Nurse accused of stealing patient's life savings

Posted at 11:48 PM, Feb 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-10 02:10:22-05

Condemnation notices have been posted on the front door of an elderly Longmont man’s home after tests showed meth levels 105 times the regulated limit.

Police say a registered nurse who was charged with taking care of the blind 89-year old man, instead embezzled $140,000 in cash and property, and then used his house to cook meth with her two sons.

“It’s going to require upwards of $100,000 to mitigate the meth use in that house,” said Cmdr. Jeff Satur, of the Longmont Police Department.

The nurse, Shela Wagner, is being held for investigation of Theft from an At-Risk Adult, Caretaker Neglect, Negligence Resulting in Bodily Injury and Criminal Exploitation of an At-Risk Adult.

Satur confirmed to Denver7 that the nurse is related to the patient.

“We’re trying not to get into the exact relationship,” he said, “but I will say it was a family member.”

The alleged theft was brought to light when a conservator for the estate noticed large amounts of money being transferred out of the patient’s account at Guaranty Bank, and then notified police.

Court documents obtained by Denver7 show that Wagner has a criminal history which includes Dangerous Drugs, Witness Intimidation, Forgery, various probation violations and Failures to Appear dating back to 1990.

Still, she obtained Power of Attorney and gained access to the patient’s bank account.

Investigators say Wagner used that power of attorney to transfer funds from the patient's bank account to her two sons accounts.

--Nurse Hallucinated--

According to the Arrest Affidavit, Wagner experienced hallucinations related to her meth use.

“Shela was so convinced the patient had worms she would take a pair of tweezers and pull skin off his leg thinking it was bugs,” the affidavit states.

The leg wound became infected.

Satur said Shela was not giving the patient the medication she was required to give him and would be gone for days and weeks.

“When you start getting into the whole case, it’s just very, very sad,” Satur said. “He was living in filth in his room.  He was isolated from his friends and family.”

--Family Goes to Court--

In October of 2015, other family members went to court and obtained a permanent protection order preventing Wagner from having any further contact with the patient.

According to the Affidavit, one of the patient’s sons called the Division of Regulatory Agencies.  Investigators learned that DORA is opening up a case against Shela’s nursing license.

Another son told investigators that he moved back to Colorado from California in 2012 because of health issues affecting his mom and dad.

He said his mother died a month later (August 2012) and so did his older brother, Ronnie.

He said two weeks after his mother’s death, Shela was admitted to Longmont United Hospital for narcotic withdrawal.

According to the affidavit, that son now believes Shela stole his mom’s pain medication and used it herself.

He told police that when he went to the hospital to see his father, he was shocked to see how much weight he had lost and how swollen his legs were.

He said the doctors told him that if his father hadn’t come to the hospital when he did, “he would have been dead within three days due to the infection.”

Satur says the patient has been transferred to an assisted living center and is now gaining his weight and his health back.

“He’s in a better spot,” Satur said, “but financially, he’ll never be able to recover from this.”