Greeley to pay $150K to woman acquitted of prostitution

10:50 AM, Mar 10, 2017

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) — The city of Greeley has agreed to pay $150,000 to a woman who was acquitted of running a prostitution business out of her massage parlor.

The Greeley Tribune reports Ping Wang, a Chinese immigrant, was arrested in February 2015 and faced deportation if convicted. A jury found her not guilty, and Wang filed a lawsuit in April claiming that a detective lied when he said she tried to give him an inappropriate massage.

The city council voted Tuesday to pay Wang as part of a settlement agreement she reached with the city. As part of the agreement, the city does not admit any fault in the case.

The detective was not fired but left the department in June.

 

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/greeley-to-pay-150k-to-woman-acquitted-of-prostitution?platform=hootsuite

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Former Colorado sheriff’s deputy sentenced for scamming co-workers, friends

Mar 8, 2017, 5:09pm MST

A former Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to securities fraud.

Daniel Sullivan, 46, has been sentenced to six years in the custody of the Department of Corrections followed by a mandatory five years of parole. In December, Sullivan pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud, a class 3 felony.

In 2009, Sullivan started giving seminars to his coworkers at the sheriff’s office about how to build wealth through real estate and investing, according to an investigation by the Colorado Division of Securities.

But Sullivan was not licensed to advise on, solicit, or conduct investment transactions in the state of Colorado. Still, he offered a number of coworkers, friends, and family members investment opportunities with companies he claimed were bound to be successful, according to the office of Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

A grand jury indictment in June 2015, and supplemented in November 2016, accused Sullivan of collecting more than $1 million from investors over five years from 2009 to 2014. While Sullivan did place a portion of the collected funds into investments, he used $671,000 of the investor

money on personal expenses, according to the state.

Sullivan was immediately remanded into custody. Restitution is to be determined at a hearing on April 28, 2017.

“This defendant was responsible for protecting Coloradans as a law enforcement officer, and instead chose to defraud people of their hard earned money for his own personal gain,” Coffman said.

http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/news/2017/03/08/former-colorado-sheriffs-deputy-sentenced-for.html?platform=hootsuite

Another Denver Deputy has been fired for excessive force while on the job

15-year veteran off the job after Jan. 28 incident

DENVER — The city of Denver has fired yet another Denver Sheriff’s Deputy for excessive force while on the job, Denver7 has learned.

Deputy Darrin Turner, a 15-year veteran, was terminated by the Department of Safety on Jan. 4.

The 18-page discipline report states the incident happened on Jan. 28 and started over a blanket an inmate was hiding under his shirt, which led to an altercation that escalated quickly.

Another Deputy who witnessed the incident was appalled by Deputy Turner’s behavior saying he was “scared” “dumbfounded,” and “shocked.”

The report states Deputy Turner told the inmate, “You’re just a boy,” approximately three times and then said, “I’ll take you where there’s no cameras,” which Deputy Turner ended up doing.

According to the report, video surveillance outside the room shows Turner “slam the inmate backward” before wrapping his hand around the inmate’s throat.

The discipline letter also states Deputy Turner took off his glasses in anticipation of the fight and created “a use of force situation where absolutely no force was required.”

Denver7 has requested a copy of the jailhouse surveillance video.

Deputy Turner denied making the comments and claims the inmate was “taking an aggressive stance.”

However, the report states “video recording of the incident shows the inmate with both hands in the front area of the waistband of his pants and Deputy Turner walking behind him.”

A spokesperson with the Department of Safety sent Denver7 the following statement:

“Deputy Turner’s egregious misconduct, willful disregard of department rules, and unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions is unacceptable. Based on the facts and circumstances of the case, termination was appropriate.”

Deputy Turner can appeal his termination.

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/front-range/denver/another-denver-deputy-fired-for-excessive-force?platform=hootsuite

Why did a Colorado sheriff’s officer keep bloody evidence from a murder case hidden in storage for years?

Cold Case: Mom says Fremont County sheriff bungled Candace Hiltz murder investigation

PUBLISHED: February 6, 2017 at 6:35 pm | UPDATED: February 7, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Rick Ratzlaff opened the abandoned Cañon City storage shed that he had just bought for about $50 and discovered more than he had bargained for: an ax, a blood-stained rope and bloody socks inside a manila envelope marked “Evidence.”

“That’s when I knew it was bad — really bad,” Ratzlaff said.

Candace Hiltz

Ratzlaff’s discoveries — evidence from a cold case murder of 17-year-old Candace Hiltz — led to the suspension of a sheriff’s lieutenant who had previously rented the storage shed, triggered an investigation by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and emboldened the victim’s mother, Delores Hiltz, to speak openly about her long-held belief that the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office grossly bungled the investigation into her daughter’s murder — and possibly covered it up.

The mishandled evidence also freed Hiltz from worries that her own mentally ill son, James, could be charged with murder in the 2006 death of her daughter, a threat that has been hanging over her since that day she discovered the body of her nearly decapitated daughter crammed under a bed.

Rick Ratzlaff
John Leyba, The Denver Post

Rick Ratzlaff opened an abandoned Cañon City storage shed that he had just bought for about $50 and discovered an ax, a blood-stained rope and bloody socks inside a manila envelope marked “Evidence.”

“We have lived under 10 years of (expletive) because he was the scapegoat. We’ve been waiting for this break,” Hiltz said. “It became clearer and clearer that this was a police cover up and we have been living a nightmare.”

The December discovery of evidence from Candace Hiltz’s murder case in a storage unit rented by sheriff’s Lt. Detective Robert Dodd infuriated Delores Hiltz, and she refuses to remain silent about her daughter’s death.

The storage units where evidence from a 10-year-old murder case was found in Canyon City, Colorado on Jan. 19, 2017. Seventeen-year-old Candace Hiltz was murdered in her home in Fremont County on Aug. 15, 2006. No one was ever arrested or charged for her murder but a Canon City man discovered evidence from her case in a storage unit he purchased the contents to at an auction. The unit had previously been rented out by Fremont County Sheriff's Office Lt. Det. Robert Dodd.
Katie Wood, The Denver Post

The storage units where evidence was found in Cañon City.

 

The “theft” and hoarding of evidence — including bloody clothing, an ax and a blood-stained rope — in 17-year-old Candace Hiltz’s murder case is so telling, her mother said, that she no longer fears her son will be framed. Hiltz now points an accusatory finger back at the sheriff’s office, saying that at the least they bungled the case. She comes just short of accusing deputies of being involved in her daughter’s death.

“(Dodd) had to steal the evidence from the basement of the sheriff’s office. He did that either to protect himself or someone else,” Hiltz said.

The 11-page autopsy report appears to support Hiltz’s assertion that at least two people and possibly three were involved in her daughter’s murder. She said Fremont County authorities have known for 10 years that multiple people were likely involved, but they still call her son a suspect, knowing that he lived in the woods because of his severe phobia of people.

Sheriff Jim Beicker did not return several phone messages seeking comment, but he has previously said Colorado Bureau of Investigation agents are reviewing the circumstances of the misplaced murder evidence. CBI spokeswoman Susan Medina also declined to comment.

The evidence was discovered after Dodd fell behind on his rental fees for a storage unit at Dawson Ranch Mini Storage, which is west of Cañon City. The owner said he auctioned the contents after Dodd paid him with a bad check.

Candace Hiltz poses with her cousin Kathleen Paiva. Paiva said that Hiltz was 13 years old in the picture.
Courtesy of Kathleen Paiva

Candace Hiltz poses with her cousin Kathleen Paiva. Paiva said that Hiltz was 13 years old in the picture.

Ratzlaff, a former street racer who has had his run-ins with Beicker and his deputies for years, bought Dodd’s belongings inside the storage shed for about $50 at a Dec. 17 auction.

When Ratzlaff later entered the storage unit, he picked through furniture and toys before he saw unusual items including a stack of about 15 blue-and-red emergency lights taken from squad cars. He also found brown sheriff’s deputy uniforms, some with Dodd’s name tag, and boxes of court documents.

He got suspicious when he saw large envelopes with “Evidence” printed on them. One contained a rope with a red stain on it. Another envelope contained socks that appeared saturated with blood.

Word spread slowly from Ratzlaff, to a Cañon City police officer, to Dodd about the items. Dodd’s family called Ratzlaff and tried to buy the items back, but Ratzlaff declined, he said. When Beicker heard about the find, he met Ratzlaff at the unit.

The sheriff warned Ratzlaff that his life could be in danger, Ratzlaff said. While he was looking around the shed, Beicker pointed to a backpack and said it was linked to the case. The sheriff refused to touch the green backpack, but asked Ratzlaff to pick it up and look inside. It held Candace Hiltz’s blood-stained shirt, Ratzlaff said.

The evidence now is in the hands of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

The discovery reinforced Hiltz’s misgivings about the deputies involved in the investigation from the start, she said.

On Aug. 10, 2006, a deputy drove to Hiltz’s Copper Gulch home and questioned her about her son James, a trespassing suspect. Candace Hiltz, who stood near her mother during the conversation, became increasingly upset at the tone of the deputy’s inquiry and ended up shouting at him. When he threatened to arrest her, Candace Hiltz held out her wrists and told the deputy she had seen him accepting envelopes from known drug dealers. Livid, the deputy stormed out of the house.

That was “Candy Girl,” Hiltz said, using her daughter’s nickname. “She had a ton of spunk.”

Though she was a teen mother, Candace Hiltz was about to graduate from Brigham Young University through an online program. She hoped to enroll at Stanford Law School and dreamed of one day becoming a U.S. Supreme Court justice, Hiltz said.

Candace Hiltz
Courtesy of Kathleen Paiva via Daily Record

Candace Hiltz

Three days after the verbal confrontation, the Hiltz family discovered their dog’s body in the woods behind their house. He had been tied to a tree with the blood-stained rope and killed with an ax. Both items were later found in Dodd’s storage unit.

Two days later, on Aug. 15, 2006, Delores Hiltz left at noon to run errands. When she returned home at 3:30 p.m., she found blood spatter and pooled blood “all over” the house. But she couldn’t find her daughter, who had stayed home to care for Paige, her 11-month-old daughter.

Hiltz heard her granddaughter screaming and ultimately found her daughter stuffed under a bed, wrapped in a green quilt. About 75 percent of her head was gone. “I held her hand,” Hiltz said.

In the days and weeks that followed, Hiltz became increasingly worried about the direction of the investigation. Detectives appeared to be focused on her son, James, repeatedly asking who he had been hanging out with.

Hiltz explained the paranoia that forced her son in and out of the Colorado Mental Health Institute. He was terrified of being with his sister and eight brothers, let alone being with anyone else, Hiltz said. When asked who her son’s buddies were, Hiltz said: “No one. It’s impossible.”

An autopsy and blood spatter in the home revealed that Candace Hiltz had been shot almost simultaneously from the front and back.

One shotgun shell struck her on the bridge of her nose and exited the back of her head. Five small-caliber bullets struck her in the back of the head. A medium-caliber bullet apparently from a third weapon struck her heart.

The sheriff’s officers have long considered James Hiltz a suspect in the case, even though he doesn’t own a gun and investigators found no evidence tying him to the crime, Hiltz said. Two years later, James Hiltz was found not guilty by reason of insanity in an unrelated burglary and sent to the state hospital.

“How could one man shoot at the same time from two different directions? How could a totally broken man not leave any evidence?” Hiltz asked.

In the days after her daughter was killed, Hiltz said she became increasingly frustrated with sheriff’s office missteps. Officers failed to protect the crime scene by putting up crime tape, and investigators left the door open.

