WASHINGTON – Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) stepping up enforcement against perpetrators of crimes targeting senior citizens is headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act of 2017, originally introduced and championed by Blumenthal and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) passed the House of Representatives by voice vote yesterday. The bill passed the Senate by voice vote in early August.
A portion of the bill is named for Robert Matava, a Unionville, Connecticut veteran and Purple Heart recipient who was defrauded and turned out of his own home by his son, who he had entrusted with his assets. Matava passed away in 2011 at the age of 90.
“Robert Matava was a national hero, one of the greatest of the great generation. He deserved the utmost respect and care during his senior years. Instead—in a tragedy all too common across our country—he was defrauded by those he trusted the most. By raising awareness, improving prevention and increasing prosecution, this bipartisan effort will help combat the unconscionable scourge of elder abuse nationwide for years to come,” Blumenthal said.
“I’m very pleased our bipartisan efforts have paid off and that the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act is bound for the President’s signature. Exploiting and defrauding seniors is cowardly, and these crimes should be addressed as the reprehensible acts they are. Our legislation will enhance our nation’s response to these crimes and help families across America by equipping law enforcement, seniors and caregivers with additional training and tools to better deter crimes and hold perpetrators accountable. And it sends a clear signal from Congress that combatting elder abuse and exploitation should be a top priority for law enforcement,” Grassley said. “I urge President Trump to sign and implement this law as soon as possible to aid American seniors and families in their pursuit of justice.”
You can read a one-page bill summary here or full text of the bill here. The bill has the endorsement of numerous organizations, including the Elder Justice Coalition, the American Bar Association, the National Center for Victims of Crime, and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, among others. Other cosponsors include Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Robert P. Casey (D-Pa.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Marco Rubio (D-Fla.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).