Perfect prey: Elderly, sick easy targets for abusive caregivers

Tuesday January 21st 2014
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WHEN THE cop first laid eyes on Sakinah Robinson last August, he thought she was dead.

Her wrists and ankles were tightly bound to the four corners of a soiled bed. Except for a urine-soaked adult diaper, she was naked.

Sgt. William McNamee saw raw burn marks on her right shoulder, cuts, bruises and burns of varying sizes and shades on her face, chest, abdomen and legs. Her emaciated body was etched with wounds. She lay motionless, her head tilted to the side; her eyes open, but vacant.

The cop moved closer. “Hi,” she said, startling him.

“Oh, my God, she’s alive!” McNamee told his lieutenant before he cut her free.

Robinson, 37, was the perfect victim.

She couldn’t care for herself physically or financially. She was intellectually disabled with limited verbal skills, hidden from neighbors and unable to seek help. A forgotten soul. Read more »

Senate Committee Hosts Senior Care Roundtable Discussion in Abington

Monday January 20th 2014
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Abington – Jan. 8, 2014 – Experts and advocates for proper senior care today told a state Senate panel that there is more Pennsylvania can do to protect and care for its senior citizens.

“Pennsylvania’s growing population of senior citizens has earned the right to have healthy, happy retirement years,” said Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton/Lehigh/Monroe), who chairs the policy committee. “It is our responsibility to ensure the state’s benefit programs adequately meet their needs.”

Boscola said the purpose of the roundtable was to hear from people who work with Pennsylvania’s seniors every day and know the unique challenges they face. “It’s our obligation to shield seniors from regressive tax policies, ensure they can live safely in our communities and protect them from exploitation and abuse,” Boscola said. “Today’s panelists know what already works and what needs to be fixed. Their recommendations will help us craft policies that better meet the needs of elderly Pennsylvanians.”

Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-Phila.) called for today’s discussion because lawmakers are working to revise the state’s strategic four-year plan on aging, as well as the Older Adult Protective Services Act, and she wanted public input from panelists with extensive knowledge of which programs work and which do not.

“We recognize the needs and lifestyles of Pennsylvania’s seniors are rapidly changing, and they face a series of unique and unprecedented challenges,” Washington said. “I hope we can strengthen protections, institute tougher penalties against abusers and make more resources available to our senior citizens so they can live more fulfilled lives in their golden years.” Read more »

Scammers take aim at aging population

Monday January 6th 2014
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Roughly 21,000 times last year, physicians, social workers, family members, and other concerned residents contacted Massachusetts Protective Services authorities to report suspicions that an elderly person was being abused.

In about one third of those cases, the concern involved financial exploitation, according to state officials, a problem that is expected to grow significantly as the population ages and the number of older adults left vulnerable by Alzheimer’s disease nationwide is projected to double, and perhaps triple, by 2050.
With a potential tsunami of elder financial abuse on the horizon, researchers, health care leaders, lawyers, and lawmakers have launched a number of initiatives to better understand the size and scope of the issue and craft strategies to minimize harm.

“My expectation is that exploitation will be a growth industry,” said State Representative Paul Brodeur, a Melrose Democrat and former general counsel to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs. Brodeur successfully lobbied for the creation of a special state commission to investigate and make recommendations to Governor Deval Patrick’s administration for beefing up elder protective services.

Brodeur said the panel’s report, expected in January, will likely include a proposal to establish volunteer teams of financial experts, such as financial planners and bankers, who can be tapped to help overwhelmed protective services staffers untangle financial scams against the elderly. Read more »

Elder Exploitation: PA Hearings on Protective Services Tackle Tough Topics

Thursday January 2nd 2014
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Elder Exploitation: PA Hearings on Protective Services Tackle Tough Topics

By Katherine C. Pearson

Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives has been holding a series of hearings on elder abuse, in anticipation of potential amendments to the state’s Older Adult Protective Services Act.  The hearings offer presentations and panel discussions with experts speaking from different perspectives, including administration, law enforcement, providers, and advocates from various organizations.

