Jana Bergman, Housekeeper From Hell, Sentenced to 208 Years

It seems absurd that a crime in which the guilty party received a sentence in excess of two centuries would receive no media coverage until after the conviction.

But that appears to be the case with 33-year-old Jana Bergman, who was given a 208-year jolt for abusing an at-risk adult, among other related crimes.

The victim in the case, identified by the First Judicial District DA's Office as Jack Woods, 88, survived Bergman's very bad behavior — so why will she be going to jail for such a long stretch?

The explanation has everything to do with sentencing enhancers of the sort district attorney Pete Weir used to put away convicted pimp Robert Gonzales for 112 years in January.

According to the DA's office, the story began in early 2014, when Bergman answered Woods' ad for a housekeeper even though she was residing in Denver County Jail at the time.

Her status as an inmate didn't scare off Wood. He corresponded with Bergman by phone call and letters — and after she claimed to love him, he posted her bond and moved her into his Arvada home, the DA's office notes.

Over the next ten months, Bergman was arrested on numerous additional occasions, and each time, Woods bailed her out.

He's said to have spent a cumulative $12,000 in bond fees buying her freedom, and even used his house as collateral to get her out of stir on one occasion.

His efforts on her behalf don't appear to have won her affection. The DA's office reveals that she'd leave for days at a time when she was angry — and on November 10 of last year, her actions got physical.

Prosecutors say Bergman responded to an argument with Woods by pushing and kicking him down a set of stairs — and when he grabbed onto a railing in an effort to protect himself, she pulled at his arms so vigorously that some of his skin was torn off.

Bergman continued the assault once he reached the bottom of the stairs, the DA's office notes, before holding Woods down with her knee, snatching his wallet and keys and driving away in his car — but not before cutting off her ankle monitor and leaving it on a table.

In October, a jury found Bergman guilty of attempted manslaughter, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, robbery of an at-risk adult, theft of an at-risk adult and menacing. But the 208 year sentence wouldn't have been possible without five violent crime counts that served as sentence enhancers and four previous felony convictions. (She also has five additional cases pending in the metro area.) She was eventually sentenced as a habitual criminal.

Even Weir admits that the amount of time Bergman was given is unusual.

“This is an extraordinary sentence, but the brutal assault in Mr. Woods is almost beyond belief,” Weir's statement reads. "Over time, Jana Bergman preyed on this fragile, vulnerable man to get what she wanted, and when she was finished with him, she threw him down the stairs to get rid of him. Mr. Woods wanted to believe the best about Bergman and continued to try to help her. The trusting nature of our seniors is just another example of why our Elder Abuse Unit is so important.”

Even so, a 208-year sentence can't help but draw attention, just as did Robert Gonzales's 112-year punishment for pimping a foster child. A juror in that case thought the sentence was excessive, particularly in comparison with other cases.

The same month Gonzales got a century-plus, Richard Dolin was sentenced to 26 years for the brutal death of his baby daughter. And in August, Christopher Baker got fourteen years for sexually molesting his own three-year-old daughter and then strangling his best friend, reportedly after an argument over a pizza.

Here's a larger look at Bergman's booking photo.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts