A former California lawyer was sentenced on Jan. 11 to four years in prison after being convicted of insurance fraud and felony elder fiscal abuse. The 83-year-old man's conviction came over three years after allegations were first raised regarding his failure to pay for long-term care for a 92-year-old mother and her disabled dependent 63-year-old son. The man had served as mother and son's fiscal and medical power of attorney.
The judge who issued the sentence noted the poor situation of the son, in his 60s and living in the Burlingame Long Term Care Center, after the offender squandered the assets his mother had saved to provide for his care. The mother is living with dementia at a retirement center in Millbrae. According to testimony, the man embezzled almost $460,000 from the woman's accounts between 2010 and 2014. The lawyer was supposed to assist the son, but he instead duped the son into signing over his assets. The man then used the money to fund personal trips to Canada and the Philippines and pay off credit card bills.
The son was not capable of understanding what he was signing over at the time. In addition, the former lawyer completed 12 life insurance applications on the man, naming himself as the beneficiary. The theft was discovered after the care facilities housing mother and son failed to receive monthly payments. After the former lawyer was removed as their power of attorney, he was originally released from custody. He was re-arrested after he continued to practice law with vulnerable elderly clients despite a prohibition.
When lawyers, accountants, brokers and other professionals violate a client's trust, the personal and financial costs can be enormous. An attorney can help someone who has been victimized by insurance fraud or legal malpractice to protect their rights and seek compensation.