Both sides in Schiavo fight point to control of money A fund set up for his wife's care is down to $50,000, Michael Schiavo said on CNN.

Posted: October 29, 2003

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — Both Michael Schiavo and his in-laws, Bob and Mary Schindler, say the fight over Terri Schiavo revolves around the control of money.

In 1993, Michael Schiavo received approximately $1.1 million in a medical malpractice suit after doctors were found negligent for failing to diagnose a chemical imbalance in Terri Schiavo, his wife. The bulk of the award, $750,000, was set aside for Terri Schiavo's care, to be administrated by her husband as her guardian.

On Monday, Michael Schiavo told television interviewer Larry King that only $50,000 of the fund remained and that the Schindlers waged their war against his guardianship after he refused to give them part of the settlement.

Bob Schindler has "always wanted the money," Schiavo said. "He wants the money. He wants the control."

Schiavo said later in the broadcast that he "will not receive a penny from this."

Terri Schiavo, 39, formerly of Huntingdon Valley in Montgomery County, has been in a persistent vegetative state since 1990.After her heart stopped, her brain was deprived of oxygen for five to six minutes. Though she can breathe on her own and is not in a coma, a court-appointed doctor has testified her severe brain damage cannot be reversed.

The battle over Michael Schiavo's attempt to remove a tube that supplies liquid and nourishment to his wife has been waged in the courts for six years. Schiavo says he was heeding his wife's spoken desire not to be kept alive by artificial means. Her parents, meanwhile, have fought to keep her alive, saying there is still hope for her recovery.

Yesterday, lawyers for the Schindlers released a spreadsheet purporting to show that right-to-die lawyer George Felos, who has represented Michael Schiavo for six years, has received nearly $400,000 from Terri Schiavo's guardianship fund. Two other lawyers, Deborah Bushnell and Gyneth Stanley, have received $65,607 and $10,668, respectively.

Felos, who appeared with Michael Schiavo on television, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Hospice Woodside, where Terri Schiavo has stayed since 2000, has not received payment for her care "in a substantial amount of time," said John W. Campbell, an attorney for its parent company, Hospice of the Florida Suncoast.

Campbell said he did not know when the payments stopped or how much the outstanding bills were. Last week, Felos and Bushnell told reporters that Terri Schiavo receives Social Security benefits and Medicaid for some basic care costs. A fund for indigent patients run by the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast paid for up to $5,000 a month of hospice care, they said.

Hospice Woodside is receiving no Medicare or Medicaid money for Terri Schiavo, Campbell said.

"No one's tax dollars are paying for hospice care," he said. He said that Felos has told him that the estate owes numerous parties more than $100,000.

Lawyer Pat Anderson said yesterday her client, Bob Schindler, had exhausted most of his retirement savings trying to keep his daughter alive. "Bob is insolvent," she said. His wife, Mary, works full time in a card store near the beach.

Anderson has received about $100,000 from the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian legal organization based in Arizona that fights abortion and homosexuality and promotes religion in public institutions. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, is one of the founders.

Neither Bob or Mary Schindler watched the CNN program where Michael Schiavo said right-wing activists were behind their crusade to keep Terri alive. Bob Schindler Jr., Terri's brother, also did not watch it, but he said heard most of it on the radio.

He said family members were particularly upset that Michael Schiavo said that his fiance, with whom he has a child and is expecting another, "has done more for Terri than her own mother did."

"It's certainly not true," Bob Schindler Jr. said."What do you do when he says outrageous comments like that?"

Michael Schiavo vowed on the program to keep fighting, and legal briefs against Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's executive order to restore Terri Schiavo's feeding tube are due tomorrow. Bush took action after the Florida legislature passed a law last week that allowed him to intervene. Yesterday, President Bush said that he approved of his brother's actions.

"I believe my brother made the right decision," Bush said in response to a reporter's question at a wide-ranging news conference.

Contact staff writer Chris Gray at 610-313-8108 or at cgray@phillynews.com.

This article contains information from the Assocaited Press.

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