FINANCIAL ABUSE OF THE ELDERLY
~~~ FROM THE BOOK:  FINANCIAL ABUSE OF THE ELDERLY  ~~~


INTRODUCTION

While the number of violent crimes in the U.S. is decreasing, financial crimes against the elderly are increasing as a result of the aging of the population and greater concentration of wealth among older people. According to a 2005 Senior Forum Report by the White House Conference On Aging, only one in 100 cases of financial abuse is reported, and there are millions of financial abuse victims each year. The money is certainly there for the taking: persons over 50 control at least 70% of the nation’s household net worth. 75% of victims of financial abuse are between the ages of 70 and 89. The majority are female, frail and mentally impaired.
The Senior Forum Report pointed to a lack of knowledge regarding scams and the inability of seniors to recognize scams and make sure their financial matters are in order. But victims who are “frail and mentally impaired” simply cannot protect themselves. It is up to the rest of us—family members, neighbors, friends, and those of us who come into contact with the elderly in our work, whether as bank tellers, attorneys, health care professionals, or service providers of any kind, to help them protect themselves. Armed with knowledge, we can take steps in advance to prevent ourselves from becoming victims when we become old and infirm.
Fraud Vs. Exploitation
Since 1990 I have investigated more than 1,000 cases of exploitation of the elderly during my former career as a detective with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. During this time I’ve realized that reports that address financial crimes against the elderly usually conflate two types of crimes, fraud and exploitation. Fraud is based on deception, but exploitation of the elderly is a much subtler and much more often ignored crime. Justice Potter Stewart’s famous definition of pornography applies equally to exploitation crimes: I may not be able to define it precisely but I know it when I see it.
Definitions of fraud found in dictionaries, or state and federal laws, are essentially based on deception. When referring to the theft of physical property, fraud is basically defined as the false and deceptive statement of fact intended to induce another person to give up a valuable item he or she owns. Scams, confidence games, rackets, hoaxes and shakedowns are common terms used to describe misrepresentations and trickery used by con men or women to entice their target into making bad decisions. 
“Choice” is involved with fraud and there is an assumption in state laws throughout the nation that fraud victims have the capacity to weigh information and make decisions based on that information. But what if the victim does not have capacity?
That’s when the crime may actually be exploitation rather than fraud. The dictionary defines exploitation as selfish or unfair use of someone or something for one's own advantage, taking advantage of another person in an organized or systematic way. My own state, Florida, defines an exploitation victim as “a person 60 years of age or older who is suffering from the infirmities of aging as manifested by advanced age or organic brain damage, or other physical, mental, or emotional dysfunctioning, to the extent that the ability of the person to provide adequately for the person's own care or protection is impaired.” An exploitation crime occurs when someone takes advantage of the vulnerability or dependant condition of a disabled elderly person to deprive that person of their assets. So while elderly fraud victims are independent persons with the capacity to give consent, exploitation victims are disabled in some manner and this disability contributes to their victimization.
Exploitation victims came from all walks of life and every socioeconomic group. The perpetrators often turned out to be those we would least expect: neighbors, spiritual leaders, nurses, guardians, even the mailman or plumber on occasion. 
I have written this book by drawing on my first-hand experience that presents a group of interesting cases that illustrate the nature of exploitation crimes. These cases are “the real thing,” based on facts. I explain how to recognize and prevent victimization through better understanding and by implementing simple safeguards. Each chapter presents a case from my files that provide analysis of why the elderly person was victimized. 
Exploiters are usually very successful criminals and crimes that succeed soon become epidemic. My goal here is simple. I want independent senior citizens to protect themselves, and the average “Joe” to be able to protect an older loved one. One day we will all be in the same boat and by taking action now we protect ourselves for the future.

So what is Financial Exploitation?

In a sentence, Florida’s exploitation law (FSS 825.103) states that when someone maliciously takes the property of an “elderly person,” they are committing exploitation. That’s the essence of the law. 
But there is also an important requirement: Within this law, an “elderly person” is defined as someone 60 years of age or older who is suffering from the infirmities of aging to the extent that their ability to adequately care for and protect themselves is impaired. The law states that the elderly person must suffer a physical or mental infirmity. Therefore, exploitation is based primarily on infirmities or disabilities and not deception. 
