Yesterday we posted an example of elder financial abuse involving the complex swindling a Chicago area senior citizen. In that case, the retiree was cajoled out of $500,000 after investing money with a con-man whom he assumed was using the funds to develop a construction business.
Today, the St. Petersburg Times discusses another form of senior financial exploitation on the other end of the spectrum-the outright theft of money from nursing home resident accounts.
Until her firing yesterday, Janice Lynn Smith was the receptionist at Heritage Park, a nursing home near Miami. As with many other employees at nursing homes, Smith was in a position to gain access to the accounts of the nursing home residents. Apparently, the ability to steal from these vulnerable residents at the facility was too much for her to resist.
Smith began taking money out of the trust funds of four residents at the facility, all of whom were over 85 years old. In the end, she withdrew nearly $4,000 from these resident accounts and put it in her own pocket. Fortunately, other nursing home staff noticed problems with the trust accounts. The nursing home administrator began investigating the problem, ultimately revealing the truth about Smith and the theft.
In most cases of elder financial abuse, the problem goes unreported and victims are never compensated for their losses. Many states, including Illinois, have recently begun programs to help stem the wave of elder abuse problems, but much work remains before the problem is truly extinguished.
Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti spend our time fighting for nursing home residents because we understand their vulnerability while living at these facilities. Elderly residents often depend on nursing home staff members to help both with their physical well-being as well as their financial well-being. Any facility that allows its staff members to take advantage of that vulnerability for personal gain needs to be held accountable for their negligence.