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Virginia could see elderly exploitation laws this year

For more than two years, state Sen. Mark Herring (D-33rd) has lobbied for legislation aimed at criminalizing the exploitation of elderly or maimed citizens, only to have his proposal fail in the Senate Finance Committee.

But with his legislation, Senate Bill 222, gaining support from both parties this year, the senator says 2012 may be the year the “fastest-growing crime” in Virginia becomes more-recognizably illegal.

“When I began working on this legislation in 2009, we found that Virginia’s laws were among the weakest in the nation at protecting older Virginians from financial abuse,” Herring said in an emailed statement.

While the price tag associated with Herring’s proposal was a relatively slight $50,000 – for criminal bedding, enforcement measures – SB 222 in past years has failed because a lack of funding.

In his 2012 budget proposal, however, Gov. Robert McDonnell incorporated the cost for cracking down on elderly abuse.

The bill was discussed Jan. 23 by the Courts of Justice Committee, where Chairman Sen. Thomas Norment Jr. (R-3rd) recommended Herring’s bill and two other similar proposals be consolidated into one piece of legislation. One of the other proposal’s, Senate Bill 443, was filed by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-27th).

Vogel’s bill, much like Herring’s, makes it unlawful to knowingly, by deception, intimidation, undue influence, coercion, harassment, duress, or misrepresentation, use, obtain, convert, or take control of people 60 years and older or a vulnerable adult (victims 18 years or older who suffer from disabilities).

Examples of elderly abuse can range from family members taking advantage of co-signed bank accounts and live-in help tricking older adults to coercion and intimidation of mentally-handicapped citizens, according to David DeBiasi, associate state director for advocacy at AARP Virginia.

DeBiasi said his organization staunchly supports statewide efforts to criminalize financial abuse of seniors.

“We say this is the fastest-growing crime for older adults,” said DeBiasi. “A lot of times people are reluctant to report it, or are just unaware it’s going on.”

Virginia’s Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli highlighted financial exploitation of the elderly in his legislative agenda.

Herring’s senatorial aide, Adam Zuckerman, said on Jan. 24 that McDonnell and Cuccinelli’s support, paired with the Alzheimer’s organizations and AARP, give a strong indication elderly exploitation will finally become a major crime in Virginia.

“We have growing support this year, and no real opposition,” said Zuckerman. “It’s always been a money issue, and it seems like this year the money is there.”


Make all the jokes you want, but the worst kind of exploitation is that engaged in by the courts and their fiduciaries - whose function is supposed to be to GUARD/PROTECT/CONSERVE a ward and his/her estate.
It’s become a feeding frenzy for guardians and conservators instead.  They bleed the estate out with unnecessary and excessive fee billings and then put the ward on Medicaid, at your expense!

“Wanting something for nothing”
^ The motto of Occupy Wall Street

Or, is it:
“Gimme gimme gimme”

Joe Burden-yeah because supporting passing laws to protect elderly people from exploitation makes me an “occupier”. Fantastic logic. Great group of people on this site. Not pathetic at all.

Financial Exploitation of the Elderly and Disabled is a Hidden Crime. Even when it is reported it is very hard to prosecute. This bill will help see that perpetrators are held accountable.In 2011 there were 1,044 substantiated reports of financial exploitation in the State of Virginia. For the complete report go to www.dss.virginia.gov.

It’s not like this couldn’t already be covered by another law already on the books???

I say we make a new law that states for every new law from here on out, we have to take another nine old laws off of the books. The law books are getting so big, even attorneys don’t know whether to S*** or go blind or wind their watch while trying to read and comprehend all of them, and figure out which law supercedes which.

Some groups of individuals (elderly/disabled) are more vulnerable and have suffered great losses of resources that they need to take care of themselves.  This is about people that are unable to defend themselves, not all elderly/disabled will fit into this category.  There are no specific laws that can protect these victims and they can lose their resources through legal means such as through a Power of Attorney.  (Thus the POA laws were strengthened)  Often these individuals are in no position to call the Commonwealth Attorney and ask for help as they may not even recognize there is a problem due to their incapacity.  Specific laws are necessary to define the crime and protect the vulnerable, people that just make bad decisions but do not lack capacity would be weeded out through evaluation.  Crimes such as these cost the individuals their means of taking care of themselves which potentially puts the financial responsibility on the taxpayer when they might need long term care (Medicaid), it’s a needed law.

I agree with Donna P- this law will need to vetted VERY CAREFULLY- and btw some companies take advantage of others ALL THE TIME- example (sorry to pick on one industry) Auto Repair taking advantage of women. Should we pass a law for that as well? BTW my parents are “elderly” and more competent than most. Anyone can be a victim by being taken advantage of.

You have to be very careful with this kind of law that carves out classes.  By specifically say it is illegal to exploit the elderly, you are also explicitly saying it is therefore legal to exploit the non-elderly.

tom - don’t you have some Occupy tent to hide under?

Ash- real intellectual argument. You sound like a real scholar. Shouldn’t you be digging a ditch and blaming everyone else for your crappy life or something?

tom - I’m sure you vote Democratic. Your kind likes to spread everyone else’s wealth around except your own.

Look at how much Joe Biden gives to charity in a year… $369. Democratic cheapskates.

Not a Democrat- Congrats on being an idiot. You sound like a real pleasant person to be around. I’m sure you have tons of friends

quote- “The only exploitation of the elderly is when retireees flock to Loudoun County from the North and exploit the taxpayer by paying reduced or no real estate taxes.”

Yeah, sure.  Loudoun is their dream retirement destination, pfffttt! Guess you’ve never visited Florida or Arizona and you have no sympathy for what is a guarantee in life (getting old).  crawl back in your cave!

Don’t relay on Jim Plowman for justice, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

The only exploitation of the elderly is when retireees flock to Loudoun County from the North and exploit the taxpayer by paying reduced or no real estate taxes.

Thanks for sticking me with the bill, democrats.

Nanny Government with more laws to obey.  If you are abused, you can call Mr. Plowman’s Office like everybody else.

I like what this law represents but what if the elderly person is suffering from dementia and accuses their loved one(s) of abuse, neglect, or of stealing from them when it isn’t true?

LTM, please hire a headline writer!  This headline reads as if Virginia wants to encourage and codify elderly exploitation!

I hope this passes. My grandparents were charged $15,000 over the normal cost for new windows in their home by a local company- the company did refund some money after my uncle became involved.  Two men also quoted them $4,000 to seal their driveway.  They wanted to do a $50 job right then and there for $4,000.  I’m sure it happens all the time.  So sad.

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