Justice Department hosts Summit on Elder Justice: Keeping Seniors Safe – Part 2
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Justice Department hosts Summit on Elder Justice: Keeping Seniors Safe – Part 2


Larry Keefe:
We’re going to do a little transition up here with Attorney General Moody and Mr. Hunt
and Lance, if you would join us. Can everyone hear me okay? Alright, alright I’ll pipe up. Alright, here we go, very good. Alright, good morning, everyone. I am Larry Keith and I’m the United States
Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. It is my honor and privilege to introduce
Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody. She is a fifth generation Floridian. She was born and raised in Plant City, Florida. She is a tripe Gator, having earned her Bachelor’s,
Master’s, and Law degrees from the University of Florida, and she earned a Master’s of
Law degree in International Law from the Stetson University College of Law. She has previously served as both a federal
prosecutor and as a state court trial judge, when she was elected to be a trial judge in
Tampa at the age of 31, she became the youngest trial judge in the entire state of Florida. The people Florida elected Ashley Moody as
their Attorney General in November 2018 and she took office in January of 2019. But, General Moody is so much more than her
resume. I have come to know that she is a woman dedicated
to her public service, to her family, and to her commitment to protecting Florida’s
seniors from those who would prey upon them. General Moody and her family live and breathe
public service. Her father is a judge, and her mother Carol
is a lawyer, who has devoted her entire legal career to protecting Florida’s indigent
senior citizens. General Moody’s husband Justin is a career
law enforcement officer. They have two sons, Connor, who is 10 years
old, and Brandon, who is a soldier in the United States Army. And you should know that Brandon was just
deployed to Afghanistan just this past Friday, and please keep him and the Moody family in
your prayers. Florida seniors have no better friend and
protector than Attorney General Ashley Moody. I am honored to call her my friend and to
be her law enforcement partner. Please join me in welcoming our Florida Attorney
General Ashley Moody. Ashley Moody:
So sweet. Thank you. Thank you. And don’t think I don’t know who led that
standing ovation right there. If I might, just take a moment of privilege
to introduce one of my heroes, and it’s not the son who just was deployed and it’s
not the husband who’s been a cop and law enforcement officer, it’s my momma. And she is here with us today and she is standing
– if you’ll stand up, momma. So I don’t know about you, or if you have
grandchildren or children, but when I grew up, I heard many times – tell me if you’ve
heard this – “Children should be seen and not heard.” Yeah? Well, I heard that very early on in life and
so I, as a daughter, as you can imagine, always wanting to do what was expected of me and
achieve, and I listened and I was seen and not heard. And I watched a lot growing up. We talked a lot about justice and what it
means to protect people who can’t protect themselves. I listened to horrific instances when seniors
were abused, or their life savings stolen, or they were scammed into signing over their
own home without ever knowing they had signed it away. And so it is no surprise that when I decided
to resign from the bench – which by the way was a very predictable, consistent career,
I sat in one place all day long, and I’m not exaggerating that – now I run all over
the state and beg people to listen to me. But, it should be no surprise that when I
became the Attorney General, I had taken all of that listening and said now it’s time
for me to be heard. I was a lawyer, a prosecutor, a judge, and
now I was going to be heard about what was important. And it should be of no surprise to you, after
meeting my momma, that protection of seniors was one of my main priorities on my campaign
to become the Attorney General. And so, I didn’t just campaign on it. When I became Attorney General, I immediately
launched our Senior Protection Team, and I would like to introduce you to our statewide
prosecutor Nick Cox, who is with us today. Just stand up real quick. He said, “I am so excited about this Senior
Protection Team,” because what happens in government, and this is natural and it’s
no one’s fault, but we’re all given a specific mission and we all stay within our
silos. Within our own office, the Attorney General’s
office, if you said you’re going to protect consumers, you’re going to protect consumers;
if you’re going to prosecute criminals, you go after criminals; if you’re going
to be protecting our funds and our taxpayer money and Medicaid for all, you’re going
to do that. But, we don’t talk a lot among our silos. And how effective is it, when we bring everyone
together, to say this may not be the most effective silo for this, how can we be better
and going after the bad guys that want to take advantage of people, who moved to Florida
seeking sanctuary and a wonderful place to live out their years. And so we have been so successful. I am so proud of our Senior Protection Team. We’ve brought in hundreds of thousands of
dollars that they never would have in return and I am thanking Nick Cox publically today
for being so passionate about that and recruiting many others to be passionate on our Senior
Protection Team. Let me tell you about a program that you can
help us with, and it would involve you helping law enforcement. Isn’t that a novel concept: helping and
