On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Commissioner Troy Downing reconvened the Senior Financial Exploitation Task Force to discuss the creation of three new Elder Justice Councils to cover the entire state. In early 2019, then State Auditor Matt Rosendale convened elected officials and members of their staff, members of state and federal law enforcement, and representatives of several organizations to create a multi-jurisdictional task force to combat financial exploitation. The Task Force started the Eastern Montana Elder Justice Council. The CSI, under Commissioner Downing, is reconvening this task force following the success of the Eastern Montana Elder Justice Council.
“Financial exploitation of senior citizens is a large and increasing problem that threatens and often destroys the financial security of vulnerable Montanans.” Downing continues, “Unfortunately, elder exploitation and abuse is not limited to Eastern Montana. Now is the time to reconvene the Task Force to set up similar Councils throughout Central and Western Montana.”
On October 9, 2019, by Executive Order, Governor Bullock classified the Eastern Council as a criminal justice agency and designated one of the Council’s principal functions as the administration of criminal justice. The Council published a 47-page report in December 2020 highlighting the exceptional work accomplished to combat exploitation and abuse in Eastern Montana. For example, in Custer County, the Council’s Prosecution Subcommittee helped determine the legal veracity of a power of attorney document to expedite a law enforcement investigation. In Musselshell and Golden Valley Counties, Council members shared information across agencies to stop construction contractors from committing fraud following a series of hailstorms. And, last year, the Intervention Subcommittee of the Task Force intervened many times to mitigate the impacts of abuse, neglect, and exploitation by coordinating resources among counties.
Commissioner Downing said in a letter to Task Force members, “With the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, resources are available to take critical steps toward protecting our elder population’s assets. With Montana having the second oldest population in the country, 75% of the securities fraud cases investigated and prosecuted by the CSI involve victims over 65 years of age. By 2030, it is estimated that 30% of Montanans will be 65 years or older. Unfortunately, too many of us know someone who has been affected by elder exploitation and abuse.”
The meeting occurred on June 15 from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm at the office of the Montana State Auditor.
Members of the Task Force include:
Commissioner Troy Downing
Glenn Oppel, On Behalf of Governor Greg Gianforte
Lynne Egan, Deputy Securities Commissioner
Chuck Munson, On Behalf of Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen
Keith Regier, Montana State Senate
Bill Mercer, Montana State House of Representatives
Karla Painter, On Behalf of Leif Johnson, Acting U.S. Attorney District of MT
Adam Meier, Director, Department of Public Health and Human Services
Michael Hagenlock, Bureau Chief Adult Protective Services, DPHHS
Tammy Peltomaa, On Behalf of Melanie Hall, Commissioner, Montana Division of Banking and Financial Institutions
Bill Fulbright, President, Montana County Attorney Association