Elder Financial Abuse by Family Members: Schottenstein Family Story

Elder Financial Abuse by Family Members: Schottenstein Family Story

Episode #66June 22, 2021

Elder Financial Abuse by Family Members

At 93 years old, Beverley Schottenstein filed financial abuse charges against two of her grandsons, Evan Schottenstein and Avi Schottenstein, and JP Morgan. A ruling in February 2021, found the two grandsons and JP Morgan liable for abusing their fiduciary duty and making fraudulent misrepresentations. They also found the bank and Evan Schottenstein liable for elder abuse. It ordered JP Morgan and the grandsons to pay Beverley $19 million between them.

In this episode, I interview Cathy Schottenstein Pattap, one of Beverly Schottenstein’s granddaughters who took Beverly’s concerns seriously and testified on her behalf.

Here’s what you’ll discover in this episode:

  • The Schottenstein family history of hard work, wealth, and the American dream.
  • 95 year old, Beverley Schottenstein’s betrayal by her son, Bobby, and grandsons Evan and Avi, and the court case that found them and JP Morgan guilty of elder financial abuse.
  • Ways in which ageism and sexism played a role in Beverley Schottenstein’s pursuit of justice.
  • The difficult but important task of standing up for oneself in the face of abuse and exploitation.

Learn More About The Schottenstein Family Financial Abuse Case

About Cathy Schottenstein Pattap

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap is a writer and English teacher originally from Columbus, Ohio. She has a B.A. in English from Emory University and an M.A. in English from New York University. Her articles have appeared in Bloomberg Businessweek magazine, and she has worked the writing desk at CNN. Cathy currently resides in New Jersey with her husband and two sons. With the conclusion of her grandmother Beverley Schottenstein’s trial–one that has been heavily covered by the media–as well as the soon-to-be announced publication date of her book, the riveting memoir Twisted: Conflict, Madness, and the Redemptive Power of a Granddaughter’s Love, Cathy will be available to address a wide range of fascinating related topics as outlined on her website cathyschottenstein.com.

Facts About Elder Financial Abuse & Exploitation

  • Financial abuse is defined as the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property, or assets including, but not limited to misusing or stealing an older person’s money or possessions, coercing or deceiving an older person into signing any document (e.g., contracts or will), and the improper use of conservatorship, guardianship, or power of attorney (Phelan, 2020).
  • The National Center on Elder Abuse notes that between 6.8% and 11.7% of older adults experience financial abuse or exploitation. Most experts agree that this is an under representation of “actual” prevalence of financial exploitation due to elder abuse and neglect incidents often going unreported.
  • Perpetrators of elder financial abuse are most likely to be family members (54%; not including partners) compared to 31% being care workers, and 13% being partners (Jackson, 2016)

 

Learn More About Elder Financial Exploitation & Helpful Resources

Where to Report Elder Abuse

If you suspect abuse, you can do something about it. First, recognize the signs. It can be painful, but don’t ignore the signs. Instead, acknowledge the signs, then report the situation so it can be investigated. Here’s how:

Related Elder Abuse Episodes:

 

References:

  • National Center on Elder Abuse, Research, Statistics, & Data, Retrieved on June 22, 2021 from: https://ncea.acl.gov/What-We-Do/Research/Statistics-and-Data.aspx
  • Jackson, S. L. (2016). All elder abuse perpetrators are not alike: The heterogeneity of elder abuse perpetrators and implications for intervention. International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology60(3), 265-285.
  • Phelan, A. (2020). Financial Abuse of Older People. Advances in Elder Abuse Research, 101-119

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 0:00

We were sitting around a table, this was the summer of 2019. So this shows how long this process can take. And someone who was technically on her side who is on her side, and not within the family, we were all sitting there talking. And my grandma, my father was on a conference call, my father happens to be a lawyer, but he was not involved in this case. So we're all hearing the whole family's hearing What's going on? And this individual spoke up and he said, Look, do you really want this at your age? If you were in your 70s? I wouldn't question it. You should go to FINRA, you should seek retribution, you should, you know, you should do what you want to do. But is this really something you want to deal with? Now, my grandmother was 93 at that time, and I didn't say anything, I wrote it down. But I didn't need to write it down, because I'll never forget it because it affected me on such a deep level, as a human being and also as a woman, because I don't know if this male individual would have said that necessarily to a 93 year old man. But because he's looking at this little older woman, he felt almost I think, at have a need to protect her to say this, but it bothered me on such an instinctual level. Because I've said earlier on in many ways, I feel that the fight has prolonged her life. It's given her a common quest. This idea of reclaiming for dignity, and asserting her voice, which had been taken from her for so long. Gave her new life. And it's that quest to reclaim her dignity that's ultimately enlivened her.

