Calling attention to elder abuse

Friday April 25th 2014

JOHNSTOWN — As far as states with the oldest populations go, Pennsylvania hovers near the top, depending on which statistical report you read. Along with an ever-growing elderly demographic comes more instances of seniors being abused or cheated out of money.

Local community leaders and officials from the state Department of Aging organized a seminar on elder justice Thursday at the Senior Activities Center on Main Street in downtown Johns-town. More than 400 people registered, according to M. Veil Griffith, director of the Cambria County Area Agency on Aging. She said the prime focus was to educate the elderly and their families on the growing issue.

“The whole purpose is really to let the seniors know about the scams, the financial exploitation, the things they need to watch out for and what they can do, who they can call,” she said.

According to Denise Getgen, who heads the consumer protection division of the state aging department, more than 18,400 claims of elderly abuse were reported for the 2012-13 fiscal year. Of those, 74 percent were investigated by elder abuse task forces, with 40 percent of the investigations – more than 5,000 – turning up some evidence of abuse. Read more »

New Kansas law aimed at protecting seniors

Tuesday April 22nd 2014

TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback has signed into law a bill that supporters said would boost efforts to protect seniors from financial exploitation.

“This new measure significantly strengthens the ability of law enforcement and prosecutors to protect Kansas senior citizens from fraud and financial abuse,” Kansas Attorney General Schmidt said in a prepared statement Monday. “It has tougher penalties, better investigative tools and clearer boundaries to protect seniors from having their life savings stolen or wrongfully misused.”

The new law, approved as Senate Bill 256, clarifies that it is a crime for someone in a position of trust to “wrongfully” take a dependent senior’s personal property or raid their estates.

An elder is defined as anyone age 70 or older. Read more »

Some charges dropped in nursing home assault case

Monday April 21st 2014

Prosecutors agreed Wednesday to drop two counts of simple assault against a nursing home employee who allegedly held an elderly patient down by the arms and put a pillow over her face.

A misdemeanor charge of neglect against Tanya L. Harlos, employee at Guardian Elder Care Center in Nanticoke, was bound over to the Court of Common Pleas.

As part of a deal reached when Harlos waived her preliminary hearing, Assistant District Attorney Cara Solimine said she will not oppose probation during sentencing.

Harlos, 27, of 31 Nicely St., Mocanaqua, was charged March 20 for an incident involving nursing home resident Clara Huninger that occurred in June 2013. Read more »

Franklin-area financial adviser accused of stealing more than $180K from 97-year-old

Wednesday April 16th 2014

VERNON TOWNSHIP — An elderly Meadville woman’s financial adviser has been charged with stealing more than $180,000 worth of her money over a nearly three-year period.

David E.A. Seagren, 69, of 455 Wendy Way, Franklin, was arraigned Monday before Magisterial District Judge Michael Rossi on more than 50 felony charges filed by Meadville Police.

Seagren is accused of 22 counts each of theft by deception and theft by unlawful taking plus seven counts of forgery for allegedly taking a total of $183,786.86 from the 97-year-old woman’s two checking accounts.

Seagren has been the woman’s insurance agent and financial adviser, according to the arrest affidavit filed in the case.

At Monday’s arraignment, Seagren said he was a retired insurance agent.

Police allege the thefts occurred between February 2011 and December 2013. Police claim Seagren took $146,150 from a checking account the woman had at First United National Bank, and another $37,636.86 from a checking account the woman had at PNC Bank. Read more »

West Philly couple charged in abduction, robbery of elderly woman

Friday April 4th 2014

A WEST PHILLY couple is accused of kidnapping an elderly woman and draining her bank account Monday, police said. And it may not be the first time they’ve allegedly preyed on such a victim.

Vickson Korlewala, 57, and Lorpu Korlewala, 51, were arrested today and charged with robbery, kidnapping and related offenses after the victim, 80, identified them to detectives from the Southwest Detective Division, a police source said. The pair denied their involvement in the kidnapping.

Investigators picked up the suspects, who are married, at their home on Market Street near 55th, not far from where they first allegedly accosted their victim.

That woman, whom police declined to identify, has been distraught since the attack, the source said, and had trouble keeping her composure during her interview with investigators.

Lt. John Walker said the couple approached the woman just before noon on their block as she was walking to the Salvation Army on Market Street near 57th. Lorpu spoke with the victim first, and told her that she had been waiting to give her a sum of money. Read more »

Elder abuse on the rise

Monday March 31st 2014

(part 1 of a 5 part series “Coming of Age”)

Snow, freezing rain and harsh winds buffeted the house on River Road in Tinicum. When the power went out, some people flicked on generators to keep the essentials going — heat, hot water. Others drove to the homes of family or friends who had power.

