Man: Bad roommates preyed on my disability

LAKEWOOD - For eighteen months after his mother passed away, Tom Kaluza lived alone in the condo they shared.

"I felt lonely; I felt alone," Kaluza said.

That's when he met Ricky Trippy and Leeann Michelle Parkin. Kaluza, who lives with cerebral palsy and is partially deaf, needed a roommate.

"So, what happened was, they said, 'we could be your roommate,'" Kaluza said.

The deal was $125 per week for a spare bedroom. Over ten weeks, Kaluza said they paid only a fraction. When Kaluza asked them for more, they refused.

"It made me felt sad. It made me felt angry. It made me feel angry more than anything else," Kaluza said. "Because of my cerebral palsy I cannot fight whatsoever."

The property is actually owned by Kaluza's sister, Lori Vinh, which meant she had to fight for him.

"They just said, 'well, we're not leaving.' And so that's when I began the process through the legal system," she said. "It's been the most stressful, frustrating process I have ever been through."

They never had a written lease, instead the agreement was through an oral contract, making the situation difficult to sort out.

In October, they decided that Trippy and Parkin would be out by November 2. That turned into the 3rd. As of the 17th, Trippy and Parkin were still there.

Neither Parkin nor Trippy agreed to be interviewed.

"It happens more often than most people realize," said Mary Rymer, the executive director of The Arc of Colorado, an advocacy organization for those with disabilities.

She said people with intellectual or physical disabilities are victimized at a startlingly high rate.

"In many cases people with developmental disabilities live in very isolated situations and often times are lonely," she said. "Unfortunately, there are some bad apples who use those overtures as a way to exploit people."

Vinh said she spent hundreds of dollars and several hours trying to force Trippy and Parkin to leave her brother's home.

"It has just been so stressful," Vinh said.

Trippy and Parkin were formally evicted Wednesday. The couch is torn. The carpet is stained. Kaluza is relieved.

"Now I have my freedom back," Kaluza said.

Trippy has a history that includes prior eviction, and a criminal record with charges for harassment, stalking, and domestic violence. Kaluza says he knew nothing about Trippy's record.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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