Older adults are the fastest growing segment of our population and one the most vulnerable group of people in the world. Older adults are most likely to suffer from chronic health problems. More than half are patients with a dementing illness, and half of those people are at high risk of being victims of abuse or neglect. Financial abuse of elderly Americans is usually difficult to identify, commonly hidden by fear and shame and far too often quieted by the debilitation of mental impairment. Yet the abuse is as commonplace as it is reprehensible—and appalling. A recent study found that older adults are scammed out of almost $3 billion every year. It is likely that this is only the tip of the iceberg, however, because most financial elder abuse cases are never reported.
According to a report published this past Wednesday by The United States Attorney’s Office of Southern District of Indiana, four men who worked for one of Indiana’s largest nursing home chains called American Senior Communities (ASC) were indicted for conducting “a vast fraud, kickback, and money laundering scheme.” These men, who were charged with “personally [pocketing] millions in kickbacks and fraudulent overcharges, which they spent on vacation homes, private plane flights, golf trips, expensive jewelry, gold bullion, and casino chips,” included the nursing home’s former Chief Executive Officer and former Chief Operating Officer. These men essentially took advantage of the most vulnerable group of people in our society, manipulating a system entrusted with the care of the elderly, as well as those who are physically and mentally challenged, so that they could live a lifestyle of unjustified grandeur, full of uncontrolled greed.
The ASC oversees the daily operations of over 70 elderly care facilities throughout the state under the public health organization called Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County (Health & Hospital)—an organization that administers both hospitals and nursing homes. ASC manages the facilities by purchasing and referring patients to a large number of products and services made available by outside companies. Almost all of these products and services are paid for using Medicare and Medicaid funds.
The indictment reports that between 2009 and 2015, the four conspirators operated side deals with a variety of these outside vendors for their own personal gain—unbeknownst to, and at the expense of the ASC’s owners and Health & Hospital. These side deals were often made by intentionally increasing the price of products and services the vendors provided to ASC and Health & Hospital, and then transferring the overcharged amounts back to themselves through a variety of shell companies. In one instance, the indictment alleged that one of the conspirators instructed a landscaping vendor to artificially inflate its invoices by 45% before presenting them to ASC. After the invoices were paid by ASC, the landscaping vendor funneled the 45% overcharge back to one of the conspirator’s shell companies, which he then divided with the with the landscaping vendor’s shell company. The fraudulent invoices through the landscaping vendor allegedly swindled ASC and Health & Hospital out of more than $2.3 million.
If you or someone you love is a victim of financial elder abuse, remember it is never too late to seek help. Please contact the Law Offices of Ben Yeroushalmi today. Our team of attorneys and experts are equipped with both the knowledge and resources necessary to pursue your case with vigor until a just resolution is attained. We believe that all types of elder abuse and neglect are reprehensible, and we are committed to joining the effort to put an end to it.