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News Release

CLERK BOCK TO HIGHLIGHT GUARDIANSHIP FRAUD PROGRAM AT WORLD CONGRESS ON ADULT GUARDIANSHIP

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. (May 28, 2014) – Clerk & Comptroller Sharon Bock will discuss Palm Beach County’s guardianship fraud program at the World Congress on Adult Guardianship, being held this week in Arlington, Va.

Clerk Bock will be joined by Anthony Palmieri, senior internal auditor with the Clerk & Comptroller’s Division of Inspector General, and Myra E. Kirkland and Patricia McArdle of the Dallas County (Texas) Probate Court. Their session, “Monitoring the Lifestyles of the Rich and Not So Famous,” will highlight efforts in Palm Beach County and in Texas to monitor and audit guardianships to prevent fraud.

The World Congress on Adult Guardianship is hosted by the National Guardianship Network in affiliation with the International Guardianship Network. This is the third World Congress on Guardianships, and will feature 120 speakers from 21 countries.

“I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done to protect Palm Beach County’s most vulnerable citizens,” Clerk Bock said. “It’s an honor to highlight our guardianship fraud program, and its successes, in front of such a prestigious audience.”

Clerk Bock’s Guardianship Fraud program has become a model for Florida. Its investigations have led to two arrests and uncovered more than $3 million in questionable expenses and misreported assets. She launched the Guardianship Fraud Hotline in September 2011, to give people a way to anonymously report suspicious activity in guardianship cases. The hotline was the first of its kind in Palm Beach County, and among the first in Florida.

Guardianship fraud programs in Palm Beach and Pinellas counties also served as the basis for legislation passed during the 2014 legislative session to provide all of Florida’s Clerks with the authority to create enhanced guardianship fraud programs. The legislation is currently awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s signature to become law.

Anyone who suspects a guardian, family member, attorney or caregiver of improper financial activities such as stealing money from a ward’s account, selling off a ward’s property or making suspicious loans or money transfers is urged to call (561) 355-FRAUD (355-3728). Reports also can be made by e-mail to fraud@mypalmbeachclerk.com, or online through the Clerk’s Guardianship Fraud Hotline page, at www.mypalmbeachclerk.com/fraud.
 
The Florida Constitution established the independent office of the Clerk & Comptroller as a public trustee, responsible for safeguarding public records and public funds. Clerk Sharon Bock is directly elected by and accountable to Palm Beach County residents.  In addition to the roles of Clerk of the Circuit Court, County Recorder and Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners, the Clerk & Comptroller is the Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Auditor for Palm Beach County.

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