I was invited to speak at the last panel on the topic of “financial exploitation,” as a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Elder Law Section, and because of my experience as the former head of Penn State Dickinson’s Elder Protection Clinic.   Other speakers included representatives of the Pennsylvania Bankers Association; community banks; credit unions; and from Area Agencies on Aging that are charged with investigation of reports of suspected abuse.  A particularly strong speaker was Linda Mill, a certified financial examiner and former banker, who is now the investigations manager for Temple University’s Institute on Protective Services. Read more »

Elder abuse: Out of the shadows and into the courtroom

Thursday January 2nd 2014
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(CALIFORNIA) An estimated 2.1 million older Americans are victims every year of elder abuse. In fact, experts believe that only one in six cases of elder abuse is reported. “Elder abuse” can be defined as the intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted individual that cause harm to a vulnerable elder. It takes many forms, including:  Emotional abuse, Physical abuse, Neglect (by the caregiver) or self-neglect, Financial exploitation

The most common risk factors include: Poor physical health, Mental health or substance abuse issues (by the elder or abuser), Social isolation or withdrawal

Whatever the form or cause, elder abuse is wrong and needs to be addressed legally whenever it raises its ugly head. What can be done?

Legal solutions

On September 5, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed Assembly Bill 381, allowing a court to award attorney’s fees and costs to seniors who are victims of those who commit financial elder abuse through using a power of attorney. Prior to this new law, elder victims could be awarded only double the damages suffered; filing the lawsuit cost so much that victims often lost money even if they won their suit. Read more »

Police: Bank manager stole more than $350,000

Thursday December 19th 2013
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A now ex-manager at First Savings Bank of Perkasie in Dublin is accused of stealing $354,000 from elderly customers’ accounts since early 2009.

Joseph Guy Policare, 57, of Brookfield Circle in Quakertown, is charged with theft, forgery, identity theft and related offenses and is being held in Bucks County prison under $750,000 bail.

The thefts came to light in November when an 83-year-old customer realized her account balance was lower than it should be, according to court records. She met with senior management at the bank, and the bank’s security director was able to confirm that withdrawals were made that she did not authorize, police said.

Investigators found that Policare had withdrawn $354,000 from 11 accounts, all belonging to elderly customers. There were 59 fraudulent transactions between January 2009 and November 2013, according to court records. Read more »

$137,000 theft from senior earns five to 10 years in jail

Tuesday December 17th 2013
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MEDIA COURTHOUSE — A Marple woman who stole more than $137,000 from her mother’s best friend was sentenced to five to 10 years in a state correctional facility Tuesday.  The sentence for Madeline J. Guglielmo runs consecutive to a one- to two-year sentence handed down by Judge Patricia Jenkins last month for violating probation on a prior theft charge.

Guglielmo, 52, of the 2500 block of Franklin Avenue in Broomall, had entered open guilty pleas in September to two counts of theft by deception, as well as one count each of criminal use of a communication facility and access device fraud, all felonies of the third degree.  One of the theft charges stemmed from a bad check Guglielmo had written to cover her mother’s burial expenses at Arlington Cemetery in Upper Darby. She was ordered to pay restitution of $1,328 in that case.

The remaining charges were related to the larger theft scam, in which Guglielmo drained the bank accounts of an 86-year-old woman between January 2012 and May 2013.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Guglielmo told the woman she needed money to help cover her husband’s medical bills. Investigators at the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division’s Senior Exploitation Unit found Guglielmo actually had gone on shopping sprees at stores, including Victoria’s Secret, Coach, Nordstrom and Sears. She had also paid Comcast and PECO bills, and made numerous cash withdrawals and transfers to her daughter’s Citizens Bank account.

