Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 03-18-2021

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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2 CUMBERLAND MARCH 18-24, 2021 | VALLEY BREEZE | CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION CUMBERLAND – The legal battle over whether Chelo's Restaurants founder Amet Chelo will get the finan- cial support he needs to stay in his Cumberland home is likely heading to Rhode Island Family Court, after a municipal judge last week suggested that his daughter go that route. Cumberland Probate Court Judge Joseph Roszkowski expressed frus- tration that Amet's sons, the current owners of the Rhode Island restaurant chain, Glenn and Craig, won't do more to support their father. At a hearing that grew conten- tious at several points, with accusa- tions of lying and slander, the judge said Amet's daughter, Kim Whalen, has every right to take the matter to Family Court to try to force the issue. He described "a big deficit of finan- cials here," saying there's "just not enough" money to care for Amet and keep him in his home, and he's "not amenable to put him in a nursing home." The lawyer for the brothers, Barry Kusinitz, slammed Roszkowski for "intervening" in the matter by suggest- ing a move to Family Court. "You're giving legal advice, your honor, and I take exception to it," he said. Whalen now says she plans to take the matter to Family Court and is hir- ing an attorney. Roszkowski started off the March 11 Probate Court hearing at Cumberland Town Hall asking if there had been any progress in the matter. Kusinitz then provided a series of updates, including details on money paid to Whalen. But Roszkwoski eventually interject- ed, saying that the items being men- tioned made no material difference in correcting the problem at hand: A lack of financial support to Amet Chelo. Kusinitz had accused Whalen of slandering her brothers in a previous Breeze article about the situation, also accusing her of lying when she said she hadn't received certain emails from his office. Whalen said some of the interac- tions discussed at the hearing were by phone, to which Roszkowski respond- ed that everything should be done in writing. Roszkowski told Kusinitz that if he were his clients, he would "give some thought to this whole situation" and think about supporting their father on a greater level. If they're interested in doing that "and getting their name off the front page," an order can be made and placed under seal, he said, but if not, this saga is going to continue play- ing out and end up in Family Court. Kusinitz responded that his cli- ents "shouldn't be blackmailed" through newspaper stories, to which Roszkowski responded that he had nothing to do with the earlier Breeze story and was not interviewed for it. Ultimately, said the judge, he can't order that the Chelo brothers make the payments, "but it's not going to stop it from going on in Family Court." In that earlier story, Kusinitz sug- gested that Amet Chelo, at 95 years old, has essentially outlived his money after exiting the operation two decades ago, while Whalen questioned where all of his money could have gone. Among the financial items described by Kusinitz at a March 11 hearing, there is a $30,000 insurance policy for Amet Chelo through the Veterans Administration, which will be divided evenly among three children after his death. Kusinitz said the estate doesn't have the money to pay for a care- giver, which was stated to Whalen in an email. When she said she hadn't received the emails, he told her to stop lying. He also said that Amet continues to pay Whalen rent on his home that's now in her name. He described a number of other expenditures, includ- ing a $500 line item for hockey equip- ment for Whalen's son. Kusinitz also brought up the nearly $150,000 paid three years ago to a caregiver who subsequently had her license suspended by the Rhode Island Department of Health. He said that caregiver was also paying Whalen, meaning she was essentially "double-dipping." Whalen receives $1,845 per month from the estate for rent and a stipend, which she said is used for her mort- gage. She said she has not been paid for her father's care in a year and a half. The home her father lives in on Cadoret Drive in Cumberland didn't have a mortgage when her father owned it, she said, but now it does. Kusinitz said there's also a tax refund of $8,800 due to the estate. He said there's not enough money avail- able to pay Whalen on a monthly basis and cover Blue Cross health costs. Roszkowski then asked the attorney if his clients are at all interested in pay- ing more for the care of their father. "They're not obligated to do so, and they're not going to," Kusinitz replied, adding that the court has no power to compel such support. "Let me enlighten you, Mr. Kusinitz," replied the judge, handing the attorney a copy of a law stating that children are responsible for the upkeep and support of parents who need it. Kusinitz responded that such a step can only be enforced with a civil action. Roszkowski then responded that Probate Court is a statutory court and he's not going to make a financial order against Chelo brothers, but he believes Whalen "could bring an action in Family Court against your clients." "If she thinks she can…" responded Kusinitz. "Well, I think she can," responded Roszkowski. The judge handed Whalen a confi- dential assets document for her to fill out in Family Court, so "she can be better prepared for whatever" in trying to secure the money needed to main- tain a household for her father. Roszkowski passed the matter off the local court document, urging the par- ties to work out the situation and find a "better avenue of communication." He said there "seems to be a serious breakdown in the communication" on the entire matter. Chelo situation likely heading to R.I. Family Court By ETHAN SHOREY Valley Breeze Editor

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