State ‘doubles efforts’ to deter crimes against seniors after spike in elder abuse referrals

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Attorney General John Formella speaks at the press conference. Behind him left to right: District 3 Executive Councilor, Janet Stevens; Commissioner Lori Weaver, NH Department of Health and Human Services; Brad Kulacz, Regional Vice President, Merrimack County Savings Bank; Detective Rochelle Jones, Portsmouth Police Department; Senior Assistant Attorney General, Bryan Townsend, NH Department of Justice; Christa Clapp, Elder Abuse Program Specialist, NH Department of Justice; Sunny Mulligan Shea, Victims Witness Advocate, NH Department of Justice.

CONCORD, NH – Attorney General John M. Formella announced today new resources to combat elder abuse and financial exploitation in New Hampshire. The Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Unit will add three new positions: an additional prosecutor, a sworn law enforcement investigator, and an investigative paralegal.

The Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Unit investigates and prosecutes abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation committed against New Hampshire’s adult residents aged 60 and older. The Unit also educates the public on elder abuse topics, including the legal requirement that all New Hampshire residents report abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults.

“Since its creation, the Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Unit has worked diligently to bring those who harm our older adult neighbors to justice,” said Attorney General Formella. “The Unit has successfully prosecuted lawyers, financial advisors, caregivers, and others who have abused their positions of trust to take advantage of elderly victims.”

The Unit, previously staffed by a prosecutor, victim-witness advocate, and program specialist, has seen a 71% increase in referrals over the last five years (from 758 to 1,295). The increase in referrals is attributable to several factors, including the increase in our older adult population.

“New Hampshire is the second oldest State in the Country, and I strive to make every effort to make our older adult residents safe,” said Attorney General Formella. “As a result, we are doubling our efforts, adding three new positions that will help investigate, punish, and deter crimes committed against our older adults.”

Following the announcement by the NH Department of Justice that the newly passed operating budget for the State of NH provided significant additional resources to the Elder Abuse and Exploitation unit, Linda Lorden, Chair of NH Bankers and President of Merrimack County Savings Bank, issued the following statement.

“We commend the Legislature and Governor Sununu for the significant additional resources to combat elder abuse and exploitation. As bankers we continue to see ongoing levels of fraud, targeting the elderly, with increasing sophistication. This important dedication of resources follows recent legislation that gives bankers the ability to place a temporary hold on a transaction when exploitation of vulnerable adults is suspected. The additional manpower within the Department of Justice is particularly meaningful in protecting our senior citizens and vulnerable adults.”

With the new resources, the Unit will increase the number of cases it investigates and prosecutes yearly. The Unit will also expand its education efforts. In the last year, the Unit presented on elder abuse topics on 30 separate occasions, consisting of presentations to law enforcement, financial institutions, senior housing and long-term care facilities, and medical professionals. The Unit will also look to strengthen its collaboration with local law enforcement and other partners in efforts to provide the best possible outcomes for elderly crime victims.

Presentations offered by the Unit include topics such as:

  • Best practices to protect older adults from common scams.
  • Mandatory abuse, neglect, and exploitation reporting requirements.
  • Services available to older adult victims of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
  • Elder case investigation techniques.
  • Relevant laws to assist financial institutions in combatting financial exploitation.

To request a presentation by members of the Unit, please contact:

  • Christa Clapp, Elder Abuse Program Specialist
  • Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau

If you or someone you know has been the victim of elder abuse or financial exploitation, please contact your local police department or the Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services (1-800-949-0470).

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