Saturday, October 10, 2015

Man sentenced to 20 years for exploiting 85-year-old woman

Willie Norris Williams
A Dothan man received a 20-year split sentence, with three years to serve in prison, after he pleaded guilty to the financial exploitation and elderly abuse of an 85-year-old woman.

Attorney Tom Brantley said his client, 51-year-old Willie Norris Williams, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of financial exploitation of the elderly.

Brantley said his client received what’s referred to as a 20-year split with three years to serve in prison. He said the court also ordered his client to serve the split sentence concurrently with another similar sentence out of Coffee County.

Geneva police investigators arrested Williams in October 2014, and charged him with felony exploitation of the elderly and felony theft by deception. Geneva Police Capt. Ricky Morgan told the Eagle at the time of the arrests that Williams trimmed the azaleas around the 85-year-old victim’s house and then presented her with a bill for $2,350. Morgan said Williams’ yard job only took him a few hours, earning him an hourly rate of $517.50.

Court records show Williams pleaded guilty earlier this year to similar charges in Coffee County. Williams received a 20-year split sentence in January with three years to serve in the Alabama Department of Corrections for two counts of felony financial exploitation of the elderly.

Enterprise police arrested Williams in April 2014 on the two felony charges. Williams was ordered to pay $8,000 restitution to the victim, who he said was the same Enterprise woman in both cases.

Williams became the second Wiregrass resident this week to plead guilty to felony financial exploitation of the elderly charges.

Karen LaRoche, 49, of Abbeville, pleaded guilty earlier this week at the Henry County Courthouse to a financial exploitation of the elderly charge involving the theft of over $20,000 from her elderly mother. LaRoche received a 5-year prison sentence, but has a probation hearing scheduled for next month.

Full Article & Source: 
Man sentenced to 20 years for exploiting 85-year-old woman

Woman charged with stealing from the elderly

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A former bookkeeper at Crowley Ridge Healthcare Center in Dexter, Missouri, was arrested Monday and charged with financial exploitation of the elderly.

Sandra D. Campbell, 48, of Dexter was allegedly using funds from the resident trust account at the center to purchase clothing items for herself.

A report states that director of operations Jo Noe and administrator Joyce Henry conducted an investigation after the business received two deliveries July 14 that were addressed to residents and Campbell.

The investigation concluded Campbell allegedly had used approximately $2,210.63 for her own purchases.

About eight victims were identified in the investigation, according to the report, and a search of the victims' belongings showed that none of the victims were in possession of the purchased items.

The report goes on to say that Noe reviewed the transaction history from 2014-2015 and found that vendors who were not ordinarily used to purchase residents' clothing and personal items were listed on transactions.

Noe also reportedly went online and printed photographs of the items Campbell allegedly bought. When presented with the photographs, the social services director and the activity director, who typically assist with shopping orders, recognized the items as having been worn by Campbell in the previous months. While interviewing different department managers, Noe was told Campbell had worn several of the items.

According to the report, Campbell also had a Facebook account under the name "Susan Montigo," where she was attempting to sell some shoes she had ordered using resident trust account funds.

The report states each item was purchased via check from Crowley Ridge Healthcare Center. Each of the checks had been signed by Campbell, and the signatures were verified.

Noe said the residents are required to sign a Resident Trust Disbursement Request, and the center has reimbursed the resident trust account.

After her arrest, Campbell's bond was set at $50,000, with 10 percent cash allowed. She later posted bond and was released.

Full Article & Source:
Woman charged with stealing from the elderly

Friday, October 9, 2015

Hearing scheduled for man accused of ripping off incapacitated brother in Lansdale

By Michael Goldberg

LANSDALE >> The case of a 65-year-old Philadelphia man arrested over the summer for allegedly writing checks from the account of his brother — who was incapacitated and a resident of a Lansdale nursing home — without permission in order to pay his own personal bills has been transferred from Lansdale district court to Whitpain district court, with a preliminary hearing that has already been twice continued now scheduled for Nov. 24, according to court records.

