Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct the timeframe in which an East Baton Rouge Council on Aging board member drafted a will that named COA director Tasha Clark-Amar executrix of a local elderly woman’s estate. The will was drafted in 2016. Daily Report regrets this error.
Two Metro Council members are calling on Tasha Clark-Amar to resign as executive director of the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging, in the wake of allegations that Clark-Amar strong-armed a local elderly woman, since deceased, into naming her as executrix of the woman’s estate.
Councilmen Buddy Amoroso and Dwight Hudson, who have had the COA in their crosshairs since voters last fall approved a dedicated millage for the agency amid questionable campaign tactics, say allegations in a WBRZ-TV report raise questions about conflicts of interest and unethical behavior on Clark-Amar’s part.
“The public has lost confidence in the organization,” Hudson says. “In order to move the organization forward I think it’s important that she step down.”
The allegations, the latest black eye for the COA, surfaced late Wednesday in a report on WBRZ-TV that details a lawsuit Clark-Amar has filed against the deceased woman’s family members, who she alleges have been trying to block her access to funds in the deceased woman’s bank account. According to the report, the woman drafted a will last year, when she was 95, that was prepared by a COA board member and named Clark-Amar as the executrix, a service for which she would receive some $500 per month from the estate for the next 20 years. The woman’s family says their relative would never have done such a thing.
“This is just the last straw,” Amoroso says. “It would appear that Ms. Clark-Amar has taken advantage of her position and profited from it.”
But COA board member and state Rep. C. Denise Marcelle says Amoroso and Hudson have no legal standing to demand Clark-Amar’s resignation. What’s more, she says her friend and colleague hasn’t done anything wrong.
“It is something she did for one of the seniors, and she just happens to be the director of the Council on Aging,” Marcelle says. “Her intent was just to help the lady. Once the hearing is held (next week in court) and some things come out there are going to be a lot of people who need to apologize to her.”
Marcelle believes the woman’s family is trying to block Clark-Amar’s involvement in settling the estate because they don’t like the contents of the will. As to the questions about conflict of interest, Marcelle says the Council on Aging is one of several community organizations that regularly helps seniors access the free legal services at Southern University’s law clinics.
“The COA brings people to the law clinic, and the churches do, too,” Marcelle says. “We’ve been pushing that message and trying to educate our seniors that they need to write wills and sign powers of attorney documents … so we started this process to help seniors, not steal from them.”
An attorney for the COA board says he is unaware of the controversy over the lawsuit and has not been contacted by the board about the situation.
Amoroso and Hudson have not formally requested Clark-Amar’s resignation in writing, and legally they have no standing to do so. But Amoroso says it’s an important, symbolic move.
‘People have had enough,” he says. “We have to restore some credibility to this organization.”