Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Dearborn Heights woman with disability wins case against guardianship

Judge Freddie Burton Jr. (Photo courtesy of Wayne County Probate Court)

By Dave Herndon

Linda VanWormer, 56, of Dearborn Heights has won a court case to keep her independence.

Wayne County Chief Probate Judge Freddie Burton Jr. recently placed VanWormer under Supported Decision-Making (SDM) instead of placing her under guardianship like it had been requested.

VanWormer has an intellectual disability, but will still be allowed to make her own decisions under the court order.

“I do call the shots now,” VanWormer told WXYZ.

Amy Peckinpaugh, her sister, has had guardianship over VanWormer since 2011. It was at her request that the SDM order was granted.

When Peckinpaugh got the first order, it was because her sister was living in an abusive relationship.

“It allowed me to say that Linda couldn’t go back up north and live with her abuser,” Peckinpaugh told WXYZ. “I had to make that decision to protect her. And so that is why I did that. But it meant I took that right from her. She couldn’t consent to treatment. She couldn’t decide where she wanted to move.”

While legally VanWormer was under guardianship, she and her sister were using the processes of SDM, and decided to make that the legally required process for her.

“Linda uses her family, her friends, providers that support her when she wants to make a decision, she comes to them, and if she needs some extra input, she’ll say, ‘Hey, what do you think of this,’” Peckinpaugh told WXYZ.

The pair said a mix-up with VanWormer’s mental health support agency had put a request through the courts to put her back under guardianship, which is what caused the court case to officially put the SDM order in place.

She said that the mental health agency realized it had made a mistake and helped to hire lawyers to fight for them, instead of against them.

Full Article & Source:
Dearborn Heights woman with disability wins case against guardianship

Bill planned for committee will prohibit discrimination for Alabamians with disabilities

By Erin Davis

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama lawmakers return to the state house this week to resume the regular legislative session. Two bills planned for the session are designed to eliminate discrimination against those with disabilities.

Lopez and other advocates rallied in from the state house to support two bills - the Colby Act and Exton’s Law.

“Just because we take medicines, or we don’t, can’t talk, can’t speak, can’t walk,” said Lopez. “You are just as equal as anybody else.”

The bills are designed to stop discrimination against those with disabilities.

Named after Colby Spangler, The Colby Act allows an adult with disabilities to have a decision-making agreement with an individual or group instead of a guardianship or conservatorship.

“We can choose what church, we can advocate, we can vote,” said Spangler.

Representative Cynthia Almond, R-Tuscaloosa, prefilled the bill.

“Make sure these agreements are supported, decision-makers are honored,” said Almond.

And Exton’s law would prohibit discrimination against those with disabilities from receiving organ transplants.

“Exton has Down syndrome, but he also is medically complex,” said Exton’s mom Savannah Black.

Black says that discrimination isn’t happening in Alabama and the law would keep it that way.

“What this law really does is it doesn’t let us jump ship and go to the top of the line. It lets us just get the requirements and meet the requirements without them investigating their mental competence,” said Black.

Exton’s law has not been filed yet, but The Colby Act will be in a house committee this Wednesday.

Full Article & Source:
Bill planned for committee will prohibit discrimination for Alabamians with disabilities

Elderly couple helps police take down phone call scam ring

A Muskegon County task force said they were able to catch two West Palm Beach suspects accused of defrauding three elderly residents over the phone. 

The Muskegon County Sheriff's Office said their investigation started on Wednesday when an elderly Blue Lake Township woman called to report fraud, but noted the investigation could well extend beyond its jurisdiction. 

Elderly couple helps police take down phone call scam ring

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

ABC10 investigation prompts in-depth review of conservatorships in California

An evaluation of the Department of Developmental Services' conservatorship process has been released following ABC10's nearly three-year investigation

Author: Andie Judson 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — "It's inhumane," said Deborah Findley. "Just absolutely inhumane."

Findley's son, Andrew, is one of the 400+ individuals conserved by the state agency, the Department of Developmental Services.

Jill Schutte's son, Garth, is another.

"I walk by his bedroom with his Elmos knowing that's where he should be, that's what he loves and that's what he wants," said Schutte.

Garth is a devout fan of Sesame Street's Elmo. He's not allowed to live at home, see his mother or his beloved stuffed toys.

