Elderly scam inspires film – Financial abuse documentary produced by local victim

ENGLEWOOD — The documentary film “Last Will and Embezzlement” focuses on financial crimes against the elderly.

One of the film’s producers, Pamela Glasner, was one such victim when her parents, who were living in Sarasota, became victims of a trusted confidant who posed as their son.

“I guess my biggest surprise was just how prevalent these crimes are and how difficult it is, or how nearly impossible it is, to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Glasner said.

Potential victims may be on the rise as seasonal visitors arrive, according to Ken Kleinlein, a former detective with the NYPD Special Frauds Squad who works with the Sarasota and Charlotte County Sheriff’s Offices frauds units as a crime consultant. Victims tend to become dependant on people who care for them and see to their needs, Kleinlein said in a previous Sun report.

Kleinlein brought up the case of Maxine King, a registered nurse who was employed by Englewood Home Health Care. She was sentenced to two years in jail and 10 years of probation for stealing more than $100,000 from a 78-year old man suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Last Will and Embezzlement” is being screened around the U.S. It was shown at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus Oct. 5, followed by a panel discussion featuring some of the experts interviewed for the film.

Kathy Black, a USF professor who was interviewed for the film, said Glasner contacted her last summer.

“She told me about her story with her parents,” Black said. “They signed over power of attorney to this character and they were ripped off for $100,000. She thought it hastened her mother’s death, and it was a very sad story.”

Glasner enlisted her U.K. partner Deborah Louise Robinson to help co-produce and direct the film for Starjack Entertainment.

“I was very dubious about it, because as a filmmaker, obviously, it’s more important to make a film that’s going to be popular and people are going to enjoy,” Robinson said.

Robinson said she didn’t realize at that time how prevalent the problem of elderly financial abuse is.

“The more I looked into it, the more I realized, ‘Oh my God, this is happening everywhere,’” Robinson said. “It became less about making a film that people were going to buy. It was more about making a film to raise awareness, because it’s important that everybody knows that this is happening and it can potentially happen to them.”

Among the participants in the film is actor Mickey Rooney. Glasner said Rooney heard about the film and wanted to get involved because he had been a victim. Initially, Rooney kept mum about the details but eventually opened up about how he was (allegedly) taken for millions but remains mum about specifics due to the ongoing case.

According to Glasner, Rooney’s counsel will not permit him to grant any more interviews in regard to the case.

“As sad as it is, people watch (the film) and come away thinking, ‘It can happen to me,’” Robinson said. “I want them to realize it can happen to you. It can happen to anybody.”

The film will be shown Nov. 16 in St. Petersburg. For more information, go to www. lastwillandembezzlement.com/index.html.

Last Will and Embezzlement poster

Mickey Rooney is featured in the documentary “Last Will and Embezzlement,” which was screened recently at USF. Local events inspired the filmmaker.

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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