COLORADO SPRINGS — A Colorado Springs man who lived in a dead woman's house and used her car for months after she passed away is causing more trouble for the victim's family now.
News 5 Investigates profiled a man by the name of Jack Cole in a series of reports looking into alleged squatting cases in Colorado.
More than two years after Cole was evicted by the courts, he has filed a lawsuit against the dead woman's family for more than a quarter of a million dollars.
In bombshell discovery, News 5 has learned an El Paso County judge has ruled in his favor.
Cole is currently serving time behind bars at the Crowley County Correctional Facility on an unrelated sexual assault case.
Even though he's locked up, that hasn't stopped him from filing numerous lawsuits, including one against the Clark family for more than $400,000.
In a jaw dropping decision, El Paso County Judge G. David Miller ruled in his favor.
However, a News 5 investigation and review of court records uncovered Cole won his case by filing falsified records that looked so legitimate, it appears they fooled the court clerk and judge.
Those familiar with Cole say he's the type of criminal who just won't go away.
"He's a liar and we have to live with this," Gerry Clark said in previous interview with News 5. " It's just not right. It's just not right."
We first met Gerry after she unexpectedly lost her daughter, Wendy, in October 2017.
If the loss of a loved one wasn't enough grief, she was met with a surprise when she went to Wendy's Colorado Springs home to gather her belongings.
Gerry says there were random people living inside whom she had never met.
For months, Gerry fought with the court system to get the squatters out, all while Cole and his friends taunted the family.
"At Christmas time, he even put up her decorations," Gerry said. "Talk about pain."
Finally in 2018, a judge ordered Cole and everyone else inside Wendy's house to leave. Possession of the home was returned to Wendy's family.
Unfortunately by the time the squatters left, the house was destroyed.
"It's pathetic," Gerry said. "Absolutely pathetic. We told the police we need help. Nobody could help us because it was a civil case. They couldn't do anything. What is wrong with our system?"
Multiple stories on alleged squatting situations eventually led lawmakers to pass legislation which expedites court proceedings to get unauthorized occupants out of homes.
Sadly, this particular case developed prior to the passage on Senate Bill 15.
Fast forward to today, Wendy's family is dealing with another nightmare in the form of a lawsuit.
"It's a lot of stress I don't need," Michelle Clark, Wendy's sister said.
Michelle is one of three defendants Cole is seeking more than $400,000 in damages.
His lawsuit asked the courts to award him for the following:
$20,000: Attorney Fees
$150,000: Loss of work
$45,000: Medical expenses
$200,000: Punitive damages
Cole's lawsuit lists the following damages:
2- "Injured Feelings"
3- Mental Anguish
4- Loss of Work
5- Loss of Social Standing
6- Loss of Reputation
7- Loss of Privacy
8- Medical issues
Cole is a long-time convicted felon and does not have legal counsel to represent him on this civil lawsuit, but that didn't prevent him from winning his case.
A "default judgment" was granted against Michelle Clark, Wendy's sister on March 20, 2020.
It's a ruling Michelle had no idea about until she checked her mail.
"I went to get my mail and had a letter from the El Paso County Court that there was a default judgment entered against me," she said. "I had no idea there was a lawsuit I was involved in. I never got served paperwork so I had no knowledge this was happening whatsoever."
While Michelle claims she was never served with a summons or complaint in the case, the courts did have paperwork on file showing Cole indeed had the lawsuit served to her.
However, a closer look at the paperwork has some irregularities the court didn't catch.
Cole allegedly had a man named Travis Rickard serve Michelle Clark court papers on October 16, 2019.
News 5 Investigates uncovered Travis Rickard is really "Roger Travis Rickard"---another convicted felon serving time in prison on multiple charges. His mandatory release date from prison is in 2026.
At the time Rickard allegedly served the paperwork to Michelle, News 5 Investigates confirmed he was incarcerated in the El Paso County Jail.
RED FLAG #2:
The lawsuit cover sheet, complaint and summons against Michelle Clark was allegedly given to her at 10:30 a.m. at 270 S. Tejon Street in Colorado Springs.
270 S. Tejon Street is the address for the El Paso County Courthouse.
Michelle provided News 5 with timesheet records showing she was at her job at USAA at the time this lawsuit was allegedly handed to her.
She had no business being at the courthouse that day, and there's no way Mr. Rickard would have been released from his jail cell to go serve someone papers in a civil suit.
RED FLAG #3:
The affidavit of service (document swearing that parties in a lawsuit have been served) was notarized on Oct. 9, 2019.
However, the first page of the document is dated Oct. 16, 2019.
Is it possible to have a document notarized in advance of the information being filled in?
According to the National Notary Association, the answer is no.
Bill Anderson, the NNA's VP of Government Affairs released the following information to News 5:
If the information on page 1 of the affidavit was incomplete at the time of notarization (for example, the date of 10-16-19 was not filled in), then the Notary broke the law. CRS 24-21-525 says, "A notary public shall not perform any notarial act with respect to a record that is blank or that contains unfilled blanks in its text." The Notary knew of the post date on page 1 and notarized the document anyway, then the Notary quite possibly could be investigated for committing official misconduct (CRS 24-21-531) and the failure of the Notary to perform properly a notarial act would allow an aggrieved person to invalidate the notarial act and to seek remedies based on Colorado or, if appropriate, U.S. law. (CRS 24-21-526).
News 5 Investigates has questions for Janice Grennon, the notary who stamped the "affidavit of service" records.
It's unclear how Rickard and Cole got the document notarized as both were incarcerated at the time.
How did the courts overlook the above discrepancies?
Thus far, we've been unable to speak with or communicate via email with Judge Miller.
"I feel someone at the courthouse dropped the ball," Michelle said. "He (Jack Cole) is destroying our lives. It's bad enough losing my sister and having to deal with that loss."
A courthouse source tells News 5 the Clark family should file a "motion to set aside the default judgment". That document, if granted, would essentially wipe away any money Cole would receive based on his lawsuit.
We relayed that information to the family and they have filed that paperwork with the courthouse.
News 5 Investigates is committed to uncovering corruption and injustices in our communities. If you have a problem or issue you'd like our team to look into, please email News5Investigates@KOAA.com.