Findley and Schutte are a few of many ABC10 spoke with for our investigation into California's conservatorship system, "The Price of Care: Taken by the State."

Our now nearly three-year investigation digs deep into the legal tool stripping someone unable to care for themselves of their civil rights and giving them to another person.

Our investigation uncovered a failing system and exposed alarming practices of the state agency responsible for the rights and needs of all Californians with disabilities: The Department of Developmental Services (DDS).

"The Price of Care" has been credited for getting the first-of-its-kind legislation passed, AB 1663, as well as forcing DDS to announce new reform initiatives, including the creation of a national panel of experts to review the state agency's conservatorship process.

Now, the panel has released its findings in a new report.

"There's no question that this panel was put together and that this report was put out there because of the ABC10 series," said Disability Voices United President Judy Mark. "That is literally the only reason they did this."

The national panel consisted of 10 experts. Mark says they held five meetings and four focus groups, in which she was a part of the focus group with advocates.

Yet the panel did not interview any parents of those conserved by DDS, like Schutte or Findley.

"These are parents that are begging for access to their child," said Mark. "The fact this national committee did not take the time to listen to their point of view... they should've listened to them. The fact they didn't talk to them makes this whole report very problematic."

It's one of Mark's concerns about the panel's review. She wonders why the panel did not question if DDS, a massive $12 billion state agency, should be conservator at all to someone with very specific needs.

"Government should not be conserving people. That's just a bottom line," said Mark. "It doesn't happen in most states in the country and we just shouldn't be doing it."

ABC10's investigation, The Price of Care: Taken by the State, uncovered how DDS obtains conservatorship and then gives the responsibility of caregiving to their regional centers. These centers operate under DDS and are located across the state to provide first-hand services to clients with disabilities.

"The agencies that are actually serving as the day-to-day conservators are the agencies that are the decision makers about what services a person receives," said Mark. "So there is actually no advocacy happening for this individual in their lives. They are locked away. They are pushed away. They have no one watching to see how they're doing."

The report also showed 81% of those conserved by DDS are moved into facilities; something Mark describes as "highly restrictive institutionalized settings."

"That means people do not have free choice and control over their lives at all," said Mark. "These settings are very institution-like, we know there are high levels of abuse in these settings."

These facilities are where Garth and Andrew live. When DDS conserved and moved them, their families had no idea where they were located.

"We had absolutely no idea," said Schutte. "They would not even say if he was in Sacramento. We did not know."

"Prisoners... they get visitors," said Findley. "My child is not allowed any of that."

A 2022 California State Audit found DDS is not properly monitoring these facilities. In a one-on-one interview with ABC10, the state's audit team told ABC10 the lack of monitoring by DDS has led to life-threatening mismanagement of medications and even mold in some facilities. It's why Mark hoped the panel would've recommended changing the fact the vast majority of DDS conservatees live there.

"This report should've made this recommendation; these individuals should've been moved out of these institutionalized settings into more individualized housing arrangements with person-centered services," said Mark.

Because regional centers do this for other clients, we know it can be done, Mark explained.

"[Those conserved by DDS] should be living their best lives as opposed to lives just tucked away and out of sight, out of mind," said Mark.

But there was also a number of recommendations from the national panel Mark was pleased by.

"One of the most positive recommendations that comes out of this report is the commitment by DDS to increase education training for regional center staff, self advocates and family members around alternatives to conservatorship," said Mark.

She's pleased the panel recommended those conserved should have a thorough review to hear what exactly they want.

"It means they want to be asking that individual who is conserved what it is they want," said Mark. "What are their desires? Who do they want to be with? Where do they want to live?"

But these recommendations are massive undertakings for an already overwhelmed system.

"How are regional centers supposed to be implementing this without the funds? Because budgets are tight right now," said Dr. Barbara Imle.

Imle was a regional center service coordinator who left to get her doctorate researching this system. She found for DDS' 21 different regional centers throughout the state, there's 21 different ways of doing things.

"Each regional center is doing something different," said Imle.

It's an issue the national panel recommended should be changed by DDS writing guidelines to create consistency across regional centers.

"Those types of things are very important because they're not happening right now," said Imle.

But for regional center service coordinators - the staff actually working one-on-one with clients with developmental disabilities - Imle is concerned the panel's recommendations could add more to coordinators' already overloaded plates.

"I don't feel it's fair to just put it on service coordinators and have them absorb the extra work," said Imle.

