Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Woman Found Guilty of Financial Elder Abuse

December 16, 2008. By Heidi Turner

Lakeport, CA: In a move that shows how horrified the public is about financial elder abuse, a jury convicted a woman of one count of felony financial abuse and one count of felony elder abuse and neglect. The victim's story shows how far some people are willing to go to make money off those who cannot care for themselves. The senior was the victim of financial abuse, but was also not given the medical and physical care he required. Thankfully, the courts do not look kindly on people who violate financial elder abuse laws.

The story itself is appalling. A 53-year-old woman, Shauna Michelle Brewster, took advantage of a 75-year-old man for a year-and-a-half, according to the Lake County News. Brewster was named private conservator for the man, Lawrence Russell, in 2003. Russell was completely unable to care for himself physically and financially, and therefore required someone to help take care of him. Unfortunately, the person who came forward to help Russell was really only interested in helping herself.

Brewster helped herself so much that Russell's medical bills and mortgage were not paid, nor were his other bills. In fact, his debt was left for so long that Russell's home went into foreclosure. By that time, of course, there was next to nothing left in Russell's bank account. Brewster's job, as Russell's conservator, was to ensure that his bills were paid and his finances were looked after, but Brewster instead wrote checks from Russell's account to her boyfriend, her manicurist or her grocery story.

How much money was taken? In just 3 months while Russell was at a nursing facility, Brewster received $4,000 in cash back from Russell's account. According to prosecutors, there is no reason to believe that the $4,000 was used to help Russell. Russell wound up in the nursing home because of the serious neglect he was subjected to. It was so bad that Russell's health was endangered, including second and third degree burns on parts of his upper body that were not treated and became infected. Luckily, protective services and concerned neighbors got involved in the situation and Russell received important medical intervention.

Brewster now faces up to 5 years in prison for her actions, but whether or not Russell will get any of his money back remains to be seen.

Unfortunately, there are many people like Brewster out there: people who are more interested in making a quick, illegal buck than in actually helping a senior out. Russell trusted the woman who was named his conservator, but she victimized him and subjected him to serious medical problems.

What sets Russell's case apart from others is that action was taken on his behalf and justice was served. In many cases, the senior does not realize what is happening or is too afraid or ashamed to take any action. All too often, the victimizer gets away with the abuse and the victim is left to pick up the pieces alone, if he or she survives the abuse at all.

Sometimes, the abuse even comes at the hands of a family member or trusted relative. A woman was recently arrested for using her 90-year-old stepfather's money for unauthorized purchases. In all, the woman used almost $5,000, according to the Victorville Daily Press. The woman was arrested after the victim noticed 30 unauthorized transactions on his account. He then called the police, suspecting that his stepdaughter was the guilty party. Evidence, including surveillance footage, allegedly shows that the woman used her stepfather's ATM card illegally. She was arrested for theft by access card and elder abuse.

As awareness about financial elder abuse grows, so will the number of people willing to take action against those who abuse them. There are laws to protect seniors from financial elder abuse and the courts, and the general public, do not look kindly on those who would abuse members of such a vulnerable population.

Financial Elder Abuse Legal Help
If you have suffered losses in this case, please send your complaint to a lawyer who will review your possible [Financial Elder Abuse Lawsuit] at no cost or obligation

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