Colorado's New Elder Abuse Law Results in Indictment

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According to an article in the Boulder Daily Camera, five men have been indicted by a state grand jury after an investigation into an alleged asphalt paving scam that targeted the elderly.

Officials say the case — a joint investigation by the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office — is the first to be prosecuted under the state’s new elder abuse law.

Rickey Gene Fite, 29; his father, Rickey Dean Fite, 55; Rodney Jackson, 54; Emanuel Broadway, 55; and Michael Sullivan, 56, were each indicted by a grand jury on 66 counts as part of what officials have dubbed “Operation Steamroller.”

The charges include violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act and various other counts including money laundering, felony theft and tax evasion, according to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

The five men are accused of traveling through Colorado and the western U.S. and running a paving scheme that targeted seniors, according to a news release.

Investigators say the men approached elderly homeowners claiming that they had excess asphalt or other home repair materials from a nearby job and offering work for a “great deal,” sometimes starting work without the homeowners’ permission.

The men then charged hugely inflated prices, according to prosecutors. The Attorney General’s Office said in one case a man paid $24,000, and a 94-year-old woman paid $8,300 for work valued at $1,500. In some cases, prosecutors say, Rickey Gene Fite used intimidation and, in one instance, injured an elderly man after hitting him with his truck.

The ring is alleged to have operated in rural areas and neighborhoods of Arapahoe, Boulder, Delta, Jefferson, Larimer, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray and Weld counties.

“What’s alleged here is obviously very serious and very far-reaching,” Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said.

Deputy District Attorney Jane Walsh, who heads up the office’s community protection division, said reports of the scam first started coming into her office last summer, and prosecutors began working with the Sheriff’s Office to track down the suspects.

“When we see behavior that we believe is criminal and that appears to be targeting a significant number of seniors covering a widespread area, clearly we make that a priority to pursue the people involved,” Walsh said. “When this type of allegation is made, we feel it’s important that it is fully investigated and that if appropriate, it is prosecuted, and anyone deliberately targeting the elder population is held accountable.”

The case is the first that will be prosecuted under the state’s recently enacted elder abuse law, which legally considers elders to be at-risk adults and increases penalties. The Colorado Organized Crime Control Act charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 24 years.

“Elder fraud has really been a focus for us, and it is a very common problem in BoulderCounty because we have a large population of seniors, and we’ve seen a lot of cases of people trying to defraud them,” Garnett said. “There’s been a lot of changes in the Legislature giving us the tools that we need to go after this type of problem.”

Rickey Gene Fite was booked into the Boulder County Jail on Friday after appearing there on a separate legal matter, and Rickey Dean Fite and Jackson are in custody in Oklahoma. Broadway and Sullivan remain at large, and anyone who sees them is asked to call 911.

Jackson and Sullivan were arrested in BoulderCounty last year in a similar case involving a paving scheme.