According to the Daily Journal, It became more difficult to prey on the elderly Wednesday morning, as Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 1588, informally known as “Perry’s Law.”
Perry Bitzel, an 82-year-old resident at the Gilman Healthcare Center, who suffers from dementia, was a victim of fraud last year when one of his grandsons allegedly wiped out all his bank accounts and sold two of his houses after obtaining legal guardianship.
No charges have been filed against the grandson, yet, but the new law now will enable victims and their families to proceed directly to civil court without charges being filed.
The law results from Shawn Bitzel, Perry’s grandson and current legal guardian, who recognized his family member’s alleged wrongdoing. Rep. Tom Bennett, R-Gibson City, and Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, met with Shawn and his family, and wrote the new law.
“I feel very, very relieved,” Shawn said. “It’s great to have a law like this in place. It embraces karma and gives people who take advantage of the elderly what they deserve.”
Perry’s family still is figuring out if they can take their case to civil court. They may not qualify because the law was signed after the fact. Nonetheless, they’re happy to see the elderly will be protected in Perry’s name.
“We know it may not do a lot to help Uncle Perry at this point, but it may prevent other families from going through what we had to,” said Perry’s niece, Susan Wynn Bence, who works for Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti.
Perry and his family watched Rauner sign the law in Springfield, along with staff members from the Gilman Healthcare Center. They also met several state officials. Bennett and Barickman also were present.
“Uncle Perry had a great day,” Wynn Bence said. “He was smiling, looking at the capital and had a chance to meet the governor and Lt. Gov. Sanguinetti.”