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 dependent 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 the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus Oct. 5, followed by a panel discussion featuring some of the experts interviewed for the film. The film will be shown Nov. 16 in St. Petersburg.
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.”