Coosa Valley News: Rep. Dempsey Attends Elder Abuse Symposium as Honored Guest
Collaboration between law enforcement and the private sector are helping investigators get results and prosecute elder abuse cases by more sophisticated means. These methods are growing more necessary as scammers become sophisticated and savvy in their approaches to our older generations.
These partnerships were on display Wednesday at the Rome Civic Center as local legislators and law enforcement met with senior citizen advocates for a symposium hosted by the Northwest Georgia Area Agency on Aging. The senior advocacy group communicated with the local population and found transportation for the audience of more than 100 people.
Three Floyd County Police investigators were presented awards for their work in solving elder abuse cases as well as a prosecutor, judge and a civilian bank teller from Synovus. The North Georgia Elder Abuse Task Force made the special presentations. Investigators Misty Pledger and Brittany Werner were awarded the Pat King Award of Excellence for their determination in solving a missing person case from Armuchee, which later found that a man assaulted his elderly grandmother and stowed her away in a freezer. Their resilience led police to arrest Robert Tincher III for the murder of his grandmother.
“Not only did they exhibit empathy and caring for an elderly victim, but they also showed amazing investigative knowledge and skill,” stated Jeff Jones, commander of the FCPD investigative division in his letter of nomination for the duo. The Pat King Award of Excellence is named for a nurse who dedicated her professional life as an advocate for senior citizens by rallying support and fighting all forms of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. She died in 2021 but was instrumental in fighting many cases of abuse.
Investigator Amber Lopez also won the Pat King Award of Excellence for her work in helping a 75- year-old woman recover $60,000 from a scammer who instructed her in how to send money by wire transfer. The case was discovered when the victim contacted a friend J. Edward Hulsey Jr, who is also a Tallapoosa Circuit Judge. He notified Natalee Staats from the Rome District Attorney Office and she worked with Investigator Lopez to initiate the criminal case. Hulsey and Staats were also recognized for their work to notify law enforcement..
In addition to the police and legal officials who were recognized, the task force also recognized a bank teller from Synovus, Brandon Trapp, who initially stalled the victim from making a withdrawal because the large withdrawal seemed suspicious. His work to delay the transaction gave time for authorities to stop the wire transfer, which is often impossible. His proactive work resulted in his selection for the Pat King Award.
Georgia Representatives Katie Dempsey and Eddie Lumsden were honored guests and offered remarks to constituents. Director Vic Reynolds, of the GBI, followed up with candid lessons in fraud and scams to the audience. He borrowed examples from his experience as a prosecutor in Cobb County and also as the head of the state’s investigative agency.
According to Reynolds, persons who are 65 and older are among the fastest growing demographic in the United States. They represent a group called “silent victims” because they are slow to report crimes of fraud because of embarrassment. This group spends their lives saving for retirement but fall to sophisticated charlatans who prey on their trust and loneliness.
Reynolds said that three in four cases of financial exploitation involve a suspect is found to be someone the victim knows; in 60 percent of those cases it is a family member. Advice from law enforcement for the audience of senior citizens includes: - Open your own mail. Do not trust a third party to your private papers. - Always use direct deposit for income. Work to develop a relationship with your local bank and get to know the employees; these are the people who can quickly identify scams. - Do not send money to anyone you have never met, and you should never spend money to receive award money.
Crimes of elder abuse that police often encounter are physical, financial and institutional. The Floyd County Police Department is here for our senior citizens and is eager to investigate and help them resolve crimes that may occur against them.