supporting law enforcement? I long for the days when that was just a generally
known standard. But, we have a program called Seniors v. Crime,
and it’s for people just like you, who say “I want to help,” “I want to determine
when someone has had a problem, help them try and resolve that, and if they can’t,
take it to the Attorney General’s office and work with their people to get refunds.” Since this program has been created, our Seniors
v. Crime program, and since people like you have volunteered, we’ve recovered millions
of dollars. Just this year alone, we’ve covered over
a million dollars. I can’t tell you how much it means. And I can tell you, as a judge, the best way
to fight crime and abuse is to have people in the community tell us when it’s going
on and help us resolve cases. For those of you Senior v. Crime volunteers
today, thank you so much. And for all my future Seniors v. Crime volunteers,
I’m in advance thanking you. When I came on board, I did an assessment
of what are our weaknesses, because if you’re a leader in government, the way you are effective
is if you’re willing to say we can be better in a particular area. I’m not afraid to look at our office and
say, where can we be stronger? And so, if you’re coming into leadership,
you need to do a full assessment. And I looked at where our seniors were being
taken advantage of the most. And you heard from General Barr and you heard
from others how seniors in Florida, and we have tens of thousands coming into Florida
every day, are sitting ducks for scammers that want to take their money. Now, with voice cloning technology, and you
may have saw my consumer alert on this, with just a small snippet of someone’s voice,
you can use a computer and mimic someone’s voice to make calls. How scary is that? Can you imagine if a call sounded like your
grandchild or your child asking for money? And I examined our office to find out what
we had in place to go after cyber criminals because after decades of evolution of technology,
law enforcement has been woefully behind in catching up and staying ahead of criminals
using technology. And so we have in our office, one of the only
teams nationwide that if going after tech fraud. I am so proud of that. We’ve also started a consumer alert program
where you can go online to mylegalflorida.com and we’ll spell out the latest consumer
threats to you, especially as they involved technology. But what we determined is the fortune five
hundred companies, the large corporations, they have internal consultants, external consultants,
they are consistently monitoring threats. But what do the small businesses have? You think they can afford a technology consultant? What does the standard Florida consumer have? If I told you about some of the scams that
I’ve learned about since becoming the Attorney General and how many times I’ve asked myself
if I’ve fallen prey to that scam, you’d be amazed. Chances are that if you’re sitting in this
room today, you’ve been the target of a tech scam. And so, I’m pushing the legislator this
session saying, “We are behind. Floridians and our small businesses, our medium
size businesses need protection from cyber criminals. You have got to give me the resources to develop
a trained team and not only train them up, get them working, but retain them because
the biggest threat to good employees that are trained in this area are the large businesses
pouching them as soon as we can train them up. And so, if you have a relationship with your
law makers, help me help you. Tell them we need a cyber-fraud team in Florida. It will be prosecutors and investigators working
alongside FDLE to work with our local law enforcement officers to go after these guys
that sit behind computers, the cowards that want to steal your money and never show their
face. I am proud to be your Attorney General. I am amazed at the partnerships and the productivity
we see from our state agencies and our federal partners, these 2 up here been amazing friends. Maria Chapa Lopez, who is the United States
Attorney here in the Middle District of Florida and I prosecuted cases together when I was
a federal prosecutor, and it seems like just yesterday but we’re still fighting the good
fight. We will continue to partner. We will continue to do everything we can to
assess where we’re weak, where we can do better, bed for resources to bring to bear
active, engaged, advanced, resources uses of technology. And I will continue to listen as I was taught
as a child. And I will be continued to be heard when it
comes to protecting Florida seniors. Thank you so much for having us today. Larry Keefe:
Thank you General Moody. I also have the honor and privilege of introducing
Joseph, we call him Jody, Hunt. Mr. Hunt is the Assistant Attorney General
for the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice. He previously served as the Chief of Staff
to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He is a past recipient of the Attorney General’s
Distinguished Service Award and he is a graduate of Columbia Law School. Please join me in welcoming Assistant Attorney
General Jody Hunt. Jody Hunt:
Thank you very much for that kind introduction, and good morning. I assure you I will be brief. My father is a retired preacher and his motto
is always, “The mind can’t comprehend more than the [inaudible] can endure.” And so he said a sermon has to be short, if
you can’t get it said people won’t remember it anyway so I will be brief. Elder justice matters to every American. Seniors are the bedrock of our families and
of our communities. When seniors are harassed and defrauded, often