Angelina Darago had nowhere to go. The 91-year-old, who has Alzheimer’s, couldn’t even get out of bed to get another blanket. She was soaked in her own urine. There was no one to help her. When police arrived, the temperature inside her house was in the 40s.

Darago had been left alone for four days while the woman who was supposed to care for her, Danawa Buchanan, was more than 400 miles away in Maine, according to authorities. They said the caregiver had neglected the woman for more than a year and spent more than $300,000 of Darago’s money (including buying a house) during that time.

Buchanan, who’s now 65, reached a settlement with prosecutors last year in which she avoided charges and forfeited the house she had bought with Darago’s money to Darago. Buchanan has since moved out of state.

“For (Darago), now she is in a nursing home, she’s getting Social Security disability and medical assistance,” said Marc Furber, chief of the Bucks County District Attorney’s Arson and Economic Crimes division. “We wanted to get as much money back as quickly as possible to give her the best standard of living possible.” Read more »

Two Middle Paxton Twp. women accused of neglect of 88-year-old woman

Thursday March 20th 2014

Two Middle Paxton Township women are facing charges for the neglect of an 88-year-old relative, who investigators say was living in a home full of rotten food, trash and animal excrement, which resulted in serious injuries.
Dauphin County investigators filed charges against two Middle Paxton Township women after an 88-year-old relative was found to be living in squalor, resulting in injuries.
Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico on Monday announced that charges of neglect of care of a dependent person — a first-degree felony — were filed against Kathy Hope, 58, and Elena Mishula, 30, of the 300 block of Lakewood Drive.

Bail was set at $5,000 unsecured each.

Marsico said emergency medical personnel were called to the house and found an elderly woman lying on the concrete carport.

She was taken to the Harrisburg Hospital where doctors found she was suffering from hypothermia, sepsis, hypertension, bed sores and other medical conditions, investigators said. Read more »

Dauphin County man stole $30K from his grandparents to feed heroin habit, state police say

Thursday March 20th 2014

A Berrysburg man was arrested Wednesday after state police said he stole $30,000 from his grandparents to feed his heroin habit.

Robert Lawrence Behney, 35, of the 100 block of West Main Street, is charged with three third-degree felonies, which include two counts of theft and receiving stolen property.

Police allege that Behney, who was a power of attorney for his grandparents, stole the money, which was in cash, over a six-month period. His grandparents both live in Berrysburg and are 93 and 95 years old, state police said.

Behney is being held in lieu of $10,000 in Dauphin County Prison. His preliminary hearing was scheduled for Tuesday before Magisterial District Judge Rebecca Jo Margerum.

Charging documents in the case were not immediately available Thursday morning, according to officials at Margerum’s office and the office of Magisterial District Judge Gregory D. Johnson, where Behney was arraigned.
 Note:  This article was written by Jeffrey A Johnson for The Patriot News.

International Fugitive Returned to Chester County for Prosecution

Thursday March 13th 2014


Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced that defendant Jack Mayer, who fled Chester County criminal charges to hide in Europe and the Dominican Republic, has been captured and returned to Chester County. The defendant was charged in 2011 by the Downingtown Police Department with stealing over $200,000 from an elderly victim. The defendant recently was located in the Dominican Republic, deported back to the United States, and now is in custody at Chester County Prison.

District Attorney Hogan stated, “This defendant was preying on elderly and vulnerable victims. His crimes are appalling and his flight was further evidence of his consciousness of guilt. We would have gone to the moon to bring this defendant to justice. We will not allow con artists to target the older citizens of Chester County.”

Downingtown Police Chief James McGowan stated, “This is an excellent example of law enforcement working together both nationally and internationally. Our officers and prosecutors worked diligently with their counterparts to bring the defendant back to Chester County to face charges. They should be commended for their professionalism and perseverance.” Read more »

The ‘Boys’ in the Bunkhouse (Toil, abuse and endurance in the heartland)

Thursday March 13th 2014

WATERLOO, Iowa — A man stands at a bus stop. He wears bluejeans, cowboy boots, and a name tag pinned like a badge to his red shirt. It says: Clayton Berg, dishwasher, county sheriff’s office.

He is 58, with a laborer’s solid build, a preference to be called Gene and a whisper-white scar on his right wrist. His backpack contains a jelly sandwich, a Cherry Coke and a comforting pastry treat called a Duchess Honey Bun.

The Route 1 bus receives him, then resumes its herky-jerky journey through the northeastern Iowa city of Waterloo, population 68,000. He stares into the panoramic blur of ordinary life that was once so foreign to him.

Mr. Berg comes from a different place.

For more than 30 years, he and a few dozen other men with intellectual disabilities — affecting their reasoning and learning — lived in a dot of a place called Atalissa, about 100 miles south of here. Every morning before dawn, they were sent to eviscerate turkeys at a processing plant, in return for food, lodging, the occasional diversion and $65 a month. For more than 30 years. Read more »

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