JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announces the formation of a new Financial Crimes Prosecution Unit that will assist senior citizens who are the victims of financial exploitation, theft, identity theft or loan fraud.
The new unit is headed by two Will County prosecutors, Chris Koch and Dant Foulk, and will receive investigative support from Will County Sheriff’s Department detectives under the direction of Pete Piazza, who heads Glasgow’s Investigations Division.
The unit also will receive support from the U.S. Secret Service, which has an agent based at the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office. In addition, prosecutors in the unit will work closely with other Will County police agencies like the Joliet Police Department, which has two detectives dedicated to the investigation of financial crimes.
The unit also has drafted criteria for Will County police departments to identify what qualifies as a financial crime. Crimes that meet the criteria will be forwarded directly to the Financial Crimes Prosecution Unit for review.
Assistant State’s Attorney Koch successfully prosecuted former Joliet Fire Chief Joseph Drick and his wife, Cheri Drick. The couple befriended an elderly Joliet woman in 2002 and proceeded to steal more than $200,000 from her savings. The Dricks currently are serving an eight-year prison sentence.
Assistant State’s Attorney Foulk specializes in prosecuting financial crimes with a concentration on seizing assets that are connected to criminal enterprises, including mortgage fraud and money laundering.
The unit will specialize in untangling complex financial cases and prosecuting those who steal from Will County’s senior citizens. The unit is designed to investigate and prosecute a broad range of financial crimes, many of which target vulnerable elderly citizens. It also will investigate traditional white collar thefts as well as illegal financial schemes tied to street gangs and organized crime.
State’s Attorney Glasgow stressed that senior citizens should know that the unit’s prosecutors and detectives are available to assist them if they are victimized by unscrupulous financial predators.
“Our successful prosecution of the Dricks drove home the need for an in-house unit skilled at combing through complicated financial documents to uncover evidence of crimes against our senior citizens,” Glasgow said. “The members of this highly specialized unit will follow the paper trail and bring these brazen criminals to justice.”
The Financial Crimes Prosecution Unit has been operating for several months and already has opened more than 30 investigations. A number of senior citizens already have received assistance.
In one instance, the unit worked with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to help an 83-year-old woman regain access to her life savings after she was convinced by a financial planner to tie up her money in a 10-year annuity with heavy penalties for early withdrawal. The case was resolved without criminal charges; the money was returned to the woman and the annuity was canceled without penalty.
“This lady accepted my standing invitation and contacted me personally after attending one of our presentations on senior scams,” Glasgow said. “Her story was heartbreaking. She had saved wisely her entire life and had accumulated sufficient funds to live comfortably in her senior years. I was appalled to learn that a financial planner had made a very large commission by cutting off her ready access to her savings for a decade. When she came to my office, her finances were so tight, she was literally in danger of losing her home and unable to replace her 11-year-old car.”
In another case, a grand jury on April 9 indicted a 47-year-old Lockport man on multiple counts of financial exploitation of an elderly person, aggravated identity theft, forgery and loan fraud. The indictments allege the defendant fraudulently gained ownership of an elderly woman’s house.
The Financial Crimes Prosecution Unit will begin its investigations with an eye toward criminal prosecutions and gaining restitution for senior citizens. If a case does not rise to the level of a criminal charge, the unit’s members will place senior citizens in contact with other agencies that can assist them.
The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office reminds the public that charges are not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you are a senior citizen and believe you are the victim of a financial crime, you can contact Detective Pete Piazza at the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office at (815) 727-8878.