at the cost of their life savings as you’ve heard discussed earlier today, everyone loses. And when seniors suffer harm in grossly substandard
nursing homes, it is not only unacceptable, it is illegal. Our seniors deserve better, and they deserve
to be treate3d with care and respect. The Civil Division of the Department of Justice
with its nearly twelve-hundred attorneys, investigators, and support staff is a leader
in the fight to stop elder fraud and abuse. To advance these efforts, the Civil Division’s
Consumer Protection Branch works to identify, disrupt, and prosecute the biggest fraud schemes
effecting seniors. Leading our transnational elder fraud strike
force, the Consumer Protection Branch identifies fraud schemes doing so using sophisticated
data and strong partnerships. These include partnerships with key individuals
in the telecommunications, banking, retail, and technology industries. They also include partnerships with federal,
state, local, tribal, and foreign law enforcement. After identifying the fraud schemes, our Consumer
Protection Branch in coordination with our U.S. Attorney’s Offices moves immediately
to disrupt the schemes. We do not wait while the victims lose money. This past fall, for example, our prosecutors
worked with the FBI and the Postal Inspection Service to disrupt the money mule networks
that the Attorney General spoke about. The initiative disrupted more than six hundred
money mules in a period of 2 months, stopping pay day for the criminals and protecting our
seniors. Just last month, as the Attorney General also
mentioned, we shut down the gateway carriers for robocalls that were coming in from abroad,
mostly India. Our fraud schemes are stopped. The Consumer Protection Branch then works
with those who prosecute those responsible for it. No matter where the criminals are, we track
them down, and the strike force prosecuted more than 1 quarter than the defendants charged
in last year’s fraud sweep. I’m proud also of the extraordinary efforts
of our Civil Division’s fraud section, which helped spearhead our Nursing Home Initiative
that the Attorney General mentioned, and that we will be spearheading with respect to the
new Nursing Home Initiative. Through years of running the department’s
Elder Justice Initiative and bringing cases against grossly substandard nursing homes,
the Civil Division’s fraud section has worked tirelessly to protect those who are not always
able to protect themselves. Last year, for instance, the fraud section
in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee, reached a multi-million
dollar resolution with a nursing home provider and related entities alleged to have provided
worthless nursing service to its residents. Importantly, given the horrific evidence we
developed in that case, we also held accountable the company’s majority owner and the chief
executive officer, as well as the companies’ former director of operations, both of whom,
played a role in the alleged fraud. The dedication and expertise of our fraud
section attorneys have made possible today’s announced Nursing Home Initiative, which will
advance our investigations against the nursing home operators that put their own economic
gain ahead of the needs of their residence. In addition to this nursing home efforts,
our elder justice initiative plays a significant role supporting the efforts of state and local
elder justice professionals, who work very hard every day combating elder abuse, neglect,
and financial exploitation. This includes identifying best practices and
developing training and resources to support the efforts of elder justice professionals,
including prosecutors, law enforcement, judges, and victim service providers. It also includes sharing with the public the
resources it has developed on the elder justice website, which is elderjustice.gov. Thank you all for sharing in today’s important
event and for supporting all of the efforts we take collectively to help in elder abuse
and fraud. Now, it’s my pleasure to turn the microphone
over to Lance Robertson, who is our administrator of the Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Community Living. Lance Robertson:
Alright. Good morning, everyone. It’s an honor to be here. I will not tell my mom that speakers could
have brought their moms, I would be in trouble. That’s awesome. I am glad Ashley’s mom is here. And how special of a morning is it that all
of us got to spend a little bit of time with Attorney General Barr, Kellyanne Conway phenomenal
leaders within this administration. You also got to meet Joe Grogan and again,
I just want to make sure that you are aware within the White House, the domestic policy
council, Joe serves as director. So many issues that touch America go through
DPC, so it was great to have Joe Grogan here as well. It’s wonderful to have all of you and I
know a lot of you gather in this room and some are watching online, all of us I think
are committed to doing all that we can to address the appalling reality of injustice
faced by millions of American elders every year. It’s not an insurmountable problem, however
it is one that requires us to face honestly and with fierce determination. Our federal colleagues in the Department of
Justice worked tirelessly to fulfill the initiatives that General Barr described, and three new
ones now so roll up your sleeves, including efforts to prosecute scammers who target older
Americans causing untold loss and harm. I applaud the work the Florida Attorney General
Ashley Moody’s office and all the law enforcement folks are involved in this critical conversation. Thank you so much, and also I am very glad
