Elderly abuse probe grows old

Nothing showing 18 months after Mike DeWine promised 'thorough' probe of Ottawa County financial exploitation allegations against Marblehead retailer
Register
Aug 27, 2014

 

A year later, not much has changed.

A spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Wednesday an investigation of an elderly financial abuse complaint is ongoing.

DeWine refused to respond to specific questions about the investigation or provide any time table as to when it might get finished.

His spokesman Dan Tierney replied to the inquiry, but his reply was not responsive to most of the questions asked.

Tierney's comments mirrored what DeWine told the Register a year ago when asked for a status update. 

"We are moving as fast as we can." DeWine told the Register in September 2013. 

The victim and her family contend the owner of a jewelry store in Ottawa County bilked the woman out of more than $200,000, using her credit card and gaining access to other funds. 

Ottawa County Prosecutor Mark Mulligan refused to seek any criminal indictments, but he later asked for assistance from Dewine to review the accounting evidence the family provided. 

DeWine has been investigating the elderly financial abuse allegation for 18 months.

Fighting elderly financial abuse crime is a top priority for DeWine, according to his re-election campaign. 

"The Attorney General's Office will work with local officials and advocates to identify, investigate and prosecute elder abuse cases and increase services to victims," DeWine stated in a news release the campaign provided in May. 

The alleged victim in the local case, Eleanor Shaeffer, 82, was injured recently after a fall in her home and hospitalized. 

Tierney also was unable to provide any time table for the investigation.

"The length of time in this ongoing investigation is due to the large amount of forensic accounting involved," Tierney said. "Forensic accounting is a time consuming process, but an essential element of criminal financial investigations. Forensic accounting is still taking place in this investigation, and we cannot provide an estimate as to how much longer it may take."

But a source close to the probe provided information to the Register suggesting the investigation was beset by inaction.

The source said the prosecutor handling the case, Micah Ault, intended to forward information to the suspect's attorney for review prior to making a decision about bringing evidence to a grand jury.

The delays aren't because the investigation is continuing or due to a need for more forensic research as Tierney suggested, the source said.

There's no forward motion on the investigation because of inaction in the AG's office. 

"I fear another dog and pony show coming from yet another of DeWine's prosecutors," the source told the AG's office.  

Ault did not respond to a telephone message seeking comment. 

DeWine's refusal to answer questions about the investigation is the same stance he's taken with other investigations being conducted by his office that seem to be languishing.

DeWine also has refused to respond to questions about his direct involvement in a sexual harassment investigation inside the attorney general's office last year involving a personal friend of DeWine's. 

That investigation was closed down after DeWine interfered with the independent investigator's efforts to identify the alleged harasser.

Comments

SamAdams

If I recall correctly, DeWine made a very big deal about going after people who abuse the elderly, financially or otherwise. I had no problem with that. A disproportionate number of victims of swindles, thefts, scams, fraud, etc. happen to be elderly because they're all too often viewed as easy marks.

It's that very promise (and ongoing claim) that makes this whole mess especially galling! Does it strike anybody else as ironic that the man promising to go after those abusing the elderly is now engaging in what I'd call abuse as well? Why should ANY victim of ANY age have to wait this long for some kind of resolution? Is Mr. DeWine hoping the victim will die soon and he can claim he's closed another case?

Oh, and one more thing concerning this case specifically: What on earth is a PROSECUTOR doing turning evidence over to a defense attorney prior even to an indictment? In fact, prior to a grand jury even CONSIDERING an indictment? Please tell me THAT'S not now standard procedure in the AG's office...!

DickTracey

Sam, that's the exact same thing I was going to comment on. The Register ran the story when Mulligan handed over the entire evidence packet to the defense. Calling it an unorthodox pre-trial move.
http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...

The story gained national attention when other news media picked up on it. One of them was the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse website.
https://nasga.wordpress.com/cate...

This poor old lady seems to be getting not one but two lazy, inept prosecutors. I really had my hopes up when Mulligan handed this over to the BCI. What a shame.

Why is this "owner of a jewelry store" getting away with this? The only thing I can think of is she is good friends with Redfern!

Jivert

Seems DeWine is just another abuser to all victums seeking justice.

The purpose of Government is first to protect the innocent, and if the government doesn't do their job then society will sadly view taking matters into their own hands, and this is how societies fail. Knowing this, I'd say DeWines crime is worse than those who were the original abusers.

Maybe DeWine should take some of his workers which collect for all government agencies along with hospitals and put them into doing the REST of the job he promised.

arnmcrmn

When the SR has an axe to grind, they make sure it's clear as day. Cleary an axe to grind with Dewine.