This is why exploitation is not fraud and why it can be much more devastating and offensive. Fraud is generally defined as deception that is carried out for the purpose of achieving personal gain while causing injury to another party. Exploitation requires more than that. It requires that the victims suffer disabilities that make them more vulnerable. And when the victim is more vulnerable, the victim impact is far worse.
To compare exploitation to fraud would be like comparing robbery to larceny. If you told a police officer that robbery is the worst type of larceny, he or she would correct you and say that they are two different crimes. Larceny simply means the taking of another’s property, while robbery requires the taking by force or threat. In the same sense, exploitation and fraud are also two different crimes. While scammers focus on things that their victims want with deception, exploiters focus on things victims need through the dependency caused by their infirmities.
So if you’re going to walk away with one thought from my book, make it this,
“Scammers prey on greed while exploiters prey on need.”
If you understand that concept, you’re probably one step ahead of those around you who misunderstand the crime.  Regards!
                                     Joe Roubicek 
The OPPAGA Report and Elder Abuse
Submitted December 2009

So just how widespread is financial exploitation?
~ UNDERSTAND IT TO DEAL WITH IT EFFECTIVELY ~
Updated links to articles, true crime files and the book by Joe Roubicek
Relevant keywords: Elderly abuse, financial abuse, guardianship abuse, elder abuse, exploitation of the elderly, elderly abuse, elder fraud, and elderly fraud.
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KILL MOM, KILL DAD; Disposing Of The Elderly For Profit 
by Joe Roubicek
(copyright by Joe Roubicek, 2012, Coral Springs)

CHAPTER 3 POSTED ON JANUARY 26, 2013 


~ The following is the transcript of the first 3 chapters of my latest book …  a work in progress. 
~ This is an expose’ that provides a panoramic view of the devastation and corruption of exploitation crimes that even seasoned criminal investigators are unaware of.  
~ I would appreciate your ideas and comments, so feel free to contact me via email from my website.





KILL MOM, KILL DAD  Copyright © 2012 by Joe Roubicek, Coral Springs  Florida  
All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author. 







KILL MOM, KILL DAD; Disposing Of The Elderly For Profit 
by Joe Roubicek
(copyright by Joe Roubicek, 2012, Coral Springs)



CHAPTER 1:  IN PLAIN SIGHT

Natural Causes

In 1939 the dark comedy play “Arsenic and Old Lace” opened on Broadway and became an immediate hit. The New York Times reviewed it to be, “so funny that none of us will ever forget it.” 
Indeed. The plot involves two spinster aunts who lure lonely old men into their home to poison them with glasses of homemade elderberry wine laced with arsenic, strychnine and cyanide. Then their nephew, Teddy, (who believes he’s Teddy Roosevelt) buries the bodies in the cellar. The ladies say that they are doing this “for charity.”
The playwright, Joseph Kesselring, cited the inspiration for his plot to a notorious female serial killer named Amy Archer-Gilligan, who opened what may have been the first for profit nursing home in the US. As the proprietor of “Sister Amy’s Nursing Home For The Elderly” of Windsor, Connecticut, she took in elderly boarders, then systematically poisoned them for their pensions. 
In 1916, authorities dug up five of her victims from the backyard and found that they had been poisoned by either arsenic or strychnine. A total of forty eight deaths occurred in Sister Amy’s nursing home over a five year period, which was twice the average rate in the home during prior years, and although all of the deaths were suspect, she was tried and convicted of just one count of murder due to the extended time delay in prosecution. 
Therein lies fateful irony: a comedy, Arsenic And Old Lace, would be based on Sister Amy’s tragic, murderous deeds. 

In 1993 Dorothea Puente, another notorious serial-killer-landlady, ran a Sacramento boarding home for the elderly where she murdered tenants for their social security checks. In the same fashion as Sister Amy, she buried her prey onsite. 
When the authorities became involved, they excavated a total of seven bodies from the backyard of what appeared to be a quiet and inconspicuous home. Dorothea was charged with nine counts of murder, convicted on three of them, and sentenced to life in prison where she died in 2011… but not before her legacy, a cookbook, was published in her name. The title?  Cooking with a Serial Killer; Recipes From Dorothea Puente. 
