Two charged in theft from at-risk man

AMBER NICOLE WADE-WYATT

A Nucla woman, who along with her husband is suspected of stealing money from an elderly disabled man who had hired her as a caretaker, is facing felony charges.

Amber Nicole Wade-Wyatt, 33, and Alan Keith Sparks Jr., 30, are both accused of theft from an at-risk person, unlawful use of a financial transaction device and theft in connection with the allegations, according to court records.

A Wells Fargo employee made a report in March that he believed the 70-year-old man might be the victim of financial abuse. The elderly man the same day called the bank to ask about his debit card, which had been turned off because of suspicious activity.

A Grand Junction police officer followed up on the report and met the elderly man at his apartment, which was in poor condition.

The man, who is confined to a wheelchair, had been living at Mesa Manor before leaving against medical advice and suffering a stroke, leaving him with trouble communicating. The man told police that a total of $3,743 in fraudulent charges had been made using his debit card since a few weeks earlier, when he hired a person whom he referred to as "Amber Nicole" as a caretaker. The man said he gave the woman his debit card to buy him groceries and a piece of furniture, the report said.

Instead, police found on the man's debit card statement several ATM withdrawals and cash-back charges at grocery stores.

There were also charges for a website called "FriendFinder Network," and for products called "Elite Body" and "Healthy Living," according to the affidavit.

Police linked some of the online charges to Wade-Wyatt and Sparks, who were at one point living in Naturita, the affidavit said.

Surveillance footage from a Walmart allegedly showed the couple and a third person buying a TV and a grocery cart full of household items using the 70-year-old's card, the report said.

Wade-Wyatt was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of theft from an at-risk person and other charges. She was released Wednesday on a personal-recognizance bond by Mesa County Judge Michael Grattan.

Sparks was arrested and released on identical charges last month.

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