Theodore Vogel, of the 1600 block of Faunce Street, was taken into custody and arraigned July 31 before Lansdale District Judge Harold Borek on four counts each of second-degree felony forgery and first-degree misdemeanor bad checks, as well as two counts each of theft, receiving stolen property and possession of an instrument of crime with intent, all graded as first-degree misdemeanors.

According to court documents, a woman reported to Lansdale police that her brother-in-law — who resided at the Golden Living Center on West Fifth Street — was the victim of check fraud; she told police that she and her husband had power of attorney because the man was no longer capable of handling his own affairs.

The woman said she discovered two checks, totaling $1,050, were written from her brother-in-law’s bank account in April and May and advised that Vogel — who had access to his brother’s checkbook as he had power of attorney in the past — was the responsible party, and that no one had given Vogel permission to access the funds, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Criminal charges were filed against Vogel on July 14, records indicate.

Court personnel familiar with the matter were not immediately available Wednesday to discuss why the case was transferred.

Vogel is free on $10,000 unsecured bail while awaiting his hearing before District Judge Robert Sobeck.
Full Article & Source:
Hearing scheduled for man accused of ripping off incapacitated brother in Lansdale

Conference to focus on growing need, challenges for guardians for elderly Montanans

BILLINGS -- With Montana's population aging rapidly — a quarter will be 65 years or older by 2030, making it the fifth oldest state in the U.S. — the need for services for that population is growing as well.

Big Sky Senior Services will host the Navigating the Challenges of Guardianships conference Oct. 22 in Billings in an effort to educate professionals and the community on issues like guardianships and conservatorships, living wills and power of attorney, and dementia and capacity issues.

"What we hope to accomplish is to help people gain a better understanding of what’s involved in a guardianship and a conservatorship," said Denise Armstrong, executive director of Big Sky Senior Services.

A guardianship is a legal relationship that allows one person, often a family member or other close acquaintance, to make decisions for another relating mostly to medical and personal issues, while a conservator manages mainly property and financial affairs, Armstrong said. In both cases, a doctor must first sign off that a person doesn't have the capacity to make those decisions on their own.

Big Sky Senior Services is a Billings-based group working to enhance the quality of senior citizens' lives and prevent elder abuse. It also runs various related programs and operates the state's only guardianship council.

The all-day conference is geared toward professionals — such as medical personnel, law enforcement officials or attorneys — who may deal with such matters on the job for the first half, followed by lunch and afternoon sessions focusing more on family members and others who are or could be guardians, as well as senior citizens.

"Our main goal, really, is to prevent elder abuse," said Val Young, Big Sky Senior Service's training and outreach coordinator.

It will include breakdowns of various roles and titles and how those relationships work, information on potential frauds and scams and a keynote lunchtime presentation on how to start a successful statewide guardianship program from Diana Noel, senior legislative representative for the AARP in Washington, D.C.

"We’re working with a legislative interim committee to get some kind of state guardianship program established," Armstrong.

Montana does not currently have state standards for guardianship services or training for court officials and guardians and advocates are working with the Children, Families, Health and Human Services Interim Committee to study the issue and could eventually develop new legislation.

Getting those standards in place and educating both the public and professionals are key steps in preventing people from taking advantage of senior citizens who need help and ensuring they get necessary care, Armstrong said.

"With this aging population we have in the state, every day we hear more and more stories," she said. 

"There's so much potential for financial exploitation and even elder abuse. We want to take this out to a bigger level. The more prepared we are and more proactive we can be on this, the better off we'll be."

Full Article & Source:
Conference to focus on growing need, challenges for guardians for elderly Montanans

Palm Beach County Florida Guardianship Fraud Hotline

Using the Guardianship Fraud Hotline, you can anonymously report potential incidents of financial fraud or waste involving court-appointed guardianships over elderly, minor children and incapacitated individuals. This includes but is not limited to:
*  Missing money or property

*  Suspicious loans, funds transfers, opened or closed accounts/lines of credit

*  Suspicious purchase or sale of real or personal property

*  Violations of federal, state or local laws, rules or regulations

*  Guardian has a conflict of interest or exhibits signs of more expensive lifestyle

*  Forced removal from their home or residence

Submissions are sent directly to the Clerk & Comptroller's Division of Inspector General.

