County probe sent to 9th District

Investigation into commissioners' money transfer continues

An investigator has been named in the probe of alleged abuses by Moffat County officials, while the scope of that investigation will be expanded with a new allegation filed late last month.

Mack Myers, 9th Judicial District Attorney, said he received the case Tuesday and the matter will be handled by Ed Piccolo, one of two investigators working in the office covering Rio Blanco, Garfield and Pitkin counties.

Piccolo has been with the office six years, Myers said.

Moffat County District Court Judge Michael O'Hara May 28 signed an order to send the case outside the 14th Judicial District.

Fourteenth Judicial District Attorney Bonnie Roesink cited a conflict of interest in removing her office from the investigation, which she said is mandated by state law.

"He (Piccolo) has other cases, and like anything else this will be prioritized," Myers said. "He'll outline what he feels needs to be done, and may get in touch with local enforcement if needed."

Piccolo will work under no timetables for completing the investigation, he said.

Myers, meanwhile, said he has yet to see new allegations contained in an affidavit filed May 28 with District Attorney Bonnie Roesink's office.

The affidavit was filed by Stan Hathhorn, a Moffat County resident and member of Concerned Taxpayers of Moffat County. Hathhorn filed separate affidavits May 13 and May 21.

The newest affidavit alleges violations of state law in Moffat County's 1999 agreement for communications upgrades in the "Grouse Mountain microwave" project.

The county -- with an eye toward attracting the Colorado State Patrol's regional communications center -- paid $369,095 to install communications relay equipment at four locations. Grouse Mountain, near Kremmling, Walton Peak, and Cedar Mountain as well as the Moffat County Public Safety Center all received equipment in the project.

The affidavit alleges money was never budgeted or appropriated, while the expenditure was not put out to bid.

Moffat County transferred ownership of the Grouse Mountain equipment to the state on Nov. 12, 2000 -- an alleged abuse of county commissioners' power as defined under state law.

The affidavit alleges Grouse Mountain upgrades were paid from the Public Safety Center's construction account, which was funded by $10 million worth of bonds acquired by the county in 1998.

The ownership transfer violates conditions attached to those bonds, the affidavit alleges.

Marianna Raftopoulos, Moffat County Commissioner, said Thursday she was unaware of the affidavit and declined comment.

Raftopoulos and County Administrative Services Director Debra Murray are the only officials named in the affidavit.

They are also named in the May 13 and May 21 affidavits, which allege violations of state budget law in the county's 1999 contract with NC Telecom, and the county's mid-May money transfer between budget funds to cover debt on the Public Safety Center.

Myers declined comment on any of the allegations.

"We'll sort out what happened, apply it to the law and make a decision based on that," he said.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com

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