EXCLUSIVE: Bridge House break-in puts homeless clients at risk for identity theft; was it an inside job?

DONATING TO A NONPROFIT IS NOT THE SAME AS HELPING THE HOMELESS

By Max R. Weller

Read the story here — to be published as soon as I’ve finished my inquiries to Boulder PD and the Daily Camera newspaper.

I first heard about this crime while riding the SKIP bus down to King Soopers last week; I simply listened in on a loud conversation between a couple of homeless men, one of whom is in the taxpayer-funded Ready to Work program operated by Bridge House. According to these two, somebody broke into the Bridge House facility at 1120 1/2 Pine, possibly over the weekend of 6/20 and 6/21, gaining easy access to homeless clients’ birth certificates and other sensitive paperwork kept in unlocked file cabinets, then trashing the place. I was skeptical, because unfounded rumors are rampant among the homeless population who choose to segregate themselves from the broader community here in Boulder, CO.

I could find no confirmation of this story in the local news media last week, and there is still none as of this morning. I have sent an e-mail to Erica Meltzer of the Daily Camera, who wrote the last story published by the DC concerning Bridge House, asking if she has heard anything about it.

I looked at the Boulder Police Blotter for 6/20 and 6/21, but could find no mention of a break-in at 1120 1/2 Pine. I’m attempting to contact Kim Kobel, Boulder PD Public Information Officer, to check on whether anyone from Bridge House reported a break-in and vandalism occurring at that facility.

What revived my interest in this story was an independent second source I spoke to on Saturday morning. His details matched up with those from the Ready to Work guy, so now I’m a believer. He also added that computers were stolen during the break-in, and he remarked that Bridge House policy is to avoid calling the police whenever possible. Hmmm . . .

Obviously, identity theft is the main concern here, but poor security and a possible cover-up by Bridge House staff are also in play. I’m wondering if it might have been an inside job; convicted rapist Jim Budd is NOT the only very sketchy homeless person to be employed at this nonprofit over the years.

Posted 6/30/2015:

I’m informed that Public Information Officer Kim Kobel is currently on medical leave from Boulder PD, and I haven’t heard back from Erica Meltzer with the Daily Camera. So, I’ll go with what I have now, and may edit it later . . .

There’s an obscure legal concept called misprision. I learned about this as a private citizen back in my old hometown in Missouri, after discovering that the mayor and city council had failed to report the city collector’s embezzlement of thousands of dollars of city funds to the police. In that way, they kept it out of the local newspaper — until I blew the whistle with the help of a couple of remorseful (and anonymous) city officials. In its broadest sense, misprision is the failure to report a crime one knows about, but is not a party to having committed (NOT to be confused with abetting a crime). It’s almost never prosecuted, because one of the elements necessary for conviction on misprision is that the actual perpetrator of the crime must first be convicted; it’s hard to imagine any prosecutor who would pursue a case past that favorable outcome in terms of justice.

As an aside, it was fascinating to listen to an old country lawyer explain it all to me, ignorant layman that I am.

Presuming that matters in the case of the Bridge House break-in are as they seem to be right now, it’s safe to say that those in charge at that nonprofit are guilty of wrongdoing beyond poorly serving their homeless clients. One of those in charge is a board member who has assumed a role almost as prominent in the public eye as the executive director — and he enjoyed a long career in law enforcement, so it boggles the mind that he wouldn’t contact detectives at Boulder PD immediately upon discovering the break-in and vandalism at 1120 1/2 Pine.

What about the perpetrator? Do those in charge at Bridge House have any idea who it is? Perhaps a disgruntled current or former employee who seized the opportunity to gain access to birth certificates and other sensitive information that could be used for purposes of identity theft? At this point, with any chance to gather evidence long gone, questions like these may never be answered.

Of course, that’s not my purpose here. My aim, as always, is to hold those who run the nonprofits accountable for what they do and/or fail to do.

Isabel McDevitt, George Epp, et al should be profoundly ashamed of themselves. Their “charity” rakes in millions and millions of dollars each and every year, yet they’ve never installed the most basic and relatively inexpensive security measures at Bridge House. WTF? Then, when a break-in and vandalism occur, their reaction is to cover it up and hope to avoid bad publicity.

Isabel and George, guess what? You’ve failed to keep it hidden. Word was all over the street before I heard about this crime, listening to the conversation of a Ready to Work guy as we rode together on the SKIP bus. I can’t resist adding that you two are clearly NOT the sharpest minds in Boulder, CO.

So, sue me for pointing it out . . .

I’ll continue to gather more info in the days to come, and update this post as needed.

BTW, there are those who will continue to support Isabel and George:

Nixon%20thumbs%20up

Addendum 7/1/2015: See the Boulder Police Blotter and Call Logs for yourself; I can find nothing about the break-in and vandalism at Bridge House around the weekend of 6/20 and 6/21. However, the horse has long since left the barn — the “horse” being knowledge that a crime occurred at 1120 1/2 Pine.

BTW, Erica Meltzer at the Daily Camera has e-mailed a reply to me, in which she indicates that she will also be looking for a police report in this case. It would be very interesting if she confronts Bridge House staff, but they’ve likely been coached to deny, deny, deny . . .

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