Crist Announces Momentum for the Guardians Aren’t Above Prosecution (GAAP) Act

Washington, DC—U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D–St. Petersburg) announced Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) as the Republican co-lead for 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 is the latest development for the GAAP Act, which Congressman Crist first introduced in November.  

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 previously introduced the Freedom and Right to Emancipate from Exploitation (FREE) Act with Congresswoman Nancy Mace (R-SC) and co-introduced the Guardianship Accountability Act with Reps. Darren Soto (D-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). In 2019, Congressman Crist also introduced the Senior Guardianship Social Security Protection Act.

“Guardianship fraud remains a scourge on American families, and especially Florida seniors. For seniors and persons with disabilities who remain vulnerable to fraudsters, guardianship and conservatorship reform cannot come soon enough,” said Rep. Crist. “With her leadership on the FREE Act and now the GAAP Act, Rep. Mace has been a remarkable ally in the fight to end guardianship abuse once and for all. With the GAAP Act, we’re sending an unmistakable message to anyone who is fraudulently imprisoning and abusing people under the guise of guardianship or conservatorship. You are not above the law.”

“Ensuring conservatorship and guardianship reform has been and continues to be a focus for our office,” said Rep. Mace. “Ms. Britney Spears recently secured an important victory and I look forward to seeing more successes for every American stuck in toxic and abusive conservatorships.”

“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 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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