County approves spending funds on legal fees

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County commissioners Monday discussed providing funds for legal fees if an ongoing investigation singled out county employees.

The investigation stems from allegations made against the county commission and the county's administrative director that were filed through affidavits with the District Attorney's office.

The two affidavits -- filed May 13 and May 21 -- allege "malfeasance" on the part of Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos, Administrative Services Director Debra Murray and other unnamed "county officials."

Both affidavits were filed by Stan Hathhorn, a Moffat County resident and a member of Concerned Taxpayers of Moffat County -- a group that held a public forum earlier this year amid a possible recall effort against commissioners Les Hampton and Raftopoulos.

The board unanimously approved Moffat County Administrative Services Director Debra Murray's request for legal council should she need it.

"Kathleen (Taylor, attorney for the Moffat County Commission) feels that she can only represent the board," Murray said during the meeting.

The action was not taken so that Murray could immediately secure an attorney but so that if the occasion should arise she would be free to contact a lawyer, Murray said.

The board said the money, if it was needed, would be taken out of a line item account in the county's budget for attorney's fees. According to secretary Cindy Shanahan, the line item has a balance of $10,000.

"We can't let you hang out to dry," said Les Hampton, commission chairman.

Neither Murray nor attorney Taylor would comment on the case.

"This isn't anything that you did, we have to protect you," said Commissioner Darryl Steele.

Moffat County District Attorney Bonnie Roesink turned the investigation over to the Ninth Judicial District because of a perceived conflict of interest stemming from the fact that the county pays a third of her budget.

The Ninth Judicial District covers Rio Blanco, Garfield and Pitkin counties.

Mack Myers, district attorney for the district, could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Liz King is an intern with the Craig Daily Press. She can be reached at 824-7031 or lking@craigdailypress.com

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