Articles Posted in Elder Abuse

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The headline of this blog says it all “Exploitation of the Elderly”. This is a serious crime that is rampant in South Florida and goes unnoticed by all. Taking advantage of elderly should not be allowed as these ‘old folks’ cannot fend for themselves and depend on their immediate caretakers and family for everything. In the upcoming blogs I will find more articles of elder abuse for you to see the different scenarios that there are and it will also serve as a wake up call to us all when we see our elderly being taken advantage of by their own family and their caretakers. Read this article of a woman that was stealing from an elderly Cuban native.

MIAMI (WSVN) — Police have arrested a woman after exploiting an elderly woman’s savings account.

Seventy-seven-year-old Nelsa Delgado came to South Florida 40 years ago from Cuba.

Delgado and her husband saved money hoping to have a peaceful retirement, but she is now left with only heartache. “A lifelong family friend stepped in to help my mother, and during that time she ended up helping herself,” said Delgaso’s son Pedro Delgado.

According to police, her caretaker Olga Hidalgo-Gato took her entire savings out. “She wanted to know how much money was in her account, and then I came to find out she was overdrawn about $700,” said Pedro. “At that point, I said ‘There had to be a mistake,’ because I thought that my mother had more money than that or much more money than that in the bank.”

Pedro said his family trusted Gato because she was a long time family friend.

Police said over the course of a year, the suspect wrote herself checks from Delgado’s account and took out cash from ATM’s totaling more than $35,000.

Surveillance video showed Gato withdrawing Delgado’s money at various locations without her present.

Casinos are one of the places Delgado’s money had been withdrawn. Pedro said his mother hasn’t been to a casino since before the revolution in Cuba. “At some point, there was $500 take out on a daily basses and also visits to casinos, and the last time my mother went to the casino was in Cuba before the revolution,” he said.

Pedro said his mother is in very poor health, and is completely heartbroken.

This is a sad case of elderly abuse as the person that was stealing from Mrs. Delgado was a family friend and her caretaker Olga Hidalgo-Gato. Luckily in Mrs. Delgado’s case she is still lucid and was able to bring the attention to her savings account by asking her son to find out what her account balance was, which is where he realized that the balance was incorrect. After enquiries were made by the family the police was called in and further investigations showed Ms. Gato withdrawing money without Mrs. Delgado being present, and checks withdrawn also against her account without her permission.

A heart breaking story for the Delgado family, as it was her life savings that Ms. Gato was pilfering daily and as the report stated in amounts of $500, along with casino visits. Should you or a loved be a victim of this type of abuse, contact an Attorney experienced in elderly abuse law to ensure that you know your loved one’s rights. Contact us for your FREE consultation via telephone 954 431 8100 or 305 624 9186 or online.

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As a Pembroke Pines elder abuse attorney, I was disturbed to see an article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Oct. 12 about a man’s arrest for neglecting his elderly mother. Paris Martz, 40, was arrested and charged with elder neglect, resisting arrest and battery on a law enforcement officer after an Oct. 11 run-in with police. Neighbors called 911 after seeing smoke coming from the back yard of the Wilton Manors home where Martz lived with his 78-year-old mother. However, when police arrived, they were met by an angry Martz, who told them they were “the enemy,” told them to leave and struck an officer in the groin and chest. His mother then ran out of the home, nude and covered in feces, screaming for help.

When police entered the house to respond to the fire call, they discovered stacks of newspapers and other trash so high that they formed only narrow passageways, as well as feces in the hallway. The house has been condemned as unfit for habitation by the county, and the mother was taken to a hospital for examination. According to neighbor Thomas Miller, Martz and his mother had always been strange. Miller and others said they had seen the mother sitting in a lawn chair in the driveway, naked and caked in feces, and screams came from the house at night. Martz himself liked to experiment with small explosives in the back yard. The Florida Department of Children and Families acknowledged having been in contact with the family already, and Miller said he and others had called the DCF’s Elder Abuse Hotline about them.