Dr. Regina Koepp 1:55

I'm Dr. Regina Koepp. I'm a clinical geropsychologist, which means that I'm a psychologist who specializes with older adults and families. And this is the psychology of aging podcast, your go to resource for Mental Health and Aging. Last week, I kicked off elder abuse month with an episode on elder abuse and where you can report elder abuse. Today we're getting a little more personal. Today I interview Cathy Schottenstein Pattap who is the granddaughter of Beverly Schottenstein, who was an heiress to the Schottenstein family fortune, and Cathy Schottenstein Pattap will tell us a little bit about that, that schottenstein family, but Beverly Schottenstein, the matriarch was 93 years old when she decided to file charges for financial exploitation against her two grandsons who were managing her wealth with JP Morgan and JP Morgan. And in February of this year, that's February of 2021. a ruling was found in her favor. And what she was awarded $19 million from her grandsons in JP Morgan and, and the ruling determined that her grandsons were indeed guilty of financial exploitation. So Kathy schottenstein is on the episode today talking about this very painful experience for her grandmother and family. With other family members exploiting and abusing their role in her fight in in Beverly, then 93. Now 95 and Beverly's wealth management. The story is quite painful. And you know, what makes it also so painful is this this experience of betrayal? Because then of course, once we're betrayed, it's hard to know who to trust.

Dr. Regina Koepp 4:02

Let me tell you a little bit about Cathy Schottenstein Pattap. Cathy Schottenstein Pattap is a writer and English teacher originally from Columbus, Ohio. She has a BA in English from Emory University, and an MA in English from New York University. Her articles have appeared in Bloomberg Businessweek magazine, and she has worked for the writing desk at CNN. Kathy currently resides in New Jersey with her husband and two sons. She is currently working on a memoir. It's called twisted conflict madness and the redemptive power of a granddaughters love. You can also learn about Cathy shot and seen Pat up on her website, which I'll link to in the show notes. All right, let's jump into this interview.

Dr. Regina Koepp 4:48

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap, thank you so much for joining me on the psychology of aging podcast and sharing your story and your grandmother's story your family story with financial exploitation and triumph over injustice. So thank you so much for being here. And I'm looking forward to hearing from you and hearing your story and insights you have for others.

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 5:14

Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be with you.

Dr. Regina Koepp 5:16

Can you start by sharing with us about your family?

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 5:19

I guess to go way back. My grandfather was one of four brothers who worked on a business, mostly retail department store. And it had several parts. So originally were my family, the schottenstein family is from Lithuania. And they immigrated to the United States. And my great grandfather a frying Sean steam started business, actually out of his horse and buggy, where he just sold outdated and overused goods. And that became he bought his first brick and mortar shop, which he called shots games, which is the last name in Columbus, Ohio, on the south side on South Parsons Avenue. And that was what he did. And actually, originally, he even physically lived in the store with his wife, and they started, you know, having children, and then they they got their own home. But this is this was how he made a living. And my grandmother helped him with that. And then he had five children, and the four of them more mail, and my grandfather albums, one of those four children. And my grandfather was recruited into the army during World War Two, actually, while he was in college, so he left college to go into the army. And he was he was drafted as a private, which I believe is like the lowest form and then he was ultimately selected for officers training school, and he ended up leaving after six years in World War Two, because he actually was drafted before the war even technically started. And he left as a captain. And for the last year and a half, I believe he was in India, my grandmother likes to say that he ended up losing his hair. And she's like he always said it was because he was in India. Like, I'm not sure if it was the physical location of being there. What But anyway, so when my grandfather returned from the war, he really immersed himself in his father's business, Shaun steam stores, and he worked with his brothers. And so the four brothers worked together, and they all had an equal stake. So it was about 25% per brother, but they had different responsibilities. So some of them did real estate. Some of them were involved with furniture, which is value city. My grandfather in particular was the president of Sean Steen's department stores, which ended up expanding and having many stores throughout the Midwest. And that was his focus. So my grandfather died in his early 60s, young, I was two years old when he died, he died in 1984. And at that time, my grandmother and her family, my grandmother had four children has four children. They ultimately around 1990 sold the 25% stake of the business and and left the shots team business. And right now, the business is actually controlled by the son of one of the brothers, which is, so it's now controlled by Jay Schottenstein, who is the son of Jerome and that was my grandfather's youngest brother. So that's a bit of the background of the story. And it's where the wealth originates from it originates from this family business.

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 8:49

And there was there was turmoil, even back then, when they were getting out of the business. There was a lawsuit family businesses, no, and in hindsight, can have those sorts of problems. And they did. There are still a number of family members that that are somewhat mostly estranged, as a result of the turmoil from from the time that being said, I grew up knowing that there was this lawsuit, but I was just a little girl. So while it was sort of the background of my childhood, I was, you know, many ways, blissfully unaware of where the money originated from, and moreover, how much money there was. And I say that sometimes during interviews, the truth is, we were family that never talked about money. So when my grandmother actually always was fairly frugal, you know, she didn't have a lot of expensive clothes and she always was in the house that she was in with her husband before he died. And where she raised her kids in Columbus, Ohio, my dad attended public school, that sort of thing. I went to public school. So while there was this, this battle Drop of the shot and steam name in Columbus, Ohio because some of the stores are named after the last name. And it's a no name and Columbus and they tend to be very philanthropic and generous with donations, and therefore their names often attached to those donations. It was really not something we ever talked about, and we didn't know.

