Sheriff deputy termination raises concerns over court cases
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Deputy Brandon Pariscoff was terminated from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office after an internal investigation resulted in findings that “may” include allegations of dishonesty, and it could compromise the ability to prosecute cases he worked on.
Former 9th Judicial District Deputy District Attorney Dawn O’Neil was fired on Oct. 12.
District Attorney Martin Beeson confirmed that the two were terminated but wouldn’t confirm or comment on rumors about a connection between the two terminations. Pariscoff was terminated last week.
Beeson’s office recently sent out a notice to attorneys and defendants involved in cases Pariscoff worked on because prosecutors are required to disclose information that could be exculpatory ” or tends to negate a defendant’s guilt.
“On Oct. 30, 2007, members of the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office became aware of information regarding Brandon Pariscoff that is subject to disclosure as he is a witness in this case,” the notice states. “After completion of an internal affairs investigation, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office terminated Brandon Pariscoff’s employment for reasons that may include, in part, allegations of dishonesty.”
Beeson said the termination wouldn’t cause the cases Pariscoff worked on to be dismissed, but that the notice indicates the reasons for termination might include exculpatory information for defendants in those cases.
Office head for the regional public defenders’ office Tina Fang said the fact that Pariscoff appears to have been terminated after an investigation based on allegations of dishonesty is extremely concerning.
Speaking hypothetically because her office has just began receiving the notices and is unsure of the details for the termination, she said, “If you have a situation where a police officer is lying, that should really strike the core of everybody in this community. The whole point and the whole reason that we think our job is so important is that we just want people to be treated fairly.”
Asked if Pariscoff’s termination could compromise prosecution of cases he worked on, she said, “Absolutely.” But she noted that what her office does with the information will have to proceed on a case-by-case basis.
Sheriff Lou Vallario was out of town on business but responded to messages by e-mail, saying he couldn’t discuss Pariscoff’s departure from the office because it’s a personnel matter, and the office doesn’t discuss personnel matters with anyone.
Pariscoff was hired at the sheriff’s office on Jan. 17, 2006, according to anniversary listings in a Green Acres periodic newsletter to Garfield County staff.
Beeson said he couldn’t discuss the circumstances of O’Neil’s termination because it’s a personnel matter. Nor could he answer if both terminations were connected, he added, saying he doesn’t have first-hand knowledge of the basis for Pariscoff’s termination.
He said of O’Neil that public servants like law enforcement agents or prosecutors must conform to higher standards of conduct than average citizens.
“As public servants and prosecutors, I think the public expects a higher standard of conduct than it would an average citizen or employee,” Beeson said. “When that standard is deviated from in a negative way, appropriate action, and the action I took, is in the interest of protecting the integrity of this office.”
Beeson said of Vallario: “I believe whatever actions he took were to protect the integrity of the public service office that he runs.”
Efforts to reach Pariscoff and O’Neil were unsuccessful.
“I just wish the both of them the best in all their future endeavors,” Beeson said.
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