After the sheriff’s office finished processing the scene, Hiltz found a shotgun shell in her granddaughter’s crib, bullet shells near the fireplace and the blood-drenched quilt her daughter had been wrapped in. A computer monitor stained with her daughter’s blood and used to prop the bed up was left behind. Towels apparently handled by a suspect also were left, and family members found a bloody shirt that Candace had been wearing near the house.

Hiltz and one of her sons bought a Rubbermaid container, placed all the evidence inside and took the items to the sheriff’s office.

Over the years, prosecutors and Beicker have attended James Hiltz’s progress hearings and argued against his release from the mental hospital, saying he is a suspect in his sister’s death, Hiltz said.

Now Hiltz hopes CBI investigators will retest all the evidence and consider other possible suspects.

http://www.denverpost.com/2017/02/06/candace-hiltz-colorado-cold-case-murder-evidence-hidden/?platform=hootsuite

Pueblo police officer arrested, accused of sexually assaulting domestic violence victim

Officer Ben Candelaria was taken into custody on Friday and booked into the Pueblo county jail

PUBLISHED: November 5, 2016 at 6:28 pm | UPDATED: November 5, 2016 at 6:55 pm

A Pueblo Police Department officer has been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a domestic violence victim in a case he was investigating.

Officer Ben Candelaria was taken into custody on Friday and booked into the Pueblo county jail, police say. He has been placed on administrative leave.

Authorities say on Thursday, Candelaria responded to a report of a male/female disturbance. Officials arrested a man at the scene on suspicion of assault/domestic violence and violation of a protection order.

Candelaria finalized paperwork with the female victim to conclude the investigation, police say.

“During the day on (Thursday), the female responded to a local hospital for treatment for her assault and reported at that time that she was touched by a police officer but she had limited memory due to alcohol use prior to her assault,” Pueblo police said in a news release.

Pueblo police command staff were notified of the woman’s report and a criminal investigation into the allegations was launched in conjunction with prosecutors, leading  to Candelaria’s arrest.

“It should be known the Pueblo Police Department holds its officers to a higher standard and accountable for their actions and has concern for victims of sexual assault,” the release said. “Reports of sexual assault are usually not reported, therefore we ask individuals to respect the privacy of the victim.”

http://www.denverpost.com/2016/11/05/pueblo-police-officer-arrested-accused-of-sexually-assaulting-domestic-violence-victim/?platform=hootsuite

Police say Denver officer’s body camera caught him stealing

By SADIE GURMAN, Oct. 29, 2016

DENVER (AP) — A Denver police officer was arrested Friday after his own body camera captured him stealing $1,200 from a suspect at a crime scene, court documents show.

Officer Julian Archuleta, 48, can be seen in the footage taking cash from the suspect’s clothing after it was removed by paramedics during an Oct. 7 shooting investigation, according to an arrest affidavit. The officer had been called to take photographs of the scene and the suspect’s vehicle, which had crashed during a pursuit.

Archuleta’s body camera was on for more than 24 minutes as he searched the suspect’s car and clothing. It shows him finding a stack of cash with a $100 bill on top, according to the arrest report.

But police say a detective who collected the cash and logged it as evidence found no $100 bills, and Archuleta made no note of a $100 bill in his written account of the crime scene. The detective reviewed Archuleta’s body camera footage and contacted internal affairs, the report says.

Archuleta faces charges of theft, official misconduct and tampering with physical evidence. He was being held in jail Friday. Court records don’t list an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

Archuleta, on the job since 2004, has been suspended without pay, police officials said. The department refused to release the body camera footage, citing it as evidence in the ongoing criminal case.

After Archuleta was called into internal affairs, he contacted a police union representative to let him know he was being investigated for theft. The police report says he offered to “check his war bag” to make sure the missing money hadn’t slipped into a crevice in the suspect’s car. Archuleta contacted the union representative again an hour later to say he had found $1,200 that “must have fallen in his bag,” the report says.

He then turned the money over to internal affairs but refused to speak to investigators.

