The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

July 11, 2012

Missouri bolsters protection for seniors, disabled

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Jay Nixon signed legislation Wednesday intended to strengthen protections for elderly and disabled Missourians against financial exploitation.

Missouri already has a law that makes it a crime to take financial advantage of an elderly or disabled person through deception, intimidation or force. However, officials say it has been difficult for prosecutors to prove cases of financial exploitation when the perpetrator has guardianship or power of attorney.

Under the newly approved law, it now will be a crime to use “undue influence” to exploit someone’s “vulnerable state of mind, neediness, pain or agony.” That specifically could be applied to instances of improper or fraudulent use of power of attorney, guardianship, conservatorship or other fiduciary authority.

Nixon, a Democrat, was holding bill signing ceremonies Wednesday at senior centers in Springfield and at the Bridgeton Senior Center in the St. Louis area. He said Missouri has an obligation to protect seniors.

“The changes I’m signing into law make it clear that, regardless of who you are, or what power you have over a person, financial exploitation of older Missourians is wrong; it is illegal; and the state will use the full force of the law to go after those who exploit vulnerable Missourians,” Nixon said.

Supporters of the legislation, such as the Missouri AARP, have said the measure will help fill some gaps in current law while strengthening enforcement. They say older people can be at particular risk for exploitation, and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said that about one of every five calls it receives to an elder abuse hotline involves allegations of financial exploitation.

“This law will have some teeth in it,” said Norma Collins, the advocacy director for Missouri AARP.

The criminal penalties for financial exploitation increase based upon the amount of money that is involved. Cases with less than $50 are a misdemeanor with a punishment of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The most serious instances that involve more than $50,000 are treated as a top-level felony and carry a possible prison sentence of 10 years to 30 years, or life in prison.

In addition, the newly approved legislation also addresses elderly and disabled people who are eligible for Medicaid and live in nursing homes and other care facilities. People who receive funds on such residents’ behalf but fail to send money owed to the facility also could be charged with financial exploitation. Anyone convicted under those circumstances could be ordered to pay restitution as a condition of sentencing with 10 percent of the payment going to the local prosecutor’s office to help fund enforcement.

The bill signing Wednesday came just days before Nixon’s deadline Saturday to sign or veto the legislation approved earlier this year by lawmakers. Among the roughly two-dozen measures yet to be signed or vetoed are several marque bills, including legislation dealing with contraception, local sales taxes on vehicle purchases and regulation of highway billboards.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Pseudoephedrine sales in Pittsburg to require prescription

    Starting Friday, those who purchase pseudoephedrine and related products in Pittsburg will need a prescription to do so.

    July 22, 2014

  • Cherokee County Commission accepts general counsel's resignation

    Kevin Cure, who has served as general counsel for the Cherokee County Commission since 2005, submitted a handwritten resignation to the board on Monday in the aftermath of a landfill controversy.

    July 22, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Parents can get help with school supplies

    I don’t know much about demographics other than the fact that I no longer belong to a “targeted demographic.” When I was younger, I was bombarded by commercials and ads from companies that were trying to sell me things that I not only needed but wanted.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jasper County Commission reviews traffic plans

    The Jasper County Commission will hold public hearings today and Thursday on a number of traffic changes proposed in the county. No one spoke when the first hearing was held Tuesday as part of the regular commission meeting, according to Jim Honey, Eastern District associate commissioner.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin school board reviews audit procedures

    A team from the Missouri State Auditor’s Office has begun requesting documents in its task to audit the operations and management of the Joplin School District, the audit manager told the Board of Education on Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin man to stand trial in accident case

    A passenger accused of causing an accident on Interstate 44 in Joplin that injured three others as well as himself was ordered bound over for trial Tuesday on three felony counts.

    July 22, 2014

  • r072214soroptimist3.jpg Volunteers spend week providing camp experience to foster youths

    Karen McGlamery is a massage therapist. Terri Falis-Cochran is a finance manager. Jane McCaulley is a retired art teacher. But for a week each summer, the three are among dozens of area residents who become camp counselors.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Neosho school board hires company to manage substitutes

    Citing its hopes of shifting health care costs and utilizing more time from retired teachers, the Neosho Board of Education granted a contract Monday to a temporary employee company to manage its substitute teacher program.

    July 22, 2014

  • Main Street TIF district study to begin

    A measure that allows the city to charge its $15,000 in administrative costs for studying a proposal to create a tax increment financing district on South Main Street was approved Monday by the Joplin City Council.

    July 21, 2014

  • Carthage man pleads guilty in sexual abuse case

    A Carthage man pleaded guilty Monday to sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl in a plea agreement that would cap the length of his prison term at no more than 15 years.

    July 21, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

A state lawmaker who is one of two doctors in the Oklahoma Legislature is insisting that unaccompanied immigrant minors being housed at Fort Sill be quarantined. Do you think those kinds of measures should be taken?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter