Herrera Brings Suit Against Elder Financial Abuser

San Francisco Public Guardian’s Conservatorship of 73-Year-Old Victim Enables Innovative Civil Action on Victim’s Behalf for Abuse, Fraud and Neglect

City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed an innovative civil action for elder financial abuse in San Francisco Superior Court on Monday, charging San Francisco landlord Basilio Fabbri, 42, with a chilling and elaborate history of intimidation, abuse and physical violence that defrauded a 73-year-old former co-worker and tenant of at least $53,000 over the last twelve months. An additional attempt by Fabbri to bully his victim into withdrawing $33,000 as a “loan” for the purchase of a Porsche automobile was initially thwarted by Burlingame Police last April, triggering an investigation by San Francisco authorities that led to the City Attorney’s lawsuit.

Fabbri’s victim is currently under the conservatorship of the Public Guardian, a division of San Francisco’s Department of Aging & Adult Services that frequently serves as the court-ordered conservator to San Franciscans with physical or mental limitations that render them unable to handle their basic personal and financial needs.

“Elder financial abuse like that perpetrated by Mr. Fabbri typifies the most despicable and parasitic form of fraud plaguing our seniors today,” Herrera said. “These deplorable wrongs exploit our society’s most vulnerable citizens. San Francisco should not tolerate the elder financial abuse of its residents. These cases must be pursued with the most aggressive civil remedies available.”

Herrera’s civil suit results from months-long investigation by the newly-created Financial Abuse Specialist Team — or “FASTeam” — comprised of the Offices of the City Attorney, District Attorney, Public Guardian, Adult Protective Services and Police Department. The FASTeam serves to facilitate the most rapid, effective and coordinated response possible when cases of elder financial abuse are reported in San Francisco.

“San Francisco’s FASTeam was envisioned as an innovative, multidisciplinary vehicle to enable the City to aggressively pursue those who seek to exploit seniors for their own financial gain,” Herrera said. “Our lawsuit against Mr. Fabbri represents an important first step in fulfilling that vision, and we anticipate taking still further actions in the weeks and months ahead as we begin to roll back the tide of elder financial abuse in San Francisco.”

Herrera added: “I’m enormously grateful to my office’s Neighborhood and Community Services Division Chief, Aleeta Van Runkle; Chief of Litigation Jo Hoeper; Deputy City Attorney Ingrid Evans; Senior Investigator Janelle Janisse and Executive Aide Kyri McClellan for their commitment to this critical issue.”

San Francisco’s legal action seeks compensatory, general, punitive and exemplary damages from Fabbri, in addition to treble damages and penalties as allowed by law, attorneys’ fees and other costs for investigation and the Public Guardian’s own services. If successful, Fabbri may be ordered to pay his victim double damages under the Probate Code; pre-judgment and post-judgment interest at the maximum legal rate; and return of all wrongfully obtained monies and property.

The case filed in San Francisco Superior Court on December 15, 2003 is CGC03427302.