 

https://apnews.com/80c53368a80a41d89ad021c32c4b5d7c?platform=hootsuite

Former El Paso County Sheriff, 2 others to appear in court on charges including extortion

By: Lance Benzel

September 5, 2016

photo - Former El Paso County, Colo. Sheriff Terry Maketa and his defense team including high-powered attorney, Pamela Mackey, leave El Paso County courthouse in Colo. Springs, Colo. Thursday, June 9, 2016. It was the first court appearance for Maketa and two subordinates since being indicted on charges including extortion, false imprisonment and kidnapping. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Carol Lawrence)
Former El Paso County, Colo. Sheriff Terry Maketa and his defense team including high-powered attorney, Pamela Mackey, leave El Paso County courthouse in Colo. Springs, Colo. Thursday, June 9, 2016. It was the first court appearance for Maketa and two subordinates since being indicted on charges including extortion, false imprisonment and kidnapping. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Carol Lawrence) 

Embattled former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa and two subordinates are due in court Tuesday on charges of extortion, witness tampering and false imprisonment.

Maketa, former undersheriff Paula Presley and former commander Juan “John” San Agustin are scheduled to appear at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday before 4th Judicial District Judge Larry E. Schwartz.

The trio were indicted in May on various abuses of power at the Sheriff’s Office – a stunning blow after months of allegations lodged against them by deputies under their command.

Maketa, 51, and Presley, 52, each face nine counts. San Agustin, 46, is charged with two felonies.

An El Paso County grand jury believes the three worked together to coerce a domestic violence victim into recanting her story to protect the deputy she claimed had punched her, leading to her arrest and wrongful incarceration.

Maketa is also believed to have threatened to end a $5.2 million contract with the county’s jail health care provider unless the company terminated an employee who had refused to run for Presley’s aborted sheriff campaign in 2013.

In 2002 Maketa was elected to his first of three terms as sheriff. He survived a recall attempt in July 2014, but resigned on Dec. 31, 2014 – two weeks before his term was scheduled to end.

Maketa has retained high-profile attorney Pamela Mackey, who has represented professional athletes Kobe Bryant and Patrick Roy. Presley is defended by attorney Patrick Burke. According to court documents, San Agustin is represented by Denver defense attorney Iris Eytan.

Attorneys for Maketa and Presley have filed motions to dismiss the indictment, court records show.

http://gazette.com/former-el-paso-county-sheriff-2-others-to-appear-in-court-on-charges-including-extortion/article/1584855?platform=hootsuite

Two Denver cops suspended for drunken brawls while off work

 

CENTENNIAL, CO – JULY 22: Denver police officer Jeremy Ownbey heads into court at the Arapahoe County Justice Center for arraignment, July 22, 2014. Both he and his wife, Jamie Ownbey, are in court accused of leaving their children at home while they went to a dinner party at another Denver cop’s home. That party ended in a drunken brawl and included allegations of swinging. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)
PUBLISHED: April 6, 2016 at 5:32 am |
CENTENNIAL, CO - JULY 22: Denver police officer Jeremy Ownbey heads into court at the Arapahoe County Justice Center for arraignment, July 22, 2014. Both he and his wife, Jamie Ownbey, are in court accused of leaving their children at home while they went to a dinner party at another Denver cop's home. That party ended in a drunken brawl and included allegations of swinging. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

A Denver police officer accused in a 2014 brawl at another officer’s home will be suspended for 90 days for lying to Aurora police officers about being drunk, Denver officials have decided.

Jeremy Ownbey narrowly avoided being fired because of the drunken brawl at Denver detective Steve Sloan’s house. Ownbey signed an agreement with the police department acknowledging that he would be fired if he gets in any more trouble during the next two years, according to a copy of his discipline letter obtained by The Denver Post.

The May 2014 fight embarrassed the department after it made national headlines because the Aurora Police Department’s incident report included allegations of swinging between the officers and their wives.

