Felony charges were filed against the Emmet County man for siphoning $100,000 from client with Alzheimer’s

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced Petoskey lawyer Michael Aho Kennedy, 67, has pleaded guilty to one count of Embezzlement of over $100,000 from a Vulnerable Adult, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and was his elderly client.

“Our parents and grandparents are a part of this country’s Greatest Generation and unfortunately they are a high target generation for scammers,” said Schuette.

Kennedy is scheduled for sentencing February 16, 2016 at 9:00 A.M., in front of Emmet County Circuit Judge Charles W. Johnson. Kennedy also awaits sentencing on Federal embezzlement charges. Kennedy’s assets have been seized for forfeiture in order to pay restitution to the victim’s family.

Case Background

The charges resulted from an investigation by Schuette’s Criminal Division that determined Kennedy allegedly stole $100,000 from a client suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The investigation into Kennedy began in 2012 after the family of Kennedy’s victim were made aware of issues with the victim’s living trust by the IRS. The investigation was limited by the Michigan statute of limitations, but the Department of Attorney General investigators found Kennedy allegedly made a number of discrete transactions siphoning funds from the victim’s trust, and made multiple deposits into his office checking account. During this same period, the victim was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The victim later passed away in August 2015. Financial records indicate that the entire trust was drained, an amount in excess of $100,000.

Kennedy was disbarred on March 13, 2015 by the State of Michigan Attorney Discipline Board.

Attorney General Schuette: Protecting Vulnerable Adults

Schuette’s Consumer Protection Team provides free presentations for Michigan Seniors on a variety of topics, including how to avoid financial exploitation.  To request a free presentation, please sign up at www.michigan.gov/ag  or call the Consumer Programs Team toll-free at 877-765-8388.

Schuette offers the following tips to Michigan Seniors to protect their money and avoid financial exploitation:

  • Stay connected to your community. Social isolation increases your risk of becoming a victim of abuse. Find out about community programs or social activities in your neighborhood.
  • Put all financial instructions in writing.  This protects you and reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings.  Keep records of all transactions.
  • Before you assign a power of attorney, be sure you understand the authority you are giving to your agent.  Know the person to whom you are giving this authority. Write in the agreement whether the agent will be paid or not, and if so, how much.
  • Be cautious of joint accounts.  Both parties are equal owners of the account and both have equal access to the money.
  • Ask someone to review your financial agreements. Your attorney, accountant, or a bank employee can detect changes in your financial activity that may signal a problem.  You can also ask a trusted friend or relative to review your monthly statements.
  • Ask a bank employee, a trusted family member, or a social worker or other professional for help when you are unsure about financial matters.

To report suspected financial abuse of a Michigan vulnerable adult, citizens should call the Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud Hotline, 1-800-24-ABUSE (1-800-242-2873).

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