Lawmakers and prosecutors gathered with Gov. Sam Brownback in Bel Aire on Tuesday to celebrate passage of a law making it easier to prosecute financial crimes against seniors.
Senate Bill 256 clarifies language on power of attorney that had made it difficult to prosecute financial crimes against seniors, said Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett. Bennett and his predecessor, former District Attorney Nola Foulston, worked on the bill.
In addition to making prosecution more straightforward, the bill also enhances penalties, which can be as much as 40 years in prison for large-scale abuse.
“If you seek to prey on the elderly in this state, there will be consequences,” Bennett said.
Although Brownback has already signed the bill into law, he held a ceremonial signing at the Catholic Care Center in an effort to focus attention on the problem of fraud and financial crimes against the elderly.
“It is estimated that only one in 25 cases is actually brought to the attention of authorities,” Brownback said. “We want people to turn these cases in. If something happens, we want to know about it.”
The bill had bipartisan support, and its two chief Statehouse proponents were Republican Sen. Michael O’Donnell and Democratic Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, both of Wichita.
While he was pleased the bill passed, O’Donnell said, he found it “sad and distressing such a piece of legislation is needed.”