If you suspect physical abuse or neglect, please contact the Florida Department of Children and Families at 1-800-96ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).

You may also view our resources page for additional agencies that may be of assistance.

For more information about guardianships, please view our guardianship page.

Palm Beach County Florida Guardianship Fraud Hotline

Thursday, October 8, 2015

New ‘Right-to-Die’ Law May Boost Hospice, Palliative Care Numbers

The passage of so-called “right-to-die” legislation in the nation’s most populous state may lead to an increasing number of people taking advantage of hospice and palliative care — at least that’s the belief of one of the law’s architects.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the End of Life Option Act into state law on Oct. 5. The law will likely go into effect in early 2016, The Washington Post reported.

“We expect and hope that the law will lead to more questions about different options, and will lead to more people being able to take advantage of hospice and palliative care,” Toni Broaddus, Compassion & Choices’ California campaign director, told Home Health Care News.

Compassion & Choices worked to promote the passage of “right-to-die” legislation in California. The nonprofit, which aims to expand choice and improve care at the end of life, offers end-of-life consultation, referrals, guidance and planning resources free of charge.

Broaddus explained that the California law may allow end-of-life care to be discussed more openly amongst doctors and patients than in the past. Additionally, though some home health workers may care for a patient who eventually choses legal physician-assisted suicide, the workers have no obligation to be involved in any way.

“There’s certainly not any requirement for in-home health care services to do anything because of this law,” Broaddus told HHCN. “No one has to participate if they don’t want to.”

In fact, Broaddus said, most patients who take the life-ending medication are with family and loved ones, without a home health care provider present.

Brain cancer patient Brittany Maynard, who chose physician-assisted suicide in Oregon at age 29, became one of the faces of and the inspiration behind the California law. Compassion & Choices chronicled Maynard’s decision in several videos made public online.

The law has inspired fierce advocacy and opposition, and in explaining his decision to sign the bill, Gov. Brown acknowledged the moral quandary that the issues posed and will continue to pose as the law takes effect. In what be another indication of the hot-button nature of the issue, HHCN reached out to numerous home health care operators and provider associations about the legislation in California, and all declined to comment.

Full Article & Source:
New ‘Right-to-Die’ Law May Boost Hospice, Palliative Care Numbers

Driven to death by phone scammers

The phone calls wouldn't stop.

The man on the other end of the line made promises of a big payoff: millions of dollars in prize money. But first the IRS needed $1,500 in taxes, he insisted, then the jackpot would arrive at the family home, a camera crew ready to capture the excitement.

The calls came a couple of times a day; other times, nearly 50.

Mr. Albert, we need the money to be sent today ...

Don't hang up the phone, Mr. Albert ...

Mr. Albert, don't tell your wife about this ...

Albert Poland Jr. had worked 45 years for the Burlington hosiery factory in Harriman, Tennessee, starting off as a mechanic before rising to become a quality control manager.

He and his wife, Virginia, were living a humble life in the Appalachian foothills near Knoxville, having raised a son and daughter in their 62 years of marriage. The family patriarch was known simply as Daddy.

At age 81, his mind was faltering. He suffered from Alzheimer's and dementia. And the caller -- a man in Jamaica -- preyed on that vulnerability.

Poland's lucidity fluctuated. In February, he went to the local police station and asked if they could make the phone calls from the 876 area code stop. Another time, he went to the post office to send money to his caller. The teller stopped him, talked with him and handed him a brochure on Jamaican lottery scams. He thanked her.

His family tried to intervene numerous times. On one of his good days, he told his wife simply, "I'm in too deep."

On March 21, the caller asked for $1,500. Poland withdrew the maximum $400 from his ATM and sent it via Western Union. He was sure he was going to win more than $2 million. He hoped to pay off his son's mortgage and help his family for years to come.

His son, Chris Poland, was livid when his mother told him his father was talking with the caller again. Chris, 53, had had the same conversation for months with his dad; his father had sent more than $5,000 to the caller. Chris spoke with his father like most any son would. "Daddy, you taught me the value of the dollar. Why are you giving money away?"

As father and son talked by cell phone, the Jamaican called back on Poland's land line.

Mr. Albert ...

The next morning, a Sunday, was like a repeat record. More calls and another tense phone conversation between father and son.

