A safe place for abused seniors

Thursday February 12th 2015

Senior citizens who become the victims of abuse now have access to a special, temporary shelter through a new program run by a Rockville-based organization that provides housing and services for seniors.

The ElderSAFE Center, established within the Charles E. Smith Life Communities in September 2014, offers “a full panoply” of senior-focused medical services that other shelters might not be able to provide, said Tovah Kasdin, a former prosecutor who is now the director of the center.

An inaugural celebration for the center was held Jan. 28.

The abuse encountered by seniors can be physical, psychological, sexual or even financial, Kasdin, said. Read more »

Pittsburgh woman accused of swindling more than $13,000 from elderly aunt

Thursday February 12th 2015

A Pittsburgh woman accused of using her power of attorney to swindle more than $13,000 from her elderly aunt surrendered Tuesday in Pittsburgh Municipal Court.  Stacey Bright, 52, was charged Feb. 6 with misuse of entrusted property and theft by unlawful taking after the district attorney’s office received a tip from Department of Aging investigator Carol Catanzaro.
According to the criminal complaint, Bright’s aunt, Julie Bright, suffered a stroke in her San Francisco home in 2011. She had given her power of attorney to Stacey Bright, who moved her aunt to her North Side home in April 2013.   From Sept. 1, 2013 until now, Julie Bright has been in three different assisted-care homes, according to the complaint. Catanzaro told police she obtained copies of Julie Bright’s bank records — still held in San Francisco — and found various debit card purchases that did not appear to be for her, according to the complaint. In addition, several large checks were made payable to Stacey Bright.
Court papers listed no attorney for Bright. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 18.
This article was written by Megan Guza for TribLive.com

Senate Special Committee on Aging Hearing

Thursday February 5th 2015

The Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on financial exploitation of vulnerable older adults on Wednesday, February 4. The hearing is titled, “Broken Trust:  Combating Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Seniors.”

Present at the hearing was: U.S. Senator Susan M. Collins (Maine); U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (Missouri); Judith Shaw, Securities Administrator of Maine and president-elect of the North American Securities Administrators Association; Kathleen Quinn, Executive Director of the National Adult Protective Services Association; and Page Ulrey, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Elder Abuse team, King County, Washington.

View the taped hearing on C-Span.org.

Chambersburg woman pleads no contest in death of mother

Thursday February 5th 2015

CHAMBERSBURG >> A Chambersburg woman pleaded no contest Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter for allegedly criminally neglecting her mother Harriett Wolfe, resulting in her death.

Linda R. Brown, 61, entered the plea agreement to the first degree misdemeanor charge to Franklin County judge Jeremiah D. Zook, a change from her original charge of first degree felony neglect of a care-dependant person. An additional misdemeanor level charge by the same name was withdrawn. The agreement states that Brown acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence to prove guilt.

According to court documents, Wolfe was living with her daughter Brown in May 2013 when the first complaint was filed. Wolfe had been living there for around three and a half years.

On March 13, 2013 a Comfort Keepers employee who was taking care of the bedridden Wolfe once a week said she told Brown that her mother was developing bed sores on her hips and heels. The employee told Brown that she should take her mother to the doctor.

The employee reported that the bed sores started to get bigger and deeper. She told investigators she noticed Wolfe had lost so much weight that her dentures did not fit properly, according to court documents. The employee reported that she would try to find soft food to feed Wolfe, but it was hard to find in the home. The employee said that Brown was still attempting to give her mother chicken and steak, but if her mother could not eat those options Brown would not feed her anything else.

Read more »

2nd Pa. Atty Disbarred Over Role In Annuities Scheme

Monday January 26th 2015

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday disbarred a second attorney involved in a scheme to aggressively market living trusts to senior citizens using nonattorneys, who allegedly sold the legal services based on exaggerations and misrepresentations.

The order against Barry O. Bohmueller comes on the heels of the disbarment of his alleged partner in the scheme and law school classmate, Brett Weinstein. A five-judge panel voted 3-2 to disbar Bohmueller on Friday, with the two dissenters recommending a five-year suspension.

Sales pitches included false claims that a living trust-based plan was superior to a will-based plan. In one case, a nonattorney salesperson told a client that a will-based plan would end up incurring some $70,000 in court costs for a $700,000 estate, when in fact, the figure would have been closer to $700.

“Not only did he fail to communicate with his clients about the representation and the clients’ objectives, he allowed the nonlawyer agents to step into his role and counsel and advise his clients without his presence or oversight,” the court’s disciplinary board said in a recommendation to disbar Bohmueller.

The recommendation said Bohmueller and Weinstein had used nonlawyer agents who worked for various estate planning companies to sell policies. The agents would visit potential clients, who were usually senior citizens identified through advertisements, seminars or cold calls.
Read more »

New England financial advisor admits he stole $645,000 from elderly

Tuesday January 20th 2015

BOSTON (WGME) – A New England financial advisor is going to prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his clients.

“It’s taken me awhile to get myself back on my feet. I’m still not on my feet,” fraud victim Dorothy Kerzner said.  Kerzner has a hard time accepting she lost more than $250,000 to a man she trusted with her investments.  “I had confidence in him. He came to my house. I went to his house,” she said.

She considered John Babiarz her financial advisor and a friend. He was her advisor for many years until an investigator came to her door to tell her a significant portion of her life savings was gone.  Babiarz told Kerzner he was liquidating some of her investments to purchase Facebook stock for her portfolio. Instead, he used that money to purchase a new home for his family — in cash.