to be joined by Richard Prudom, who is the Secretary of Florida’s Department of Elder
Affairs, you need to get to know this guy. You guys have fabulous – will you wave Richard? Ya know, as a guy who works across many states
in this country on this issue, and on others related to older adults, you have in Florida
some outstanding leadership. Your state secretary of elder affairs, attorney
general and so many others. You guys are in great shape and I am going
to move down here when it’s time for me to retire. I’ll be a rarity in that regard right, 400
seniors a year moving to Florida or day, I’m sorry. My [inaudible] on behalf of my boss, the Department
of Health and Human Services Secretary Mr. Alex Azar, who asked me to come here and re-enforce
to all of you the commitment that he and I share and that is to really eradicate elder
justice where we can. As the assistant secretary and administrator
for the Administration for Community Living, here to say that we can and must reduce elder
victimization. We live in a country where it should just
not be tolerated. Substandard nursing home care should be something
we all plan to eradicate and make a personal mission. As well as those that are being targeted for
scams and we must work together at federal, state and local levels to provide insurance
to our citizens that they will receive the quality of care that they deserve. Let me review a few quick things that the
Department of Health and Human Services is currently doing to prevent and respond to
elder abuse. I think it was the attorney general that talked
about, or Joe Grogan that talked about CMS and the work that they do in establishing
standards in homecare. And you may or may not realize they work very
closely with states to review those conditions and to defund bad actors who failed to comply
with those standards, and that’s a daily effort that I am proud that they are doing. Also, within the Department of Health and
Human Services, our Office of Inspector General insures that we get what we pay for, and of
course we pay for quality care. So they make sure that nursing homes are delivering
on their promise and they are not defrauding the federal government and us as tax payers. And then at ACL, we also are proud to do a
lot in the area of elder justice. For instance, we run the long-term care [inaudible]
which is funded through the Elder American’s Act. We have staff and volunteers who are trained
and who regularly visit nursing homes and represent the interest of residents by resolving
issues. The program serves as a visible and effective
advocate for people living in long-term care facilities. The program successfully resolves a wide variety
of resident problems, over a hundred and thirty-eight thousand last year alone, including discharging
eviction and adequate care and violation of rights. That program is active in every state including
Florida and I am proud of the folks that work in that particular program. We also at the Administration for Community
Living fund the national center on elder abuse. And our funding to support legal assistance
for our elders is significant. Another thing that we do that you need to
know about, we are helping put together every appropriate federal agency under the umbrella
of the elder justice coordinating council, of which I am chair on behalf of Secretary
Azar. This effort is helping focus the activities
and coordination of fourteen federal agencies and departments on specific issues around
elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. In addition to Health and Human Services and
the Department of Justice, again those fourteen agencies include Social Security Administration,
Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Administration, Security Exchange Commission and so many others
and so again it’s heartening to know you have fourteen federal agencies that are having
a common conversation around this critical issue. Preventing nursing home abuse is a critical
focus and with 10,000 people turning fifty-five every day in America we must be incredibly
diligent in fighting abuse, neglect, and exploitation wherever it occurs., in long-term care facilities
and out in the communities. This particular goal is an essential part
of our core mission within our agency and at ACL we believe strongly in the concept
of community and that in a well-functioning community, such as this one, we are supporting
each other and we are protecting each other. We need to make it personal. We need to learn the signs of abuse, neglect,
and exploitation, and we need to report what we see. We need to train others and we need to insulate
our own households. And we need to insure quality care is delivered
in today’s nursing homes setting. So again, thanks to all of you for being a
part of this great event. I also hope that you will after, the event
shake the hand of a wonderful friend and colleague the person who helped put all of this together. There she is in the red dress, Associate Deputy
Attorney General Toni Bacon. I wanted to get your title right. So again, thanks again to all of you. We appreciate the great work that you do. Maria Chapa Lopez:
I think at this time we are going to take a break for twenty minutes and we will come
back. Again, thank you to Florida Attorney General
Ashley Moody, good friend and partner in this fight and Assistant Attorney General Jody
Hunt and Administrator Lance Robertson for addressing us today. We will continue the program in about twenty
minutes.

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