Virginia got dressed for church. Her husband decided to stay home.

It was a beautiful spring morning, with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees and the trees a lush green. Poland strolled around his yard. A neighbor waved: "Looks like we're gonna have to start mowing soon."

"Yeah, looks like it," Poland said.

He walked to the basement of the family home. He carried with him a snub-nose .38 revolver.

In his suicide note, Poland told his family not to spend much on his funeral and said he hoped when more than $2 million arrived tomorrow, it would vindicate him.

'Truly heartbreaking'

Albert Poland was in the grips of a Jamaican lottery scammer -- part of a cottage industry that targets nearly 300,000 Americans a year, most of them elderly, and has enticed them to send an estimated $300 million annually to the Caribbean island nation.

AARP has run campaigns warning about the scams originating from the Jamaican 876 area code. The U.S. Postal Service has published pamphlets and distributed them around the country. The Senate Special Committee on Aging held hearings two years ago about the magnitude of the problem and urged U.S. and Jamaican authorities to do more.

"The Jamaican lottery scam is a cruel, persistent and sophisticated scam that has victimized seniors throughout the nation," says Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the committee's chairwoman. "It is truly heartbreaking that this scam has robbed seniors of hundreds of millions of dollars."

It's such a huge problem in Jamaica that the scams have been dubbed the highest level Tier 1 threat -- a "clear and present danger" to national security, says Peter Bunting, Jamaica's national security minister.

From children to the nation's most tech savvy 20-somethings, from a former deputy mayor of Montego Bay to the most vicious gang members, lottery scams have left few segments of the island nation untouched.

"It is extremely corrosive to the fabric of society," Bunting says. "We have seen where it has corrupted police officers. It has corrupted legitimate business persons who end up playing some role in laundering money."

The Poland family first spoke to CNN in April. Investigators are looking into Albert Poland's case and hope to provide some solace to the family soon; for now, his scammer remains at large.

From there, CNN followed the money, traveling to ground zero of the scams, Montego Bay, where we witnessed a police raid of a suspect's house.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Driven to death by phone scammers

Kansas panel recommends second suspension for judge Timothy Henderson

The state disciplinary panel wants the state Supreme Court to suspend the judge for 30 days

A state disciplinary panel has recommended a second suspension for a Kansas district court judge who was suspended earlier this year over allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct.

The Commission on Judicial Qualifications found that Sedgwick County Judge Timothy Henderson, 53, wasn’t credible and candid when he testified last year about sexual-harassment accusations against him, according to court documents obtained by The Wichita Eagle ( ).

“Testimony from a member of the Kansas bench that lacks candor and probity is unacceptable under any circumstances - but is particularly perverse when it occurs in the course of a disciplinary proceeding,” the panel said.

The panel wants the Supreme Court to suspend Henderson for 30 days and publicly censure him. The high court will decide what, if any, sanctions Henderson should face.

The state Supreme Court in February suspended Henderson from the bench without pay for three months over the first complaint against him after finding that he made “repeated inappropriate and offensive remarks” to female staff members and female prosecutors appearing in juvenile court.

Henderson did not immediately respond to a phone message left at his office Tuesday.

Henderson’s attorney, Thomas Haney, said he expects to file objections to the panel’s new findings.

Haney argues in a document filed Friday with the state Supreme Court that the panel wants to discipline Henderson again for testimony for which he has already been sanctioned.

Henderson, a Republican, had been the head judge for the juvenile court system in Sedgwick County but has since been reassigned to the court’s civil department.

The first complaint against Henderson alleged that he repeatedly made sexually inappropriate comments in front of female attorneys and staffers. It also alleged he inappropriately used his influence to prevent a local attorney from handling adult guardianship cases and that he tried to get his wife a part-time job with the local school district. Henderson disputed the accusations.

The commission heard evidence in August about whether Henderson’s earlier testimony on the matter was credible.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Kansas panel recommends second suspension for judge Timothy Henderson

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Dead lawyer's family gets to keep his illegal proceeds

The ill-gotten proceeds of a convicted pension fund lawyer will go back to his family – not  Detroit retirees – because he died while appealing his conviction, a federal judge ruled today.