In 1995 six members of a Romany clan, the Tene-Bimbo family, went on trial in San Francisco for what would be known as the “Foxglove Murders.”  The victims, six elderly men from both San Francisco and New York City, were romanced and murdered for over a million dollars of their assets. In an organized scheme, members of the clan and their associates poisoned the victims with the heart drug digitalis, which is derived from the Foxglove plant and difficult to detect in an autopsy. 
The Tene-Bimbo family may sound familiar because it was featured in Peter Maas’s 1974 book “King Of The Gypsies.” 

Unless there is obvious evidence of foul play, law enforcement, the health care sector, and society in general, have a tendency to believe that the elderly always die of natural causes. However, as Arsenic, Fox and Cooking illustrate, that is sometimes not the case, and assets are transfeered to another person or entity for financial gain with no questions asked. Because our society does not value it’s elderly, such victimization is largely ignored.  

Psychopaths and Sociopaths
Crimes against the elderly, even after they are properky reported to authorities, are often not vigorously investigated.  Worse yet, unreported crimes allow true predators who may be psychopaths or sociopaths, to continue their victimizations unabated and without conscience.  (Psychopathy and sociopathy are terms used interchangeably by clinicians.)
An expert on psychopathy, Robert D. Hare, PhD, believes that it is a myth that most psychopaths are murderers. In his book, “Without Conscience, The Disturbing World Of The Psychopaths Among Us,” he states:
“Not surprisingly, many psychopaths are convicted criminals, but many others remain out of prison, using their charm and chameleon-like abilities to cut a wide swath through society and leaving a wake of ruined lives behind them …we are far more likely to lose our life savings to an oily-tonged swindler than our lives to a steely-eyed killer.” 
Hare’s message is that although psychopaths are capable of murder, their distaste for the consequences of their acts, not their consciences, discourage them from committing it. 
Experts estimate that a significant 1% to 4% of the general population is made up of psychopaths who are drawn to the elderly population for their acquired assets and high vulnerability.  In addition, there is a low probability of getting caught by overtaxed government agencies.
It is painful to realize that as people age, they become ever more vulnerable to the 4 % of the population that suffers from mental disorders and seeks their assets.

Serial Killers and Murder Rates
Serial killers on the other hand, like Amy Archer-Gilligan and Dorothea Puente are believed to be rare. Serial murder is a relatively rare event, estimated by the FBI to comprise less than 1% of all murders committed in any given year. 
The term, “serial killer” does not define a mental disorder, but rather a pattern of killing, and although most serial killers may be psychopaths, most psychopaths are not serial killers. Still, serial killers walk among us… they hide in plain sight.  
In 2005 the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, dispelled the myth that serial killers are dysfunctional loners. They are not reclusive, social misfits who live alone. They are not monsters and may not appear strange. Many serial-killers hide in plain sight within their communities. They often have families and homes, are gainfully employed, and appear to be normal members of the community. Because they can blend in so effortlessly, they are oftentimes overlooked by law enforcement and the public.  

But identifying an accurate percentage of elderly murder victims can be even more difficult than identifying the serial killers. Based predominately on findings through death certificates, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, the elderly make up 12% of murder victims. Yet, the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), invalidates the Justice Department’s findings in their statistical report on causes of elderly deaths with the following disclaimer:
“Death certificates for the elderly are often incomplete. The completeness of the death certificate depends on the thoroughness of the certifier and on the amount of information available. Studies show that the quality of the decedent’s medical history and thus the physician’s report of underlying cause of death diminishes with the age of the deceased.” 
So while one branch of the government provides us with a 12% national murder rate, another branch exposes this statistic as unreliable … and like “Sister Amy’s Nursing Home For The Elderly,” the murder rate could actually be epidemic and we would not know it.  


















CHAPTER 2: DEAD VICTIMS TELL NO TALES
 
The elderly account for over a third of the economic crime victims in the nation. Of these, exploitation victims are the most devastated. Bank accounts and multi-million dollar estates can be quickly wiped out with little risk to the predator because victims, due to the infirmities of aging, are often incapable of understanding financial matters. The problem is compounded due to tight police budgets that prevent the additional manpower, time, and training necessary to protect those who cannot protect themselves.  
While elderly crime is widespread, few specific details are provided due to confidentiality issues and lack of reporting. The media can have access to arrest affidavits that focus on financial charges that are actually filed, but abuse and neglect may not be mentioned because the evidence was insufficient for additional charges.  The point is that violent abuse crimes can go unreported, even when financial charges are levied against an exploiter.

