Allegations involving a breach of trust have been leveled against a Faribault man.
Kevin Paul Perry, 57, is charged in Rice County District Court with one count of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, a crime a June 2018 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission report noted has been called a "burgeoning public health crisis" and a "virtual epidemic."
While the report found limited information on the scope of the problem, it cited a 2011 MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse that estimated losses due to financial abuse of elderly Americans at $2.9 billion annually.
Court documents state Perry was charged after the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center received a report in January that Perry had used more than $10,000 of the victim’s money for personal expenses: tools, car parts, gas, groceries and other items.
Perry and the victim, a family member, had a joint banking account, and Perry was reportedly responsible for making monthly payments made to a Faribault senior living community. According to monthly invoices from the facility, the alleged victim’s account was more than $23,100 past due by Jan. 31, and she was expected to vacate the facility the following month.
On Feb. 21, Perry allegedly told a Rice County Social Services worker that the victim would allow him to take money for helping her and running errands and admitted spending the funds on himself.
“He said that he wished he never spent the money in the first place,” court documents state.
Judge Christine Long released Perry on his own recognizance Wednesday contingent on him remaining law-abiding and keeping all future court appearances. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 7.
‘That’s the challenge’
Rice County Social Services Director Mark Shaw noted that his department typically doesn’t get involved in cases like the one against Perry until the incidents are alleged to have occurred.
Shaw said senior centers are proactively educating their members and can work with banks on protection measures. He added the willingness of family members to accept power of attorney responsibilities also minimizes any risk.
However, any financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult by a family member can prove difficult to prevent because of their presumed trustworthiness and position of power.
“That’s the challenge,” Shaw said. “I don’t know if there is any magic bullet to fix that.”
Shaw sees protecting vulnerable adults against telephone and mail scams as an easier task that can be accomplished through education initiatives and by informing people that reputable businesses won’t seek access to their bank accounts.
“If I had elderly parents or loved ones that I knew were vulnerable, I guess I would try to minimize that vulnerability,” he said.
In noting the frequency with which vulnerable adult exploitation reports are filed, Shaw added he works with financial institutions, lenders and care providers to prevent such abuse. He said if he was assisting a vulnerable adult, he would ensure there is a full accounting of related spending to prove every expenditure was proper.