Citing a legal doctrine that forgives the dead, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds erased everything that had to do with the criminal case of pension fund attorney Ronald Zajac: the guilty verdict, the indictment, and the forfeiture order that required Zajac to surrender $150,000 of his ill-gotten gains after a jury convicted him of conspiracy in a bribery scheme that cost the city’s pension funds $200 million in losses.

Edmunds ordered the $150,000 be returned to Zajac’s estate, citing a so-called abatement principle that treats convicts who die pending appeal as  “if he never had been indicted or convicted ” and any “criminal injuries or wrongs … are buried with the offender.”

“As several circuits have recognized, ‘the criminal justice system exists primarily to punish and cannot effectively punish one who has died,’" Edmunds wrote, citing case law.

Zajac, 71, who made $400,000 a year working for the pension funds, died in July of natural causes, just weeks before he was to be sentenced for conspiracy. Following his death, a lawyer representing his estate and wife, Therese Zajac, asked the court to return the $150,000 to Zajac’s estate.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Dead lawyer's family gets to keep his illegal proceeds

Abbeville woman pleads guilty to exploiting elderly mother

An Abbeville woman received a 5-year prison sentence Monday after she pleaded guilty to the financial exploitation of her elderly mother.

Court records show 49-year-old Karen Elizabeth LaRoche pleaded guilty to felony first-degree financial exploitation of the elderly in front of Circuit Court Judge Larry Anderson.

LaRoche received a 5-year sentence as part of the guilty plea. But LaRoche also submitted an application for probation, which will be heard by the court on Nov. 6. LaRoche was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, a $500 victim’s compensation free and a $525 bail bond fee.

Henry County Sheriff’s investigators arrested LaRoche in October 2014 on the felony charge.

Sheriff’s Investigator Sgt. Steve Sanders told the Dothan Eagle after he made the arrest that the victim in the case was the suspect’s 68-year-old mother, who had given power of attorney over to the suspect after the victim was hospitalized.

“She used power of attorney to steal her mother’s money. It’s going to be in excess of $20,000,” Sanders said. “The daughter went and used her mother’s money to go on a shopping spree.”

Sanders said the sheriff’s office was notified by other relatives after the victim started receiving credit card bills and collection notices for purchases she did not make.

Court records show the charge involved LaRoche moving $30,697.50 out of the victim’s savings account for her personal benefit and obtaining and misusing credit cards for personal benefit.

The charge also alleged the victim suffered a loss of medical benefits due to non-payment of premiums, the victim’s checking account regularly showing overdraft charges, and delinquent medical bills, including an assisted living balance which exceeded $11,000.

Records show the offense occurred between Aug. 26, 2013 and May 28 of 2014. 

Full Article & Source: 
Abbeville woman pleads guilty to exploiting elderly mother

Anti Depressant Drugs Can Cause Violent Behavior

By Kelly Patricia O’Meara
September 22, 2015

That’s what mainstream press such as the LA Times and Reuters are reporting, based on a new study published in a respected medical journal, PLOS Medicine, which found young adults between the ages of 15-24, were nearly fifty percent more likely to be convicted of a homicide, assault, robbery arson, kidnapping, sexual offense and other violent crime when taking the antidepressant than when they weren’t taking the psychiatric drug.

To have heavy-hitters like theLos Angeles Times cover the issue is precedent setting, as the link between psychiatric drugs and violence has long been ignored by mainstream press. But the fact thatantidepressants cause violenceisn’t a new revelation as the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) has been at the forefront of exposing this connection for nearly two decades.

CCHR’s efforts to expose the link between violence and antidepressants goes back to 1991 when CCHR helped organize hearings before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where victims and experts gathered to testify that Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) cause not only suicide but violence, including homicide.

The testimony by parents, about the violent self-inflicted deaths of their young children, was gut-wrenching. Yet, despite overwhelming data provided by experts, and the first-hand accounts of suicide and violence caused by antidepressants, the FDA Advisory Committee, many of which had financial conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical companies, refused to warn the public of the link between suicide and antidepressants, and did not provide any consideration of whether the antidepressants may be responsible for other violent behavior.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Convicted guardianship lawyer died of suicide, attorney says


Paul S. Kormanik, a Columbus lawyer who was convicted of bilking people he was paid to protect, was found dead on Monday morning in his Upper Arlington home.