The following case provides a more detailed account of a predator who was finally charged with both financial and violent crimes. She was a bold woman on a brazen crime spree. Although her crimes were reported in a timely manner, it took 10 months for the police to arrest her.
This case provides a well-documented example of the commonplace violence that we do not normally associate with financial exploitation crimes and provides good example of why it is inappropriate to assume natural causes when an elder dies unexpectedly. 
 
In October 1994, 72-year-old Roy Wilson who was paralyzed from the waist down checked into the Vencor Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, scheduled for a lengthy hospital stay. While being admitted, he handed his wallet, checkbook and other valuables to the admissions secretary to be put in a safe. She was a pleasant, stocky woman, a new employee named Gwenda Lemon. 
When Roy returned home in late November he was dismayed and shocked to learn that, while he was in the hospital “Gwenda Lemon” had stolen and been cashing his checks for over $17,000. He hadn’t realized that they were missing from his checkbook. 
He reported the crime to police in Pompano Beach, the city where he resided. A patrolman took the report and filed it as a routine check fraud incident and then, of course, the paperwork soon was lost among a dozen other cases sitting on an overworked detective’s desk. Crimes like rape and robbery and homicide, understandably receive priority over check fraud. 
Over the next several months, Roy lived each day confined to a wheelchair in his home, a difficult but routine existence for an elderly man. But the routine ended in March when a stranger knocked on his door. Roy opened it up to see a stocky woman dressed in a white nurse’s uniform – a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. The woman said she was a social worker sent by Vencor Hospital to make sure that his recovery was going well. Roy felt uneasy because her visit was unexpected, so he asked for identification. She showed him her driver’s license and the infirm old man recognized her name immediately. 
“You’re Gwenda Lemon? You stole my checks! You ripped me off!”
He didn’t have a chance to say anymore. 
Lemon snatched her driver’s license out of his hand, spun him around in the wheelchair and pushed him through the doorway into his kitchen. Then she pulled out a can of mace and sprayed his face while spinning the wheelchair around and around. The mace brought him instant pain as it burned his eyes, nose and skin. His chest tightened up in a reflexive action as he gasped for air. He begged her to stop, but she wasn’t through yet. 
She reached down, firmly grabbed the bottom of the wheelchair and flipped Roy over, head first, onto the kitchen floor, and let his wheelchair land on top of him. Then Lemon maced him again. 
He lay whimpering as she ripped the phone out of the wall and walked out of the kitchen, leaving Roy panicked and disoriented on the floor. He later said that he had waited motionless, fearing another attack, wondering if she would kill him in the end. He could hear her going through paperwork in his office. He listened intently as she walked back towards the kitchen and braced himself for another attack, but it never came. Lemon had found what she wanted and left.
Roy managed to crawl to another phone and call the police. They arrived in moments and rushed him to the hospital. He would survive, but he would never be the same mentally – always afraid in his own home. 
A home invasion robbery report was made and a Pompano Beach detective got on the case. He showed Roy the photos of Lemon and five other women who looked similar to her. Roy picked the wrong photograph.
Lemon had not eased up at all since her vicious attack against Roy. She had stolen another seven checks from him that day. Within a week, she had used them to make payments toward her car loan, electric and other bills. 
A Pompano Beach detective soon called and asked her in for an interview. He hoped to squeeze a confession out of her. He would need it. The prosecutor had already refused to file charges after Roy’s bad identification. Sadly, Lemon gave the investigator nothing to hang her with. Despite the detective’s efforts to convince her that she would only be admitting the obvious, she looked him in the eye and insisted that she didn’t do it, that someone had been impersonating her. She walked out of the police station a free woman. 
The detective soon shifted his attention to other cases, those involving rapes and robberies and homicides. Lemon just moved on to new victims.

What no one knew at the time was that Lemon had been victimizing the elderly in nursing homes and hospitals for some time. Because no clearinghouse existed, (or exists at the time of this writing,) for law enforcement agencies of neighboring cities to share information on elderly crimes, Lemon could target multiple victims in different jurisdictions.  
In April, just six months prior to her attack on Roy Wilson, she had stolen the checkbook and credit cards from a 94-year-old woman who was recovering from a broken hip at Manor Oaks Nursing Home in neighboring Fort Lauderdale, where Lemon was employed as a nursing aide. 
