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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Appointed by Governor Charlie Baker and running for the position in November 2020 as a Republican, Norfolk County Sheriff Jerome P. McDermott made a visit to the Tolles Parsons Center to speak to seniors about the inmate population and scams that target people in their age group.
McDermott lives in Westwood, but has a brother in Wellesley. He acknowledged that while Wellesley is an incredibly safe town, “We do get some customers from Wellesley. We’ve had a few guests from Wellesley at our hotel.”
McDermott acknowledged that it was the opioid crisis that was causing such havoc in Norfolk County, at one point calling the Dedham County Jail “the biggest detox in the county.” When questioned about the detox process in the jail, McDermott spoke of the new MAT (Medicated Assistance Treatment), which will introduce drugs like methadone and suboxone into the prisons. This is risky, as the jails have fought so hard to keep drugs outside of their walls, especially because of the currency they would become; but McDermott said they are trying the new system because so many inmates were dying of overdoses after getting out of jail, going cold turkey, then using the same dose of heroin they had before.
They are also trying to do their best to make sure that when the inmates leave prison, the low-risk offenders that need help have MassHealth, a place to stay, as well as a job.
At one-point McDermott spoke of the jobs they have landed former inmate at large hardware stores. “I don’t think they’re giving the guys the job of cutting the keys,” he joked.
But while the opioid epidemic plays the largest role in what McDermott has to deal with on a day-to-day basis, he wanted the seniors to know how sophisticated and dangerous the scam artists that target them have become.
“The scam artists are a whole different group of people,” he warned. “They could be overseas; they could be really good with technology.”
The seniors were given a packet titled “Ten Things You Can do to Avoid Fraud,” as well as a large booklet from the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection titled “Money Smart for Older Adults: Resource Guide.” Then, McDermott relayed a few stories of the scams he has seen, and the signs people should have picked up on that something was amiss.
McDermott spoke of a math tutor who was given a check for far more money than she was supposed to receive. The woman was asked to wire the difference back to the issuers, only to find out when she went to the police that the check wasn’t real and that she would be out of the money she wired to the scammers.
He also mentioned a technique that arises when the weather is nice, in which an offender speaks to an elderly woman gardening while their literal partner in crime sneaks around back and robs the house.
In November, residents of Norfolk County will have a chance to vote for McDermott or one of his many challengers for the sheriff seat.