The Franklin County coroner confirmed his death and said that her office is investigating the cause.
A Columbus attorney who took over some of Kormanik’s wards said Kormanik died of an apparent suicide.

Kormanik, 65, was to appear in Franklin County Probate Court on Monday to answer a charge of contempt of court for not following a court order to pay back one of his victims. Court officials did not return a call seeking comment.

In August, Kormanik pleaded guilty to four counts of stealing from people for whom he was a court-appointed guardian, and to other charges connected to taking taxpayers’ money and falsifying records.

As late as last year, Kormanik had served as a guardian for about 400 wards and boasted that he had the most wards of any guardianship attorney in the nation.

His sentencing had been set for Oct. 20 and he faced multiple years in prison.

Upper Arlington Fire Chief Jeff Young confirmed that paramedics went to Kormanik’s home on Monday morning, but said he did not have any details about the call.

Kormanik’s family issued a statement after his death became public:

“We are devastated at the loss of Paul — a loving husband, father and friend. Despite The Dispatch’s woefully misguided and misleading stories about the guardianship program and Judge Robert Montgomery’s vendetta to make Paul a scapegoat, he was a compassionate attorney who worked tirelessly on behalf of his clients for decades.”

Kormanik, who gave up his law license last year, was one of several guardians highlighted in “Unguarded,” a five-part Dispatch investigative report in May 2014. The series raised questions about how county probate courts across the state handle the care of children, the elderly and people with mental disabilities who are deemed unfit to care for themselves.

The Columbus Bar Association brought 15 charges of misconduct against Kormanik and he was stripped of several wards by Judge Montgomery before Kormanik gave up control of the rest about a year ago.

Kormanik said in spring 2014 that he was trying to help hundreds of Ohioans who had no one else to handle their affairs. He said he was the person the court turned to when no one else cared.

In addition to spurring legal action against Kormanik, the stories caused state legislators, probate judges and the Ohio Supreme Court to enact reforms for the guardianship system.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine also created new guidelines in a handbook that must be available to every guardian in the state.

Linda Gomez said she was stunned to hear of Kormanik's death. Kormanik served as the guardian of Marcia Pendleton, Gomez’s mother, until about 18 months ago.

“I know his family must be in a lot of pain, like the rest of us who have gone through this nightmare, and I really feel for them,” Gomez said. “Mr. Kormanik knew he was guilty.”

Full Article & Source:
Convicted guardianship lawyer died of suicide, attorney says 

See Also:
Lawyer charged with stealing from wards, bilking burial fund 

Investigations launched into billing by lawyers appointed as guardians

Wards of indicted guardian are missing items, relatives say

Guardianship bill needed

Lawyer indicted for theft from those he was supposed to protect 

Columbus Lawyer Gives Up All Guardianship Cases

With new guardians, wards gain new hope

Monday, October 5, 2015

Justice Department and the Corporation for National and Community Service Expand Their Partnership to Provide Legal Aid to Victims of Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Today, the Department of Justice, through its Elder Justice Initiative and its Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency which administers AmeriCorps and other national service programs, are announcing Elder Justice AmeriCorps, a new grant program to provide legal assistance and support services to victims of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation and to promote pro bono capacity building in the field.  This effort will expand a partnership between the two agencies, which includes justice AmeriCorps, a legal aid program launched in 2014 by the Department of Justice and CNCS to serve vulnerable populations.

“The Department of Justice is committed to continuing to investigate and prosecute those who prey on our nation’s elders and to support and empower victims through programs like Elder Justice AmeriCorps,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.  “As a prosecutor I have seen firsthand the devastating emotional, financial and physical consequences of elder abuse and exploitation.  Too often victims need legal assistance to help them address multiple issues, such as safe housing and medical care, but have trouble getting help at all, much less through one, comprehensive legal service provider.  This innovative program will offer the holistic delivery of comprehensive legal services for elder abuse victims.”

