Craig Daily Press staff
Longtime Yampa Valley resident John Eilts literally "bet the farm" on the character of convicted criminal Steven Skufca, 41.
Eilts used his Craig home as collateral to make Skufca's bond on state charges relating to the use and possession of drugs. He said he plans to put up his Routt County ranch, which he said is worth more than $4 million, for any bond set on federal charges, also relating to drug use and possession.
Skufca was convicted on Nov. 21 of possession of a Class 2 controlled substance, possession of more than one, but less than eight ounces of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and introducing contraband in the first degree.
Skufca was arrested on Sept. 21 on a warrant for a felony traffic incident. Before the warrant could be served, the Grand, Routt and Moffat County Narcotis Enforcement Team (GRAMNET) contacted the Moffat County Sheriff's Department concerning a drug buy GRAMNET agents had just allegedly made from Skufca.
The Craig Police and the Sheriff's Department placed Skufca under arrest on the warrant after he had gotten into his car, and searched the vehicle that reportedly led to the discovery of drugs on the car's floorboard and center console.
When Skufca was searched before being put in the Moffat County Jail, more drugs were allegedly discovered, which led to the contraband charge.
Skufca faces up to 13 and half years in prison for the drug-related convictions, but that number could be multiplied by four since Skufca could be considered a habitual criminal, the District Attorney's office has said.
Skufca was set to be tried on felony traffic charges. Before that trial began, he was sent to the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo for a competency evaluation.
Skufca's attorney, Norm Townsend, requested he be evaluated to determine whether he was fit to go to trial on his traffic offenses.
Skufca was deemed competent.
Skufca was released from the Moffat County Public Safety Center on May 24, and was transported to the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colo. by GRAMNET. He was booked into the federal facility on charges of distribution of cocaine, distribution of methamphetamine and distribution of marijuana. No federal bond has been set.
Jeff Dorshner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver, said he could not comment on the details of the case, but said the alleged crimes occurred in the Steamboat
Dorshner said Skufca was ordered detained by a magistrate judge and was being held at a federal detention center in Englewood. A tentative trial date has been set for July 29 in Denver, but the case is in the discovery phase so that date may change.
Eilts said he posted $60,000 of the bond and Skufca's parents mortgaged their house to pay the rest.
Eilts said he has known Skufca for about five years. The two met when Skufca did some work for Eilts at his home.
"I know Steve and there is something wrong with that kid," Eilts said. "I found out he couldn't work, couldn't perform, without supervision."
Eilts said Skufca reminded him of a man he was in command of when he was in the army, who had a similar personality and was on the brink of a dishonorable discharge because of it.
"Steve's not completely responsible for his actions," Eilts said. "He can be easily led into doing the wrong thing and that's the way this kid was. Whether he did or didn't do something wrong doesn't make any difference, he's easily led to making the wrong decision."
Eilts said he's not worried he'll lose his investment in Skufca.
"People probably wonder what I'm thinking about and what I'm doing," he said. "I've been broke before and if I lose it all, what the hell."
He doesn't think Skufca will run, and at this point there's no risk.
The bond posted by Eilts for the charges in Moffat County will be in place until Skufca is brought back to Moffat County court and sentenced, according to Deputy District Attorney Bonnie Roesink.
Skufca is due to appear in Moffat County District Court for a sentencing hearing at 1 p.m. on June 24.