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 10:23

And then my cousin Evan, who is the same age as me, I'm 39 years old, he graduated college. And we graduated the same year, we both graduated in 2004. And he wanted to go into financial advising and the brokerage industry. And he asked my grandmother if he could control her estate. And at the time, her state was being controlled by outside advisors. And again, because we really didn't talk much about money, I for one didn't have any concept of how much money he was really asking to be in charge of or what the ramifications of that could be. And I was also young, and I was just out of college, and you know, going getting married soon, and that sort of thing. So I had my own world going on. And so ultimately, in 2006, my cousin Evan did get control of my grandmother's estate, and started being her financial advisor. And it's it's kind of crazy to think about that that started in 2006. And ultimately, he switched firms a number of times. And in I think you mentioned 2014, was it? That's when I believe that's when he started at JPMorgan. So he started at a few different firms. He was at Morgan Stanley before he was at JP Morgan. And then I believe he was at Sydney group before that. So he has a number of big banks. But he was at JPMorgan for five years. And that was up until my cousin and I were visiting my grandmother, which was the holidays Christmas time of December 2018, Christmas time 2018 right before the New Year of 2019. And things started getting concerning because my grandmother has an aide named Dawn Henry, and she had alerted me a few months before I came to visit my grandmother that that she thought there were some suspicious activity, and she actually suspected some elder abuse. And I think it's important to know my cousin Evans family lives one floor below my grandmother in Florida. So they had proximity to my grandmother and just incredible access, they literally had a key to her back door and could come in anytime they wanted. And for the rest of the family who was dispersed throughout the United States. My dad's still in Columbus, I'm in New Jersey, it was actually nice knowing that someone was there, close five, it's a family member that can help take care of her. But what I've come to learn writing my book, and since my grandmother's trial and case is that can be a warning sign. It's something to be careful of when you're talking about elder abuse, because oftentimes, elder abuse is committed by those within within the family itself. And I think it's why that that that fact is, is because they have access. They're close by and who's really monitoring close family members. So while it can be lovely to be close to your aging parent, it is important that other family members are at least aware of what's going on and not just assuming everything's okay.

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 13:50

So what happened was they had a lot of access. Access to her mailbox access to her phone at you know, constantly. They're in the same building physically. And Dawn Henry had been hired a few years before when my grandmother fell and broke her hip at a beauty salon. And that was back in 2016 when Donna Henry was hired. And dawn started becoming suspicious. She'll say very early on, because they would often come up Evan and his father Bobby would come up one flight of stairs and be shredding my grandmother's documents and statements. And so Don, that was the first alarm bell that rang for dawn because she thought Why are they going through her statements? I mean, my grandmother wasn't asking them to shred her statement. So why are they doing this and they were doing it in a back room. And that dawn felt suspicious. Then around the time I came to visit, Don told me you know, we're not getting statements like nothing's coming in the mail for us. So, again, I thought that was strange. But to be honest, I really didn't want to get involved. I didn't want to start creating tension within the family and start asking these difficult questions which now I've learned, you do need to not be afraid to ask. But I didn't really say I didn't say anything at the time. And she told me this, the statements had stopped coming. Then we're all congregated at my grandmother's condo in Belle Harbor, Florida. And this is Christmas time of 2018. And my cousin Alexis was also visiting. And my cousin Alexis was physically staying in my grandmother's condo, along with my grandmother's live in caretaker dawn, and I was with my family at a hotel nearby. And Alexis was there when a package arrived. And it's the FedEx package from JP Morgan. And so we're like, what's this package? So they open up the package, and it ends up being this co to equity fund. And my grandmother was committed for I believe, $5 million. That's based in the Cayman Islands. And it was for a number of years and my grandmother's in her 90s. So Alexis, and Dawn are like Naomi, this will we call her? Like, what's this fun, and my grandmother who is not financially sophisticated at all, and will be the first to admit that had no idea what the fun was. So then my cousin Alexis called me and we started getting concerned. And that's when Alexis sat down with my grandmother and had her computer because my grandmother does not have a computer and never has had a computer would not know how to turn on a computer, which is sort of similar to me, but I do know how to turn on the computer most of the time. And so Alexis had her own computer and was able to get a password. And it turned out so she sits down with my grandmother, and they start looking through her statements. And it turns out my cousin Evan had enrolled my grandmother and paperless statements. So the reason she wasn't receiving her statements was because they were all coming to her electronically. And to do that, you have to have an email address. Again, my grandmother's never had a computer. So of course, she's never had an email address. So then it was uncovered that there was a fictitious email address, literally named Bev dot shot steen@gmail.com that all her statements are going to essentially a black hole because my grandmother does not have a computer and does not have an email address. So that's really when the snowball began to roll. And it never stopped rolling for quite some time after that, because it was obvious that there was suspicious activity. And there shouldn't be an email address. And you know, what, what, what, how is she committed to this fun and supposedly her signatures on it and my grandmother saying she never signed it. So we started being concerned that there was forgery, which in fact, there was and it escalated from there.

Dr. Regina Koepp 17:52

Wow. How old was your grandmother when this started?

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 17:56

93

Dr. Regina Koepp 17:57

93. And how old is she now?

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 17:59

95. She had her birthday yesterday on June 13.

Dr. Regina Koepp 18:03

How did she celebrate?

