Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek vows to fight misconduct charge
Disagreement over spending approvals leads to petty offense indictment
EAGLE — A disagreement over money between the county’s two top law enforcement officials has resulted in a petty offense indictment.
Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek is facing a charge of second-degree official misconduct for spending money from a reserve fund in ways that he says it has always been spent.
District Attorney Bruce Brown reportedly disagrees and a grand jury handed down an indictment for second-degree official misconduct, a petty offense.
Brown declined to comment when contacted by phone on Tuesday morning.
Van Beek released a statement Tuesday morning, saying the allegations stem from a “misinterpretation by the District Attorney about the review process of confiscated monies, and specifically when a committee needs to be convened for additional approval.”
Van Beek and Brown are two of the three committee members that oversee that reserve fund. The third is Eagle County Attorney Bryan Treu.
“There is a debate whether the board has to approve the expenditures,” van Beek said.
The allegations include 14 previously approved expenditures from the reserve fund, made in 2019. Van Beek argues that because that reserve fund contains no state confiscated money, the three-member board does not need to approve money spent from it.
Van Beek wrote in his statement Tuesday that the approved expenditures included paying a writer and crisis management specialist for columns written for the Vail Daily. Those columns in the Vail Daily appeared under van Beek’s byline and with his photo.
“Most who know me, know that my talent in law enforcement does not necessarily transfer to the written word,” van Beek wrote in his statement. “I do it and can say it, but there are those who can deliver the message much better.”
He said the agreement was already in place when he was elected sheriff in 2014.
“Upon reviewing the work, I renewed the contract,” van Beek wrote in his statement. “The amount paid, for the benefit received is immeasurable. Our office and other agencies within Eagle County have had an opportunity to be featured, and it has given the public a greater sense of participation in governance.”
Second-degree official misconduct is a petty offense that comes with a small fine, but van Beek says he’ll fight it.
“Our office will be fighting it because it implies dishonesty, which as an elected official, is unacceptable, and against my values,” van Beek said in his statement.
Both van Beek, a Republican, and Brown, a Democrat, declined comment on whether the allegations could be politically motivated.
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