How implementing the panel's recommendations is actually going to happen is a question both Imle and Mark have. 

"It's vague," said Imle in regards to directions or specificities in the implementation process. "I think it's intentionally vague."

"There's so many details about these recommendations that we still don't know if these recommendations are actually going to get implemented," said Mark.

So, ABC10 asked DDS for specifics, including if they plan to implement the national panel's recommendations? If so, when and what's their timeline? And with what money from their budget? Here is the response from DDS Director Nancy Bargmann.

"The six-month examination by the national panel of experts provided important recommendations to DDS to improve how we manage conservatorships and to enhance safeguards those in these conservatorships.

The panel noted that DDS’ limited role in conservatorships is appropriate along with the implementation of the recommended improvements. As we continue to review the continued need for conservatorships where DDS is the conservator, as well as actively explore alternative ways to meet the needs of an individual or family, it is likely the number of DDS conservatorships will continue to decline. At all times, DDS only enters into a conservatorship when there is clear and convincing evidence it is necessary to protect an individual’s well-being, and that there is no appropriate friend or family member who can provide the needed care.

The specific processes used by the panel were not dictated by DDS, and our department cannot speak to specific elements of their examination.

DDS is reviewing the panel’s recommendations and plans to implement them. In some cases, this implementation is underway or already completed. In others, time will be needed to ensure change occurs effectively, permanently and safely. Since the review and analysis of this report continues, we are not able at this time to elaborate on each recommendation, timeline for implementation, or expense.

We take this report and the work that went into it very seriously. The panel’s report provides a roadmap DDS will use to continually improve how we deliver services to those in particular need of help to be safe and supported."

While experts are pleased to see the start of some desperately needed reform, families ABC10 highlighted in our investigation are still at their wit's end, unable to be with their loved ones.

"The fact that he's not allowed to spent time with his family is just a crime," said Garth's brother, Ian Schutte.

Full Article & Source:
ABC10 investigation prompts in-depth review of conservatorships in California

Baker hearing looks to strengthen guardianship laws, prevent elder abuse

By Bill O’Boyle

WILKES-BARRE — The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Lisa Baker, this week held a joint public hearing with the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, chaired by Sen. Judy Ward, on strengthening guardianship laws and preventing elder abuse in Pennsylvania.

Baker, R-Lehman Township, said when an adult of any age is deemed incapacitated by a court, a guardian may be appointed to become responsible for making certain decisions on their behalf, including financial, medical and personal matters.

“Our current court-appointed guardianship process in Pennsylvania needs to be improved,” Baker said. “We must ensure individuals requiring assistance are properly represented and have their rights safeguarded by properly certifying legal guardians, limiting the abuse of the system and enhancing our laws to protect the vulnerable.”

Ward, R-30, said appointing a guardian for a person represents a serious step that must be taken with great caution and the utmost respect for the person’s basic rights.

“This is an issue that can touch all Pennsylvanians,” Ward said. “It’s important that we take a proactive approach and identify and address issues with our current system. With the information gleaned from this hearing, we can ensure that the Pennsylvania’s guardianship system meets the needs of our citizens in the 21st century.”

To strengthen the guardianship laws in Pennsylvania, Baker, along with Sen. Art Haywood, D-4, recently introduced Senate Bill 506 to provide alternatives to appointed guardianships.

The bill would require courts to automatically appoint counsel to individuals undergoing the guardianship process, consider other less restrictive alternatives before imposing a guardianship, and institute training and screening of professional guardians.

This legislation originated from an unfortunate situation that occurred when Sen. Haywood’s neighbor was taken advantage of by the unscrupulous practices of a professional guardian.

“While guardianship can be an appropriate tool to support some individuals who cannot make decisions themselves, it should be limited and used only as a last resort,” Baker said. “Alternatives to guardianship may prove equally effective at a substantially lower emotional and financial cost.”

During the hearing, testimony was given by professionals in the elder and disability law fields to provide input on the current flaws in Pennsylvania’s guardianship process.

Panelists discussed how Pennsylvania is one of only eight states in the U.S. that does not automatically appoint counsel to represent alleged incapacitated persons, and highlighted the necessity for training and oversight of guardians to prevent waste, fraud and abuse.

