Veronda leaving DA’s office for prosecutor job in Virgin Islands
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Prosecutors know better than anyone that when a good opportunity presents itself, they should probably jump at it.
That is exactly what 9th Judicial Deputy District Attorney Ed Veronda did when he was given an opportunity to prosecute cases in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“I’m glad to have been here and, I think, I’m leaving a little too soon, but I couldn’t determine when the offer was going to come,” Veronda explained, seated behind his desk at the District Attorney’s Office in Glenwood Springs.
Only a few nails were now on the bare walls of his office. His desk was cleared and he wore a bright-red Hawaiian-style shirt, not the typically business suit. It looked like he was preparing for a vacation.
“While I wanted to stay in Glenwood, I couldn’t turn down an opportunity like that,” Veronda said.
District Attorney Martin Beeson joked when asked about a replacement for Veronda. “There is no replacement for Ed Veronda,” he said.
The DA’s office is currently in the process of finding a successor. While Beeson was supportive of Veronda’s decision to leave, he said that his office is loosing a very good prosecutor.
“I’m disappointed that I, this office, and the community is losing a very talented attorney like Ed Veronda,” Beeson said. “We are losing a great talent.”
Veronda, 28, who recently was the lead prosecutor in the Frank Gerbaz arson trial, left the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office on Aug. 25, to be the Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
It’s easy for people to understand his excitement, but he insists that it’s not going to be a beachcomber life all the time, he’ll still have to work.
“I’ll be pretty busy there,” he admitted. “People think that I’ll just be sitting around in a hammock on the beach, sipping a Mia Tia and reading the newspaper, but at least Monday through Friday, that will not be my life.”
Veronda learned of the position through a friend named Mike Stern, who works as a prosecutor there. Veronda said that the work will be similar in that the laws are consistent with U.S. Federal Laws, but there will be a big difference in types of cases.
He said that the Virgin Islands see about 40 murders a year, and the population is similar in size to Mesa County.
While it’s a career move, he said that working in a small region in western Colorado was a good place to hone his skills. Small communities are where Veronda prefers to work because, he said, he gets to see the impact that he has directly.
“In places like Jefferson County you don’t run into jurors or witnesses when you go to the grocery store,” he said.
Veronda said that coming to work in Glenwood Springs was an enjoyable learning experience.
“It’s been a lot of fun and it’s been a learning experience,” he said. “Out on the street, you’ll run into people that you’ve prosecuted and you’ll run into people that you know through your work, so it’s different. But it’s better that way because you get to see how people are doing. You see that they are doing well, or poorly, and you get to see what works and what doesn’t work, in a small community.”
The difference being, Veronda explained, is that in larger areas like Denver, prosecutors don’t often see the positive impacts they have on people.
“The only people you get to see are the failures in a city like Denver,” he said. “The people who keep coming back to court are who you see. You are not going to see the successes, because the people who are successful don’t ever enter the criminal justice system again.”
Growing up in Denver, Veronda attended George Washington University in Washington D.C., but he returned to his native Colorado to attend law school at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His first job took him to the 14th Judicial District Courtrooms of Craig and Steamboat Springs. He came to work for Beeson in July 2008. But he was already considering the islands as his next move.
“I wanted to come to the Western Slope, to a small community as a prosecutor, because it’s different than a place like Denver or Jefferson County,” he said.
And being a lover of the outdoors, he took full advantage of his time in the valley as well. And that is an aspect that he will miss, at least until winter.
“It’s exciting to go from this paradise of skiing, hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, camping, to another paradise of snorkeling, SCUBA diving and Marlin fishing,” he said. “Come winter, when I’m reading about blizzards and snow storms here, I’ll be happy to be in the islands.”
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