Guarding the Guardians

ME (WABI)- A former state lawmaker from Frankfort awaits sentencing, after being found guilty last November of bilking two elderly women out of millions of dollars.

Senator Susan Collins is sponsoring legislation to protect individuals from abusive guardians.

Joy Hollowell tells us more.

+++++
In November, 53-year old Robert Lindell, Jr. was found guilty of theft and tax evasion.

The former legislator from Frankfort was working as a broker and financial adviser when he stole more than $3 million dollars from two elderly widows.

"In our country, there are 1.3 million Americans who have assets of some $50 billion whose lives are completely under the control of guardians," says Senator Susan Collins.

Senator Collins is the chair of the Senate Aging Committee. She says in many cases, a guardian is required when people are no longer able to make decisions on their own.

Lindell handled the estate of a 92-year-old Belfast woman who died in 2012.

He also managed assets for a woman in her 80's, living in France.

The Senate Aging Committee spent a year investigating ways to strengthen guardianship programs and better protect those who rely on the system.

As a result, Senator Collins is sponsoring the Guardianship Accountability Act. It would provide a sort of checks and balances for those in a guardianship role.

"Our bill is intended to promote states to adopt reforms where the courts would review regular reports from the guardians just to make sure that everything is on the up and up," Senator Collins explains.

In addition, the proposal encourages the use of background checks as well as easing restrictions on alternatives to the current system.

"Most guardians do a wonderful job of protecting people who have lost capacity," says Senator Collins. "But there are some who use their position to steal money from the very people they're supposed to be protecting."
++++
A sentencing date for Robert Lindell, Jr. has not yet been set.

He faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of $20,000 dollars.

Lindell could also have to pay more than $2 million in restitution.