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April 18, 2011

Advocates Ask Legislators for Help in Fight to Protect Seniors (USA)


Advocates ask legislators for help in fight to protect seniors
BY STEPHEN J. PYTAK
April 16, 2011
ORWIGSBURG –

State law needs more teeth to clamp down on elder abuse, representatives for the Schuylkill Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance told local legislators Friday.
"We need - and I'm begging you - we need to have some of the things in the crimes code changed to be more specific regarding power of attorney abuse. A power of attorney is not a license to steal," county Detective Dorothy "Dolly" Malec said before a crowd of more than 30 in the Schuylkill Country Club at SEAPA's legislative symposium.
SEAPA held the event to start a dialog with local lawmakers and encourage them to improve state laws to give prosecutors more tools to deal with cases of elder abuse, in particular financial abuse.
Following the two-hour presentation, state Rep. Mike Tobash, R-125, state Rep. Neal P. Goodman, D-123, and others nodded in agreement.
"Some people who are given power of attorney abuse that authority they're given. It's a huge issue we have to focus on," Tobash said.
SEAPA, a nonprofit group, started in 2005 with the help of a $10,000 state grant. More than 30 people attended Friday, including state Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-124, and state Sen. David Argall, R-29.
"Right now, in Schuylkill County, it's just too easy to be able to get the power of attorney. People in Schuylkill County have worked very hard for the money they've accumulated. They saved so they could have a secure future. But what we're seeing right now that many of them are victims, and there are far more than we have identified," said Schuylkill County Commissioners Chairwoman Mantura M. Gallagher.
Malec, a member of the Elder Abuse Unit, presented SEAPA's suggestions for upgrading the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, including a definition of "Financial Exploitation" added to the definitions in Chapter 39, and the following second-degree felony:

"A person who recklessly, knowingly or intentionally deprives an older adult of the proceeds of the older adult's benefits under the Social Security Act or other retirement program meant for the older adult's health care commits a felony of the second degree."



Abridged
SOURCE:      The Republican Herald
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