SamAdams

I don't question your conclusion in general because I happen to agree with it. That being said, this is one instance where it seems DeWine's office really IS failing, and it really DOES need to be pointed out! When the press does its job, this kind of exposure is one of the most important things it's supposed to do.

arnmcrmn

The problem is Sam is that Dewine is expected to fix every injustice in Ohio and fix it now. He is just one man and the courts move extremely slow.

SamAdams

I don't question that the wheels of justice sometimes move slowly. In this case, though, there are irregularities above and beyond mere delays in scheduling the time for a trial. Speed, for example, has nothing to do with a prosecutor's willingness to turn over all of his evidence to the defense prior even to an indictment. Speed has nothing to do with the prosecutor's failure to speak with the victim or the victim's family. And speed CERTAINLY has nothing to do with the ongoing stonewalling!

DickTracey

DUH! arnmcrmn, "the courts move extremely slow" , THIS CASE IS NOT IN THE COURTS! Because two prosecutors have been inept and lazy or scared to try the case!

I'm sure the victim and her family wish they were waiting on the courts!

Can you not read? This says they are still investigating after TWO YEARS!

Think of the wasted tax dollars on paying detectives and forensic accountants, victims advocates and prosecutors for a 18 months! All of these government employees that worked this case got paid for their work. Why spend all that time and money to not take it to a grand jury?

Matt Westerhold

A recent AP story stated that nearly 1,500 Ohio Attorney General employees took a sexual harassment prevention refresher course after an unidentified friend of DeWine's he hired was accused of sexually harassing an intern. The suggestion "he's just one man" is not accurate. The Ohio AG's office has been referred to as the "largest law firm" in the state. 

Babo

Correct, it is the largest law firm in the state and that doesn't include all the legal work handed out to politically connected law firms because the AG's office is too lazy or incompetent to do the work. Those firms have to raise a certain amount of money to get the special counsel assignments. That has been going on for decades with AG's of both parties.

The case really needs to go to the FBI or IRS criminal division as the AG really isn't capable of investigating or prosecuting this type of case

arnmcrmn

You guys are so easy to set up. So the Ohio AG's office is the largest in our state. So Matt, when are you going to do an article on the Obama Administration and their lack of doing anything on: Fast and Furious, IRS, Benghazi and most recently the border issue. They are the largest law firm in our nation and he has the most people working underneath him correct? Lol, you guys are way to easy. Set, point, match.

Ctwhalers

That has nothing to do with DeWine and him not doing his job here in Ohio. Do you. Think he is doing his job? Cause if you are then you part Of the problem to not the solution.just saying

DickTracey

What really shocks me here is that DeWine, who is on the heat seat right now, could have at least been the HERO in this story. You would think this close to election day, he would have come back to Matt and said, "Yes! We are happy to say that after 18 months of a thorough investigation, we are heading to the grand jury, next month."

DONE. Family happy. Shut Matt up. All in one sentence.

Especially when he is the one claiming he is tough on elder abuse! I think DeWine, among other things, needs a better spokesperson! Someone is giving this guy some bad PR advice. This was a no brainier guys.

PLUS...you threw your forensics guy, your own team mate under the bus and blamed him (or her) for the long delay!

I'm starting to think you people are not really nice people.

How can you not stand on your own promises, DeWine? Especially days before election.

Ctwhalers

I am glad to see David pepper run against DeWine maybe we can get a change in the AG's office that is due. He has proved time and time again he can not do the job.this case is a classic example of that. Yes we see more of DeWine's close to our area but I am sure if you look hard there are other cities in Ohio going through the same thing with the AG's office but we just do not hear about them cause of where we live. I hope that lady and her family get justice soon.

Julie R.

Don't count on the elderly lady and her family getting any justice. If the courts in that county are anything like corrupt Erie County, they'll spend the next ten years or longer pulling off one illegal scam after another to assist the low-life dirt-bag thief get away with it. They'll probably even pull off illegal scams to help her benefit even more.

Julie R.

I could have a field day on this one, but I've already told it a hundred times over.

How can crimes against the elderly be stopped in a county as corrupt as Erie County is? What those jokes up at that Erie County courthouse did AFTER my mother's death was just as criminal as what their Huron attorney friends (working in collusion with a snake Lorain County attorney) & those crooks from an insurance company and a Huron bank did BEFORE her death. Not even considering the fraudulent transfer of her property and all the internal criminal transfers of money & changes to her trust contracts, they even cash surrendered in all of her life insurance policies two months before her death on a forged POA prepared under a bogus middle initial with "Power of Attorney" wrote next to bogus Erie County Recorder numbers faxed down the side of it.

Julie R.

DeWine is worthless. Like the worthless joke Richard Cordray before him, he not only doesn't care about crimes against the elderly, he doesn't even care about the MEDICAID FRAUD that attorneys and financial institutions are assisting in on behalf of the elderly and incompetent. The joke courts in Erie County don't care, either, especially when it pertains to the nursing home owned by the corrupt county.