Notifications can be turned off anytime in the browser settings.
An elderly Arvada man hired a caretaker who was in jail, who proceeded to swindle him for $20,000 dollars and almost killed him, by pushing him down the stairs of his home and stomping on his head.
An elderly Arvada man hired a caretaker from jail, who proceeded to swindle him for $20,000 dollars and almost killed him, by pushing him down the stairs of his home and stomping on his head.
In November, Jana Bergman was sentenced to 208 years in prison for attacking 88-year-old Jack Woods.
While Woods’ story is horrific, it’s not unusual or rare.
A MATCH MADE IN … JAIL
In late 2013, Woods posted an ad in the paper looking for someone to help around the house.
“I needed a housekeeper and a cook, a companion that I could talk to and not be lonely, because this house is awful big to live in by myself,” Woods said.
According to court records, 32-year-old Bergman responded from jail. She wrote and called Woods. Telling him he was handsome, she didn’t care about their age difference and that she was a “care provider in every sense of the title.”
After a number of calls and jail house letters, Woods bailed Bergman out of jail and she came to live in his Arvada home in early 2014.
Bergman had a long criminal history with multiple felonies, including fraud, drugs and forgery. But despite that, Woods wanted to help.
“I had a little problem with the law back in my early teen years, nobody helped me,” Woods said. “I had a little feeling for her. Nobody was helping her either. I took up the position that I needed to help her.”
Over the months that Bergman lived with Woods, he would bail her out of jail two more times, buy her a car and give her spending money.
Woods is close to his family, including his daughter Lynn Copra.
But Woods repeatedly hid Bergman from Copra. Until she finally learned someone was living at the house, met Bergman and asked her to leave.
“I didn’t realize how attached, how much she had conned him, she had him believing that she loved him,” Copra said. “She had him believing she knew how to talk to him, she knew how to talk to an elderly man to get what she wanted.”
But in October of 2014, Bergman started packing. She and Woods got into an argument and she pushed him down the stairs. She’d go on to stomp on Woods’ head. The extensive injuries nearly killed the 88-year-old who also had a stroke in the hospital.
Even though Bergman was prohibited from contacting Woods, she called him from jail while awaiting trial, asking him not to tell anyone she’d called and told him she still loved him.
NO ONE CAN BAIL HER OUT NOW
In November, a Jefferson County judge sentenced Bergman to 208 years in prison for multiple crimes against Woods.
Candice Werth prosecuted the case for the First Judicial District Attorney’s office. Werth is a senior deputy in the Jefferson County DA’s office.
“This is one of the worst cases of elder abuse I’ve seen, or of abuse of anyone,” Werth said. “The type of abuse is extensive. This is an area of crime that’s on the rise.”
Pete Weir is the District Attorney for the First Judicial District.
“Many of the virtues of the older adults have now turned into their vulnerabilities,” Weir said. “The investigation and prosecution of elder abuse is where we were 30 years ago with respect to domestic violence. It’s an area where far more offenses are occurring, but we’re just now being sensitized to the extent of it and the complexity of both the investigation and prosecution of it.”
Weir said the state and the federal government should be putting more resources into elder abuse.
“I think we would start by having specialized units in law enforcement agencies. Just as we have domestic violence units in many police agencies, we have child abuse experts in many police agencies. These cases often times include complex financial investigations, so you have to have expertise in that area,” Weir said.
Rena Kuberski spends her days advocating for the elderly. She is the manager of Aging and Adult Program Services for Jefferson County Human Services.
Kuberski said one of the biggest issues that needs to be worked out is emergency placement for abused adults, similar to children’s foster care.
“For me, at the state level, they should be hiring somebody to develop placements for people,” Kuberski said. “The focus is what can we do to keep people at home, and sometimes we can’t do that. Then we have to look for other things.”
In 2017, one in four adults in Colorado will be over 60.
And while Colorado doesn’t fund Adult Protection on nearly the level of Child Protection, Colorado Department of Human Services says the state is making strides to help the elderly.
Including the passing of legislation in the last couple of years making it mandatory for some service providers to report elder abuse.
Since the mandate became law in 2014, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office alone received over 700 reports. Not all of them turned into criminal prosecutions, but Weir said he expected that number to go up.
Rep. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, is sponsoring a bill this legislative session that allows prosecuting attorney to automatically video-record the deposition of victims of elder abuse. HB16-1027 will help preserve victim’s testimonies in cases where they are not able to testify in court.
“The way I see it, we have the greatest generation that has answered the call time after time and the virtues that define them are what people are attacking,” Danielson said. “We have to fight against that.”
The bill unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee this week and moves on to the house floor.
JACK’S LIFE NOW
Woods says he’s out $20,000 and he’s not hiring anyone else without his daughter’s help.
After sitting at sentencing and watching Bergman being hauled away to serve the 208 years for nearly killing him, Woods said that sentence was too much.
“After all, I’ve got feelings for her yet,” he said, “I had feelings all along for her, or I wouldn’t let her come back to my house so many times as I did.”
The Denver Regional Council of Governments has information on their Network of Care website.
The Denver District Attorney’s Office does presentations all over the community to help people understand the dangers of elder abuse, and who is mandated to report it.
If you’re interested in the presentation, please contact Maro Casparian, the Director of Consumer Protection at 720-913-9036 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To sign up for monthly fraud and scam bulletins, send Casparian an email with subject line “subscribe.”
The Jefferson County District Attorney’s office offers those presentations as well. Cary Johnson presents free Power Against Seminars for seniors, including elder abuse and mandatory reporting. He runs our Fraud Hotline: 303-271-6980.