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

Thursday March 13th 2014
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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 »

Corry woman admits neglecting mother, 86

Tuesday March 4th 2014
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A Corry woman pleaded guilty Thursday in Erie County Court to charges that she neglected her 86-year-old mother to the point that her mother was hospitalized with the type of pressure sores that reach muscle and bone.

Valli J. Brandt, 54, said little in the hearing before President Judge Ernest J. DiSantis Jr. She indicated that she understood her rights and wished to plead guilty to one first-degree felony count of neglect of a care-dependent person.

She admitted under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Matthew Militello that she failed to provide medical care for her mother, Iva Brandt, between Sept. 26, 2012, and May 10, 2013, resulting in her mother’s admission to Corry Memorial Hospital. There, Iva Brandt was found to have stage four pressure ulcers on her tailbone, heels and hip. Stage four is the deepest type of ulcer, reaching as far as muscle and bone.

Iva Brandt died seven days later of pneumonia. Read more »

DA: Suspect in elder scam claimed to be DA

Friday February 28th 2014
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DA: Suspect in elder scam claimed to be DA

PHILADELPHIA – February 24, 2014 (WPVI) — Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said a man has been charged with scamming an elderly World War II veteran by, in part, pretending to be District Attorney Seth Williams.

Shelton Thomas, 47, is accused of stealing more than $95,000 from the 93-year-old victim.

According to Williams, the victim had hired Thomas to cut his lawn. Thomas then allegedly claimed he had been arrested for dumping grass clippings in an unauthorized trash bin.

Thomas then told the victim he had to pay the court costs and fees associated with the arrest, Williams said.

During the scam Thomas allegedly pretended to be the DA and used the names of several judges to convince him to hand over more money.

The victim’s family tried to tell him it was a scam, Williams said, but he continued to give Thomas money.

However, Williams said he personally told the victim it was a scam last week.

Investigators say the victim, who lived in a modest pension from 40 years of service as a government employee, may have given Thomas more than $100,000.

” fought for our country in World War II, and how is he repaid for that heroic service? He is scammed out of nearly a hundred thousand dollars,” Williams said in a statement.

Thomas was arraigned on Friday and bail was set at $750,000.

NOTE: This story aired on Channel 6 in Philadelphia and was written and published on 6abc.com

Local Senator Takes On Elder Abuse Issue

Monday February 3rd 2014
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PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–The number of elder abuse cases is increasing and one of Pennsylvania’s US Senators wants to do something about it.

Senator Bob Casey has set up a central web resource to protect seniors from abuse and scams. He says information from each state shows cases of financial abuse, caregiver neglect and self neglect are on the rise.

“Really disturbing when you consider what some people will do to harm seniors, we know that in our state we’ve got right around 2-million older citizens, we’re the 5th highest by population in the country.”

Casey says the latest statistics show that only one in every 14 cases of elder abuse are ever reported.

To report elder abuse you can go to the website or  call 1-800-490-8505.

Note this article was written by Kim Glovas for CBS Philly.

Man charged with attempted murder for neglecting elderly mother

Monday January 27th 2014
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WEST OAK LANE Philadelphia police charged a West Oak Lane man with attempted murder Thursday, saying he starved and neglected his terminally ill mother – even going so far as cutting off the electricity that powered her oxygen tank, according to authorities.

Lionel Bullock, 56, of the 7000 block of Woolston Avenue, was also charged with aggravated assault and neglect of care for a dependent person, said Tasha Jamerson, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office.  Bullock is awaiting arraignment, she said, adding that prosecutors will request that he be held on $1 million bail.

Bullock’s 93-year-old mother, Jessie Carter, who had severe kidney and heart dysfunction, had recently moved back in with her son after living with a daughter in New York, according to police.  She had returned to Philadelphia because she wanted to die in the house she had owned for more than 40 years. Suffering from congestive heart failure, Carter moved in with her son and his teenage children around September, police said, and was completely dependent on his care.

Police said Bullock fed the woman only once a day and forbade his children from providing her with any food or water. He stole – and sometimes sold – her $7 Meals on Wheels dinners, police said.  He stopped changing her diaper and would scream curses and Bible verses at her, often calling her a sinner, they said. Read more »

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 »

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