Facing a rapid increase in the number of older residents — and more criminals targeting them — the Montgomery County state’s attorney and other county officials are scheduled to announce Thursday the formation of a special prosecution unit to combatelder abuse.
“Crime is dropping in Montgomery County, but the character of crime is changing,” State’s Attorney John McCarthy said.
One key way it’s changing: There is more crime against seniors simply because there are more seniors.
In 2010, there were an estimated 183,429 people in Montgomery County 60 and older, according to the Maryland Department of Aging. The number is expected to jump to 258,367 in 2020 and 315,888 in 2030, according to state statistics.
“The explosion in the senior population — if you don’t do strategic planning for it, you’re going to get buried,” McCarthy said.
Montgomery’s population is following national trends.
By 2050, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), people 65 and older are expected to make up one-fifth of the U.S. population. And the fastest-growing segment are the most vulnerable — those 85 and older. In 2010, there were 5.8 million people age 85 or older. By 2050, the number is projected to be 19 million, according to the NCEA.
McCarthy has assigned two experienced felony prosecutors — Jessica Hall and Hannah Gleason — to focus on cases of neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse of older victims, McCarthy said. They will work at an office with Montgomery County police detectives investigating the same kinds of cases.
McCarthy also has hired an investigator to work on financial exploitation cases, which can be a tangled mix involving family connections, estate planning and dementia on the part of the victims.
McCarthy and County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) are scheduled to talk about the efforts at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Montgomery has had its share of elder abuse cases — physical and financial — in recent years.
Last week, Michael Adams was indicted on charges of theft and obtaining property from a vulnerable adult. Police earlier accused him of targeting an 89-year-old woman in a parking lot outside the Leisure World senior community in Montgomery County. Adams offered to paint a small scratch on her Buick for $200, going on to convince her that her car needed additional work and eventually swindling her out of more than $8,900, according to police allegations.
Adams could not be reached for comment. Defense attorney David Moyse, who had previously represented Adams, said he is no longer involved in the case. It was not immediately clear whether Adams has retained a new lawyer.