Caloia: 5th DA willing to take Martin case
District Attorney Sherry Caloia says her “conflict partner” at the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office is willing to take the embezzlement investigation that Garfield County Democrats have called for against Garfield County Commissioner John Martin.
The Democrats and John Acha, who’s running against the 20-year incumbent Martin, have called for a special prosecutor to investigate Martin for what they say is evidence of felony embezzlement of public funds.
Requesting documents through 19 open records requests with the county, Acha and the Democrats obtained a forensic auditor’s report from 2015, which shows Martin was required to reimburse the county $1,800 after use of his county purchasing card during travel on county business came into question.
This report said that he failed to disclose to the county that he was receiving meal advances from intergovernmental organizations he was also representing at conferences while he was also using county funds to pay for travel and meal expenses.
Martin has said the report actually cleared him of wrongdoing. And he’s maintained that he was entitled to those advances because he also represents those organizations on these trips, not just Garfield County.
Caloia has said from the beginning that she has a conflict of interest. She cannot take the case because the Board of County Commissioners approves her office’s budget. She filed a motion in district court for Bruce Brown, the 5th Judicial District attorney, to be appointed as the special prosecutor.
Caloia said that in conversations with Brown since, he has agreed to take the case. “But he’s not going to do it unless he has an order from the court appointing him to the case,” said Caloia.
Brown did not return messages from the Post Independent Thursday.
On Oct. 26 Judge James Boyd entered a schedule order, allowing Martin 21 days to respond to the motion for a special prosecutor.
Martin said he and his attorneys were being given an opportunity to object to the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, in case there is another conflict of interest.
“The judge has issued a notice to me as the respondent to answer the request for a special prosecutor; that’s pretty well standard,” Martin said Thursday.
“Unlike in the newspaper you’re innocent until proven guilty [in the courts],” said Martin. “The judge is following the rules, and my attorney will respond.”
This is an unusual step in the process, said Caloia, because the subject of an investigation doesn’t usually know that he or she is under investigation, so there is usually no opportunity for the defendant to respond.
Caloia also will have an additional seven days to respond to Martin’s response, she said.
Judge Boyd has also sealed the case file in this case, and the reasons for that are unknown.
Garfield County Court Clerk Jim Bradford said he’s never seen that done, but he does not believe a judge is obligated to disclose why a case file is sealed.
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