One Expensive Loophole

Fighting theft can cost a lot. Especially if it’s against the elderly.

That’s according to a bill that passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee today, with the intent to punish those in authority positions who steal from disabled or at-risk individuals.

According to testimonies, the measure would allow attorneys to prosecute theft when it is committed by relatives or assistants caring for an elderly person or disabled juvenile.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, and is expected to cost the state $3.1 million if passed. The measure has been touted as a way to fix a loophole in current state statutes that lets caretakers legally get away with using the victim’s funds for their own personal needs.

“This is a bill about protecting those who can’t protect themselves,” said Shelia Hicks, with the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition.

Attorney General John Suthers also testified that taking care of an individual does not entail a “blank check” to their life savings.

But despite concerns over fiscal impact, the bill was approved unanimously and sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“Good luck in Appropriations,” said one committee member to Sen. Spence after the vote. 

“Thanks,” Spence said. “We’ll need it.”

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at