U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Takes Part in Largest-Ever Nationwide Elder Fraud Sweep
PHILADELPHIA, PA – Attorney General William P. Barr and United States Attorney William M. McSwain today announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history, surpassing last year’s nationwide sweep. The cases during this sweep involved more than 260 defendants from around the globe who victimized more than two million Americans, most of whom are elderly.
Two cases from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania are included in this nationwide sweep. In United States v. John Conner, the defendant was a lawyer who took advantage of his 85-year old client by using a power of attorney agreement to withdraw more than $95,000 from her bank account so he could gamble with her money at casinos. A jury convicted the attorney of 19 counts of wire fraud and one count of making a false statement to the FBI following a one-week trial in February 2019; he awaits sentencing. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark Dubnoff.
The second case from this District is United States v. Jacoya Brazzle. There, the defendant was a nursing assistant at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (“VAMC”) in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. She allegedly obtained the ATM PIN of a veteran who resides in the assisted living unit at the VAMC, went to ATMs near the VAMC on more than a dozen occasions over the course of six months, and withdrew over $11,000. The trial is scheduled for later this spring. The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nancy Rue.
“Crimes against the elderly target some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” Attorney General William P. Barr said. “But thanks to the hard work of our agents and prosecutors, as well as our state and local partners, the Department of Justice is protecting our seniors from fraud. The Trump administration has placed a renewed focus on prosecuting those who prey on the elderly, and the results of today’s sweep make that clear. Today, we are announcing the largest single law enforcement action against elder fraud in American history. This year’s sweep involves 13 percent more criminal defendants, 28 percent more in losses, and twice the number of fraud victims as last year’s sweep. I want to thank the Department’s Consumer Protection Branch, which led this effort, together with the Department’s Criminal Division, the more than 50 U.S. Attorneys’ offices, and the state and local partners who helped to make these results possible. Together, we are bringing justice and peace of mind to America's seniors.”
“Our Office will continue to prioritize prosecuting criminals who prey on our elderly residents,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “I would like to thank Attorney General Barr for his leadership in this initiative; AUSAs Mark Dubnoff and Nancy Rue for their work on the Conner and Brazzle prosecutions; and AUSA Tiwana Wright for her work overseeing the elder abuse cases for our Office.”
The Department took action in every federal district across the country by filing criminal or civil cases or by engaging in consumer education efforts. In each case, offenders allegedly engaged in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors. In total, the charged elder fraud schemes caused alleged losses of millions of more dollars than last year, putting the total alleged losses at this year’s sweep at over three quarters of a billion dollars.
The charges in the Brazzle case are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Since President Trump signed the bipartisan Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (“EAPPA”) into law, the Department of Justice has participated in hundreds of enforcement actions in criminal and civil cases that have protected seniors. The Justice Department has also conducted hundreds of trainings and outreach sessions across the country since the passage of the Act.