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DA Krasner, Community Partners Announce Justice Department Grant Award for Elder Justice Task Force

PHILADELPHIA (August 29, 2022) — Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and four Philadelphia-based nonprofit and legal advocacy organizations today announced that the Department of Justice’s Office of Victims and Crime has awarded $375,000 in grant funding to develop over a three-year period a groundbreaking collaboration that brings together professionals from medicine, law enforcement, and victim and legal services, to increase access to justice for elder Philadelphia residents who are the victims of financial exploitation.Seniors are increasingly one of the most prevalent demographics for economic victimization. One in ten older Americans has been the victim of financial or material exploitation at a cost of over $36.5 billion annually, according to the National Council on Aging. Financial abuse ranges from forging signatures and cashing checks without a senior’s consent, to coercing them into signing a will, to outright theft of possessions, and more. Perpetrators are frequently family members.

The Philadelphia Elder Abuse Multidisciplinary Team’s (PEAMDT) mission is multifaceted: PEAMDT will strengthen the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office’s (DAO) ability to investigate and ultimately prosecute crimes involving the financial exploitation of elders. Specifically, a portion of the grant has enabled the DAO to hire an Elder Abuse Victim Coordinator who will oversee the PEAMDT. This funding also supports a DAO Forensic Accountant who investigates elder financial exploitation cases.In addition to expanding the ability of the DAO to hold perpetrators accountable, this sizable grant will enable organizations including Penn Memory Center, Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE), SeniorLAW Center, and the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), to educate older residents about financial exploitation and connect them to vitally important legal and victim resources. This collaboration will provide assistance to seniors that includes prosecution and restitution, medical expertise, civil legal assistance, victim support services specialized for senior citizens, housing assistance, and protective services. PEAMDT partners will also use grant money to pay their staff to attend monthly team meetings and training sessions among other elder-focused advocacy work.

“In this important effort there is a balance between necessary enforcement and also necessary prevention,” said DA Krasner. “Perpetrators of this type of crime often prey on compassion, concern, and immediacy. In practical terms, it is going to be up to neighbors and friends, adult children, other seniors—in other words, all of us—to help protect our elders from the many scams and hustles that occur on a regular basis. I strongly encourage the public, if they suspect a crime against a senior is happening, to contact authorities. We can do a lot, but we can’t do this alone.”“It gives me great joy to announce the expansion of the DAO’s Elder Justice Unit,” said DAO First Assistant Carolyn Temin, who has been instrumental in spearheading the creation of the PEAMDT. “As a result of this grant, we are now able to expand the services available to elder victims of crime. Too often, these victims have other unmet needs that they are unable to address. This team will not only be able to help secure justice through prosecution but also address some of the underlying reasons why these crimes occur in the first place.”

“The overall purpose of this initiative is to tackle the large and increasing problem of financial exploitation of senior citizens in Philadelphia,” said Assistant District Attorney Alexander Blumenthal, Supervisor of the DAO’s Elder Justice Unit. “Seniors are vulnerable for a multitude of reasons. These types of cases often present complex problems that no single agency can deal with by themselves. This partnership will go a long way towards preventing future victimization and helping the DAO secure justice for Philadelphia’s elders.”“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen a sharp increase in the frequency of financial exploitation of seniors,” said Shani Gilmore, Executive Administrator of Long-Term Care for the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging. “PCA wholeheartedly supports this collaborative mission, and we look forward to working with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office in the coming weeks and months in order to strengthen our seniors’ access to justice and the remedies necessary to recover their dignity.”

“For 45 years, CARIE has been in existence to promote the well-being, rights, and autonomy of older adults, including victim services and supports to elder Philadelphians who have found themselves victims of crime and abuse,” said Mariel Lorenz, a Supervisor with the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE). “We look forward to working on this team in order to help support our elders who have given so much to our communities.”“As Chair of Philadelphia City Council’s Intergenerational Affairs and Aging Committee, I know how badly this collaborative effort is needed for our seniors,” said Councilmember Kendra Brooks, At-Large. “We have an amazing opportunity now to protect some of our most vulnerable residents, and I thank all of the partners who are coming together to make this a reality.”To report suspected elder financial exploitation to the PEAMDT, call the task force’s hotline: 215-686-5710.

CONTACT:Dustin Slaughter, 215-686-8713, [email protected]

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The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million residents of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives, and support staff. The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of approximately 40,000 criminal cases annually. Learn more about the DAO by visiting PhillyDA.org.