“We are very pleased to be expanding our partnership with the Department of Justice to protect vulnerable populations,” said CEO Wendy Spencer of the Corporation for National and Community Service.  “By harnessing the power of national service and encouraging a new generation of lawyers to assist victims of elder abuse and financial exploitation, we will raise awareness of and combat problems affecting millions of Americans each year.”

The Elder Justice AmeriCorps program, which is intended to complement existing Office for Victims of Crime grants to support the development of legal assistance networks providing comprehensive, pro bono legal services for victims of crime, will consist of a single grant to an intermediary organization that will support approximately 60 full-time AmeriCorps positions for each year of the two-year program.  Interested applicants can review the Notice of Funding Opportunity at

*     *     *

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund and other programs and leads President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve.  For more information, visit

The Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative supports the Department’s law enforcement efforts against nursing homes and other long-term care providers that provide grossly substandard care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and coordinates the department’s elder justice policy and programmatic efforts.  For example, in September 2014, the Elder Justice Initiative launched the Elder Justice website, a resource for victims of elder abuse and financial exploitation and their families; practitioners who serve them; law enforcement agencies and prosecutors; and researchers seeking to understand and address this silent epidemic.

The Office for Victims of Crime administers the Crime Victims Fund.  OVC channels funding for victim compensation and assistance throughout the United States, raises awareness about victims’ issues, promotes compliance with victims’ rights laws, supports innovative programming for crime victims, including federal crime victims and provides training, technical assistance and  resources to practitioners who work with crime victims. 

Updated September 30, 2015

Full Article & Source:
Justice Department and the Corporation for National and Community Service Expand Their Partnership to Provide Legal Aid to Victims of Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation

Workshop set in St. Augustine to help older residents avoid scams

Posted: October 2, 2015 - 11:47pm

A workshop on avoiding financial exploitation is scheduled for older residents and their family members and caregivers, according to a news release from the state’s chief financial officer.

The program is called Operation S.A.F.E. (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation), Be Scam Smart, and is part of Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater’s On Guard for Seniors initiative, according to the release.

The workshop will be from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday at River House at 179 Marine St. in St. Augustine.

The workshop will help people learn more about scams, including identifying fraudulent behavior, common scams that target older people, fighting identity theft and resources for staying safe.

“Be Scam Smart workshops are open to seniors, their family and caregivers to help inform, empower, and protect Florida’s seniors from financial scams and fraud,” according to the release. “If you want to make sure your savings are protected, register for this workshop and get a better understanding of how scam artists and scams work.”

For more, go to or call 1-877-693-5236.

Full Article & Source:
Workshop set in St. Augustine to help older residents avoid scams

County, hospitals collaborate to extend guardianship program

The Kent County Board of Commissioners made a commitment to vulnerable adults at a recent meeting.

Commissioners on Sept. 24 approved a public-private deal with two area hospitals to ensure the Kent County Public Guardianship Program would survive state budget cuts to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The DHHS cut the Adult Protective Services worker who oversaw the program amid departmental restructuring.

The Public Guardianship Program helps provide for impoverished adults who suffer from medical or mental health conditions. It services approximately 900 people suffering from health conditions, including 383 labeled “indigent” and unable to pay guardian fees, according to a release from the county. Guardians help handle finances and make sure medical care is received.

“The DHHS cuts would leave these vulnerable adults with no one to care for them. This could have led to tragic outcomes,” Kent County Administrator/Controller Daryl Delabbio said in a written statement.

“Over the past year, county staff from Probate Court and my office looked at a tough situation and found a sound resolution with great partners: Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, Spectrum Health and the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan,” he said.

“There is no other program like this in the state of Michigan,” Delabbio added.

To maintain the program’s presence, Spectrum Health and Mercy Health Saint Mary’s each will provide $50,000 annually for the next three years to support the program.

Both hospitals recognized the importance of the Guardianship Program to Kent County, said Mercy Health Saint Mary’s President Bill Manns and Spectrum Health Hospital Group’s President Tina Frees-Decker in the release.

“This program helps patients who lack the capacity to make health care decisions,” Freese-Decker said. “Having qualified individuals with legal authority to make decisions on behalf of these patients helps ensure appropriate levels of care in the right environment, in the best interest of the patient.”

