Town of Marble drops lawsuit against DA Sherry Caloia
Ryan Summerlin January 18, 2014
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The Town of Marble has dropped its lawsuit against Sherry Caloia, who once served as the town attorney for the hamlet at the upper end of the Crystal River Valley, according to documents on file at the Garfield County Courthouse.
Caloia, who was elected to the post of Ninth Judicial District Attorney in November 2012, worked on a contract basis for the town from 2002 to 2012, a period during which former town clerk Karen Buchanan (then known as Karen Mulhall) allegedly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the town.
Buchanan was found dead in a Denver area motel, apparently from suicide, in October 2012.
Buchanan worked at Caloia’s law office, starting in 2007, as a legal assistant and bookkeeper. Her term of employment with Caloia covered much of the same period when Buchanan allegedly was writing fraudulent checks on town accounts, payable either to herself or to Caloia’s business accounts.
According to the town, Caloia had a duty as the town’s attorney to pay closer attention to Buchanan’s work, and to Caloia’s own business accounts, and should have uncovered the embezzlement at some point.
The town filed suit against Caloia in mid-2013, hoping to recoup $329,000 the town said had been stolen, although Marble Mayor Robert Pettijohn once claimed that the amount stolen was more like $800,000.
After the pending lawsuit was made public by the Post Independent in June, 2013, Caloia said she already had paid the town a settlement of $30,000 in response to the allegations, although she said Buchanan also had stolen from her, and Caloia denied any knowledge of Buchanan’s alleged theft of the town’s money.
In a document filed late in the day on Jan. 16, the town withdrew its suit and agreed with a stipulation that both parties pay their own legal costs and attorney fees incurred during the lawsuit.
The town also declared that it had “no other claims, complaints or dispute” against Caloia or her former law firm.
The decision to drop the lawsuit reportedly was made at a town meeting on Wednesday.
Pettijohn could not be reached for comment on Thursday or Friday.