After she stole over $5,000 with the victim’s checks and credit cards, the nursing home administrators reported the matter to the police, but it was never assigned to a detective for follow-up investigation.  


The Silent Victim
Finally, as Lemon’s crime spree was winding down to an actual arrest, one of her victims died “unexpectedly” of natural causes while Lemon was cashing her checks. The ill-timing of death prevented this victim from giving a statement and subsequently, from being included in Lemon’s arrest warrant. Her name was Mary, she was in her 70’s and Lemon benefited directly from her death.   
During the first week of August, 1995, Mary admitted herself into Vencor Hospital to escape Hurricane Erin, an ominous storm bearing down on the Florida coast.  She was a coastal resident in good health, but lived within a mandatory evacuation zone. Mary was smart enough to choose the comforts of a private hospital over a makeshift hurricane shelter at a local school. She was prudent enough to give her purse directly to a hospital staffer to be placed in the hospital safe, for safe keeping … and she gave her purse to Gwenda Lemon.
Lemon wasted no time and immediately began forging and cashing Mary’s checks for over $1,300. She did so knowing that she was under an active criminal investigation for the home invasion of Roy Wilson because Roy went to the police.
Mary didn’t have that option. She died unexpectedly in her hospital bed that week and a doctor diagnosed the cause of death to be natural…after all, she was old. 
Despite the fact her death came as a complete surprise, there was no autopsy.  Autopsies can potentially reveal malpractice and hospitals are not required to perform them. The medical examiner’s office will not investigate deaths when the treating physician’s report the deaths as natural. Also, the physicians can fill out death certificates without actually seeing the body. 
These conditions actually prevent a crime from being detected and provide motivation for the person without conscience, the psychopath, to prey on the elderly without fear of suffering the consequences. 
Compound this with health care, guardian and financial sectors, where greed and corruption can also breed without scrutiny, and in truth, Mary had much more to worry about than an approaching hurricane.

Justice and Injustice 
A month after Mary’s death, Lemon stole and cashed the checks of a 69-year old hospitalized cancer victim. The victim made a police report when she discovered the crime, but again, no action was taken by the police. 
Finally, one hot July morning, Gwenda Lemon climbed into her car armed with a handgun and drove to a house in the tough northwest section of Fort Lauderdale. Her husband had been shot and wounded that morning during a dispute at that location. Lemon believed that the shooter was inside the home and she wanted revenge. Upon arrival, she scrambled out of her car and fired several shots through the front picture window of the residence. Neighbors watched her throw a violent temper tantrum on the front lawn, fire into the residence again and finally drive off. A family consisting of two adults and several children were in the house sprawled out on the floor and fortunately they were not injured. 
This event marked the end of Gwenda Lemon’s crime spree. She was arrested under a warrant stacked with charges, including the home invasion of Roy Wilson and financial exploitation of all the aforementioned victims, with the exception of Mary. 
Lemon’s arrest stuck and in the end, she plead guilty to a dozen felony charges and a very irate judge sentenced her to eight years in prison. 
One of her victims, 94-year old Vera Cordes, was quoted in the papers as saying, 
“She had a good time, didn’t she? The fact that she was out there doing it to other people, that’s what bothered me.” 
Vera died before Lemon’s final arrest and in fact, half of Lemon’s elderly victims died by the time she was sentenced and justice was served.  
KILL MOM, KILL DAD: DISPOSING OF THE ELDERLY FOR PROFIT
By Joe Roubicek © 2012, Coral Springs, Fl

CHAPTER 3:  POST  MORTEM DENIAL  (POSTED JAN 26, 2013)

Antipsychotic Drugs

Just as the “Aunties” of Arsenic and Old Lace murdered their victims with arsenic and strychnine, today’s popular poisons are second generation anti-psychotic drugs. Under the guise of “normalizing” dementia patients in nursing homes, Olanzapine (Zyprexa), Aripiprazole (Abilify), Risperidone (Risperal) , and Quetiapine (Seroquel, Xeroquel, Ketipinor) are administered to hundreds of thousands of “unruly” elderly patients on a daily basis -- this despite the FDA’s repeated warnings that these drugs are killing them. Unlike the psychotic behavior of Sister Amy Archer-Gilligan (the real-life inspiration for Arsenic and Old Lace), burying victims in the backyard is no longer necessary because autopsies are rarely done on persons over 60 years of age. Here is a simple, but factual accounting for this remarkable present day scenario: 

In 2013, there are approximately 16,000 nursing homes in the United States which currently are boarding millions of elderly patients. An estimated 26% of these residents are given antipsychotic drugs. This would amount to hundreds of thousands of elderly patients being sedated on a daily basis. These drugs are often referred to as “chemical restraints” because, although the FDA-approved use is for treating schizophrenics, they are more often prescribed as a cost-effective way to manage elderly patients with “behavioral difficulties,” a term open to interpretation.  

In April 2005, the FDA released the following “black box” warning (note: This represents the agency’s strongest warning):
“The FDA has determined that the treatment of behavioral disorders in elderly patients with dementia with a typical second-generation antipsychotic medication is associated with increased mortality.”  
This warning was based on a review of 17 studies with over 5,000 patients taking second generation antipsychotic drugs.  Researchers found that the death rate for these elderly patients was almost twice the normal rate of mortality.  Over a ten-week period, the death rate in the placebo-controlled arm was 2.6%, while that of the arm receiving actual antipsychotic drugs grew to 4.5%. Sudden cardiac death was a common cause.  
In addition to these findings, an FDA associate director testified before Congress that the FDA estimated that 15,000 elderly nursing home patients are being killed in nursing homes annually with prescribed antipsychotic drugs. 
Finally, in June 2008 the FDA expanded its warning that all categories of antipsychotic drugs are associated with an increased death rate in elderly patients, yet Medicaid continues to cover these “black box” drugs – at a cost running into the billions. They remain the popular, cost- effective practice to reduce staffing without the use of physical restraints.  
Estates Stolen While Antipsychotics Prescribed
In 2003, a 96-year-old Illinois man died, leaving his 88-year-old wife a very wealthy widow.  As we shall see, inheritance can be a dangerous gift for a vulnerable senior. 
Within just one month of her husband’s death, the woman was hospitalized and assigned a legal guardian. After she was removed from her luxurious lakeside residence, her will of 33 years was rewritten, her personal attorney and accountant both replaced.  Her new legal guardian became the executor and beneficiary of her estate, which was then systematically depleted. 
Over the next several years, the widow’s guardian refused to provide the court with an accounting of her assets. During this time, she was committed to a psychiatric hospital and eventually admitted to hospice, where she died. Throughout this period the guardian refused to provide the court with a complete accounting of his charge’s (the victim’s) assets. 
The woman had two nieces, both of whom were professionals; one an accountant, the other, a highly qualified nurse (R.N.) who also held a MSN and was both a certified case manager and legal nurse consultant. Both nieces believed that their aunt was being systematically disposed of for profit after discovering that she had been admitted to hospice without benefit of a proper diagnosis. Moreover, they learned that she was being administered Fentanyl, Levothyroxine, Metoprolol, Spiriva, Lasix, Vicodin, Roxanol, and Albuterol-- antipsychotic drugs – along with 13 other medications, until she died. 
When the nieces obtained the list of medications given to their aunt, they sent their findings, along with a formal complaint, to the FDA in an attempt to force an autopsy. They set out to prove that their aunt had been medicated “to death.” 
The FDA Office of Criminal Investigations refused to take action and referred the nieces to local county legal authorities, who also refused to take action. Despite overwhelming physical and circumstantial evidence of foul play, this once wealthy widow’s forensic autopsy was denied. 
Her death certificate stated that death was due to “natural causes.” 

In July 2009, in Oregon State, two sons initiated a probate procedure, seeking to become their father’s legal guardians.  But in a 4-minute ex parte decision reached despite the absence of any mental capacity exam, the judge assigned a “professional guardian.” Both children were left powerless to stop future events. 
The “professional guardian” quickly removed the father from his home and over a period of the next few months, plundered the elderly man’s estate. He was admitted into a hospital, where he was administered the antipsychotic drugs Haldol and Seroquel. The man died. 
The two sons cried foul until the local coroner agreed to do an autopsy. However, at the last moment, the “professional guardian” appeared, professing her authority, threatening a law suit and successfully demanding that the autopsy be cancelled. 
The body was cremated; as in the case of the elderly woman in Cook County, the death certificate listed the cause of death as “natural causes.”

