LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter J. Lucido has developed a package of bills to crack down on people who seek to financially exploit seniors and vulnerable adults.
The senator said the measures were announced to coincide with National Senior Citizens Day, which recognizes contributions senior citizens make in communities throughout the state and nation.
Lucido’s bills would require financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, to report suspected financial abuse to better safeguard Michigan’s elderly and vulnerable against exploitation. The legislation would also require them to place a temporary freeze on accounts in question.
Lucido has also introduced Senate Bills 412 and 413, which would increase the penalties for embezzlement from a vulnerable adult to up to one year of imprisonment and a $1,000 fine for a first offense to as much as 25 years and a $100,000 fine for three or more offenses.
“Adults unable to protect themselves from abuse, neglect or exploitation because of a mental or physical impairment, or because of advanced age, are particularly vulnerable to being taken advantage of,” said Lucido, R-Shelby Township. “These are unfortunate situations and I continue to hear stories of vulnerable adults in Macomb and elsewhere who are being harmed by predatory criminals. We need to do more and further protect vulnerable citizens, especially our seniors, the greatest generation.”
The measures would build upon action Lucido has taken this year to protect the vulnerable.
He previously introduced SBs 108 and 109, which would allow for the one-year imprisonment of anyone convicted of committing assault and battery on a vulnerable adult, and five years for a second or successive offense.
Another measure, SB 110, would allow a probate court to assign a limited guardian or conservator if it found that a guardian of an incapacitated individual denied a relative of the vulnerable person access to them, even if the the vulnerable person desired contact with the relative.
In March 2019, Lucido was named as one of four members of the state Legislature to serve on a newly formed Elder Abuse Task Force, which includes representatives from over 30 different organizations, from law enforcement and advocacy groups to state agencies, the Legislature, Congress and the governor’s office.
“Elder abuse is often underreported or unrecognized, yet it is estimated that over 73,000 Michigan seniors each year are victims of neglect or physical, emotional or financial abuse,” said Lucido. “We need to strengthen Michigan laws to better protect our elderly citizens from those who bankrupt, abuse or neglect them, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to get these bills passed into law.”