Caloia seeks special prosecutor over Martin allegations
Following calls from Garfield County Democrats for an investigation into claims that Commissioner John Martin embezzled public money, Ninth Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia filed a motion in district court Friday for appointment of a special prosecutor.
Caloia has forwarded the Democrats’ request for a special prosecutor to the Fifth Judicial District, which is Caloia’s “conflict partner,” meaning that district picks up cases in which Caloia has a conflict of interests. Because Garfield commissioners provide part of the Ninth District DA’s budget, she cannot handle the case.
A letter from the Garfield County Democrats, sent to Caloia on Wednesday, called for the “investigation, indictment and prosecution of John Martin for Class 5 felony embezzlement by a public official,” after open records requests by commissioner candidate John Acha and Democratic officials disclosed that Martin had to reimburse the county $1,800 last year following an audit of his spending at intergovernmental conferences.
Martin is seeking his sixth term as a county commissioner, with Acha seeking to unseat him.
The Democrats have further accused Martin and the board of frequently and improperly going out to eat on the taxpayers’ dime.
Martin has argued that at these conferences he’s representing more than just Garfield County and has asserted that the meals are legitimate expenditures to which commissioners are entitled when they’re doing county business.
Caloia said her motion doesn’t mean that she necessarily agrees with the strength of the allegations.
She told the Post Independent on Saturday that the Fifth Judicial District “special prosecutor should decide whether there is anything criminal and if so whether to file charges.” Fifth Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown will have to decide whether to investigate, a decision that may not be made until after the Nov. 8 election.
With four attorneys on the Garfield County Democrats’ team reviewing the results of 19 Colorado Open Records Act requests filed with the county, “we thought we had a pretty solid case,” Bob Shivley, chair of the Garfield County Democrats, said Saturday.
“I think truly it’s out of our hands now,” Shivley said. “We moved this forward hoping it would have its day in court, and now the court will do what it needs to do.”
Among these 19 CORA requests, the Democrats also targeted county property acquisitions and investments, and they claim to have found evidence of mismanagement and corruption. The results of these CORA requests have been immense: one of the Democrats’ first requests produced more than 50,000 pages of documents that have taken a 10-person data team months to review.
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