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 18:05

She went out with Dawn and they actually sent me a few pictures and they had ice cream and went out to lunch late lunch and it was great. And I sent her a necklace and she was wearing her necklace and that was one of the things my grandmother growing up always loved her jewelry. And I remember like one of, (clearing throat) excuse me, my distinct memories as a little girl because I really grew up with my grandmother. My parents divorced when I was two years old. So when I was with my father nine times out of 10 I was also with my grandmother. So I grew up in that house and I remember every Friday night after dinner watching her slip off her rings and hear the clink in the glass bowl while she took off her rings and her necklace and you know, painted her nails every Friday night. And so she always loved her jewelry as many women do. And that was one of the sad things with this case is it also came out during the trial that my cousin Evan was monitoring the safe deposit box of my grandmother's where she had kept all her jewelry including her her engagement home or wedding ring. And all that jewelry was in a safe deposit box and then it turned out my cousin Evans father Bobby ended up taking the jewelry out of that without my grandmother's permission and she's never seen her jewelry again. And so it's you know some when I when I give her presence I like to give her jewelry because she misses her jewelry and it's nice for her to have something pretty to wear. And so it was nice to see that she was wearing the necklace yesterday at her birthday party. So her wedding ring was in that safe deposit box that was taken. Yes. Her seven carat diamond wedding ring from my grandfather who passed away in his early 60s was in there along with pretty much all of The jewelry she's ever had things that my grandfather bought her that have, you know, family heirlooms and sentimental value for anyone. And we've never seen it again. So it's definitely part of part of the tragedy of this whole elder abuse case.

Dr. Regina Koepp 20:17

And how many children your your grandmother and grandfather had...

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 20:22

four children

Dr. Regina Koepp 20:23

Four children. Bobby was one, your father was one. And then...

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 20:29

two others. So my, my father, Charles is the eldest, then his sister, Randy is one year. And then a few years later came Bobby. And then the last is Gary.

Dr. Regina Koepp 20:40

And I have a couple of questions for you about your family dynamics. But I want to back up. Why did Dawn reach out to you in particular to share that she was concerned about potential exploitation or fraud?

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 20:53

Well, apparently, she'd been reaching out to a number of us. And actually, the irony is, I had never even spoken to dawn on the phone ever. I had seen her occasionally when I would come to visit. But we didn't. I didn't know much about her at all. And we have never spoken on the phone. And she said that it was really she calls it now like a cry for help. She was getting desperate. She had mentioned the jewelry had gone missing a few years before this, she had mentioned that to my father, the rest of the family knew about it. I actually didn't know about it. Until this. She had been mentioning things to my cousin Alexis. But Alexis is younger and she was in college and she was in graduate school and she was actually in Europe. So you know, you're you get busy with your own lives. And who wants to start investigating their own family, especially when we're not even there. They were the ones that were physically with her in Florida, the rest of us were dispersed around the United States. And for Alexis escape, she was actually in England.

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 21:53

So it was almost one of those things that you don't want want to hear about you don't want to be involved in. But after enough warning signs, there really was no choice and I felt sucked into it. And it wasn't easy. At first. If my cousins and I say this now, but it's really the truth if they had admitted that they had done wrong and apologize at the very beginning when it was discovered that why Why is her name on this Cayman Islands funds? She doesn't know about this. This is not her signature. Why is her jewelry gone? If they had apologized and said, you know, maybe we weren't educated. We didn't even know what we were doing. But we're sorry we did our best. You take your money and do what you want with it. This would never have gotten to where it is today. They took an extremely aggressive stance. And when other family members including myself, Alexis, my father, the rest of the family came together and started asking these questions about why is she not receiving our statements? Why is there a fake email address? Why is all of her jewelry missing? They said they did nothing wrong. They continue to this day to say they've done nothing wrong even though they've already been found liable of all charges

Dr. Regina Koepp 23:14

An Bobby wrote a letter also right?...

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 23:19

Admitting that he took the jewelry did not apologize just said I took the jewelry because I got involved with some bad people and I needed the jewelry to pay off some bad business debts. If there had just been some acceptance and contrition and apology, this would never have escalated, but they took a very aggressive stance and then my grandmother was harassed. And she was physically harassed. in which my my cousin Evans father came up and physically forced her to write a retraction letter to JP Morgan saying, I got it all wrong. Evan didn't do anything. Everything's fine. And then my my, my grandmother's caretaker, Dawn had to drive her to the hospital because she was in so much pain because he ended up hurting her shoulder very bad, and she still has pain to this day. So that's physical assault right there. But more more over there was so much psychological and mental abuse and harassment. On multiple occasions, my cousins were secretly videotaping my grandmother and in her own condo in her home, and actually wanted to use that as evidence for themselves to say that she had dementia that there was something wrong with her that they didn't do anything wrong, but there definitely was something wrong with her. She didn't understand the charges that she was bringing upon them. That was not allowed. In part. Well, I think in large part because in Florida, you are not allowed to secretly videotape someone without their knowledge or consent. But the fact that they were even doing it shows the environment that she was living for so long, and how this escalated and frankly, she still has anger about it to this day, she may have won her case, but she did she she won on every single count. But what she went through from her own family, in particular, her son and her two grandsons, Evan and Avi, and the fact that there's never been any acceptance or apology is why she continues to talk about it. Because deep it's a it's a deep wound. And, yes, yes, the court found them liable. But I think until, and I don't believe this will ever happen, but until there's some acknowledgment that she was right, and that they did do wrong. I'm not sure that she'll ever really stop talking about it, because it's such a deep wound for her and for the whole family.

