LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Las Vegas veteran is close to homelessness after he claimed his previous caregiver stole thousands of dollars from him. But, with no intentions of prosecution, his close friend is now fighting to keep him off the streets.
Richard Romano called an apartment complex near Flamingo Road and Decatur Boulevard, home for the past 13 years. This was nearly 5 decades after serving in the Navy as part of the Cuban Missle Crisis and losing both of his legs.
“I ended up getting a fungus on the bottom of my foot, and it turned it into gangrene,” Romano said while sitting in his wheelchair inside Auntee M’s Market Monday morning.
The now 81-year-old eventually found his way to the Las Vegas valley. In recent years, he said finding the right caregiver has not been easy but believed his last one would stay with him for the remainder of his life.
That vision shattered in October. He said his caregiver, who originally told him he was licensed but turned out not to be, disappeared. Then, days later, he was not able to pay rent.
Romano said he uncovered thousands of missing dollars in his bank account that normally holds his $2,400 monthly social security check. The only other person who had access to this account, he said, was his caregiver.
From a 30-day to a 7-day, to a 3-day, to the final day notice, Romano was evicted after failing to pay rent. The manager of the apartment complex confirmed the eviction and stated they attempted to connect him with Adult Protective Services with no luck.
Richard Stevens said he’s known Romano for the past 2 years and even knew his previous caregiver. He acknowledged that Romano does not have the physical capacity to take care of himself and has attempted to do so since the eviction.
“I’m going over the transactions and it’s like, ‘Did you do that one?’ ‘No.’ ‘Did you do that one?’ ‘No,’” Stevens said, sitting next to Romano in the mini-mart.
With no family interested or able to care for Romano, the friend says he’s worked to find Romano shelter by reaching out to friends and people through the community app Nextdoor. But those efforts are running thin.
Social security benefits will not reach his account for another week, they said, and volunteers are becoming less and less interested in caring for him until then. It could mean Romano will sleep on the street soon.
Even in the face of that potential reality, Romano refuses to seek prosecution for the suspected culprit.
“Believe it or not, (the caregiver) started out doing really well, and then he turned into a piece of s***,” Romano said.
“So you’re trying to give him a second chance? While then you become homeless?” 8 News Now asked as the 81-year-old replied with a tears-filled, “Yeah.”
“Me, in my heart of hearts, knowing what happened, for him not to (prosecute) it’s hard to understand,” Stevens added, putting his hand on Romano’s shoulder. “If we’re not going to move forward with that, then there’s no way in hell I’m going to let this man on the street.”