Articles Posted in Financial abuse and exploitation

Elder Woman Struggling

Nursing Home Caregivers Charged with Financial Exploitation of Elderly Resident

Grace Watanabe is a 98-year-old woman who had her life savings robbed of her by two former nursing home caregivers employed at Symphony Residences of Lincoln Park, located at 2437 N. Southport Avenue in Chicago.

Last year, Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert, with the aid of Levin & Perconti attorneys Steven Levin and Mike Bonamarte, filed a civil lawsuit accusing the workers of stealing $750,000 from Watanabe while she was residing at Symphony of Lincoln Park from 2009 – 2018. It was her bank that flagged the suspicious account activity.

nursing home abuse

10 Ways Banks Can Help Prevent Elder Financial Exploitation

Not only are family members and financial caregivers watching out for financial abuse targeted at the elderly, including vulnerable nursing home residents, but banks and other financial institutions are also filing an increasing number of suspicious account reports (SARs). This year, the Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans received over 180,000 encounters of suspicious elder financial exploitation (EFE), involving a total of more than $6 billion since 2013.

Noted in a 2019 report published by the Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans, banks reported a total of $1.7 billion in suspicious activities in just 2017, including actual losses and attempts to steal the older adults’ funds.

healthcare fraud

Miami-Dade Nursing Home Owner Convicted in Largest U.S. Healthcare Fraud Scheme

Just last week, a 12-person jury deliberated for four days before finding Philip Esformes, a 50-year-old entrepreneur and owner of a network of 16 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Florida, guilty on 20 out of 26 charges related to healthcare fraud. This is believed to be the largest fraud scheme ever charged by the U.S. Justice Department and a reflection of the business owner’s greed through receiving kickbacks, money laundering and conspiracy to commit federal program bribery totaling $37 million. In an April 5th, 2019 public statement, prosecutors called him a “despicable,” “vampire” who was fueled by “unbounded greed.”

“Esformes exploited and victimized patients by providing inadequate medical care and poor conditions in his nursing homes. We will continue the fight against such parasites.”

caregiver neglect

Caregiver Neglect and Abuse May Happen More Often During Holiday Season

With the National Center of Elder Abuse reporting as many as 5 million people affected by elder abuse per year, and more than 95 percent of which go unreported, it remains an understatement to say nursing home abuse and neglect are a growing concern. And during the busy holiday season, when there are not enough employees to take care of the needs of all the residents and care workers become easily distracted with personal activities, the incidences of abuse and neglect will sadly trend upward. It’s an important time of the year for family members and friends of those residing in long term care facilities to frequently check-in and visit with not only our loved ones but also those responsible for caring for them. Make a daily call or weekly stop this month to see that the quality of services is what you expect. Unfortunately, the result may be that many of our elderly relatives are living with care that is substandard and may even be coated with dangerous abuse and neglect symptoms. Recognize these signs provided by the Nursing Home Abuse Center and report any findings or concerns immediately.

Physical Abuse

nursing home theft

Public Guardian Says Dementia Resident Was Victim of Financial Corruption for Nearly a Year

Attorneys Steve Levin and Mike Bonamarte continue to offer legal support alongside acting Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert for a 97-year-old woman with dementia who was financially exploited by her nursing home care staff for the sum of three quarters a million dollars. It was initially believed the aging resident with dementia and no living relatives, Grace Watanabe, had her life savings of $600,000 taken from her by five care workers at Symphony Residences of Lincoln Park, located at 1366 W Fullerton Ave in Chicago. New information now suggests the amount stolen is actually closer to $750,000.

The legal team for Ms. Watanabe is working hard to recover the stolen money, hopefully with the help of Symphony administrators in releasing all requested documents regarding the financial exploitation. So far, one of the thieves has agreed to repay $15,000 to the victim.

 nursing home theft

Symphony of Lincoln Park Workers Caught Stealing $600,000 from Resident with Dementia

Levin & Perconti attorneys Steve Levin and Mike Bonamarte have begun work with acting Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert on a local financial exploitation case involving a 97-year-old resident with cognitive and memory disorders who required assistance with her finances and trusted the staff workers at Symphony Residences of Lincoln Park, a senior facility where she had been living since 2010. The Cook County Public Guardian has since been appointed the temporary guardian after receiving news by the Illinois Department of Aging and Adult Protective Services of the financial exploitation allegations and suspicious spending between the resident’s bank account and facility employees. The Department receives more than 8,200 reports of financial exploitation involving nursing home residents each year.