Dr. Regina Koepp 25:53

It's such a betrayal. By her child and her grandsons, so then how does? How did she come to know who to trust in the family then? Because sometimes when we're betrayed by somebody we trust or right, then it's hard to trust other people. So how, how did she come to trust you? I think you've been helper and an advocate for her through this.

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 26:19

Yeah.

Dr. Regina Koepp 26:19

What has your role been with her? And how has she? Does she trust other family members? How's that going?

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 26:26

I think so. Um, I think she, she had an extreme amount of trust in them, in part because while they were controlling all her money, so you would want to trust the person that's in charge of all your assets. But also, because they were physically there. When she fell and broke her hip. She hired Dawn Henry's sometimes, when you have someone outside of the family come in, that can give a new perspective that the rest of us don't have. And so here we have a fresh set of eyes, that's looking at everything and saying, why, why is that happening? Or that does not seem right. Dawn, ultimately, my grandmother started really trusting and confiding in dawn. And at one point, my grandmother said, you know, they brought a state lawyer up here, and they had me changed my will and trust, the rest of the family didn't even know about that. And and they were doing all the talking. And I don't even know what's in the will and trust. So Dawn, again, says, That doesn't sound right, that doesn't seem appropriate. So she really gradually began to trust Dawn, outside of the family. And perhaps it's because Dawn was outside of the family that she did start trusting her because you know, maybe she didn't want to make waves within her own family and get one sibling or cousin upset with someone else. So it started with Dawn, who's just been a hero. In this story from the beginning, she could have looked the other way. She didn't have to do what she did. And she did.

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 27:59

I am one of eight grandchildren. And in some ways I write in my book that my grandmother and all of us really kind of came full circle throughout this whole ordeal. Because I grew up with my grandmother looking up to her as most like a surrogate mother, my parents share joint custody, and I lived with my mom. But on the weekends I was with my father, which meant I was also with my grandmother. So I was extremely close to my grandmother. My grandma was there. When I graduated high school, she was at every band concert, she was at everything. So I had every Friday night dinner at my grandmother's house. So we were very close. I got older, went away to college, and she became more dependent on Bobby and his side of the family. And then when it became obvious that she needed to step back and re examine her ties to them, the rest of the family, I think she really fell back on the rest of the family and the rest of the family was happy to be part of her life. Because we had really felt that we had been pushed away. And that's another thing that is common with elder abuse is the abusers tend to isolate their victims. And so they had access, and they had this control and to keep the control. They wanted everyone to have their own busy lives. And maybe yes, you can visit once a year but you know, at a distance, and they were happy to sort of foster this idea that they were the ones taking care of our grandmother, and she was happy with them and the rest of us can go off and do our own thing. And when she really needed the rest of the family we were we were there to support her and I was there as well. You know, I'm truthfully and in a lot of ways this case skipped over the generation which is her children and kind of fell on to the grandkids and

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 30:01

Do I know why that is. Not necessarily, but maybe just because we were younger. So we had more of the energy to be able to get the right people in place, and not want to just sort of sit apathetically. And also, grandchildren aren't necessarily as close as actual siblings who grew up together. So maybe it was easier for us to form certain alliances and be able to recognize that others are committing some abuse and need to be put in check. So my grandmother's actual children were involved and have supported her, but a lot of it ended up falling on the next generation, which is the grandchildren. And immediately when my grandmother started having problems, I reached out to a friend at another a very large bank, who's a partner at that bank and said, Do you think we could get some some outside broker to examine her statements because I'm an English major, you said yourself, you you majored in English. Also, if you show me a statement, including my own, I really don't know what I'm looking at, I can look at the number at the bottom, but I don't know what's, what's trading and what's supposed to be happening. So I needed someone in finance to take a look at those statements. And my friend ended up sending a broker from the firm that he worked at immediately. And he and his boss started getting involved. And that's when they were able to really pour through her statements and say, okay, there was excessive churning. I never even knew what that word was. But that means like, trade, exactly, that means trading excessively. So like you buy something, and then immediately you sell it, and you just keep doing that. And every time you do that the broker who's selling and buying makes commissions. So if you're doing it over and over and over again, you're making a lot of commissions. So that's your, that's illegal. You're not allowed to be churning someone's account. They were definitely doing that. But among other things, a lot of much more egregious crimes. I mean, ultimately, when they went to trial, there were charges of elder abuse, wire fraud, the creation of a fictitious email count for jury, these are criminal offenses, elder abuse in itself is actually a felony in the state of New York. And in most states, you can serve prison time. But what I came to learn, and again, this is not something I knew beforehand, when you are going up against a broker who's represented by a brokerage industry and a top bank, you can't just take them to court. You don't get to just charge them or or level criminal charges or take them to civil court, you have to go through a process that's called FINRA, you have to so there is some legislation, I believe now where they're trying to make it so that you can take your broker if you suspect foul play to court. But now you still to this day, you have to go through FINRA, which is I believe it's Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. And you have to take your case and file it with FINRA. And if you do not settle, ultimately, it's a trial. That's just like any other trial, but it's supposed to be kept private FINRA has rules are that all their cases are kept private. So everything they hear about and like I said, these are serious criminal offenses are kept private and behind closed doors. And the only reason we're talking about this now is because my grandmother chose to speak to the press about what happened. The verdict is always public. Fenris verdict is always public. And they did create a splash because they put out this big award for my grandmother of $19 million, which was one of their biggest awards they've given in several years.