The vote was unanimous, which pleased Probate Court Judge David Murkowski.

“We had a lot of good people come together and collaborate on this,” Murkowski said. “This action makes me proud to live in Kent County.”

Full Article & Source:
County, hospitals collaborate to extend guardianship program

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Overmedicated and Misinformed

Oldie but Goodie

The use of antipsychotic drugs on the elderly has sparked a series of lawsuits and criticism from reform groups and advocates fighting for better regulation and enforcement.

According to federal government statistics, 16 percent of residents in California nursing homes are on antipsychotic drugs. Although these drugs are often used to control and sedate residents, they also pose an increased risk of death in patients with dementia.

To blur the lines even more, the FDA has not approved the use of antipsychotic drugs on elderly patients diagnosed with dementia.

In this segment of "SoCal Connected," reporter Val Zavala reveals the story of retired preschool teacher Aleah Davis, who filed a lawsuit against a nursing home company, Country Villa.

"I always ask what I'm getting, and now I am able to tell when I get the medication what’s in the cup.  I've learned to ask and I have learned that I have rights," Davis told KCET's "SoCal Connected."

Current law requires doctors to obtain a patient's informed consent before prescribing antipsychotics.

A recent campaign to reduce antipsychotic use in nursing homes has been successful, but reformers say progress is not enough and thousands of nursing home residents are still being overmedicated.

What is being done to change the culture of overmedication within nursing home? Zavala investigates.

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Overmedicated and Misinformed

Experts offer tips on how older residents can protect themselves from financial exploitation

KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana
It happens too often — elderly residents being targeted by people they trust.

Last week, 42-year-old Mark Eldridge was accused of stealing around $4,000 from an elderly man who trusted Eldridge with his finances, even giving him power of attorney. The loss of the money led to the foreclosure of victim's home.

"I believe this guy saw this elderly gentleman; he was vulnerable, took advantage of him; cleaned him out," said LaWanda Gibson, managing attorney for Acadiana Legal Services. She works closely with the Calcasieu Council on Aging and speaks with elderly residents several times a week who fall victim to the same thing.

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said his office hears about these incidents daily. He advised seniors to be careful when choosing someone to handle their financial responsibilities.

"You have to pick somebody that you trust and they have to have a clear understanding of what your goals are and your objectives are about how you want them to spend your money," said Mancuso.

Gibson said there are three major signs elderly residents need to look out for with financial exploitation.

"Check your bank statements. If there's a withdrawal out your account that you're not aware about, follow up on it. If you're getting calls from bill collectors you're not familiar with, if you're getting credit cards that you did not apply for," said Gibson.

"There's always a way to put in some checks and balances. The best way is to have more than one person who have no affiliation with each other to check the other one's work," said Mancuso.

If you believe you may be a victim of financial exploitation, contact law enforcement.

"A predator can be a family member; it can be a stranger. If they find a vulnerable spot, they're going to take advantage of it," said Gibson.

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office is hosting a safety for seniors seminar. The seminar is free for all seniors ages 55 or older who are interested in their personal and financial safety. It will be held 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m.Wednesday, Oct.  28 at the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office, in the John Scott Doyle Building, at 5400 East Broad Street.

The seminar will feature presentations on personal protection, identity theft, how to avoid being a victim of fraud, and  ho to be prepared. Call 337-491-3737 to RSVP.

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Experts offer tips on how older residents can protect themselves from financial exploitation

NY Using $300K in Funding to Crack Down on Financial Exploitation of Older, Vulnerable Adults

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state will use a $300,000 federal grant to crack down on the financial exploitation of older and vulnerable adults.

According to the governor's office, the funding will support a two-year pilot program to expand Adult Protective Services in Onondaga County and Queens, while serving as a blueprint for the rest of the state.

"We are launching a major offensive in the fight against elder abuse and financial exploitation,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This program will strengthen our ability to catch and prosecute those who prey on our seniors and vulnerable adults, and it will help us to protect New Yorkers from suffering irreparable financial harm.”

The competitive grant was awarded by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

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NY Using $300K in Funding to Crack Down on Financial Exploitation of Older, Vulnerable Adults