Crist Announces Introduction of the Guardians Aren’t Above Prosecution Act

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D- St. Petersburg) announced introduction of his new bill, the Guardians Aren’t Above Prosecution (GAAP) Act, legislation that fills a gap in the guardianship prosecutorial system by clarifying that those who are designated as a guardian or conservator are still subject to criminal consequences for abusive or fraudulent behavior.

This legislation shines a light on the lack of judicial action commonly taken against bad actors who abuse and defraud vulnerable persons within a guardianship or conservatorship, and spurs prosecution against those bad actors.

Congressman Crist has been an ongoing advocate for guardianship and conservatorship reform, having co-introduced two bipartisan bills, the Freedom and Right to Emancipate from Exploitation (FREE) Act with Congresswoman Nancy Mace (R-SC) and the Guardianship Accountability Act with Reps. Darren Soto (D-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). Congressman Crist also successfully requested language in this year’s appropriation bills to determine how many Americans are under guardianship – a statistic that is still unknown. In 2019, Congressman Crist also co-introduced the Senior Guardianship Social Security Protection Act.

“It’s shameful that some of our most vulnerable Americans in conservatorships or guardianships have so few safeguards to protect them from malicious fraudsters,” said Rep. Crist. “It’s simply unacceptable – and why I’ve now introduced my second guardianship reform bill in just the last few months. The Guardians Aren’t Above Prosecution Act fills a critical gap in guardianship reform by making sure the law unequivocally recognizes that conservators or guardians who commit fraud or abuse are just as punishable under the law as any other person. It’s past time we hold these fraudsters fully accountable for their crimes.”

“For too long families like mine have been trapped in a broken guardianship system desperately trying to free our loved ones who have been victimized, held in isolation and financially exploited by predatory lawyers and court appointed guardians,” said Libra Max, daughter of Peter Max, and guardianship reform activist. “Reform starts with legislation and the enforcement of existing laws, which is why we need Congressman Crist’s GAAP Act to pass. My father’s civil liberties and human rights are being egregiously violated and his life has been stolen from him. We desperately need legislation like the GAAP Act so that crimes committed by guardians can be fully prosecuted under federal criminal law.”

“For many years, our most vulnerable citizens and the people who loved them had nowhere to turn for help when our nation’s guardianship and conservatorship courts failed them,” said Lisa MacCarley, California Probate Attorney and #FreeBritney supporter. “Armed only with love and intuitive wisdom, the young people of the #FreeBritney movement shed light on a terrible injustice, and in doing so, inspired our political representatives, Congressman Crist and Congresswoman Mace, to take action to protect the rest of us.  Thank you to everyone involved, for your hard-work and compassion, in creating this new federal legislation.” 

“The Guardians Aren’t Above Prosecution (GAAP) Act would make it a federal crime when guardians commit constructive fraud to exploit a vulnerable adult through guardianship or conservatorship,” said Rick Black, Director of the Center for Estate Administration Reform (CEAR). “We thank Congressman Crist for his leadership in recognizing guardianship frauds and the often hopeless reality of its victims and their loved ones. His sponsorship of this bill, the FREE Act, and the Guardianship Accountability Act of 2021 demonstrates that now is the time to address this longstanding issue.”

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