Richard Straw: Beatings, threats, bank-account looting of at-risk adult equals 28-year sentence

Richard Straw.
Richard Straw.

This week, Richard Straw, 56, received a 28-year sentence for second-degree assault and theft from a sixty-year-old woman identified as an at-risk adult due to multiple sclerosis.

But the length and breadth of Straw's crimes can't be fully understood without a look at an arrest-warrant document -- a parade of terror with some unlikely heroes: bank employees.

The Richard Straw arrest affidavit notes that back in early February, the Denver District Attorney's Office received a referral from Wells Fargo. Turns out employees at the 17th Street branch were concerned that the woman in question was being exploited by Straw, whose record included a conviction for criminal impersonation. He was jailed on a probation violation in December and released in January.

On February 3, officers encountered Straw, who was so soused he had to be taken to detox, and a woman with facial injuries she said had come as the result of a car accident. But she subsequently changed her tune, telling them that Straw had been responsible for the wounds that had raised the suspicion of Wells Fargo employees.

According to the affidavit, the woman said Straw made her "take out four 'pay day loans'" at the bank; he allegedly allowed her to keep only $10 in quarters for laundry. She added that Straw "threatened to kill me, my family, my neighbors and Richard, the manager of my apartment" if she didn't cooperate, and frequently used her ATM to withdraw more money.

And if she objected? The woman said that "Straw would get real angry with her and push his chest up into her face and knock her over," thereby taking cruel advantage of her MS, which impacted her balance. She noted that Straw punched her under her ribs and kicked her in the shins "where people could not see any injuries." When an investigator asked if Straw had hit her more than 25 times since his release from jail, she answered that he'd exceeded that number on February 2 alone.

As if more evidence of Straw's behavior was needed, officers were able to access fifteen to twenty cell-phone voicemail messages featuring alleged Straw statements like, "I'm going to kill you bitch, I am going to beat you [down]," "I'm going to kill everyone in your building, I'm going to get a gun and shoot you," and "I am getting out of here in a couple of hours and I am going to kill you."

Now, Straw won't be able to make good on these threats -- and thanks for that is owed in part to Wells Fargo employees like Kyle Kopperman, Donald Bedard Jr., Cynthia Sprague and Madison Strouse, all of whom shared their concerns with authorities, as documented in the affidavit.

A certain at-risk adult is undoubtedly grateful.


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