11-15-2010 03:13 PM CET - Politics, Law & Society

GAO Report on Guardianships: Cases of Financial Exploitation, Neglect, Abuse of Seniors

Press release from: NASGA - National Association to STOP Guardian Abuse
guardianship conservatorship Senate Special Committee on Aging
guardianship conservatorship Senate Special Committee on Aging
In December of 2009, NASGA submitted our white paper “Protecting Our
Citizens from Unlawful and Abusive Guardianships and Conservatorships”
to several Congressional committees and the White House. Despite
numerous studies over the years pointing to the lack of monitoring and
oversight of cases, many states continue to permit due process and civil
and human rights violations and fail to protect their citizenry from
financial exploitation, neglect, and abuse during “protective”
proceedings. NASGA provided illustrations of these problems, and
specifically requested federal intervention.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging requested the GAO to do a forensic study, instructing them to: (1) verify whether allegations of abuse by guardians are widespread; (2) examine the facts in selected closed cases; and (3) proactively test state guardian certification processes. Numerous NASGA member cases were submitted to the GAO for their review.

The investigators found that within their control study group, guardians stole or otherwise improperly obtained $5.4 million in assets from 158 incapacitated victims, many of whom were seniors. In some instances, guardians also physically neglected and abused their victims.

NASGA welcomes the GAO’s in-depth report as a positive step forward. The report corroborates some of the problems set forth in our white paper. Although the GAO was unable to determine whether “allegations of abuse” by guardians are widespread, NASGA’s continued growth is due specifically to the growing number of complaints of abuse from victim members across the country.

While the GAO was conducting its forensic investigation of closed cases, the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security held a hearing on May 25, 2010 on Fraud Against Senior Citizens. At that hearing, Rep. Louie Gohmert requested a model law. In response, retired Wauwatosa, WI police officer John Caravella, author of “Marked for Destruction” (a true story of a guardianship), drafted a proposed model law entitled "The Adele Chris Act." He submitted copies of the Act to Rep Gohmert and Sen. Kohl, Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging for review by their respective committees.
NASGA applauds the work of John Caravella and supports his proposed law.

Although this issue should be of interest to other committees, NASGA feels the Senate Special Committee on Aging should spearhead the effort to meaningful reform, as it has been addressing the guardianship problem for many years and clearly recognizes the need for reform.

NASGA continues to reiterate the need for federal intervention. We have requested that the Senate Special Committee on Aging hold a series of hearings on this problem – both at the Senate and in the field (for the benefit of victims who are unable to make the trip to Washington D.C.) and look forward to the Senate’s response.

NASGA is a 501(c)(3) public benefit civil rights organization formed by victims and for victims of unlawful and abusive guardianships
and conservatorships.

NASGA - National Association to STOP Guardian Abuse
402 Walker St.
Loogootee, IN 47553

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