Thomas Wierdsma, GEO prison exec, on losing end of civil suit by abused daughter in law
Back in February, our Alan Prendergast reported about allegations of intimidation and harassment against Thomas Wierdsma, a senior vice president for The GEO Group, which operates more than one-hundred prisons around the world. including the ICE detention center in Aurora.
The accuser: Wierdsma's daughter-in-law, who was recently awarded $1.2 million in a civil suit that named him and his son, a convicted abuser.
As Prendergast wrote, the allegations against Wierdsma stemmed from domestic violence charges filed against his son Charles by Charles's wife, Beatrix Szeremi, a Hungarian immigrant. The senior Wierdsma began eviction proceedings in Boulder to remove the couple from a house he owns. But in a counterclaim, Szeremi contended that the eviction process was intended "solely to retaliate, intimidate, harass and distress Ms. Szeremi, who he knows to be a witness in a criminal case(s) against his son."
Szermi alleged that Charles Wierdsma assaulted her, attempted to drown her, choked her and falsely imprisoned her. She obtained a temporary restraining order against him last summer (made permanent in October) and began divorce proceedings. Charles subsequently pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree assault and was sentenced to sixty days in jail and two years of probation. The Daily Camera notes that the younger Wierdsma has now served his time behind bars and is a free man.
According to Prendergast, Szeremi's complaint maintained that despite a no-contact order for Charles and his family, Thomas Wierdsma continued to contact her by phone and e-mail. The alleged goal was her eviction, with one e-mail reading: "I understand that you currently have no plans to move out of our home. I will be copying the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement with this and other information. As you know, I funded the legal work and processing fees for you to become a citizen, but am now disappointed in your actions which now require legal proceedings."
In her complaint, Szremi claimed that Wierdsma's "attempts to trigger a sham deportation proceeding" were "designed by him to interfere with her ability to testifty against his son" -- and late last month, the Camera reports, a jury agreed. Additionally, the $1.2 million earmarked for her includes awards for punitive damages that make it clear jurors considered Thomas Wierdsma to be even more culpable for the intimidation efforts than was his son. For Thomas, the dollar figure was set at $150,000, as opposed to $50,000 for Charles.
Neither of the Wierdsmas responded to interview requests from the Camera, which points out that Thomas is back in Florida, and back working for the GEO Group.
By the way, more than half the company's contracts in the United States are with the federal government.
More from our News archive: "Thomas Wierdsma, private prison exec, accused of seeking to deport daughter-in-law."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.
- Readers: Here's Why the NFL Won't Lift Its Marijuana Ban
- Celebrating the Ten Best Green Chile Places in Denver Right Now
- Denver Development: What Will Happen to Emily Griffth School on Prime City Block?