April 4, 2012

Man Arrested for Illinois Senior Financial Exploitation

by Levin & Perconti

Illinois elder abuse is disheartening for many because it represents an extreme abuse of power. Senior citizens are some of the most vulnerable community members among us, capable of being taken advantage of by those who lack basic moral standards of fairness and decency. Fortunately, the vast majority of community members are repelled by the notion of mistreating those with these vulnerabilities. But there remain some who cannot help but abuse, neglect, or mistreat seniors.

Our Chicago elder abuse attorneys know that perhaps the most common form of this mistreatment is elder financial exploitation. All too often unscrupulous community members cannot help but take financial resources from seniors for their own gain. The abuse takes many forms, but in all cases it represents a painful breach of trust. When it occurs and is discovered, those involved must be held fully accountable.

For example, a story last week in the Quad-City Times discussed a recent case of Illinois elder financial abuse involving a police officer. Apparently, the 46-year old officer was arrested last week on charges of stealing from his 76-year old mother-in-law who has a mental illness. The man was charged with one count of financial exploitation of an elderly person with a disability.

Along with his wife, the man was appointed guardian of the senior woman’s estate in 2009. The elderly woman suffered from various mental health issues and lived in the Rock Island Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center. Over two years ago, the couple set up an account for the woman at a local bank using the senior’s own funds. It was created so that the husband and wife could have access to the resources to pay for the woman’s healthcare needs. However, records suggest that the husband took advantage of the position to withdraw money from the account for his own purposes. At least $30,000 was withdrawn from the bank by the man and used for his own bills and various other unknown items.

It remains unclear if the man’s wife was also implicated in any of these unlawful transactions. However, the police officer filed a divorce petition earlier this year, so the couple may be estranged. In any event, these financial exploitation charges are very serious matters. The crime is a Class 2 felony in the state and punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Considering the seriousness of the penalties for each case of exploitation, one might assume that these crimes rarely occur. Unfortunately, these actions occur all the time but they are only rarely caught. Each Illinois elder abuse lawyer at our firm knows that a big problem is that it is hard for outside observers to be made aware of potential theft. In most cases, the individual who steals the money is the one who is in a position of power or otherwise supposed to be looking out for the senior’s well-being. There is often no outside, third-party that is capable of checking up on the senior and reporting any suspicious activity that might uncover the crime.

For example, in this case, it seems that the officer was being investigated for a serious of fraudulent outside transactions related to towing and selling cars. The officer used the elderly woman’s name in some of those transactions. Therefore, when the investigations into the car scheme were uncovered, it led to examination of the elderly woman’s bank account. Had those outside investigations not occurred, the elder financial exploitation may never have been uncovered.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Editorial Lambasts Washington for Ignoring Elder Abuse

Elder Financial Abuse Reaching Crisis Levels, Say Researchers