Elder Financial Abuse, Grand Theft by Fraud Charges Filed Against 55-Year-Old Contra Costa County Man

August 17, 2016 10:03 am · 14 comments

The Contra Costa District Attorney has filed three felony counts of grand theft by fraud and one felony count of Elder Financial Abuse against 55-year-old Ward Steven Caldwell, also known as Bruce Harmon also known as Bruce Goodrich.

The following is from the CoCo County District Attorney’s Office:

Caldwell is also charged with penalty enhancements for losses exceeding $150,000 and an aggravated white collar enhancement for committing financial crimes on two or more people with total losses over $100,000. Additional Charges are pending after several more victims were discovered.

In September 2015, Caldwell befriended the first victim, a widowed hairdresser, by portraying himself as a successful investor and promising to double her money. Caldwell told her that he had a business partner named Junior in Las Vegas who invested in strip joints, casinos and TV commercials. Over a three-month period in 2016, the victim gave Caldwell a total of $139,500.

The second victim met Caldwell at a car wash in Walnut Creek. Caldwell struck up a conversation about the car she was driving and offered to help her sell her first car. Caldwell convinced her to invest $30,000 in a business deal where investors would buy a Bugatti Chiron and sell it for a large profit.

The third victim is a 90-year-old woman from Lafayette. She met Caldwell at the Grace Presbyterian Church in Walnut Creek. The victim thought Caldwell was an honest person because she read in the church newsletter that Caldwell had donated $150,000 to the church. In reality, Caldwell had given the pastor two checks totaling $150,000 and told him to hold the checks until Caldwell told him that he had received some settlement money that would make the checks good. The elderly victim gave Caldwell a total of $171,200.

DA Investigators and accountants found that Caldwell had used the investment money for personal expenses and none of it went to any investments. They also found two potential victims in Contra Costa, Alameda County and one victim in Butte County. Those cases are under investigation.

Defendant was arrested last Sunday at the Grace Presbyterian Church and is being held in Custody on a $505,000 bail. The District Attorney’s office believes there may be other victims at the church and defendant may have befriended other elders living at assisted living facilities.

Barbosa August 17, 2016 at 10:21 AM

A Claycord regular is gonna jump in here and say boil him. I’d say he should be skinned and then boiled.

Anonymous August 17, 2016 at 10:30 AM

This is a horrid, awful man. Democrats have all but eliminated prison so it’s probably probation for him.

idiot hater August 17, 2016 at 10:41 AM

Hang the SOB.

For heavens Sake August 17, 2016 at 11:09 AM

To use a house of God to scam good people will result in an extra hot piece of real estate in Hell. Disgusting humanoid.

Unsympathetic August 17, 2016 at 11:24 AM

The victims are just as greedy as the scammer.

kyle_68 August 17, 2016 at 11:28 AM

Way to generalize #2, you are ridiculous, not surprised you hide behind “Anonymous “. Fool.

Anon August 17, 2016 at 11:39 AM

There are many wolves that prey on nice people that go to church. I was terribly taken advantage of by a group of th. Those wolves who seemed so sincere and changed by the Lord’s work in their hearts – and always seemed so appreciative for the financial help they always seemed to need. I found later that they had just lied to take my money. Please, please be careful if you are prone to help those around you because your good heart is just a signal to wolves to come in for the kill.

Original G August 17, 2016 at 11:40 AM

This happens often and unfortunately many are too embarrassed to report it.
An with Government being more intrusive when the elderly have someone manage their banking and bill paying many are reluctant to take that step leaving them vulnerable.

District Attorney and the Court need to use this case to send a Very Strong message to criminals. Hope AB-109 will not affect sentencing on these charges.

Incognito August 17, 2016 at 12:21 PM

What a dirt roll.

That's what she said August 17, 2016 at 12:31 PM

Like a 90 yr old has all their wits about them. Lonely and welcoming attention. I hope unsympathetic lives to be a lonely 90 yr old.

anonamiss August 17, 2016 at 4:23 PM

What a bottom dweller. Sadly, there are those that assume that because someone is attending their Church it must mean that they are honest, decent and would never exploit anyone for financial gain. This is abhominable.
Families need to keep their eyes out for new friends in their elderly parents lives. This is not always possible I know and parents might feel that they are still independent and in no need of assistance.
I hope that this man never sees the light of day again. 🙁

Concord Kate August 17, 2016 at 4:49 PM

Scamming the elderly AND doing so through church affiliation. A double dose of hell for this guy.

Bird lover August 17, 2016 at 11:03 PM

That is terrible! I feel bad for everyone involved! It is good to know however just to know there are evil people out there!

AB August 17, 2016 at 11:37 PM

LOL…@ Kyle… because Kyle_68 really tells me who you are. Anonymous, AB, Kyle_68..on here.its all the same really. He could get probation, but thats because of all of us for the “safe schools act” and similar votes to decriminalize drug crimes (which causes people to commit property crimes). I wonder if he has been to jail before for similar things

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