by Brian Mahany
Although all cases of elder financial abuse are sad, it is especially depressing when the perpetrator is someone sworn to uphold the law. Like police officers, lawyers take an oath of office in which they pledge to uphold the law and protect their clients. In this case, a Milwaukee County jury convicted attorney Jeffrey Elverman of stealing $370,000 from a 94 year old woman suffering from dementia.
It’s unclear why Elverman stole the money. As a partner in Quarles & Brady, he certainly was making enough money.
Prosecutors told jurors that the victim was Elverman’s client. He also held a power of attorney in order to “help” her with her affairs. Instead, he helped himself to her money.
Elverman fought the criminal charge right to the end. His lawyer said that the victim, “who had no family of her own, relied heavily on Mr. Elverman, whose efforts over many years prolonged and enriched her life. Mr. Elverman spent significant personal time on weekends, holidays, and otherwise to assist Ms. Phinney when no one else was willing to do so. It is Mr. Elverman’s belief that Ms. Phinney is alive today because of the care and services he provided when no one else would.”
There is misinterpreting those words – he says that the victim owed him that money! The truth or self serving arrogance and B.S.? Obviously the jury chose the latter.
This wasn’t Elverman’s only brush with the dark side of the law. He was suspended as a lawyer in 2010 because he didn’t report the ill gotten money on his tax return.
Elverman faces 5 years in prison when he sentenced next month.
Taking advantage of the elderly and those with mental disabilities is a growing problem in Wisconsin. Contractors, care givers and even lawyers can steal. In the case of Elverman’s victim, her dementia and age made it unlikely that she could defend herself.
If you are a loved one become the victim of fraud, elder abuse or elder financial exploitation, call us. Keep an eye out and watch over older relatives, too. Don’t be afraid to seek a court ordered guardianship once the family member can truly no longer handle their affairs.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan & Portland, Maine. Services available in most jurisdictions.