By Jeff Todd
BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – The family of a couple involved in an elderly exploitation case says the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office shouldn’t have been so quick to dismiss the case.
“It has affected a huge amount of people. There’s no justice for us at all,” said LaVinia Reneau, the daughter of Frank and Lavinia Reno.
Family members started contacting Lafayette police and Adult Protective Services in the spring of 2016. They were concerned that Julie Steenhoek had moved into the home with nefarious intentions.
“She weaseled her way in very slowly, very methodically. It was over about two or three years. I started finding out she was taking over her finances, their health decisions, things like that,” Reneau said.
Frank Reno has Alzheimer’s disease and hasn’t been able to help investigators. An emergency injunction was issued during the summer of 2016 to stop the sale of the Reno’s home.
“She was about ready to sell the house take all the money from the house and move my mom and dad down to Arizona,” Reneau said.
Steenhoek was charged with a felony count of at-risk exploitation. At the end of December, the case was dismissed by the district attorney’s office. The dismissal form states, “The victim is deceased, and the defendant has renounced any right to inherit under the terms of the victim’s trusts and/or estate. In these circumstances, the People felt that it is in the interests of justice to dismiss the case without prejudice.”
Reneau says there are more victim’s than just her mother.
“My dad is still alive he needs to be cared for. There was theft. She sold a ton of stuff of my parents, my parents’ personal belongings, and I believe she had a hand in the death of my mom,” Reneau said.
Reneau says she has not been told by prosecutors why the case was dropped.
Numerous requests by CBS4 for an interview with the lead prosecutor were denied.
“I think it just sends the message that, ‘Hey, if you want to take advantage of elderly and weak people that are desperate and in need, you go ahead and do it.’” Reneau said.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.