- Associated Press - Thursday, November 5, 2015

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The district attorney in Las Vegas is responding to cases involving crimes against people 60 and over by assigning a team of prosecutors to handle them.

The move this week followed the submittal of almost 100 cases from police in the Las Vegas area that qualified for elder abuse prosecution in 2014 and the first half of 2015, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said in a statement.

Sheri “Sugar” Vogel, director of the Southern Nevada Senior Law Program in Las Vegas, said Thursday that many cases involve victims who know their abuser, and authorities believe just one out of five cases gets reported.

“Seniors are easy prey,” Vogel said. “Unfortunately, many of the abusers are family members or caregivers.”

Wolfson called aging people some of the community’s most vulnerable citizens, and said crimes against them can devastate families and have far-reaching effects in the community.

Crimes can include physical and mental abuse, neglect, isolation and financial exploitation, Wolfson said. Criminals might loot a victim’s bank accounts, steal belongings or property, fail to meet basic medical needs, and isolate the victim to hide the crime.

Nevada state law classifies elderly people as older than 60.

Audrie Locke, spokeswoman for the district attorney, said the prosecution team will have deputies who can recognize and handle elder abuse cases from beginning to end.

The new unit brings to 10 the number of prosecutorial teams in the Las Vegas district attorney’s office. Others are special victims and sex crimes, domestic violence, gangs, weapons, vehicular crimes, fraud, bad checks, major violators and drugs.

Wolfson said giving responsibility for elder abuse cases to two deputy district attorneys won’t affect his office budget.

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