Latest Stories

Police: Couple stole from mom, 88, in nursing home

Friday May 22nd 2015

MAHONING TWP. — A son and his wife allegedly stole more than $13,000 from his 88-year-old mother who lives in a nursing home, resulting in her account drained and her owing money for her care.

Mahoning Township Police Chief Chad Thomas charged Steven J. Wesolowski, 58, and Christine S. Wesolowski, 63, of 123 Pepper Hills, each with forgery, access device misuse, theft and receiving stolen property.

Lacy Temple, of the Columbia-Montour Aging Office, provided an initial report to police on Feb. 24, 2014, that Sara Wesolowski, of Emmanuel Nursing Center, had $13,138 stolen from her. After the aging office completed its report, Thomas was notified about July 28. Read more »

25-year-old convicted in Jamaican lottery scam

Friday May 22nd 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A 25-year-old man was convicted Thursday for his role in a Jamaican lottery scam that authorities say cost victims around the country millions of dollars.

 Sanjay Williams, of Montego Bay, Jamaica, was found guilty of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering and faces up to 40 years in prison.
Investigators described Williams primarily as a “lead broker” who bought and sold “sucker lists” of potential victims. He was the only one of 32 defendants to opt for trial; about a dozen defendants are awaiting extradition from Jamaica.

Prosecutors said Williams, who was arrested in North Carolina, was the first person from Jamaica convicted of selling the lead lists used in the scam.

“I hope it makes a difference,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Clare Hochhalter said. “I hope it sends a message to the people who continue doing this crime.” Read more »

Keeping an eye on the Bank of Mum

Wednesday May 20th 2015

Australians are living longer and living richer than at any time in our history. The Intergenerational Report predicts that 40,000 people will celebrate their 100th birthday in 2055. Some older women will enjoy their wealth – travelling the world, with their luggage broadcasting that they are ‘spending their children’s inheritance’. Others will live in an aged care facility while their children keep their eyes peeled on the ‘Bank of Mum’.

State Trustees Victoria report ‘For Love or Money: intergenerational management of older Victorians’ assets’ shows that women over the age of 80 are most at risk of financial elder abuse. This research found that adult sons are the most common perpetrators.

Financial elder abuse involves taking or misusing an older person’s money, property or assets. Studies confirm that financial abuse is the fastest-growing type of abuse of older women. So much so that Senior Rights Victoria suggested the terms of reference for the Royal Commission into Family Violence should include elder abuse. Read more »

Stepping up protection for the elderly

Wednesday May 20th 2015

Everyone knows, right, that the elderly are among the most vulnerable members of our society. It’s the fastest growing segment of the population in the United States — what with about 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day — not that 65 is the threshold for being elderly.

The point is that this demographic controls a lot of money, which makes it a prime target for advisers seeking to build their business. You’ve probably heard the numbers: Baby boomers hold around $15 trillion in assets and the generational wealth transfer is estimated at more than $30 trillion.

Between 2031 and 2045, 10% of total wealth in the U.S. is expected to change hands every five years, according to Accenture.

But 2031 is still a long way off. The immediate problem is advisers taking advantage of folks who may not be as sharp as they once were. Whether it’s selling inappropriate products or outright stealing, there appears to be no shortage of financial advice practitioners who see no harm in doing just that. Read more »

Teresa Osborne confirmed as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging

Wednesday May 20th 2015
Teresa Osborne confirmed as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging

HARRISBURG — Teresa Osborne is the new secretary of the Department of Aging.

Osborne was confirmed Wednesday by a unanimous vote by the Senate.

A native of Scranton, Osborne served as executive director of the Luzerne/Wyoming Counties Area Agency on Aging. She previously served as chancellor and chief operating officer of the Diocese of Scranton, and prior to that, was executive director of the Lackawanna County Department of Human Services and the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging.

Osborne also served on the Mayor’s Task Force on Law Enforcement & Mental Health in Scranton.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to spearhead Governor (Tom) Wolf’s initiatives as they relate to our older Pennsylvanians,” Osborne said in a news release announcing her appointment. “Serving in this position of public trust will allow me to continue to provide opportunities to help older adults live with independence and dignity in their own homes and communities, and to be a proactive and visible advocate for older citizens by working with other state agencies, the Aging Network and the General Assembly.” Read more »

Hobbled Korean War vet, wife, abducted by three women

Monday April 27th 2015

An 86-year-old Korean War veteran and his 55-year-old wife told police they were kidnapped Thursday morning by three women who forced them to open a bank account and rent two cars for them.

Shaken and unharmed but indignant, the couple on Saturday recounted the bizarre tale of their six-hour abduction ordeal. Police said five people, including one of the alleged kidnappers, have been arrested.

