Law Criminalizes Financial Exploitation of Incapacitated Adults
There are close to 1,000 cases of financial exploitation of adults in Virginia every year, according to Adult Protective Services. Now, a new law could help curb that number.
It establishes a criminal penalty for taking advantage of mentally incapacitated adults. The law is one of more than 800 set to take effect Monday, July 1. It makes any attempt to financially exploit a mentally incapacitated adult a crime, and one Albemarle County woman says it's about time.
Jeannie Beidler says her grandparents were abused at the hands of her uncle, who was their live-in caretaker. "There just weren't laws in place or programs and such that would protect them," she said.
It has been almost exactly three years since Beidler helped rescue her aging grandparents from abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. "Sitting in a bed that was saturated and torn, and no linens, and maggots swarming around, and she's laying in her own waste," Beidler said.
Both her grandparents suffered from dementia, and in July 2010 they were found living in terrible conditions, while their son bilked them out of thousands of dollars.
"He had my grandmother write him a check every day, paid to him with the memo line ‘for mom's bills,'" Beidler said. "Unbeknownst to her, none of those bills were being paid for."
Her uncle ultimately served time for abuse and neglect, but never faced any charges for financial exploitation.
"They asked the judge, ‘Well what are we charging him with?' There isn't even a statute to write down on an arrest warrant," Beidler said.
Starting Monday, that's about to change. The new law, championed by Albemarle Delegate Rob Bell, will make any knowing effort to exploit a mentally incapacitated adult criminal larceny.
For Beidler, it's a step in the right direction. "It was nearly impossible for me to rescue my grandparents; it was the challenge of my life," she said.
Beidler succeeded in bringing her two grandparents out of those conditions. Her uncle was released from prison in February, and is on probation.
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