“Unfortunately, cases where guardians have stolen or misused money belonging to the people they are legally charged with looking after are not uncommon,” Baker said. “We must have capable people step in and protect their financial interests.”

Senate Bill 506 has received bipartisan approval and is supported by the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Disability Rights PA, and other advocacy groups because it helps prevent fraud, abuse, and exploitation, and increases representation.

Casey, Cardin bill would expand Medicaid,

Medicare dental, vision, hearing coverage

U.S. Senators Bob Casey, D-Scranton, and Ben Cardin, D-MD, will introduce legislation to enable more Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries to access comprehensive dental, vision, and hearing coverage.

Medicare does not cover those services, leaving many beneficiaries with no other options but to buy stopgap, short-term plans or go without coverage, often facing exorbitant out-of-pocket costs for basic care.

Medicaid can provide optional dental, vision, and hearing services, but the extent of the coverage varies by state. The Medicare and Medicaid Dental, Vision, and Hearing Benefit Act would allow Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing services and increase the federal investment in Medicaid, incentivizing more states to provide these comprehensive services.

“Because of a patchwork of limited health care coverage options for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, many older adults, people with disabilities, and low-income families have inconsistent access to basic dental, vision, and hearing services,” Casey said. “Cost should not be a barrier to care, and all Americans deserve access to comprehensive dental, vision, and hearing coverage, no matter what state they live in or how much money they make. This bill builds on the promise of Medicaid and Medicare to expand services that people need and help them avoid costly emergencies.”

Research shows that untreated dental, vision, and hearing problems can have negative physical and mental health consequences. People with lower incomes are three times more likely to have four or more untreated cavities than adults with higher incomes or private insurance.

Vision loss is associated with increased fall risks and mobility limitations among older adults, while hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of social isolation and cognitive decline.

The Medicare and Medicaid Dental, Vision, and Hearing Benefit Act would strengthen coverage for dental, vision, and hearing services under Medicare by repealing the statutory exclusion that restricts coverage of such services.

It would expand Medicare coverage to ensure beneficiaries are covered for routine exams and other preventive care, as well as coverage for items like dentures, eyeglasses, and hearing aids.

Full Article & Source:
Baker hearing looks to strengthen guardianship laws, prevent elder abuse

Monday, March 20, 2023

Michigan woman makes history in guardianship case, advocates for alternative option

By: Heather Catallo

(WXYZ) — A Wayne County Probate Judge recently made a historic decision. Instead of putting a Dearborn Heights woman under guardianship, he allowed her to retain her independence with something called Supported Decision-Making.

If you’re put under guardianship, that means a court has declared you legally incapacitated. You lose the right to get married, decide what doctor you want to see, or even choose where you want to live. Now one woman with an intellectual disability has shown the state that there is another tool families can use that’s less extreme than guardianship.

Linda VanWormer loves her job. The 56-year-old works at STEP (Services to Enhance Potential) in Dearborn. She also just made history in Michigan.

That’s because Wayne County Chief Probate Judge Freddie Burton Junior just issued an order, denying a petition that would have put Linda under guardianship. Instead, he granted her the freedom to make her own choices using something called Supported Decision-Making, or SDM.

“I do call the shots now,” Linda told 7 Investigator Heather Catallo.

Linda has an intellectual disability. She was adopted at the age of 5 into a big family of 6 other siblings. Her younger sister Amy Peckinpaugh has always been one of Linda’s main sources of help, support and love.

“I'm very proud,” said Amy Peckinpaugh.

Back in 2011, Amy found out Linda’s boyfriend was abusing her. So, Amy petitioned the court for partial guardianship of Linda.  “It allowed me to say that Linda couldn't go back up north and live with her abuser,” said Amy. “I had to make that decision to protect her. And so that is why I did that. But it meant I took that right from her. She couldn't consent to treatment. She couldn't decide where she wanted to move.”

After 10 years of guardianship, Amy decided to restore Linda’s rights. Linda lives in a group home with friends, she works, and they use Supported Decision-Making when Linda needs a little extra help.

“Linda uses her family, her friends, providers that support her when she wants to make a decision, she comes to them, and if she needs some extra input, she'll say, ‘Hey, what do you think of this,’” said Amy.

Amy and Linda even hired an attorney to create estate planning documents so Amy can step in to make medical and legal decisions if needed.

But then, a mix up at Linda’s mental health support agency prompted a social worker to petition the court to put Linda back under guardianship.