In a case receiving national media attention, a highly decorated 95- year-old war hero named Captain Hugh Johnson of North Carolina, was abused, neglected, and denied both an autopsy and burial with military honors – the kind that any honored combat veteran should receive. Hugh Johnson had led the 303rd Bomber Group of B-17’s known as “Hell’s Angels” on 26 credited combat missions against Nazi forces back in 1945. He was shot down and taken prisoner of war by the Nazi’s. 
In 2012, Hugh was taken prisoner under a guardianship that removed him from his million dollar home, which in turn, was quickly sold off. He was then placed in a nursing home where he was given the antipsychotic drug Quetiapine (Seroquel). Captain Johnson suffered 28 falls and several broken ribs; he missed meals that were served in the filthy rooms of a nursing home that had been denied federal funding and fined.  During the time these indignities were occurring, Captain Johnson’s remaining assets were sold off. 
On more than one occasion, he flatly stated, “My German captors kept me better.” 
Hugh died just 5 months after the ordeal began. Again, there was neither a forensic autopsy, nor a criminal investigation. Again, the death certificate stated that the deceased succumbed to “natural causes.” 
These are just 3 examples drawn from tens of thousands that occur annually where there is strong anecdotal evidence that second- generation antipsychotic drugs may well have caused the deaths of elderly victims for profit. And yet, no forensic autopsies were ever done. 

Autopsies Denied

On January 7, 2013, the Associated Press released an article titled, “Chicago Lottery Winner Died from Cyanide Poisoning.”  The article’s first paragraph stated: 
“With no signs of trauma and nothing to raise suspicions, the sudden death of a Chicago man just as he was about to collect nearly $425,000 in lottery winnings was initially ruled a result of natural causes.” 
The article goes on to state that the local medical examiner’s office did not do an autopsy because they are not generally done on those 45 and older unless the death was suspicious. The lottery winner’s death had been ruled a result of the narrowing and hardening of coronary arteries.
Months after the man’s death, a family member complained to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. As a result, medical authorities ordered more extensive toxicology tests, including those for evidence of strychnine and cyanide. Cyanide was found. The man’s body was finally exhumed as part of a criminal investigation. 
Without the complaints of a relative, no one in authority would have ever considered that this man’s death was suspicious; that someone had caused his death in order to receive a financial windfall. Even the media stated that there was, “nothing to raise suspicions.” 

When foul play is suspected, a government coroner or medical examiner performs autopsies for legal use. This is called “forensic medicine.” Forensic autopsies are done to investigate deaths that occur under suspicious circumstances. 
In 2011 a remarkable series of investigative reports jointly produced by National Public Radio (NPR), the Public Broadcast System’s “Frontline,” and ProPublica, expressed concerns over the present lack of autopsies and the general assumption that the elderly always die of natural causes. Together these three broadcast groups uncovered more than three dozen cases where alleged abuse, neglect and murder of senior citizens had eluded authorities. 
 “Frontline” followed up with another series which exposed deep flaws in this country’s system of investigating death. They reported that from 1972 to 2007, the number of autopsies performed on seniors in the United States had dropped from 37% to 17%.  Coroners and medical examiners rarely question, much less investigate, when treating physicians report that a patient’s death is due to natural causes. In most states, doctors can simply fill out a death certificate without ever seeing the body. 
Ageism, or discrimination against a person because of their age, leads to the inherently wrong assumption that when people reach their 60’s and beyond, death is more expected. This would explain why only 2 % of seniors who die are autopsied. 

One who reads this investigative series might believe that the lack of autopsies is a “sign of the times” due to the economy, budget cuts and a lack of direct government funding.  In reality, this is not the case. In July of 1988, the New York Times published an article entitled: Sharp Drop in Autopsies Stirs Fear That Quality of Care May Also Fall.  
The article stated that the number of autopsies being performed in the United States had fallen sharply, and that as a result, many medical leaders and government officials were becoming increasingly concerned that the quality of medical care was being jeopardized. Autopsy rates plunged from about 50% of all deaths in the mid-1940s to 10% in 1985. 
During that same year (1988), The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine published an article entitled: Autopsy Study Of The Elderly Institutionalized Patient.  In part, it noted; “Autopsies are performed much less frequently in the elderly than in younger patients and little information exists as to causes of death in the institutionalized elderly.” 
Both of these articles were written a quarter of a century ago.

