The 2020 Barbara F. Kishpaugh Elder Advocate Award was presented to Bexar County Probate Court No. 2 Judge Veronica Vasquez. This annual award recognizes outstanding service by an individual to the elderly members of our community. Judge Vasquez was recognized and honored for her work in creating and leading the newly formed Elder Fraud and Exploitation Task Force, with State Senator Jose Menendez, to address impediments to the successful prosecution of crimes against the elderly.
Upon taking the bench of Probate Court No. 2 in January of 2019, Judge Veronica Vasquez began to notice there were too many examples of perpetrators not being charged or held accountable for their crimes against the elderly. Judge Vasquez recognized that the various agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution of elder fraud were all dedicated and wanted to make a difference, but that what was needed was to bring these different stakeholders together, clarify the common vision, identify ways the different agencies could communicate better with one another, find ways to speak the same language and work together to successfully prosecute crimes against the elderly. Senator Menendez shares a similar passion for protecting the elderly of our community and thus, Judge Vasquez and Senator Menendez joined together to co-chair the newly formed Elder Fraud and Exploitation Task Force. Some of the many stakeholders in this task include the District Attorney’s Office, the San Antonio Police Department, Adult Protective Services, the Office of the Attorney General, a Geriatric Psychiatrist, local banks and probate and guardianship attorneys.
The agencies are now working more closely together and planning regular meetings to discuss crimes against the elderly in order to make sure offenders do not slip through the cracks. They are also working together to speak a common language when it comes to the investigation, documentation and gathering of evidence necessary for prosecution. Our community is truly grateful for the work of Senator Menendez and Judge Vasquez.