Sep 24 2003

Graham Holds Hearing on Crimes Against the Elderly

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Corrections and Victims’ Rights today held a hearing to investigate the challenges of investigating and prosecuting fraudulent crimes against the elderly. The hearing focused on the impact new technologies and an increasingly global society has had on criminal efforts to take advantage of senior citizens. The quick and easy movement across borders and jurisdictions of people, information, and money has allowed some to hide in other countries while continuing to operate their fraudulent schemes here. Due to today’s technology, these fraudulent efforts are extremely hard to detect, and even harder to prevent. The committee also heard testimony about the current state of physical abuse directed toward senior citizens, and the laws used to prosecute these crimes. “These criminals prey on the vulnerabilities of our senior citizens, and cowardly hide in the shadows overseas in an attempt to escape American law enforcement,” said Graham. “They utilize our state-of-the-art commercial infrastructure to identify, contact, and defraud America’s greatest generation. While it is difficult to combat these crimes, we have a responsibility to protect our seniors and bring these criminals to justice.” The committee heard testimony from six witnesses: Daniel L. Mihalko, Inspector In Charge Congressional and Public Affairs, United States Postal Service; the Honorable James G. Huse, Jr., Inspector General, Social Security Administration; the Honorable Christopher Chiles, Prosecutor Cabell County, West Virginia, and Vice President National District Attorney’s Association; James Wright, Director of TRIAD, National Sheriff’s Association; Lori A. Stiegel, J.D., Associate Staff Director, Commission on Law and Aging, American Bar Association; and Douglas Holbrook, Board of Directors, AARP. These individuals are on the front lines in this battle, and were asked to share their successes, challenges, and needs. Graham noted the need to formulate a multi-lateral approach to this problem, coordinating the law enforcement efforts at the federal, state, and local level. “When all levels of law enforcement work together, the country can make great strides in combating crime,” said Graham. “We have seen this approach work in reducing domestic violence and child abuse; now we must tackle elder abuse.” In this effort, Graham sees the need to stiffen penalties for criminal offenders who exploit seniors. “As far as I’m concerned, there are not enough bad things we could do to these people,” said Graham. “Slapping them on the wrist won’t deter much crime. As our senior population continues to grow, we need to strengthen and enhance the capabilities of law enforcement to combat these crimes,” said Graham. ####