LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A double-amputee veteran, once on the brink of homelessness just two weeks ago after his caregiver allegedly stole thousands of dollars from him, has found new shelter for now.
8 News Now exclusively brought viewers the story of Richard Romano in November: an 81-year-old veteran who was evicted from the apartment he’s lived in for 13 years. The reason: his previous caregiver, who was not licensed, allegedly stole around $5,000 from him.
Romano says he gave the male caregiver access to his account to retrieve cash and money orders to pay bills. He’s limited to his wheelchair, with no convenient transportation to the bank or other businesses, and said that he trusted him.
“When I called (the bank), they said they couldn’t reimburse me because I gave my pin number to him,” Romano said inside Charlie Frias Park Wednesday morning.
With no family to turn to, his close friend of two years, Richard Stevens, has worked to keep him off the street. He acknowledged that Romano does not have the physical capacity to take care of himself and has attempted to do so since the eviction.
He was able to find the veteran temporary shelter by reaching out to the community on the app Nextdoor. The most recent post partly reads, “He truly needs help even if it is just for one or two days or longer is there anyone out there.”
“I’ve exhausted my resources. I don’t have the money to do it,” Steven says, sitting on a bench next to Romano.
Most recently, a family responded to say they could take him in.
Stevens says the family lives in a trailer with an access ramp for his wheelchair and enough room for his new licensed caregiver, “Uncle,” to live with him for the time being. Romano detailed the meals he says they make for him, including a “shrimp” feast Tuesday night.
“Before, I didn’t know if I was going to have a decent meal or a place to sleep. Now I have a place to sleep, place to stay for a while, until I get my place,” Romano said with tears swelling in his eyes.
But, he’s being housed in secret. Through Stevens, the family asked this story did not include any visuals of their home as they fear their HOA could evict them too if they discovered he was living with them, even if just temporarily.
Thankfully, after the first story about Romano, 8 News Now connected Veteran Affairs to the two Richards. The VA confirms they have provided him a new cellphone to better communicate with him and are currently working to “connect him with housing resources.”
The two Richards add that a case manager is assisting them through Adult Protective Services too. These two agencies are what the 81-year-old says made him rethink his original decision to not prosecute the previous caregiver.
“Everybody I talked to said I should prosecute him, that I shouldn’t let him get away with it because he’ll do this to somebody else,” Romano said through tears. “So, that made me think.”
While life may look good now, it’s temporary. Prosecuting the alleged fraudster could take years, most of the money Romano lost may never be recovered and the veteran’s welcome to the undisclosed trailer ends at the end of December.
But, with the community’s help, they have hope.
“It means the world to me. It means the world that everybody, somebody wants to help me instead of hurting me,” Romano said through tears while Stevens laid his hand on his shoulder.
Stevens is fundraising on Romano’s behalf to help cover certain costs of housing the veteran. All funds raised through this GoFundMe will go to helping the 81-year-old secure his own location and afford his new caregiver, they said.
Non-monetary donations can be arranged for delivery by contacting 8 News Now Reporter Ryan Matthey at email@example.com or the 8 News Now newsroom at KLASweb@8newsnow.com.