George Saunders and his wife, Priscilla Jones, of Southwest Philadelphia, said they were walking – with the aid of canes – to a convenience store for groceries about 11 a.m. Thursday on the 3000 block of Pennsgrove Street in West Philadelphia. Three women pulled up alongside them in a gray Chrysler Town & Country minivan and asked if they needed a ride.

The couple said they told the women no, but were pushed into the vehicle. In the backseat was a 5-month-old boy – and to Jones’ dismay, the women were smoking marijuana, she said.

“That was a hell of an experience. I never had anyone do me like that,” Jones said. “I couldn’t say nothing – all I could do was pray. I said, ‘Please God, get me out of this.”

Read more »

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Monday April 27th 2015

The Institute on Protective Services is now on Twitter @InstituteOnPS and Facebook Institute on Protective Services.  Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to keep up with the latest in the field of #ElderJustice.

Mount Carmel man withdraws elder abuse no contest plea

Monday April 27th 2015

SUNBURY – A Mount Carmel man, who previously pleaded no contest to three criminal charges for neglecting his elderly mother and forging her pension checks totaling more than $1,150, withdrew his plea Monday morning because he claims he’s innocent of the offenses.

Joseph Francis Campbell, 57, who was scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Charles Saylor on felonies of neglect of a care-dependent person and forgery, and a misdemeanor of recklessly endangering another person, will now face a hearing to determine if Saylor will accept the withdrawal of his plea.

Campbell’s public defender Paige Rosini told the judge, “Mr. Campbell is asserting his innocence in this matter and is withdrawing his plea.”

Saylor instructed Rosini to file a motion to withdraw her client’s plea. He said a hearing will be scheduled where the defense can argue its reasons for withdrawal and the commonwealth can oppose it by showing substantial prejudice would be created by the move.

On Jan. 13, which was the same day a jury was being selected for his scheduled Jan. 29 trial, Campbell pleaded no contest to the charges.

Additional charges were scheduled not to be prosecuted under a plea agreement with the district attorney’s office.

At that time, Saylor ordered a pre-sentence investigation and proposed a sentence of 22 to 44 months in a state correctional institution followed by probation.

Read more »

Is Harper Lee killing her own Mockingbird?

Monday April 6th 2015

In February, the internationally acclaimed novelist Harper Lee surprised the world with news that in July, HarperCollins will publish her second novel, Go Set a Watchman. The publisher unveiled the cover two weeks ago. Written before her masterwork To Kill a Mockingbird, this one had been buried in a drawer for decades.

Long ago, the author, certain that Mockingbird was her first and last work, decided that Watchman should not be published. Fifty years later, she changed her mind.

Some wonder, though, whether Lee is yet another older adult who’s a victim of fraud and abuse. The state of Alabama is investigating. Lee is 88 and resides in an assisted-living facility. Friends say she suffers from memory, hearing, and vision loss. Her day-to-day affairs are supervised by the same lawyer who discovered the long-lost novel and negotiated its publication.

How would we know that Lee was capable of making the decision to publish a novel she long ago swore not to publish?

Cases such as hers are an immense public-health problem. Changes in older adults’ cognition and need for help with daily tasks, together with accumulated lifetime wealth, make them easy prey for those who want to exploit or abuse them. And if they lose their wealth, they have limited, if any, ability to start over and recover their losses. As a result, family or the state need to step in and pay.

This case is somewhat atypical. Publishing Watchman will in fact add to Lee’s already-substantial wealth (sales of Mockingbird earn her about $9,000 a day). But her case highlights an even more disturbing feature of elder abuse. It harms the person’s dignity and sullies the denouement of lives otherwise well-lived and self-determined.

For Lee, publishing Watchman will reshape her carefully lived legacy. Is she, in some sense, mistakenly killing her own mockingbird?

Read more »

Sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing from elderly clients

Thursday March 26th 2015

A Northfield (NJ) attorney who used her work with elderly clients to bilk them out of millions was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday.

“I and I alone allowed this to happen,” Barbara Lieberman told the judge before being sentenced. “I alone put my law license and the integrity of the legal profession at risk. I’m fully to blame here, your honor.”

Lieberman, 63, must serve at least 3½ years in prison before she is eligible for parole under a plea agreement. She also forfeited $3 million in restitution and an additional $1.4 million in taxes, penalties and other fees. She lost her license as well.

The case began when the Office of the Guardian came forward about a woman they believed was being financially exploited, State Police Sgt. Richard Wheeler explained.

“She was feisty,” Wheeler said of the victim, Irma Schwarzberg, 93, who was living in a senior facility in Cape May Court House. Schwarzberg, who died at 94, lost $112,000.

Wheeler and Deputy Attorney General Yvonne Maher combed through bank records and reams of paperwork for 2½ years to tie together a case that ended up with 17 named victims defrauded of nearly $3.9 million, allegedly split among Lieberman and four others who were all recently indicted in the case.

Read more »

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