Hornbrook Memorial Award given to The Institute on Protective Services

Tuesday May 20th 2014
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Hornbrook Memorial Award given to The Institute on Protective Services

The Schuylkill Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance (SEAPA) hosted its third annual Hornbrook Memorial Awards luncheon at The Greystone Restaurant on May 14.  The luncheon was held in conjunction with the dedication of a monument to the victims of elder abuse. (read more about the monument here)

The awards are named in honor of John J. Hornbrook, Pottsville, who donated a third of his estate in perpetual charitable trust to SEAPA. The donation also made the purchase of the memorial possible.

The annual awards are given to an individual and a group who have helped the agency or the elder community.

“John embodied the ideals and principles that SEAPA stands for and that is to embrace and empower our seniors to continue to be respected, contributing members to society,” Mika, a co-founder, said.

This year the awards were given to representatives from the state Department of Aging Institute of Protective Services at Temple University, which helped establish SEAPA 10 years ago.

Ronald W. Costen, a professor and director of the institute at Temple University, received the individual award, while Linda Mill, investigations manager, and Allison Benkert, financial crimes investigator, received the group awards.  Chris Dubble, Project Coordinator, and Lori Knockstead, Project Manager, were not able to attend the luncheon but were also awarded the group award and will be honored at a SEAPA meeting in June.

Wausau woman gets prison in $250,000 elderly-fraud scheme

Monday May 19th 2014
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WAUSAU (WI) — A Wausau woman convicted of defrauding an elderly woman of more than $250,000 and using some of the money to bail friends out of jail will spend eight years in prison.

Laurie A. Goetsch, 46, was found guilty in February in Marathon County Circuit Court of five felony theft charges in connection with the case. Investigators said Goetsch diverted the funds from the investment account of a 96-year-old woman for whom she was paid $3,600 a month to provide care, according to the criminal complaint.

Marathon County Circuit Judge LaMont Jacobson on Tuesday sentenced Goetsch to a total of 20 years in the Wisconsin State Prison System. After eight years of initial confinement, Goetsch will spend 12 years on extended supervision and will be required to perform 40 hours of community service each year, according to court records. Read more »

Elderly American ‘money mule’ held at airport

Monday May 19th 2014
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(JAMAICA) A Hanover man, who allegedly recruited a 70-year-old American woman to operate as a ‘money mule’, is among three persons who were nabbed in recent anti-lottery scam operations in western Jamaica.

The elderly woman, who is believed to have been a former victim who was apparently convinced by the ‘scammer’ to work as a ‘money mule’ for him, was intercepted at the Sangster’s International Airport, in Montego Bay, with US$10,000.

A 20-year-old man who turned up at the airport under the guise that the elderly woman was his girlfriend, was intercepted by personnel from the Anti-Lottery Task Force and taken to his home, where a search was conducted.

“At his (the 20-year-old) home, we discovered items relating to identity fraud as well as other material of probative value,” said Corporal Kevin Watson, the media and communication liaison officer with the Anti-Lottery Scam Task Force. “The information we have found would suggest that he has been involved in the lottery scam for at least two years.” Read more »

Schuylkill Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance commemorates 10 years

Thursday May 15th 2014
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Schuylkill Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance commemorates 10 years

“For no other reason than we will all be old.”

Those are the words engraved on the monument dedicated Wednesday to serve as both a memorial to victims of elder abuse and a call to action for those that see it. The Schuylkill Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance purchased the memorial to commemorate its 10th anniversary.

“Elder abuse is everyone’s problem, if for no other reason than we will all be old one day ourselves,” Georgene Fedoriska, SEAPA co-chairwoman and executive administrator for the county office of senior services, said. “The seeds we sow today will make a better future for our seniors.”

The nonprofit organization has pursued the same objectives over the last 10 years: promote awareness of elder abuse in Schuylkill County; provide education and training to various groups on how to identify, prevent and report elder abuse; and prosecute perpetrators of crimes against the elderly.

“It was an idea that came about when a local attorney, Eric Mika, noticed that seniors were being exploited financially,” Fedoriska said.  She said Mika contacted then-Commissioner Mantura M. Gallagher, who explored the idea of such an organization with then-director of the county office of senior services Marie Beauchamp.

It was then that the steering committee known as the Schuylkill County Elder Abuse Task Force was established. When the organization was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2007, the name changed to SEAPA. It now consists of 30 members that includes representatives from the banking industry, clergy, long-term care, law enforcement, funeral directors, health care and education.

“We wanted to embrace and empower seniors to stand up for themselves and if they couldn’t stand up for themselves, that there would be entities that would help them stand up,” Fedoriska said. “For the last 10 years, we hope that showed in the programs we provided,”

State Department of Aging Secretary Brian Duke was there Wednesday to congratulate the organization on 10 years.

“It is good to be here with so many today that share this mission of enhancing the quality of life for older Pennsylvanians,” Duke said. Read more »

Calling attention to elder abuse

Friday April 25th 2014
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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(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 »

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