John “Herb” Friedlund, 79, who served as a caregiver for a 105-year-old Frances Swan of Kettle Falls, faces up to 10 year prison sentence for stealing almost $1 million from the woman’s retirement fund.
Friedlund was found guilty of first-degree theft with aggravating circumstances according to the Spokesman Review.
Friedlund’s theft was discovered after police, who were investigating animal neglect on the property where Swan lived, found her in bed in a squalid room begging for food.
Apparently Friedlund went on a spending spree with Swan’s money buying more than 300 guns, tractors and snowmobiles and giving money to young men he met on gay websites.
Friedlund’s defense was that Swan herself used the internet and sent money to young men that she had met in chat rooms. Friedlund also sold a 134-acre ranch owned by Swan for about 25% of it’s market value.
Financial Elder Abuse
Financial abuse is a form of elder abuse that happens far too frequently. Financial abuse includes theft, embezzlement or taking any property from an elderly person. The theft can be simple such as stealing money from an elderly person’s wallet or removing property from the home but it can also be complex involving real estate transactions, selling of stocking and manipulating an elderly person’s finances for personal gain.
Financial elder abuse often devastates the elderly who worked a lifetime to save for their retirement. This kind of abuse can leave a senior without funds for self-care.
Often, the elderly are isolated and a manipulative individual can increase the isolation to gain more control over the victim. Some signs of financial abuse can include:
- Unusual bank withdrawals such as cash from ATMs when the elderly person can not get to the bank.
- Forged signatures
- Signatures on documents when the elderly person does not have the cognitive capacity to understand what they are signing
- Lack of grooming items and clean clothing
- Unpaid bills
- Changes in spending patterns including buying high price and luxury items
- A stranger that forges a close relationship with the elderly.
The vulnerable elderly are also susceptible to home improvement, sweepstakes and telemarketing scams.
Washington State’s Mandatory Reporter Law
While all those that care for vulnerable adults have a moral responsibility to report suspected physical or financial abuse or neglect to authorities, social workers, medical professionals and therapists are required by Washington’s Mandatory Reporter law to report any suspected abuse of a vulnerable adult to authorities. A vulnerable adult is any person age 60 or over who is unable to care for themselves due to a functional, mental or physical disability. The Washington State Department of Health Services has a 24-hour hotline, 1-866-363-4276, where suspected abuse can be reported. If one believes that the vulnerable adult is immediate danger, the police should be called.
Washington Elder Attorney Represents Victims of Elder Abuse
The Farber Law Group, a Washington injury law firm, represents victims of elder abuse and neglect and their family. We have more than 30 years experience obtaining compensation for victims who have suffered injuries such as bedsores, broken hips and other injuries of neglect.