This post is a very abridged version of events. I am including a link to download the Judge’s two Decision Documents as well as my Sworn Affidavit, for those who want more detail. The Judge’s decision is an incredible read!
Sworn Affidavit: Pamela Detlor
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