CHARGES FILED IN THEFT AND ELDER ABUSE CASE
November 21, 2022
Denver, Colorado | By Brett Darken
Colorado District Attorney John Kellner (shown at left) has indicted Geraldo “Gerry” Salcedo for one count each of theft and elder abuse.
Salcedo, 58, is a resident of Lone Tree, Colorado and is accused of stealing from his 80-year old mother.
Salcedo is free on bond.
RARE CRIMINAL INDICTMENT
Individual estate and elder-fraud cases are rarely prosecuted. More than 2 million probates are opened every year in the USA. If just 1 percent are touched by fraud, that means that there are more than 20,000 cases of estate fraud.
An online search for “probate and estate indictments” will produce results showing less than 10 cases per year in the USA are criminally prosecuted. In short, victims of fraud have a less than 1-in-1000 chance of seeing their attackers prosecuted. This makes Kellner one of the rare law-enforcement officials willing to use their power to stop financial predators from targeting estates.
Kellner, a Republican and Marine Corps veteran, was elected Arapahoe County DA in 2020. Case records show that Kellner worked for months with Assistant District Attorney Stephen Fauver and investigator Brian Ahlberg to distill a mountain of details into the criminal complaint.
SALCEDO TARGETED HIS ELDERLY MOTHER
Prior to his indictment, Salcedo was a principal at SHREM, a real estate management company that serves the Denver and Aurora area. SHREM managed property that was owned by trusts, and real estate owned by Salcedo’s mother, Margarita.
One count of the indictment charges Salcedo with theft under Colorado code 18-4-401: Using SHREM company funds for his personal benefit, without the informed consent of SHREM owners.
The second count is tied to the first: Theft from an “at-risk” victim. The indictment claims that Salcedo “was acting in a position of trust, and… knew that the victim (his mother) was an at-risk person.”
Colorado’s legal code states that a person need not be deemed incompetent, disabled or incapacitated to be considered “at risk.” Colorado statute establishes that any person over 70 is automatically considered an “At Risk Elder” for legal purposes.
Crimes against At Risk Adults, and At Risk Elders are treated harsher, because these groups of people are more frail and unable to defend themselves.
TRILLIONS AT STAKE
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) defines fraud as “theft by deception.”
Unlike robbery or burglary, fraud is a relational “crime of the mind” and “crime of the heart” where financial predators often know their victims. Cases of fraud in trusts and estates often involve family members or trusted friends who use their position of trust to steal from their victims.
According to the site “centerforasecureretirement.com” the next 10-15 years will see Baby Boomers—those born between 1946 and 1964—transfer more than 60 trillion dollars in assets to their children and heirs. For thieves, cons and financial predators, the assets of this generation are tempting targets.
ELDER PREDATOR STOPPED
The Colorado case is similar to a story in Benzonia, Michigan, where the assets of an elderly couple were targeted by Robert Ellis, the boyfriend of the couple’s daughter. The couple had placed their life savings, including their home, into an irrevocable trust, and entrusted Ellis with their power of attorney (POA).
But family members and a local bank quickly saw that the boyfriend was draining money from the couple’s accounts. The problem was that according to Michigan trust law, only the predator with the POA could access the assets. The family seemed powerless to stop the thefts, or even audit the accounts.
The family turned to the sheriff, and the sheriff prevailed on a county judge to intervene. In a matter of weeks, the family and sheriff teamed with the local district attorney file charges to stop the boyfriend-turned-thief. More of the Michigan story can be read here:
PROTECTING THE ELDERLY
In the Ellis and Salcedo cases, the men had been entrusted with legal access to the accounts and assets of their targets. The evidence of the theft is detailed in the accounting, and the fraud component is that they hoodwinked their clients into believing that they were trustworthy. In fact, they were indicted for exploiting their client’s trust and using client money for their own benefit.
Because Salcedo is charged with targeting an “at risk” victim, the courts in Colorado automatically impose an “order of protection” on him. The goal of this order is to offer a victim an added layer of distance and protection from the indicted thief.
At his Thursday appearance before District court judge Lawrence Bowling, Salcido was represented by attorney Michael Sager, a criminal defense attorney from the firm of Adam Tucker, PC in Denver. The firm was contacted for comment about the Salcedo case, but no response was received.
Updates will be delivered when new information about the case is made public.
To report fraud in probates, trusts, estates and conservatorships, email email@example.com.
Brett Darken researches and writes about fraud in probates, trusts and estates.