A former recreational therapist at the state mental hospital and felons he supervised there have been implicated in an alleged federal tax-fraud scheme that netted $25,000 a month.
Although not indicted, Richard Gerald Madrid, who retired from the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo in December, is identified in court documents as one of 10 named members of the ongoing criminal enterprise.
The two-count indictment, issued March 16 by a Pueblo grand jury, does not state how long the fraud went on but says the alleged racketeering enterprise generated $25,000 a month.
The enterprise, accused of violating Colorado’s Organized Crime Control Act, also included Tyrone Jones, 44, who escaped from the institute Saturday, court documents state.
He was sent there while serving a prison sentence during which he claimed a genie ordered him to stab another inmate. Jones remains at large.
The indictment alleges that those involved in the tax-fraud scheme obtained the names and Social Security numbers of patients at the institute and filed false federal tax forms.
In the tax forms, those allegedly involved in the fraud falsely claimed some patients at the institute were dependents of other patients and then made claims for payment of the Earned Income Tax Credit. The credit is typically paid to low-income, working parents.
Checks stolen from mail
The enterprise had the tax credits mailed to others outside the institute, and the checks were stolen from their mail by other conspirators, the indictment states.
Three people were indicted last month, although officials said the investigation is continuing.
Among those indicted was Kenneth Fritz, 45, who in the summer of 2004 escaped from the institute after he was given special status to attend a family reunion in Cleveland. Fritz never showed up for the festivities.
After that 2004 escape, the treatment supervisors at the institute asked Arapahoe County District Judge James Marcum to change Fritz’s status to “unconditional release.” His clinical record shows that he had been found and sent to a jail in Bedford Heights, Ohio, and was supposed to be returned to Pueblo to face new criminal charges.
Marcum had sent Fritz to the institute after finding him innocent by reason of insanity in February 2003 of an escape charge involving violating the conditions of his parole.
The treatment supervisors stated in their letter to Marcum that Fritz, who has a long history of drug crimes, car thefts and escapes in Arapahoe County, “no longer suffers an abnormal mental condition which would be likely to cause him to be dangerous to himself, to others or to the community in the reasonably foreseeable future, and is capable of distinguishing right from wrong and has substantial capacity to conform his conduct to the requirements of law.”
Now authorities have no clue where Fritz is.
“He’s on the run, and all law enforcement is out trying to execute that warrant for his arrest,” said Pueblo’s district attorney, Bill Thiebaut.
The other two indicted were Raul Caraveo, 35, a patient at the institute, and Jenice Melonas of Colorado Springs.
Amassing of cash
The indictment does not detail the role of Madrid, who retired in December. He could not be reached for comment.
But the indictment does say Madrid allowed patients he supervised to amass more cash than they were permitted to have.
When asked if Madrid could be indicted or if he is cooperating with authorities, Thiebaut said, “That’s something I can’t say right now.”
Eunice Wolther, a spokeswoman for the institute, said she could not comment about the indictment or Madrid.
Other alleged members
Other alleged members of the enterprise include:
Gary Michael Hilton, committed to the institute in 1989 after he was found not guilty by reason of impaired mental condition of charges of robbery and kidnapping, among others.
Serial rapist Darrell Jones, 44, committed to the state hospital on what a report by an institute psychiatrist called “fabricated psychotic symptoms.” On May 8, 1978, a year after his commitment, Jones escaped and walked into a house two blocks from the institute and raped a woman who was eight months pregnant. He was found guilty of rape and sentenced to prison. His current status could not be determined Tuesday.
Convicted sex offender Jimmy Nieto, who was sent to the institute in 1994 as part of a plea bargain after he was accused of having sex with a 15-year-old girl.
Staff writer Christopher N. Osher can be reached at 303-954-1747 or email@example.com.