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Bertino-Tarrant passes law to fight for tougher penalties on financial abuse of elders, disabled

jbt 041118 3SPRINGFIELD – Criminals targeting Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens may soon face tougher penalties, thanks to State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood).

Bertino-Tarrant passed Senate Bill 69 which institutes tougher penalties on Class 2 felony offenses against an elderly person or a person with a disability.

“There are malicious criminals cheating our seniors every day,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “To discourage this rising epidemic, we need to put laws in place to protect the financial and emotional well-being of Illinois’ seniors and people with disabilities.”

Senate Bill 69 expands the Class 2 felony offense of theft by deception of more than $5,000 to include offenses committed against a person with a disability.

It also clearly states that consent cannot be used as a defense in a case of financial exploitation of an elderly person or person with a disability if the accused knew or should have known that the victim lacked the ability to consent.

Scam artists perceive senior citizens as vulnerable and relatively wealthy due to their ability to access retirement accounts and pensions, which makes them a prime target.

A 2015 report estimated that older Americans lose $36.5 billion each year to financial scams and abuse.

“It is easier to financially exploit aging senior citizens who live alone than to rob a bank,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “And unfortunately, this makes them a less risky target. It’s important that we educate seniors, family members and community stake holders so they are aware of the latest scams and warning signs of financial exploitation.”

Bertino-Tarrant urges seniors to reach out to the Attorney General’s Office to report consumer fraud scams by calling the free hotline at 1-800-243-5377 or 1-800-964-3013 (TTY).

Senate Bill 69 passed the Senate with bipartisan support and now heads to the House for consideration.

Bertino-Tarrant seeks tougher penalties on financial abuse of elders, disabled

jbt 041118 3SPRINGFIELD – To protect some of Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Plainfield) is seeking higher criminal penalties for felonious scams that target the elderly and disabled.

Bertino-Tarrant advanced Senate Bill 69, which would institute tougher penalties on Class 2 felony offenses against an elderly person or a person with a disability.

“There are scammers actively cheating our seniors every day, partly because they are lucrative while being comparatively less risky than other forms of crime,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “To discourage this growing epidemic, we must put laws in place to protect the financial well-being of Illinois’ seniors and people with disabilities.”

This measure expands the Class 2 felony offense of theft by deception over $5,000 to include offenses committed against a person with a disability.

It also clarifies that consent cannot be used as a defense in a case of financial exploitation of an elderly person or person with a disability if the accused knew or should have known that the victim lacked the ability to consent.

Nearly 5 million older Americans are financially exploited. While scammers are to blame, more than half of cases involve exploitation by a family member. A 2014 study by Mark Lachs, co-chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital found that almost 60 percent of cases involve a perpetrator who is a family member.

Lachs also reported that elder abuse victims—including those who suffer financial exploitation—die at a rate three times faster than those who haven’t been abused.

“This measure would give law enforcement officials further resources to prosecute those attempting to exploit elderly Illinoisans,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “These higher restrictions will help make scammers think twice before attempting to manipulate seniors and people with disabilities.”

Senate Bill 69 passed the Senate’s Committee on Criminal Law with bipartisan support and is scheduled for consideration before the full Senate.

Bertino-Tarrant cuts red tape for seniors

jbt 041118 3SPRINGFIELD – Illinois seniors may soon no longer need to reapply for Senior Citizens Homestead Exemptions, thanks to State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) introduced Senate Bill 140, which would eliminate the need for senior citizens to reapply for an exemption once the assessor or chief county assessment officers grants a Senior Citizens Homestead Exemption.

Bertino-Tarrant introduces measure to put a stop to frivolous taxpayer-funded stipends

jbt 053018PLAINFIELD— To help put a stop to political waste, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) filed legislation today that would prohibit appointed short-term legislators from receiving taxpayer-funded stipends.

Bertino-Tarrant’s measure, Senate Bill 112, changes the General Assembly Compensation Act so that any member of the General Assembly who is appointed to the House of Representatives or Senate after May 31 of an even-numbered year may not receive additional salary for service as a chairman or minority spokesperson.

“Doling out frivolous taxpayer funded stipends is a blatant abuse of the public’s trust,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We cannot afford to waste a single dime in our state’s budget. Tax dollars should be directed toward funding vital programs, not lining the pockets of political insiders.”

Bertino-Tarrant was astounded at news that a recent appointment made to fill a short-term gap for an outgoing senator not only received base pay, but also an extra stipend to serve on a committee that had no meetings scheduled.

“It’s absolutely crucial that the General Assembly work in a bipartisan manner to end waste,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We need to root out all forms of abuse and send a message to those attempting to leech off Illinois’ taxpayers.”

Bertino-Tarrant hopes to have a hearing in the coming weeks on Senate Bill 112.

Sen. Bertino-Tarrant

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49th Senate District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Commerce and Economic Development; Education (Chairperson); Insurance; Labor; Licensed Activities (Vice-Chairperson); Transportation; Subcommittee on Capital (TR); Subcommittee on Special Issues (ED) (Sub-Chairperson).

Biography: Lifelong educator; former Will County superintendent and secretary of Will County Regional Board of School Trustees; B.A., Illinois State University; MS, University of St. Francis; EdD., Loyola.

Associated Representatives:
Mark Batinick
Natalie A. Manley