New guardianship office set to fight senior abuse

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) As baby boomers age, they may be in need of a guardianship. Mandated by a district court in Nevada, it means "a protected person" hands over finances, health decisions, even living arrangements over to someone agreed to by a judge. But here in Nevada the system has been rampant with abuse. Now a new investigative unit hopes to change that.

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In March of 2017, former Las Vegas resident April Parks was brought to Nevada to face 270 counts of elder exploitation, racketeering and theft.

As a professional guardian, the Attorney General's office claims she bilked 150 elderly clients out of their life savings, dignity, and health. Until recently, there were some guardians in the state of Nevada who would exploit a senior or someone with mental health issues by receiving a court-ordered guardianship and take hold of that person's life, deciding how much the guardian himself would be paid out of the estate, taking homes, cars, and isolating the protected person from family and friends.

The 2017 Legislature changed much of that, including forming an investigative office located inside the state Supreme Court to help district courts find abuses.

"I'd like to see that we have been successful in identifying elder exploitation and abuses and that we have actually reduced that," says Kate McCloskey, the new Guardianship Compliance Manager for the state of Nevada

Nevada is one of only a handful of states to have a guardianship compliance program. Beside McCloskey, a forensic accountant will be hired, as well as an investigator.

They will be called in by the district court when a complaint is filed on a guardian or something isn't adding up.

"They don't have the resources to investigate it themselves, at that point we would go in, and investigate for the court," says McCloskey.

One of the first moves by the guardianship compliance office will be to set up a hot line and website where Nevada residents can file complaints. Both of those programs should be set up within the month.