Both Ownbeys were charged in connection with the fight. Jeremy Ownbey’s charges were dropped by the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. His wife’s charges are pending.

The Ownbeys were accused of leaving their children at home alone so they could attend a cookout at the Sloans’ house. Both couples drank multiple alcoholic beverages, according to police reports.

The Sloans asked the Ownbeys to leave because of Jaime Ownbey’s behavior, according to previous reports. On the way out the door, Jaime Ownbey allegedly punched Sloan’s wife. Then, Sloan punched Jaime Ownbey, which led Jeremy Ownbey to join the fray. Sloan was accused of pulling a gun during the fight, but he and his wife were never charged in connection to the fight.

By the time Aurora police arrived, Jeremy Ownbey had left the house but later returned. He was uncooperative with police and “made misrepresentations” to them, his discipline letter said.

Ownbey was able to retain his job because he had just three minor disciplinary actions during his 10-year career and had received three commendations, the letter said.

“Officer Ownbey has taken complete responsibility for his actions,” the letter said. “He has demonstrated genuine remorse.”

Ownbey will serve his suspension from April 17 to July 15.

Sean Olson, Ownbey’s attorney, said he did not want to comment on the case.

In another case of Denver police officer discipline, Daniel Politica will serve a 10-day suspension and lose six vacation days for harassing a Lower Downtown street performer and then starting a fight that led to a large police response and false arrests on a Saturday night in October.

Politica, who has been a Denver officer since 2005, drank “three double tall vodkas” at the ViewHouse nightspot on Market Street before picking a fight with a street drummer, saying he was too loud and calling him an offensive name, according to his discipline letter.

Four men who saw Politica harassing the drummer stopped to help, and a fistfight broke out. During the fight, Politica dialed 911 and told the operator he was an officer and had been attacked downtown, the letter said.

Because of the 911 call, 15 officers from two police districts responded. The men who intervened on behalf of the drummer were arrested but later were released after the district attorney’s office declined to file charges, the disciplinary letter said.

“Officer Politica’s behavior was extremely inappropriate and it had far-reaching consequences,” the letter said. “Four individuals who intervened to protect an innocent individual from harm were wrongfully and unjustifiably arrested because of Officer Politica’s misconduct and false accusations.”

The fight also reduced police resources on the streets during a busy Saturday night in downtown Denver, the letter said.

“Finally, Officer Politica refuses to take responsibility for his actions,” the letter said.

The police department’s internal investigation found that Politica had committed an offensive act while intoxicated and violated the department’s rule about maintaining good order and police discipline.

A third disciplinary case involving a Denver Police Department officer led to Detective Ryan Kobernick losing five paid-vacation days for issuing a traffic ticket to a teenager in Jefferson County.

Kobernick, who was hired by Denver police in 2001, has had an ongoing feud with the 17-year-old driver’s family, the disciplinary letter said. He pulled the teen over about a mile from his home while wearing a Denver police traffic investigations unit uniform and driving an unmarked car with emergency blue and red lights.

Kobernick cited the teen driver for no proof of insurance even though the car was properly insured, the letter said. The charge was dropped in court.

“Detective Kobernick’s actions were not only unreasonable, they were done for no legitimate traffic enforcement reasons,” the letter said.

 

Noelle Phillips| The Denver Post, April 6, 2016, “Two Denver cops suspended for drunken brawls while off work”,  http://www.denverpost.com/2016/04/06/two-denver-cops-suspended-for-drunken-brawls-while-off-work/

Police Chief Stole, Pawned 14 firearms from department

Affidavit: Leadville police chief pawned department guns despite concerns

By Jesse Paul| The Denver Post

PUBLISHED: April 4, 2016 at 2:28 am | UPDATED: June 6, 2016 at 4:56 pm

For three years, Leadville’s police chief was stealing department firearms, including high-powered assault-style rifles and semi-automatic handguns, and pawning them at shops in the Denver area, authorities say.