“Now we're stuck in the system and we have to actually go to court and fight. And at that point, I was really angry. I work in the disability community-- I lost some faith. How are we doing this to people? It's not okay,” said Amy.

The agency quickly realized their mistake and hired lawyers and experts to help Linda fight the guardianship.

“My favorite question when it comes to guardianship, what else have you tried? Before we decide to take rights away, shouldn't we ask that question? Rights are precious,” said Jonathan Martinis, the Senior Director for Law and Policy at the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University.

In courts across the country, Martinis has successfully argued adults with disabilities don’t always need the extreme step of guardianship. He says they can use Supported Decision-Making instead.

“For people with disabilities who have for thousands of years been assumed not to be able to do things, what Supported Decision-Making is, is a way to be like you and me to the maximum of their abilities. Because it says that people with disabilities can understand things if it's explained to them,” said Martinis.

Linda and Amy say at first the judge was skeptical because there’s nothing in Michigan’s laws that establish SDM. But after listening to Linda and to experts, Judge Burton issued a detailed opinion, agreeing that Linda and her family can make decisions about her life together without a guardian.

“I was so happy and relieved,” said Linda.

“Hopefully it paves the way for other individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to use Supported Decision-Making and other people to look at, including social workers,” said Amy.

“Judge Burton’s order demonstrates how Supported Decision-Making (SDM) is a less-restrictive alternative to a guardianship order in Michigan. Any judge in the state can use SDM as an alternative to guardianship without any change in Michigan law. Disability Rights Michigan would support legislation to modify guardianship statutes in Michigan, requiring judges to consider SDM as an alternative to guardianship. This simple change, coupled with increased education and awareness of SDM, will lead to less unnecessary guardianships and more independence and freedom for citizens with disabilities in Michigan,” said Kyle Williams, Director of Litigation for Disability Rights Michigan.

23 states have added Supported Decision-Making as an option to their laws. Now Linda and Amy want Michigan to do the same, and Linda is already lobbying lawmakers to get changes made.

“I want people to know my story and so they can make better decisions on their own by themselves,” said Linda.

Full Article & Source:
Michigan woman makes history in guardianship case, advocates for alternative option

Pizza delivery driver helps 90-year-old woman


Pizza delivery driver helps 90-year-old woman

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Weak guardianship laws undermine personhood, experts warn

By Lauren Jessop

Alzheimer's patient Dorothy Eckert and her husband John Eckert hold hands at their home in Norristown Pa., Thursday, April 19, 2007.
Matt Rourke/AP Photo

(The Center Square) – At a joint committee hearing on Tuesday, experts weighed in on legislation that seeks to strengthen guardianship laws, further protecting the rights of residents deemed incapable of making decisions for themselves.

Without stronger protections in Pennsylvania, however, guardianships may cause more harm than not.

Members of the Senate Judiciary and Aging and Youth committees heard testimony from experts who overwhelmingly believe guardianship should be used only as a last resort and are supportive of policies that offer more safeguards.

In her opening remarks, Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Dallas, majority chair of the Judiciary Committee – and the sole Republican sponsor of Senate Bill 506 – said the bill’s main goals would be to ensure an attorney is provided to alleged incapacitated individuals; require courts consider less restrictive alternatives before appointing a guardian; and would need professional guardians to be certified.

Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that do not mandate appointment of counsel in guardianship proceedings. Current law allows judges to use their discretion over whether to appoint an attorney. Additionally, there is limited oversight of professional guardians, and procedures vary from county to county.

Sen. Judy Ward, R-Lewistown, majority chair of the Committee on Aging and Youth, said appointing a guardian for someone is a serious step which must be taken with great caution and utmost respect for the person’s basic rights – a sentiment echoed by many others.

Lois Murphy, judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Montgomery County – who also serves on the Advisory Council to the Supreme Court on Elder Justice – said the courts are making a major effort to improve their ability to monitor court-appointed guardians, and to increase the information available on cases.

The Guardian Tracking System, in use since 2019, allows judges across the state to share and view information on prospective guardians – such as whether they have criminal records. It can also identify red flags on the spending of funds by a guardian.

Murphy credited the system for the ability to access data she provided to the committees. As of the end of 2022, 44% of the almost 19,000 Pennsylvanians currently under guardianship are adults over the age of 60 and 62% of those cases have guardians that include one or more family members.