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 33:49

And here this is during the pandemic. So my grandmother's entire trial happened over zoom, which was quite awkward in itself. I literally testified over a computer and saw little squares of my cousin's face and this face and that face and the lawyer interrogating me and questioning me on my computer right from this seat. So it was a strange sort of surreal experience very, extremely unpleasant experience to begin with, but the the verdict comes out and that's public, but you don't know what the real charges are. You see the figure and you see that they were found liable for serious things like financial fraud and elder abuse. That sounds pretty bad, but you don't know what she was really saying they did. Except for the fact that she chose to give the story exclusive to Bloomberg who ended up writing a big piece about it and that's why the public is aware of what it is they really what they really committed. That being said there have been no criminal charges since the FINRA ruling and and so far they have not paid them what they've been asked to pay what they've been told they have to pay.

Dr. Regina Koepp 35:01

And was there a recent legal another legal suit or case?

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 35:06

It's been the same case. My cousins were trying to settle with my grandmother. Another thing about this, FINRA is even after a verdict, a judgment and award is given, you do have the right if the other party is willing to settle and not accept the large judgment. So my grandmother for a time was entertaining the idea of settling for significantly less than what she was awarded, just to get it over with. But ultimately, those talks broke down because on on the paper agreement, my cousin's wanted certain things in writing that my grandmother's estate lawyer told her were not appropriate for her to sign at first, they even wanted her to sign what was essentially a gag order where she wasn't even allowed to talk about the case ever. That wasn't going to happen. But then it got to some tax implications and some other things that she her state lawyer ultimately told her, you should not sign this, this is not acceptable for you. So she is not settling. And she is asking for the amount that they were told they have to give. And we'll see what happens with that.

Dr. Regina Koepp 36:18

As we were preparing for this interview, you shared with me as your grandmother was sitting around a table, or maybe it was a zoom call, cuz I wasn't able, why was the table then? Before COVID? Before COVID, she was contemplating taking legal action or pursuing justice, yes. For exploitation. And And will you talk about that experience? And what you shared with me before this call?

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 36:47

Yeah, we were sitting around a table, this was the summer of 2019. So this shows how long this process can take. And someone who was technically on her side, who is on her side, and not within the family, we were all sitting there talking. And my grandma, my father was on a conference call. My father happens to be a lawyer, but he was not involved in this case. So we're all hearing the whole family's hearing what's going on. And this individual spoke up and he said, Look, do you really want this at your age? If you were in your 70s? I wouldn't question it. You should go to FINRA, you should seek retribution, you should, you know, you should do what you want to do. But is this really something you want to deal with? Now, my grandmother was 93 at that time, and I didn't say anything, I wrote it down. But I didn't need to write it down, because I'll never forget it because it affected me on such a deep level, as a human being and also as a woman, because I don't know if this male individual would have said that necessarily to a 93 year old man. But because he's looking at this little older woman, he felt almost I think, at have a need to protect her to say this. But it bothered me on such an instinctual level because I've said earlier on in many ways, I feel that the fight has prolonged her life. It's given her a common quest. This idea of reclaiming her dignity, and asserting her voice, which had been taken from her for so long. Gave her new life. And it's that quest to reclaim her dignity that's ultimately in enlivened her eye she, she now to me is is the grandma that I knew growing, growing up when I was a little girl, more so than what I've seen the past few years, because she's like, gone. She's always been sort of the spunky, fiery woman. And she lost that and she's gotten it back. And you know, she she proved them all wrong. She insistent she was resolute that she was going to do this, knowing full well that it would be difficult for her family that she would be having to go on trial that I ultimately ended up having to testify her for her for over two days. My grandmother herself was cross examined by my cousin's lawyer for over 11 hours on the stand over zoom. It lasted over three days. So she was really put through fire for this. But ultimately, she wanted it. And yes, she did end up victorious she won, but I don't think it has anything to do with winning or losing. She fought. And that's what made her feel good. And it's what's brought people to her that she gets fan mail. And she sometimes responds to them. She makes a phone call like there was a man in his 90s in California and she ended up speaking to him on the phone and they're like, supposedly arranging to get together. At some point, so because because there were so sort of impressed and emboldened and empowered by hearing her story, and it has nothing to do with the numbers or the fact that she was victorious. But it was the fact that she chose to fight and fight, even within her own family and say, right is right and wrong is wrong, and I'm not going to stand for it anymore. And, you know, it's been a great, great story for a lot of people because of that.

Dr. Regina Koepp 40:31

And the notion to back down because you're older, is so incredibly ageist and adds to the injustice. Yeah, only certain groups of people are allowed to fight for justice. And you're not part of the group that can do that. Because you're over 90 or over 80, or whatever his criteria or her criteria, that person's criteria was.