Michael Robert Leake

Michael Robert Leake continued a scheme of embezzlement even as leaders in the mountain town were concerned about his use of public funds, according to an arrest warrant.

But as the sole person responsible for the department’s weapons and evidence cache, the 50-year-old’s activities flew under the radar until late last year when he was forced to resign following an arrest for driving under the influence.

Leake has been charged with 14 felony counts in the case, including accusations of theft, embezzlement and forgery, prosecutors say. He surrendered Friday on the warrant.

“In small towns, for any type of business including a police department, there’s not always sufficient oversight,” 5th Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown said Monday. “That’s due to small budgets and small staff size. We as communities invest so much trust in our public officials, and if people in their heart are not doing the right thing, there’s a lot of latitude to jeopardize public safety or public finances.”

Brown said the public’s trust was broken by Leake’s breaking the very laws he was bound to uphold.

Leake’s alleged scheme came to the attention of Leadville’s leaders soon after they learned of his February 2015 DUI in Aurora and subsequent guilty plea and sentence. In December, the mayor allowed Leake to resign to avoid being fired, the warrant said.

When an interim chief took over the police department, she began auditing weapons and evidence only to find a number of missing items.

In all, 19 department firearms, including seven AR-15 rifles, four Remington shotguns and six Glock pistols, were unaccounted for.

Leadville Mayor Greg Labbe asked prosecutors to begin investigating the department, at which point the Colorado Bureau of Investigation was called to help.

Authorities say they found that Leake pawned many of the weapons between 2013 and 2015 in Aurora and Englewood, lying on documents about owning the weapons and pocketing the money he made. Other department-owned guns were found at his home, the warrant says.

Leake became Leadville’s police chief in 2008, according to his arrest affidavit. A top deputy told investigators he had a documented history of financial problems.

In June 2014, town officials audited Leake after concerns were raised about his financial dealings as chief. However, the warrant says, Leake “seemed to put the audit off” and never followed through with signing a formal oversight agreement.

Then, in December, Leake sought more than $2,200 for ammunition — money that was later found to have been deposited in his personal account, according to the warrant.

Leadville’s former mayor, Jaime Stuever, who was in office until Jan. 1, said Leake’s handling of department finances had concerned him at least once. He told investigators he felt Leake needed greater oversight.

“Stuever admitted that in hindsight, some of Leake’s behavior should have raised concerns,” a CBI investigator wrote in the warrant.

A formal investigation, however, was not prompted until the weapons were discovered missing in January, almost a year after Leake was arrested in Aurora — where he lives — on suspicion of driving under the influence, court records show.

Leake pleaded guilty in the case in August and was sentenced in October to two years of probation and 48 hours of community service, according to court records.

Sarah Dallas, the town’s administrator, declined to say if Leadville leaders knew of Leake’s DUI case before his resignation.

“It’s just confidential human resources information that I am not allowed to disclose,” she told The Denver Post on Monday. Dallas said Leake’s resignation was for “personal reasons.”

Leake’s arrest warrant, however, says Stuever on Dec. 21 demanded that Leake resign or face termination after finding out about the DUI case. He agreed to quit and was given 24 hours to “put things in order.”

Dallas also told investigators that on Dec. 22, the day Leake resigned, there was an “unusually large amount of shredded papers” in the city’s waste bins, the warrant said.

The Lake County town of about 2,500 is in the final process of hiring a new police chief, having narrowed the field to two candidates. Its police force has seven full-time sworn officers and one code enforcer.

Prosecutors are now working through cases Leake was involved in investigating to ensure there was no misconduct, Brown said.

“At this point in time, I’m not aware of any case that causes me concern,” he said. “It’s through the process that we next endeavor on that I (will be able to determine) that with confidence.”

