Aspen police officer resigns after alleged dishonesty
An Aspen police officer resigned Tuesday after allegedly admitting she lied during a recent hearing concerning the revocation of a DUI defendant’s driver’s license, according officials and documents.
Officer Kristine Accordino, 36, who started with the Aspen Police Department about a year ago, allegedly told another officer involved in the DUI case she lied during a Colorado Department of Revenue hearing to decide whether to revoke a DUI defendant’s driver’s license.
Such hearings are a normal part of the process when a person is charged with DUI.
“She stated to me that when asked if she had read the other officers’ reports, she replied, ‘No,’ which I knew to be untrue as we had spoken about them the morning of the hearing,” according to a police report by Officer Lauren Sumner. “She also told me that because of her initial lie, she was forced to answer questions differently than myself or (Officer) Kirk Wheatley’s reports to make it seem like she did not read the reports.”
Sumner told her superiors she read the DUI case report to Accordino at 8 a.m. before the DOR hearing after Accordino asked her to do so, the report states.
However, a week later, when Sumner asked Accordino “to confront the issues that I had about her testimony,” Accordino’s story changed, the report states.
“Upon speaking, she told me that she wasn’t lying and had changed many of her statements that she had made to be prior,” Sumner wrote in the report. “I asked her to come forward and clear the air, which she chose not to do.”
Sumner then went to her superiors and reported Accordino’s actions, the report states.
It was not clear Thursday the exact lie Accordino allegedly told during the revocation hearing. A phone message left Thursday for the Aspen lawyer who represented the DUI defendant in the case was not returned.
Attempts to reach Accordino on Thursday were not successful.
Aspen Assistant Police Chief Linda Consuegra also declined to specify exactly what Accordino said in the hearing. Asked if Accordino was asked to resign or face termination because of the incident, Consuegra said, “She resigned.”
For Consuegra, the issue is about community trust.
“The trust the community places on us is of the highest importance to us,” she said. “If we found a situation where (an officer’s) integrity is in question (we would) take action if needed.
“We don’t ever want to jeopardize the trust the community has in us.”
Consuegra declined to comment further on the case, citing personnel rules that limit what the department can release.
The situation with Accordino could have further-reaching implications as well.
The “Brady Rule” requires the District Attorney’s Office to notify defendants and their attorneys when a police officer involved in their cases admits lying in an official capacity, is caught lying or is otherwise dishonest. A phone message left Thursday for Ninth Judicial District Attorney Jeff Cheney seeking comment on whether the rule applies to Accordino’s situation was not returned.
Accordino is a Long Island, New York, native who told The Times in November 2016 — when she started as an Aspen officer — that she moved to the Roaring Fork Valley in 2006 to ski. She said she moved back to New York in 2012 to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a New York police officer, which occurred in July 2014.
However, she said she missed the mountain lifestyle and applied with the Aspen Police Department to escape city life.
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Colorado Department of Transportation have embarked on a months-long project to stabilize and repair Highway 325 north of Rifle Gap after the embankment above East Rifle Creek failed, causing a section of the northbound lane to collapse on July 12.