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 40:53

yeah, that was a man and yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Regina Koepp 40:58

And the sense of protection, well, who's protecting her when, when the people are exploiting her. And so Dawn Henry, was, like you said, a real hero, we should all have a Dawn Henry in our life, because she was quite the whistleblower. She was reaching out to people letting your grandmother know she was concerned

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 41:16

She was and she's been there every step of the way. When my grandmother was having to deal with this trial, my grant might dawn Henry was sitting right next to her off camera, but next to her just there for moral support. Dawn has had to see her through this and it has not been easy. My grandmother lost hair. She's lost sleep, she wasn't eating properly. I mean, Dawn has been there for thick and thin, to to keep her going. And you know, they had a great day yesterday, because it was my grandmother's birthday. And they went out for ice cream and a special lunch. And you know, she wore this necklace that I got for her. And you know, she It was a beautiful day. And Dawn sent me the pictures. But Don's been there through the dark times as well. And it has not been easy. And let me tell you, I testified It wasn't easy. For me. It was it was hard to make the decision to do it. And it was hard during and it was hard as Aftermath I was pacing around my block. It was not an easy thing. My 90 at that time. 94 year old grandmother did it. That right there should make anyone feel that they can stand up for themselves no matter what, because she did do it. And, and she wanted to do it. No one was telling her to do it. If anything other people are telling you don't really need this fight. And she told them, this is what I'm going to do.

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 42:39

Yeah, so it's empowering. It's a great lesson for me, you know, growing up, and I'm happy that my boys were able to see that we're able to see that. We don't take advantage of our great grandmother, and that you can step in yourself as the granddaughter and do the right thing. So it's a good life lesson for everybody.

Dr. Regina Koepp 42:59

And that you're never too old to fight for justice.

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 43:02

Absolutely. Yeah.

Dr. Regina Koepp 43:05

Now you are writing a book about your family experience and your experience. Tell us a little bit about this book and where you're hoping to take it?

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 43:13

Yeah, well, it's sort of, um, has become my life in many ways. I've always been a writer, I might, my background is English. And my degrees are in English. And I used to be a journalist. And basically what happened, this process took so long that it really just became a therapeutic project for me to start writing down what was happening, because so many crazy things were happening, I wanted to just keep track of all of it. But when you start that door, when you go through that door, I should say it can, it can lead to other things. And I just started really enjoying the writing. And I started taking a night class to become because I never really did creative writing, I did different kinds of writing. So I wanted to learn that, you know, how do I make this better. And so I would take a night class after working to try to refine the writing that I was doing, and ultimately turning it into a book. And that's what I'm doing right now. And it's not just about my grandmother's case and what she went through, but that is the heart of it. And my grandmother is the heart of it. But it goes back to my childhood and what it was like growing up with her and what it was like the larger family dynamics, even going back to how the wealth originated in the store that and and this idea of family, and money and legacy. Those are major themes within the book, and that's what I'm doing now. So it's exciting. It's fun and truthfully actually part of why I did it was my grandmother very early on said Cathy used to write stories. Maybe one day you'll write about this and you'll be able to tell me what went wrong. And that was so powerful. Because she thought like through writing, I would have enough distance to say, maybe this was a pitfall. Or maybe this is how this occurred. So that was really one of the impetus to write the story too, was my grandmother was so behind it and wanted me to do it. And she's been completely supportive of it through the process

Dr. Regina Koepp 45:21

Talk about legacy and mentorship and being a matriarch of a family that even in her hardship, and in her tragedy, she's encouraging you, and cultivating something in you that she values how special

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 45:38

Yeah, yeah. I'm eternally grateful.

Dr. Regina Koepp 45:42

I see that. And you talk about her with so much admiration and respect. It's really and I'm delighted to hear how you're talking about her and her resolve and empowerment. Lovely. Thank you.

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 45:57

Thank you.

Dr. Regina Koepp 45:58

What would you say to families who don't have millions of dollars, who are suspecting financial exploitation, or suspecting something might be amiss? What would you say?

