Who doesn’t like an “attaboy” now and then?
I certainly do.
And I am enjoying a pretty steady stream of calls and emails from Side Streets readers after a Monday column led to the arrest of a man suspected of conning Colorado Springs residents out of cash.
The suspect, Perry Wayne Suggs, is accused of targeting military families with a sob story of a broken down car, stranded wife, shortage of cash, etc.
Suggs, 49, even flashed a retired Army identification card in his well-rehearsed pitch for a ride to the nearest American Legion post or a Veteran’s Administration office.
I received a phone call from Donald, who was victimized at his Garden Ranch home on Jan. 12 by a man he identified as Suggs, based on a mug shot that accompanied my column. He lost $160 to the con artist.
I got a call from Joan who said her son-in-law gave $60 to the same man when he was working the Mountain Shadows neighborhood.
Jim in the Quail Lake area gave the man $220. Jim was “energized” that the suspect reportedly confessed to police that he’d stolen $80 from another victim.
One of the folks I heard from was Jay Bowen, commander of the American Legion’s Centennial Post 209 near Austin Bluffs Parkway and Academy Boulevard.
Here’s an excerpt from his note to me:
“I see there was an arrest for the guy highlighted in your Side Street column Monday. Great job getting exposure on this! I had our state folks check his name and he is NOT a member of any American Legion Post in the state of Colorado.
“Thanks again for bringing this to the attention of our great Colorado Springs citizens. Keep up the good work!”
Bowen, understandably, wants everyone to know Suggs is not affiliated with the American Legion. And he stressed that there is never a reason to take a vet to a legion post to get cash, as Suggs is accused of telling his victims.
“We never require a vet to come to us to get a check,” Bowen said. “We go to them at their home.”
In a way, Bowen said it was gratifying to learn how much folks around town are willing to help veterans.
“The people in Colorado Springs are very generous,” Bowen said. “We’re very proud of that fact. That why incidents like this really bother me. It both saddens and angers me.”
He warned everyone to be skeptical if someone knocks on your door claiming to be collecting for the legion. And always demand multiple identification cards of anyone claiming to be a legion representative.
“Door-to-door is not how we do business,” Bowen said. “If we have a fundraiser, it’s very organized and everyone knows it.”