 

Jesse Paul| The Denver Post, April 4, 2016, “Affidavit: Leadville police chief pawned department guns despite concerns “, http://www.denverpost.com/2016/04/04/affidavit-leadville-police-chief-pawned-department-guns-despite-concerns/

Colorado Springs police officer allegedly choked, kicked suspect

By: Kaitlin Durbin

January 28, 2016 Updated: January 29, 2016 at 6:33 am

https://cdn.csgazette.biz/cache/r960-5312c87663a3ed4826e6604b237473ef.jpg

A decorated Colorado Springs police veteran punched, kicked and choked a handcuffed man last month when a traffic crash investigation spun out of control, police said in an arrest affidavit.

Sgt. Steven Biscaro was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of menacing, a felony, and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, in the Dec. 2 confrontation in northeast Colorado Springs.

According to Biscaro’s arrest affidavit, Michael Ferguson, 43, was gasping for air, had bugged-out eyes and feared for his life before two El Paso County Sheriff deputies intervened to stop the policeman’s attacks.

“I’m gonna kill you,” the man said Biscaro threatened as he struggled to breathe and began to lose vision.

The deputies reported Biscaro to their supervisor, police spokeswoman Lt. Catherine Buckley said. Ferguson filed a separate complaint against the 23-year officer, she said.

Through his attorney, John Newsome, Biscaro denied investigators’ request to interview him. Newsome, Thursday, said Biscaro “is entitled to the presumption of innocence and does contest and deny these charges.”

Biscaro’s arrest comes amid a national debate on police use of force, fanned by at least two recent deaths resulting from police choke holds, including that of Eric Garner, a New York man whose dying words – “I can’t breathe” – became a rallying cry for police critics.

The encounter in Colorado Springs started with a traffic crash at Enchanted Circle North and Oro Blanco Drive, the affidavit said.

Sheriff’s deputy Chad Dickson was interviewing Ferguson after the crash when Ferguson “became unruly,” at one point throwing a rock at the other driver, the affidavit said. Later, Ferguson, already handcuffed with his hands behind his back, was placed in leg chains connected to a belt restraint after he smashed his head against a window, opening a “large gash” on his forehead, the report said.

Deputies said Ferguson was under control until Biscaro arrived and “tempers flared.”

Dickson said Biscaro was “condescending” toward Ferguson. A second deputy, Steven Brown, described Biscaro as being “scolding” and “short,” at one point shutting the door on a yelling Ferguson, the report said.

Ferguson, upset because Biscaro “kept interrupting him and wouldn’t allow him to finish a sentence,” started kicking the cruiser window, the affidavit said.

Brown said he was not worried about Ferguson breaking the glass because he was restrained and “could not get any force generated,” the report said. Brown, according to the report, said Biscaro kicked Ferguson in the cruiser two or three times while Ferguson was trying to “shelter himself.” Then Biscaro “yanked” Ferguson from the car, causing him to fall onto the pavement, the report said.

While Ferguson was on the ground, deputies said Biscaro put his knee on Ferguson’s chest and started “choking” him, the affidavit said.

Brown “remembered ‘very well’ that he (Biscaro) had both of his hands around Ferguson’s neck,” the report said. Dickson described Biscaro “using both hands with his thumbs overlapped around Mr. Ferguson’s throat.”

One of the deputies “pushed” Biscaro’s arms away as Ferguson gasped for air, taking short breaths and showing “round” eyes, the affidavit said.

Ferguson said Biscaro twice threatened to kill him during the attack. The affidavit doesn’t specify whether Dickson or Brown heard the threats.

In his arrest report, Biscaro defended his actions, saying he put his hands on Ferguson’s neck to keep him from spitting on him. Biscaro said he punched the handcuffed man in the back out of a fear the suspect might be able to reach a knife in the officer’s pants.

Ferguson suffered “abrasions, lacerations and contusions,” along the spine, left shoulder blade, elbows and neck, the report said.

Biscaro is on paid administrative leave.

 

Kaitlin Durbin, January 28, 2016, The Gazette, “Colorado Springs police officer allegedly choked, kicked suspect”, http://gazette.com/colorado-springs-police-officer-allegedly-choked-kicked-suspect/article/1568797?platform=hootsuite