AG praises new law giving him power to prosecute elder abuse

Josh Shapiro visited Reading on Friday

READING, Pa. - Pennsylvania's top prosecutor said he is no longer handcuffed by a law that prevented him from prosecuting the abuse of people who depend on the care of others.

During a stop at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Reading on Friday, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro praised Act 53, which expands his office's authority to prosecute cases of abuse and neglect of care-dependent persons in nursing homes and similar settings.

"Prior to passing this new law, Pennsylvania law treated 'neglect' and 'abuse' differently," Shapiro said. "Until now, my office only had jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute neglect of care-dependent persons. This new law gives us the law enforcement power we need to investigate and prosecute abuse as well."

Shapiro went on to thank Berks Republican state Rep. Jim Cox, who introduced House Bill 1124, which is now Act 53, as well as Gov. Tom Wolf and the state Legislature.

"Act 53 will allow us to better protect Pennsylvanians in nursing homes and similar settings from abuse and neglect," Shapiro said.

Shapiro highlighted several cases his office is currently handling, including the arrest in April of a Berks County man in the death of his 96-year-old mother, who depended on her son for life-sustaining care. Anton Bodanza remains jailed while he awaits trial on an attempted homicide charge.

"This new law gives law enforcement personnel the tools they need to prosecute deadly neglect of a care-dependent person," Cox said. "Those caregivers who kill a person by neglecting the individual will no longer be able to hide behind a legal loophole."

Another case being handled by Shapiro's office is the Philadelphia nursing home death of Herbert R. McMaster, Sr., the father of President Trump's former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. Nurse Christann Gainey is awaiting trial in that case.

Also joining Shapiro on Friday was Dr. Edward B. Michalik, the executive director of the Berks County Area Agency on Aging.

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