Connecticut man’s story prompts bipartisanship in Washington

Robert Matava (WTNH / Mark Davis)

MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – President Trump has a bill on his desk that was passed unanimously in the U.S. House and Senate and the inspiration for the new law was a Connecticut man who was a World War II hero.

It’s aimed at a type of elder abuse that many people don’t want to talk about but it’s an issue that has brought Republicans and Democrats together in Washington.

Decorated World War II veteran Robert Matava of Unionville died almost six years ago but the story of how he was defrauded and left penniless by his own son has inspired an act of bi-partisan cooperation in Washington.  It is estimated that nearly a million and half seniors in this country have suffered the same fate as Robert. Bilked of their savings by care givers, in some cases relatives.

It is something that worries and concerns some seniors that were at the senior center in Meriden today like Donna Douglas,  “Yes, I am, yes I am, because, ya know, I’m getting up there in age. You never know who could be taking advantage of me.” Jerry Bush said. “One of my sisters got caught up in that one time a long time ago.”

The ombudsman for the State Department on Aging, Nancy Shaffer,  says they know it is happening but is being under reported, “Because people are reluctant to talk about it. They’re dependent on the people that are caring for them so it’s very difficult to report on somebody who you depend on.”

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal brought the story of Robert Matava to the Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and together they introduced the “Elder Abuse Prevention and Protection Act.” it passed unanimously this week.  The bill increases penalties for financial fraud abuse against the elderly and includes mandatory forfeiture.  It also makes certain the cases will come to the attention of federal judges. “In every federal district there will be a prosecutor specifically assigned and designated to go after elder abuse,” said Senator Blumenthal.

You can reach the State Department on Aging through their toll free hotline at 866-388-1888.

You can also link to them at


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