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Vulnerable adults in South St. Paul victims of exploitation

Twin Cities residents with loved ones in residential care may want to take notice of a recent criminal case in Dakota County involving the financial exploitation of residents at a nursing home in South St. Paul. Four counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult led to a guilty plea by the accused woman, who allegedly stole almost $63,000 between March 2009 and November 2010. She apparently was able to obtain the money by writing checks to herself from the victims' checking accounts.

The woman's sentence requires her to serve 60 days in jail followed by five years of probation. She is also subject to a $300 fine and will have to pay restitution to the swindled clients. However, victims of financial exploitation risk permanent loss when abusers lack the financial resources to pay compensation. It is unclear from the report whether the woman will ever be able to pay the full amount of restitution, but any violation of the terms of her probation could land her in jail for 33 months.

Warnings about financial abuse of elder adults have gained increasing visibility in recent years, but this sordid affair in South St. Paul serves as a reminder of the risk of exploitation faced by all vulnerable adults. Even when a loved one receives care from licensed professionals in a licensed facility, the attention of family members and legal guardians remains essential to ensuring that the assets of the vulnerable adult are appropriately applied to his or her care and needs.

Minnesotans with family members at risk of financial exploitation will want to stay aware of signs indicating potential fraud and the legal options available for protecting critical assets.

Source: Inver Grove Heights Patch, "Woman sentenced to 60 days in jail for South St. Paul nursing home heist," Jeff Roberts, March 30, 2012

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