A state Assembly bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Marina del Rey) that would increase the fines for financial crimes committed against elderly and dependent adults was unanimously passed Thursday. The bill will head to the state Senate for consideration.
AB332, which passed 78-0, would increase the fines from $1,000 to $2,500 for embezzlement, forgery, fraud or identity theft against an elder or dependent adult for a misdemeanor offense of more than $950.
The bill also would enable felony charges for some theft crimes against the elderly with fines of up to $1,000. The increased penalties would be in addition to any jail or prison sentences.
“Some of California’s elderly and dependent adults are vulnerable and often fall prey to criminals looking to take advantage of them. The present penalties for financial crimes against the elderly are insufficient to deter repeat offenders,” Butler said in a statement. “My bill increases those fines. It is more important than ever to protect those who are least able to protect themselves.”
Over the past 10 years there were 4,735 convictions in California for embezzlement, forgery, fraud and identity theft against elders and dependent adults, according to the California Department of Justice.
“Seniors can be susceptible to identity theft, forgery, fraud, and embezzlement. This legislation is a small step forward to protect seniors and dependent adults in California. We commend Assemblymember Butler for her legislation," said Gary Passmore, the legislative coordinator for the Congress of California Seniors.
The bill has been sponsored by the California Senior Legislature and supported by the California State Sheriff’s Association, California Alliance for Retired Americans, Congress of California Seniors, AARP and the Consumer Federation of California.
Butler's 53rd Assembly District includes Hermosa Beach.