“I could not get Dorothy to understand what had happened to the bulk of her life savings until I showed her a copy of the check and on the reverse of the check and she saw her endorsement and then the deposit stamp of that deposit going into an attorney account. That’s the time she realized she was defrauded,” postal inspector Fred Busch said.

Dorothy was not alone. Seven victims lost about $650,000 dollars in just 12 months.
Read more »

No contest plea in neglect case

Thursday January 15th 2015

SUNBURY – A Mount Carmel man pleaded no contest Monday to three criminal charges for neglecting his elderly mother and forging her pension checks totaling more $1,150.

Joseph Francis Campbell, 57, entered the plea to felonies of neglect of a care-dependent person and forgery, and a misdemeanor of recklessly endangering another person on the day a jury was being selected for his trial that was scheduled for Jan. 29.  Additional charges were not prosecuted under a plea agreement with the district attorney’s office.

Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor ordered a pre-sentence investigation.  The judge will sentence Campbell within 90 days.  Saylor proposed a sentence of 22 to 44 months in a state correctional institution followed by probation.

Campbell, who was represented by public defender Paige Rosini, was charged by Mount Carmel Cpl. David Donkochik with eight felony counts of forgery for allegedly forging and cashing eight pension checks belonging to his mother, Rose Marcoon, 86, between Aug. 5 and Nov. 4, 2013. Some of the checks were forged after Marcoon was hospitalized, police said.

Read more »

Couple pleads guilty to fatally neglecting 70-year-old stroke victim

Monday January 5th 2015

A Ross Township couple is awaiting sentencing after entering guilty pleas Friday to third-degree murder for fatally neglecting a 70-year-old stroke victim left in their care.

John Tedesco, 45, and Tina Tedesco, 38, each face 12 to 40 years in state prison in the 2011 death of Barbara Rabins, 70. The couple entered guilty pleas to third-degree murder in exchange for other charges against them being dropped.

Had they instead gone to trial and been convicted by a jury, each would have faced a minimum of 20 years in prison, a higher minimum within the state sentencing range guidelines for this particular crime. But since both agreed to plead guilty, part of the deal is for each to face a lesser minimum within the sentencing range guidelines.

Though the couple has entered guilty pleas, Monroe County Court Judge Art Zulick will decide whether to accept their pleas after reviewing pre-sentencing investigation reports, which contain information about the defendants and their case to help the judge determine how severe to make the sentences under state guidelines. If Zulick for whatever reason denies either or both pleas, either or both defendants will go to trial.

On Aug. 18, 2011, Rabins’ body was found in the Tedescos’ living room. Rabins was in a wheelchair, wearing a soiled diaper with her body covered in sores and open wounds and her hands and fingernails caked with her own feces, according to last year’s preliminary hearing testimony and autopsy photos.

The Tedescos left Rabins — who was partially paralyzed with limited ability to move around — unkempt, unwashed and in her own filth. She died from dehydration while choking on a 2-inch piece of cheese found in her throat, county Deputy Coroner Cindy Skrzypek said.

Read more »

Gambling addicted bank manager gets federal prison for stealing from elderly customers

Monday January 5th 2015

HARRISBURG – Former bank manager Tiffany K. Look was visibly distraught even before a federal judge walked into the courtroom Monday morning.

She had reason to be.

Moments later, U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones III sentenced Look, 40, of Harrisburg, to 2 years in federal prison for stealing nearly $140,000 from elderly customers.

Look’s lawyer, A. Mark Winter, said she committed the crimes while in the grip of a gambling addiction.

“At the end of the day, I knew right from wrong. And I chose wrong,” a tearful and apologetic Look told the judge. “I have no excuses.”

“This is the most virulent gambling addiction I’ve ever seen,” Jones said. “This is a fairly audacious and almost inexplicable crime. I guess the casinos pulled you down.”

Look’s sentencing came seven months after federal authorities charged her with stealing from four customers of Mid Penn Bank and Members 1st Federal Credit Union between 2007 and 2013. She was a manager at Members 1st’s Camp Hill branch when the crimes were discovered in late 2013.

Look pleaded guilty to a federal mail fraud charge.

Two of her victims were homebound with medical problems. Look also stole from the account of a customer who died from cancer in his mid-50s.

Read more »

N.H. elder abuse law meant to protect elderly from exploitation by ‘people they trust’

Friday December 19th 2014

Lawmakers and advocates are hopeful a new law set to take effect Jan. 1 will help protect the state’s elderly and disabled populations from financial exploitation.Each year nearly $3 billion is lost nationally through abuse of elderly victims, said Concord Rep. Katherine Rogers, a prime sponsor of the bill that Gov. Maggie Hassan signed this year.
The new law makes financial abuse of elderly, disabled or otherwise impaired adults a crime, and it will authorize law enforcement to investigate such activity when accusations are made.  “Prior to this, they would say it’s a family matter,” said Susan Staples, who coordinates an elder financial abuse community response team. “With the new statute, it’s easier to investigate and prosecute.”
The law isn’t geared toward scams, Staples said, but rather financial abuse committed by a family member, caretaker or a person known by the victim, which makes up two-thirds of this type of crime. “We’re concerned about exploitation by people they trust,” Staples said.Officials warned that financial abuse picks up during this time of year, and they urged people to contact their banks or financial advisors if they suspect any crime is being committed.
This article was written for and published in the Concord Monitor.

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