Attorney Jennifer Garman, director of government affairs for Disability Rights Pennsylvania, said guardianship is largely happening to people without trained representation.

The information she provided showed that in 2019, less than 18% of statewide cases were contested – with 45 out of 67 counties reporting no contested cases.

Guardianship also applies to young adults who have disabilities or are cognitively impaired due to illness or injuries. Garman noted that unlike the elderly, who may spend the last few years of their lives under guardianship, young adults could spend decades. Without counsel, many families are unaware there are alternatives, or that they can go back to court to have the guardianship removed if appropriate.

“Parents of young adults with disabilities are often misinformed by schools, health care providers, disability service providers, that guardianship is necessary when their child turns 18,” said Garman. She added that the bill would ensure alternatives are explored.

While there is wide agreement that changes are needed, funding is a concern.

Sally Schoffstal, from the Pennsylvania Association of Elder Law Attorneys, said they do not support mandatory appointed counsel because most counties do not have the resources and personnel to fulfill the requirement, preferring to rely on the flexibility given to judges to determine if counsel is required.

On the subject of guardian compensation, she said the association’s view is that it must be on a modest scale but provide sufficient compensation for work performed.

Committee members also heard from the Elder Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Huntington-Bedford-Fulton Area Agency on Aging, AARP Pennsylvania, and the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office.

Full Article & Source:
Weak guardianship laws undermine personhood, experts warn

New Jersey Man Pleads Guilty in Mass-Mailing Elder Fraud Scheme

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Friday, March 17, 2023

New Jersey Man Pleads Guilty in Mass-Mailing Elder Fraud Scheme

A New Jersey man pleaded guilty yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, for operating a mass-mailing scheme that victimized older Americans.

According to court documents, Ryan Young, 40, of Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, operated a mail fraud scheme in which he mailed out letters falsely notifying recipients that they were entitled to receive unclaimed funds worth millions of dollars, a portion of a multi-million-dollar legal settlement, or a prize, in exchange for payment of a small fee of $30 to $40. The solicitation letters stated that they were sent by an organization tasked with providing notice and facilitating delivery of the funds or prize. Young did not deliver funds to any of the victims who sent payments in response to these letters. Instead, Young sent a booklet providing publicly available information regarding government Unclaimed Property Divisions in various states; a booklet providing publicly available information regarding a few class action settlements; or a flyer regarding online restaurant coupons. According to court documents, Young fraudulently obtained more than $1.6 million from victims of the scheme between March 2019 and May 2022.

The court documents further allege that Young operated this scheme while he was on pretrial release awaiting sentencing in a separate criminal case, in which he was charged with operating a similar fraud scheme. On Feb. 13, 2018, Young pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, for his role in a large-scale international mail fraud scheme that took $50 million from victims between 2011 and 2016. As part of that scheme, Young sent fraudulent prize notification letters to victims in the United States and numerous other countries. The letters falsely claimed recipients had won money or valuable prizes, such as luxury cars. Victims were instructed to send small processing fees – typically $20 or $25 – to claim the prizes. Many victims received nothing; others received only a cheap piece of jewelry or a report listing unrelated sweepstakes.

“The defendant in this case operated multiple fraud schemes, collectively depriving vulnerable Americans out of more than $50 million,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Justice Department and its federal law enforcement partners are committed to investigating and prosecuting those who target vulnerable American consumers for financial gain.” 

“Mass marketing scams frequently target elderly or vulnerable citizens. Fraudsters may think they can anonymously siphon money from their victims but today’s guilty plea tells a different story,” said Inspector in Charge Chris Nielsen of United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)’s Philadelphia Division. “Through the efforts of Postal Inspectors in Newark, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.; DOJ prosecutors; and the Fort Lee, New Jersey Police Department, we have successfully unraveled a complex mail fraud operation.”

Young will be sentenced on July 19 before U.S. District Judge Joan M. Azrack in Central Islip, New York. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.

The USPIS investigated the case. Senior Trial Attorney Ann Entwistle and Assistant Director John W. Burke of the Consumer Protection Branch are prosecuting the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanisha Payne for the Eastern District of New York is handling asset forfeiture. 

Additional information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its fraud enforcement efforts may be found at

New Jersey Man Pleads Guilty in Mass-Mailing Elder Fraud Scheme