Erie-area man convicted of stealing from elderly woman

Monday November 24th 2014

A 91-year-old woman’s dementia is so severe that she could not testify at the trial of a Wesleyville man accused of stealing $15,000 from her in 2012 and 2013.

The defendant, David Burrows, testified the woman knew what she was doing when she gave him power of attorney over her finances.

The jurors rejected Burrows’ argument. With the woman’s mental state as the main evidence, they convicted him Friday of six charges, including four counts of theft and a count of misapplication of entrusted property. The jury deliberated 90 minutes to end the three-day trial in Erie County Court. Burrows’ first trial ended in a mistrial in September in a dispute over evidence.

Burrows, 54, has a prior record for elder abuse. His past could come up at his sentencing, which Judge John Garhart set for Jan. 29. Burrows was sentenced in 2005 to six months to three years in state prison and two years of probation for neglecting an 85-year-old man he was supposed to have cared for, using $2,500 a month from the man. Authorities found the man emaciated and caked in his own waste while living in Burrows’ basement.

In the latest case, Assistant District Attorney Michael Burns argued that the woman, who turns 92 on Sunday and lives in a nursing home, lacked the mental capacity to give Burrows valid written power of attorney. A psychologist testified the woman suffers from delirium and dementia. And even had the power of attorney been valid, Burns said, Burrows improperly spent what was entrusted to him. “This defendant took advantage of a woman who was weak and vulnerable,” Burns said. He said he will ask that Burrows pay $15,000 in restitution. Read more »

Fighting for Lancaster County’s most “vulnerable” victims — the elderly and disabled

Monday November 24th 2014

The elderly.
Adults and children with disabilities.
“I’m driven to protect the most vulnerable,” the 44-year-old mother of three said last week.
Often times, they are elderly widows or widowers duped of savings by a trusted confidant.
Or a mentally- or physically-disabled person victimized by someone close to them.
About 100 such cases have come into King’s office since she took over the county’s elder/care-dependent abuse unit last year.
And that number is expected to keep climbing as more seniors are living here and statewide.
“It’s an attractive county for them to retire to,” she said from her office at the county courthouse on North Duke Street. “We have such a growing population of elderly. We see more and more of these cases.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging estimates that 3.3 million seniors — roughly a quarter of the population — will be living in the state by 2020.
Logic, King said, points to a correlating increase in instances of abuse. Read more »

Supreme Court announces new measures to combat elder abuse

Thursday November 20th 2014

Pennsylvania has the fourth largest population of senior citizens in the country – and that number is growing.

Come January they will have an office within the state court system dedicating to improving the response of the judiciary and government agencies to elder abuse and neglect.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said today it wil open an Office of Elder Justice in the Courts, which is one of 130 recommendations made by the court’s Elder Abuse Task Force.

In its 284-page report, the 38-member panel detailed a slew of recommendations to tackle issues in the courts and other government agencies involving guardianship, elder abuse and neglect and overall access to justice.  (Access report here)

“If societies are judged on how they help their most vulnerable, then now is the time to craft solutions as older Pennsylvanians increasingly face life-altering, physical, emotional and financial abuses by those who take advantage of our elders,” said Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille.

Task force chair Justice Debra Todd said it was imperative the state make changes to address the rapidly aging population.

“The increasing population of elders anticipated during the next 20 years is likely to result in a substantial increase in court cases regarding the protection of vulnerable elderly persons, including guardianship, elder abuse proceedings and other types of cases. This report is a blueprint on how the courts and others can tackle that challenge.”

There are nearly 2.7 million people (21.4 percent) of the population age 60 and older and by 2020 about 3.3 million residents are expected to be over 60.

Research suggests that one out of every 10 people 60 years and older who lives at home suffers abuse, neglect or exploitation and that 44 percent of nursing home residents report abuse or neglect,

Also approved was the creation of an Advisory Council on Elder Justice in the Courts, to serve as a liaison to the executive and legislative branches and to advise the Supreme Court.

Other recommendations include:

Distributing a “Bill of Rights of an Alleged Incapacitated Person” to inform alleged incapacitated persons, interested family members, concerned parties and guardians when a person is served with a petition for guardianship and at the time the person is adjudicated incapacitated.

Read more »

Man faces up to 62 years in prison for bilking woman

Friday November 14th 2014

With his response becoming quieter and quieter as he pleaded guilty in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas to each of eight charges, an elderly Meadville woman’s former financial adviser now faces more than six decades in prison.

When he is sentenced in January, David E.A. Seagren, 69, of Bradford could be sentenced to up to 62 years in prison, receive $140,000 in fines and have to pay nearly $190,000 in restitution.

Seagren pleaded guilty Thursday before President Judge Anthony J. Vardaro to a total of six counts of theft by deception and two counts of forgery filed by Meadville Police Department for taking thousands of dollars from a 97-year-old woman’s bank accounts and using the money himself. Read more »

Attorney General Kane announces arrest of Philadelphia man for Medicaid fraud

Friday November 7th 2014

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Kane today announced Medicaid fraud and other charges against a Philadelphia man for defrauding more than $82,000 by claiming to care for his brother when he was being cared for by a hospital, and after he died.

The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Section presented evidence to a statewide investigating Grand Jury, which recommended charges against Terrance Jenkins, 61, 535 Mckinley St., Philadelphia.

According to the Grand Jury, Jenkins was responsible for providing care for his brother and was reimbursed through the Department of Public Welfare’s Independence Waiver Program. Read more »

York County forms task force to combat elder abuse

Wednesday November 5th 2014

A new task force will aim to combat an increasing problem in York County: Elder abuse.

The new initiative will see members of the private sector team up with local law enforcement and county officials to identify needs of the county’s older adults in order to better protect them from abuse.

Dianna Benaknin, director of the county’s Area Agency on Aging, said her office receives 60 reports of abuse a month. But there could be even more that are never reported to officials.

“We worry about the cases of abuse that (are reported), that we see, but there are many that we don’t know about,” Benaknin said.

Task force: The task force, one of many already up and running in counties across the state, is a collaboration with the Pennsylvania Institute on Protective Services at Temple University and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. Read more »

My child, my abuser

Wednesday November 5th 2014

(SINGAPORE) An elderly widow entrusted the sale of her Housing Board flat to her only child, only to have her daughter pocket the proceeds, dump her mother in hospital and disappear.

Three years on, the daughter is still missing. The mother is still alive, with dementia and in a nursing home.

Around a third of close to 100 victims of elder abuse were cheated of their savings or property or harassed for money by family members, according to a new study by Trans Safe Centre, a voluntary welfare agency which specialises in the issue.

More than half of the victims were physically abused – beaten up, punched, pushed or scratched – and seven in 10 reported being psychologically abused, facing threats, taunts and insults.  Eight in 10 victims were women, usually mothers, while half of the abusers were sons, and a fifth of them, daughters.

The study by social workers Odelia Chan, Ho Gang Hiang and Tan Ching Yee looked only at “substantiated” cases of abuse, where there was physical evidence of wrongdoing or where the abuse had been witnessed by a third party. The victims were aged 60 and above.  While there were fewer cases of financial exploitation than verbal or physical abuse, the numbers may well rise with the increase in the number of better-off older people, said Ms Chan, the main author of the Trans Safe report.

“It’s happened in countries like the United States. More cases may well happen here,” she said. Read more »

N.J. attorney pleads guilty to stealing from elderly clients

Wednesday November 5th 2014

An attorney who was once a respected practitioner of elder law in Atlantic County, N.J., pleaded guilty Monday to stealing millions of dollars from her clients.

Barbara Lieberman, 62, of Northfield, will lose her law license in New Jersey and must pay $3 million in restitution to her victims, the state Attorney General’s Office said. She also will have to give up a BMW.

Lieberman, who pleaded guilty to money laundering in Superior Court in Mays Landing, faces up to 10 years in prison. She used to offer seminars on wills to senior citizens.

She was arrested in March along with Jan Van Holt, 58, of Linwood, whose case is ongoing. Van Holt operated an in-home senior care company called A Better Choice. She and Lieberman allegedly referred elderly clients to each other between 2006 and 2013.

Lieberman sought senior citizens with large assets and few immediate family members, making the scheme easier to cover up, the Attorney General’s Office said.By naming herself as power of attorney on wills and other documents, Lieberman was able to transfer victims’ assets into bank accounts that she and Van Holt then used, authorities said. Lieberman paid off six-figure credit-card bills, while Van Holt bought a Florida condominium and two Mercedes-Benzes, authorities said. Read more »

OAPS Basic Enrichment – Self Neglect & Executive Functioning – April 29, 2015 – Lancaster

Monday November 3rd 2014

On April 29, 2015 we are offering the training on Self Neglect & Executive Functioning. This training is open to Area Agency on Aging staff and provides protective services enrichment credits.

Consumers that self-neglect frequently present as cognitively intact but may have executive functioning limitations.  Impaired executive function is not always as easily identified as impaired memory. This training will examine executive functioning and how to assess the consumer’s abilities, limitations and needs when allegations of self-neglect are received.  This training will be taught by Linda Shumaker and Lori Knockstead.

Linda Shumaker, RN-BC, MA, is a registered nurse currently serving as Outreach Coordinator of the Pennsylvania Behavioral Health and Aging Coalition. She has extensive clinical experience working in community mental health, geriatric assessment teams and long-term care.

Read more »

PS Basic Enrichment – Safety

Sunday November 2nd 2014

Protective service investigators are confronted by increasingly dangerous situations. This training will teach participants to practically assess and address situations that place investigators at physical and psychological risk, including the issue of protecting the worker’s own personal privacy. Read more »

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