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 46:10

Well, first, I'd say I didn't even realize there were millions of dollars. So, um, you know, I was saying to you earlier, the amount of money sensationalizes it it's what got her in the news. And it what it means initially grabs people like, Oh, this multimillionaire like that's interesting. You know, we all like to hear stories. And in the in HBO even like you watch that show succession. And it's always very interesting, where you see these very wealthy families that seem to have it all. And then you see, peel back the layers, and you see, actually, it's just so much dysfunction. And then you realize, Oh, well, like everyone has their problems. And that's just a universal tale that everyone gravitates toward. But what I love about this story is, is how it resonates with people. And it's not about the money, it is about abuse, and it's about standing up for oneself. And that is universal, this idea of people, older people being exploited, particularly by family members, and family members, hurting other family members, because they want certain amounts of money. And it can be $1, it could be $100, it could be a million dollars, it doesn't matter the amount of money. It's just greed and access and ability. And, and it's unbelievable how many people have shared with me their personal hardships and their personal stories. And what I think resonates with them in particular about my grandma's story is a lot of them say we didn't have the money to fight back, or it would have cost us more to take this to court, or to call in the police or to do what we had to do than to just let it go. But I'll never forget it, and I'll never forgive them. And it's something that they hold on to forever. And this idea that my grandma was able to stand up for herself. Its power, it's a powerful message to a lot of these people who feel that they themselves have been victimized, but had to turn the other cheek. And so it's really, it's been amazing. The response that my grandmother in particular has gotten and that I've gotten to when people hear that I'm writing a book about it, because it's helping people share their own experiences. And I guess, in some ways, feel that they too, are victorious through her victory, that they they had the same experiences and the same exploitation, but maybe they couldn't do anything about it and he or she could, and it warms their heart that she was able to triumph and bring it to light. A lot of people are embarrassed if they've been exploited and elder abuse - there's a lot of different kinds of elder abuse - I talked about this on my blog on my website, cathyschottenstein.comThere are sexual abuse, there's financial exploitation, there's mental abuse, there's physical abuse, there's a lot of different kinds of elder abuse. Most of it goes unreported. Though one element within elder abuse that is reported more than the rest is financial exploitation. Why? Well, maybe because they the the elder who has been exploited might not feel as much stigma about saying someone stole money which can be happened to anybody as much as if they were being physically abused behind closed doors or or anything else. So that is the more spoken about elder exploitation is the financial exploitation. But there are so many forms and they're often kept quiet and because Elder abuse victims are more likely than not abused by members of their own family. The family meant that the elder does not usually want to make waves and have to point a finger within their own family. It's painful for my grandmother to this day to know that this was her grandson's, who committed these crimes. And it was her son who took her jewelry. So it's hard to have to say that to the world. But what a lesson it is, because it's happened to so many other people. And maybe they didn't want to say it. But they've had this burden inside them, knowing that it happened to them. And here in her 90s, she said it did happen to her and she's not ashamed to admit it. And that's a life lesson for everyone of all ages.

Dr. Regina Koepp 50:49

Yeah. You mentioned just a minute ago where people can find you on your your website. Will you tell us that one more time?

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 50:57

Yeah, I have a website, cathyschottenstein.com. And there's various tabs at the top. And I have a blog that I update regularly. And I post a lot of the media coverage and this podcast, I'll put under podcasts under media. And it's it's been wonderful. It's it's basically the the segue to my book. A lot of people that are writing books tend to have a book website. And that's what this is, but it's actually become larger than that it's become I've created a newsletter and an elder abuse forum just because of the demand for it. The people the emails that I've been getting asking, this happened to me, where can I get help? You know, who can you give us some links that were important. Financial Crimes. A lot of people don't know that you have to go through FINRA. So I've been trying to just make it a wealth of information for people to be able to come onto that website and and get knowledge for themselves so that they can take action, if they have their own situations.

Dr. Regina Koepp 52:01

Excellent. Well, we'll we'll link to your website and drink. Thank you. Yes, of course. And we'll also include some links on if you're if if listeners are concerned about abuse and exploitation, we'll we'll put some links in the chat as well. And Cathy Schottenstein Pattap, thank you so much for being here today and sharing your family story and your story and the legacy of justice in your family. Hard work. Sounds like your great grandfather, grandfather, Father, you know, a long line of hard workers. And, and, and just in righteousness. The Justice said, thank you so much for for joining us. I also want to say my husband is fully bald and has never been to India. To tell your grandmother,

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 52:52

She's always said she's like, I don't think it had anything to do with India. But he always said it was because of the war in India. So I'll tell her that maybe it's not true. And my husband is on his way there as well, and also has never been to India.

Dr. Regina Koepp 53:09

So see two case studies.

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 53:12

Yes, yes. It's interesting. Maybe we should do a study on that. So thank you so much. It's my pleasure, and lovely to talk to you.

Dr. Regina Koepp 53:21

So good to talk to you. Thank you.

Cathy Schottenstein Pattap 53:24

Thank you.

Dr. Regina Koepp 53:26

I hope that the Schottenstein family experience and their willingness to share their story helps to remind you and guide you that if you're concerned about a client or a patient, or a family member who might be financially exploited or experiencing financial abuse, to take it seriously to pursue investigation. You don't necessarily have to be the one investigating might not be your job. But there are resources that can be helpful, and I will link to them in the show notes. Please take it seriously. Next week, I'll be interviewing Peter Lichtenberg, who is the founder of older adult nest egg.com and is a national expert in financial abuse and exploitation. Peter Lichtenberg shares tons of resources and information for families experiencing financial vulnerability. There are four financial vulnerability assessments on his website, and he's here to talk with us all about what we can do to be more mindful of financial vulnerability and resources for safeguarding against exploitation. This is a great episode for anybody really. So people who work with older adults, meaning professionals, older adults, themselves and family members who and caregivers who might be caring for older adults. So please join me next week. I know that you hear me say this every week. But if this is adding value, and you like what You've heard today, please take some time to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts and leave a review. subscriptions and reviews really do help. I'm not just saying that it really does help people to find this show and it's a free resource kind of a public health initiative. But I put on by myself, it's not funded. So please, please, your subscriptions and reviews really do help. Alright, I'll see you next week. Same time, same place. Bye for now.

Did you find value in this podcast episode?

Help others get access to the podcast by subscribing and leaving a review wherever you listen to podcasts.