This lack of autopsies shows us that ageism is and has been a part of our culture for decades. Sudden, unexpected deaths of the elderly do not trigger autopsies and hospitals are not required to perform them. Insurers don’t pay for them and doctors fear that they may reveal malpractice. Moreover, performing autopsies on elderly patients after prescribing them antipsychotic drugs would more than likely do just that.


Checks and Balances

The term “checks and balances” is used to define various procedures set in place to prevent, or ensure, that outcomes are reached in a desired manner.  For example, checks and balances can ensure that no one person or department has too much control. Our founding fathers divided the powers of government into three co-equal branches -- legislative, executive and judiciary -- in a manner that would prevent any single branch from obtaining too much power. This was done to ensure legitimacy, prevent corruption and forestall tyranny. (At least that was their intent.)
Another example lies within our criminal legal system where we ensure that an accused person’s rights are not violated. A police officer can make an arrest on the street, but the prosecutor decides if the accused will be formally charged; then and only then will the accused will have his or her day in court. This process of checks and balances ensures that a person’s rights are protected and that he or she is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  
Autopsies are just one aspect of an important part of the system of checks and balances which ensures that if an elderly person should die as the result of the actions of another, this crime is identified and persons can be held accountable. These post mortem forensic investigations can actually protect the rights of the living by identifying not just killers, but their methods.

 While autopsies should be the norm and not the exception, their absence from a system of checks and balances which seeks to protect the elderly is symptomatic of a much bigger problem. “Guardianships,” designed to protect the rights, safety and assets of a disabled elderly person do just the opposite when there is no effective system in place to protect those rights and limit power. Judges, attorneys and professional guardians can take complete control over the body and assets of an elderly person under the auspices that the elder and accused family members are “presumed guilty.” Estates are wiped out as victims are disposed of.  
Next stop . . .  The Twilight Zone.  
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Next stop ~ the good, bad and ugly of guardianship, conservatorship and probate matters throughout the nation… but you may have to wait for the book.  Thank you for reading and feel free to send me comments via my website ….  www.exploitationelderly.com   … 
Regards,   Joe Roubicek





The following is intended for Internet placement only ....

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describes harmful acts on elderly adults that include not just physical abuse, but neglect and financial exploitation.
Millions of senior citizens are victimized by elderly abuse annually. Elder, elderly abuse, occurs in many different settings whether it be in the elders home, a caregivers dorican Association of retired persons, most states have laws that define elder abuse and elderly abuse. Statistics show that healthcare providers are both responsible and report elderly abuse elder abuse and elderly abuse often goes unnoticed by physicians. The mortality rate of an elderly person, victim of elderly abuse, and elderly abuse,, and elder abuse, these victims have a much higher mortality rate. The administration on aging, American Medical Association, elderly abuse national Center on Elder abuse, elder abuse, national committee for the prevrican Association of retired persons, most states have laws that define elder abuse and elderly abuse. Statistics show that healthcare providers are both responsible and report elderly abuse elder abuse and elderly abuse often goes unnoticed by physicians. The mortality rate of an elderly person, victim of elderly abuse, and elderly abuse,, and elder abuse, these victims have a much higher mortality rate. The administration on aging, American Medical Association, elderly abuse national Center on Elder abuse, elder abuse, national committee for the prev  xploitation, elderly abuse, elder abuse. addressed by the American Medical Association, elder abuse, elderly abuse, is on occasion addressed by the AARP, that Ameention of elder abuse, elderly abuse. Abuse of the elderly. Abandonment is one element of elder abuse and elderly abuse. Material exploitation, caregiver abuse, elder Lee abuse, elderly abuse, psychological abuse, physical violence, elderly abuse.
Elderly abuse or institutional settings. Elderly abuse in nursing homes is quite common. The five general categories of elder, elderly abuse, or physical sexual emotional psychological financial and neglect.
Information from the national Center on Elder abuse, focus on elderly abuse, elder abuse, presents that financial abuse financial exploitation, occurs in one out of eight cases of elderly abuse. I believe that the incidence of financial exploitation within elder abuse, elderly abuse, is more frequent. The national Center on Elder abuse includes in the elderly abuse, elder abuse, definition, shots things as verbal assaults, intimidation, humiliation, insults. Isolation is significant form of elder abuse, elderly abuse. Isolation and intimidation are significant elements of financial e
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