Legal guardians steal millions from elderly, report says
With elderly abuse rising, government and courts consider stricter guidelines.Hot TopicsRead Dayton local news on your mobile phone
By Randy Tucker, Staff Writer
Updated 10:01 AM Thursday, October 28, 2010
A scathing government report released Wednesday blames lax screening and oversight of court-appointed guardians for hundreds of allegations of financial exploitation and abuse of the elderly.
The report to the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging focused on 20 cases from 15 states and the District of Columbia in which guardians stole or improperly obtained more than $5.4 million from 158 victims who in some cases were also neglected and abused.
In one case, a former cab driver was convicted of fraud after obtaining guardianship of an unrelated 87-year-old man with Alzheimer’s disease, from whom he embezzled more than $640,000. In Ohio, “the potential for such abuse is very real, but there is no uniform structure in place to even try to prevent that,” said Michael Kirkman, executive director of the Ohio Legal Rights Service.
Governments and courts are considering stricter guidelines, however. The Ohio Supreme Court is considering a proposal to establish statewide certification and conduct standards for guardians.
Meanwhile, Congress next year is once again expected to consider the Elder Justice Act, first proposed in 2005 by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), which would deal directly with such issues as protection for seniors under guardianship.
Michael Kirkman, executive director of the Ohio Legal Rights Service, said such legislation is needed to protect seniors who are often appointed guardians after they��
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