I wrote earlier this month about Florida’s spotty regulations requiring background checks for people who work with the elderly and disabled in institutions. While this is a serious problem, nobody at all checks the background of people who care for their own relatives. In fact, statistics show that the majority of elder abuse, exploitation and neglect cases involve victims living outside a facility. Just like people in nursing homes and other assisted living facilities, these victims depend on others for daily needs — which can sometimes make it hard for them to object to or report abuses. My job as a Cooper City elder abuse lawyer is to help these victims and their families hold perpetrators legally and financially responsible for their terrible actions.

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As a Pembroke Pines elder abuse attorney, I was disturbed to read in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Sept. 27 that thousands of people with criminal records are working around elderly and disabled people as caregivers and aides. People with certain kinds of criminal record are not supposed to work with elderly or disabled patients, the newspaper said, but state-granted exemptions, poor record-keeping and inconsistent laws have allowed many to slip through the cracks. Some caregivers’ records are only checked for criminal offenses in Florida; others are legally allowed to begin their jobs before a background check is back; and some types of worker and crime are not checked at all. As a result, the newspaper said, Florida patients have been assaulted, robbed and neglected by people who should never have been working with them.

The newspaper cites several stories, including one involving caregiver Tierra Henry. Henry had been convicted of aggravated assault, which should have disqualified her from working at a group home for cerebral palsy patients. The home’s director said an FBI check into Henry through the Florida Department of Children and Families came out clean, but a Florida criminal record check should have turned up her conviction. None was undertaken. A year into her job, Henry was caught grabbing a disabled resident and pushing her to the floor, which led to a four-year probation term for aggravated assault on a disabled person.

Another caregiver in the article was Phillina Anderson, who was facing forgery charges when she applied at a nursing home in Palm Beach County. Despite the charges, her background check came up clean and she was hired. A few years later, Anderson became upset at an elderly resident who had Alzheimer’s as well as a past stroke. According to a report, Anderson slapped the woman “extremely hard” and told her to shut up. Only after the incident did Anderson’s employer learn that she had been accused of abuse at another facility, which never reported that incident. Anderson was convicted of abuse of an elderly person and served three months in prison.

As a North Miami Beach elder abuse attorney, I am disturbed to learn that there’s so little preventing people with bad histories from working with helpless older and disabled people. People enter group homes, nursing homes and other assisted living facilities because they can no longer live on their own, which makes them easy targets for people without their best interests in mind. The state background check requirement is supposed to weed out bad caregivers, but as the article notes, background check requirements are patchy and inconsistent. As a result, the most vulnerable people in our society are at risk of physical abuse, robbery or worse, and they are often too frightened or too unwell to speak out until it’s too late.

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A Boca Raton couple started trial this week for allegedly abusing the woman’s elderly mother, the Miami Herald reported Aug. 31. Kerstin and Toby Fenn are accused of neglecting Kerstin Fenn’s mother, Elly Lorey, who died at the age of 89 of starvation and dehydration. Lorey had advanced Alzheimer’s disease but received no care for it, the article said, and weighed just 80 pounds when she died. The Fenns are charged with first-degree murder and aggravated elder abuse, and face life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors say Lorey was kept in a locked and unventilated bedroom in the Fenns’ home, with a wooden lattice blocking a sliding glass door and pizza boxes nailed over the air-conditioning vents to keep the smell of the room from affecting the rest of the house. According to police reports, the Fenns had a maid who refused to enter Lorey’s room to clean it. Police reports also said Lorey smeared feces on the walls and ate a diet of ramen noodles and packaged honey buns. The Fenns’ attorney told the paper that they never abused Lorey and that the same thing could have happened to anybody who tried to treat an Alzheimer’s patient without a doctor. The trial will feature big names testifying for both sides, including defense expert Dr. Michael Baden, a host of HBO’s documentary series Autopsy.

A geriatrics expert quoted by the Herald said it’s common for Alzheimer’s patients to lose weight, and that cultural differences and lack of education may have contributed to the Fenns’ caregiving decisions. However the expert said, locking an Alzheimer’s patient into a room could constitute negligence, especially if she was a danger to herself or others. I am not an expert in geriatric medicine, but negligence, in the legal world, is defined as failure to take reasonable care to avoid foreseeable harm. As a Deerfield Beach elder abuse attorney, I believe it’s easy to foresee harm from locking anyone into a room where she is helpless and dependent. It’s even easier to foresee if the victim is a dementia patient who can no longer care for herself.

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