It’s believed the aging resident, who previously led a life at an Arizona based Japanese internment camp during World War II against her will, and then worked hard in a career with the federal government, had earned a life savings of $600,000 which she was using to help care for herself at the Symphony facility. Because of her failing independence and need for mental health support, she required assistance in managing her savings but instead a group of workers took advantage. Today, five Symphony workers have been accused of spending their way through the woman’s personal life savings in a yearlong thieving scheme that included cashing checks, making large ATM withdrawals and accessing her funds without her consent. According to the lawsuit:

elderly financial exploitation

3 Times Nursing Home Staff Stole and Were Caught

It feels as though nursing home staff seem to be caught stealing from vulnerable and sick residents and their facilities more often. Brought on by the nation’s opioid epidemic, staff steal medication and patient drugs most often, but theft can also be in the form of residents’ possessions or finances, and when executives swindle millions from the company and spend it on personal items or other investments. Here is a special review of three times Illinois nursing home staff stole, they were caught, and justice was served.

  1. Drug Theft

CBS Chicago reports that Bridget Pollard, a 76 year old Rogers Park woman suffering from bipolar disorder and dementia was convinced to send a check for $340,000 to Grace Cathedral, a mega church run by televangelist Reverend Ernest Angley in Akron, Ohio. The church preached that those who gave generously would guarantee their entry to heaven.

Mrs. Pollard’s husband died in 2015 and with no children to look after her, she lived alone and was able to easily remove $340,000 from her late husband’s pension. Mrs. Pollard is reported to have repeatedly refused care by others, but after her insistent niece paid her a visit, she discovered her aunt living without heat, water, or electricity, and amongst old garbage and 44 stray cats. Her niece also discovered her aunt’s emptied bank account and instantly realized she had been taken advantage of by the mega church. After reporting the incident, Mrs. Pollard is now under The Cook County Public Guardian, who has taken the lead on pursing a lawsuit against the church in order to recover all of the $340,000 she was conned into donating.

Although Mrs. Pollard had only been to Grace Cathedral several times, she kept in touch with Corliss Whitney, a singer from the church who became her power of attorney and also attempted to become her legal guardian. According to the Cook County Public Guardian, given the lack of contact between the two, Ms. Whitney took advantage of Bridget Pollard as part of a scheme to take money from the elderly. It is believed that Ms. Whitney had never attempted to look after Mrs. Pollard’s health or well-being, or remove her from the dire situation inside her home.

We are in the heart of tax season, with less than a month left before the April 15th filing deadline. As you sort through your personal paperwork your head may spin while trying to understand complex rules regarding deductions, tax rates, and more. Financial matters are complex. That is exactly why professionals are involved in many transactions, because it is difficult for regular community members to figure it out on their own.

Unfortunately, it is for the very same reasons that senior financial exploitation is such a common problem. Anyone is at risk of having their money taken in various scheme, but seniors have unique vulnerabilities that make them prime targets for abuse.

Considering finances are on the mind of many Chicagoans this season, it is a perfect time to offer some reminders about the prevalence of elder financial exploitation and the signs that may indicate a senior in your life is affected.

Elder financial exploitation is often considered the most prevalent form of senior abuse. Estimates on the scope of the problem are notoriously difficult, because many seniors lie about being exploited, But, many peg the number at upwards of one in every ten seniors being taken advantage for their money in some capacity.

One of the reasons why it is difficult to curb this problem is that those abusing in this way infiltrate the lives of senior over a period of months or even years. Therefore, rooting out the mistreatment requires dealing with individuals that the seniors has entrenched relationships.

Illinois Senior Financial Exploitation

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