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AG Nessel's Elder Abuse Task Force Releases Jan. 2022 Newsletter

LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel released the Elder Abuse Task Force's latest newsletter this morning, which highlights the important work that continues to protect our elderly.

The three-page update is now available on the Department of Attorney General's website.

"The continued work of the Elder Abuse Task Force is bettering the lives of seniors across the state," Nessel said. "I'm proud of what this group has accomplished thus far and know their steadfast focus will lead to additional protections for our most vulnerable."

Michigan's Elder Abuse Task Force launched in 2019 and consists of more than 55 different organizations in the public, private and nonprofit sections - all working together to combat elder abuse.

Since the last newsletter was issued in July, the group has focused on accomplishing the Task Force's Second Set of Initiatives.

The Financial Exploitation Prevention Act (FEPA) took effect Sept. 26. Its passage last year was part of the Task Force's First Set of Initiatives, while providing comprehensive training to implement the Act is part of the second set.

The Act requires financial institutions to report suspected or detected covered financial exploitation of vulnerable adults to adult protective services or law enforcement.  FEPA also requires financial institutions to implement training for employees to recognize common types and signs of financial exploitation.

Groups interested in attending a FEPA presentation are asked to email with the following information

  • subject line that states "FEPA Presentation Request"; 
  • a brief description of the professional background of potential attendees; 
  • the number of people likely to attend; 
  • potential dates and times that will work well for the group (flexibility is encouraged); and 
  • the format of the presentation (virtual presentations are recommended). 

If the group is below 50 attendees, the Department of Attorney General asks, to preserve time and resources, that the interested group allow another group to join their event upon request.

Eligible groups include but are not limited to elder abuse coalitions, area agencies on aging, law enforcement, and financial institution professionals.

The latest newsletter also provides an update on a bipartisan package of bills introduced in June. The legislation would implement fundamental reforms impacting guardians and conservators-individuals appointed by probate courts to act in the best interests of vulnerable individuals. It is now up to the legislature to move the bills forward.

A recent criminal case of interest is People v. Haynes, decided August 12, 2021 (docket no. 350125). Gary Haynes' conviction came after he stole over $300,000 from a widow in her 90's while serving as her financial advisor. One of Haynes' arguments on appeal was that there was insufficient evidence that the victim was a vulnerable adult, arguing, in part, because she was mentally capable of handling her own affairs. In affirming the defendant's conviction, the Court of Appeals found that there was strong evidence by which a jury could find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the victim was a vulnerable adult because she walked with a cane, needed help buying groceries, getting to appointments, doing chores around the house, and needed help paying her bills online because she was not familiar with computers.

The case signifies why it is critical to continue to provide training to police and prosecutors on how to investigate and prosecute those who financially exploit vulnerable adults.

More information is available on the Task Force's webpage. Those interested in updates are welcome to subscribe to receive the newsletter.