Assistant District Attorney Erica Parham noted Tuesday that detectives Michele Deery, Matthew Cresta and Anthony Ruggieri only began investigating the thefts after receiving a call from a representative at the Newtown Square branch of Customers Bank for a possible theft from one of its customers. Read more »

Few elder-abuse cases lead to criminal charges, federal study indicates

Tuesday December 17th 2013
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CANADA- Only a small proportion of elder-abuse cases investigated by police result in criminal charges because victims want to maintain family relationships and fear winding up in seniors’ homes, a federal study suggests.

Canadian Justice Department researchers who looked at 453 cases of allegedly abused elderly people handled by Ottawa police over a five-year period found charges were laid in 17 per cent of files.

That’s considerably lower than the one-quarter of police probes that typically lead to charges.

In more than half of the elder-abuse cases in which no one was charged, there was either insufficient evidence or the victim refused to co-operate with police.

Possible explanations include a desire to maintain family ties, fear and anxiety about institutionalization and loss of independence, as well as factors such as financial dependency, disability or illness, the study says.

“The vulnerabilities that put older Canadians at risk of victimization can also create barriers to criminal investigations and the criminal justice system as a response.” Read more »

Mount Carmel man charged with neglect of malnourished mother

Wednesday December 4th 2013
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MOUNT CARMEL – An 86-year-old borough woman was found last month to be malnourished, dehydrated and living in wretched conditions, and her son is charged with his mother’s neglect.

Joseph Francis Campbell, 56, of 213 S. Vine St., Mount Carmel, was charged Monday by Cpl. David Donkochik with counts of neglect of a care-dependent person and forgery, both felonies, along with a misdemeanor count of recklessly endangering another person.  He was arraigned Tuesday and jailed in Northumberland County Prison, Sunbury, in lieu of $150,000 cash bail. A preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Hugh A. Jones, Mount Carmel, is scheduled for Dec. 11.

Campbell was the primary caregiver for his mother, Rose Marcoon, at their South Vine Street home. Dr. Peter McNeil, a Mount Carmel family physician, told police he hadn’t seen Marcoon since May and went to her home unannounced about 1:30 p.m. Nov. 1 to check on her well-being. He entered the unlocked home and called her name and heard her respond from upstairs.  McNeil found her in a filthy bedroom lying on a mattress stained by body fluids, her pants the same way. There were no bedsheets on the mattress, only a dirty blanket. A stale waffle was beneath the blanket and a water bottle and plate laid on the floor. Alert but disoriented, Marcoon was thirsty and hungry, her stomach concave, and there were open sores and contusions all about her body.

The doctor called for paramedics who upon arrival called for a police officer, and for the officer to bring a camera. Read more »

Elderly Maine couple’s plight moves others to give

Wednesday November 20th 2013
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Some Maine Sunday Telegram readers remember Pauline Long as the lunch lady from school. Others know her husband, Cedric, as the older man who takes walks in his Camden neighborhood and greets all the dogs with treats. Many people didn’t know them at all, but felt moved by the Longs’ story to help the elderly couple, who were financially exploited by their daughter-in-law and son.  Gary and Deborah Long got $164,000 that put his parents’ home on the line.

Regardless of their reasons, neighbors from just down the street – and strangers from as far away as Scotland and Hong Kong – had raised more than $9,200 as of Friday for the Longs.

“I read the story and was horrified by it. I lost sleep about it. I put it on Facebook and there was this miraculous rush of people asking, ‘How can we help?’ ” said Loriel Van Dusen of Camden. “I thought: ‘Why am I just sitting here? I could do something.’ ”  Van Dusen created a GoFundMe site to collect donations. She has been in touch with the Longs and their attorney, Denis Culley at Legal Services for the Elderly in Augusta, to make sure donations get handled properly.  “So many people seemed really willing to help. I thought I should strike while people’s interest was high. I wanted to make it as simple for people as possible to help,” Van Dusen said. Read more »

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