DA asks for special prosecutor in county probe

By PAUL SHOCKLEY

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Fourteenth Judicial District Attorney Bonnie Roesink filed a motion today with Moffat County Combined Courts calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into allegations of wrongdoing by county commissioners and the county's administrative services director.

The motion -- to be ruled on by a judge in either Moffat County Court or Moffat County District Court -- is in response to two affidavits filed with the District Attorney's office within the last 10 days, Roesink said Thursday.

Roesink said state law mandates an investigation in response to the allegations -- a probe that will be handled outside the 14th Judicial District.

"There definitely would be a conflict when one-third of our budget comes from Moffat County," Roesink said.

Roesink said the investigation would be forwarded to the Ninth Judicial District, which covers Rio Blanco, Garfield and Pitkin counties.

"We know it's coming our way," said Mack Myers, district attorney for the Ninth Judicial.

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 May 13 affidavit relates to Moffat County's 1999 contract with NC Telecom.

The deal called for the delivery of two high-speed DS3 Internet lines -- one serving the Colorado State Patrol at the Moffat County Public Safety Center. The second half of the deal called for bandwidth capacity equaling one DS3 line for use "by the county, libraries, municipalities, hospitals and public schools in Moffat County."

The county was to "appropriate and prepay" in 2000 $500,000 and $700,000 respectively for the DS3 services.

The affidavit alleges money was never budgeted or appropriated, while expenditures were not "classified by object" as required by state statute. An alleged violation of County Resolution 1998-52 also is cited:

"Expenditures of monies for a purpose not identified in the budget (and hence appropriated for) are illegal," according to the resolution.

A statute stipulating that budget expenditures cannot be redirected between budget categories -- nor used for purposes not approved for --also is alleged to have been violated, according to the affidavit.

A second affidavit filed Wednesday alleges that last week's internal transfer of county monies -- $100,000 from the general fund and $200,000 from the Public Safety Center Fund to the jail fund -- violated state law.

Commissioners Thursday reversed that move -- passing a resolution that switched revenue pots from the general fund to the capital projects fund.

Raftopoulos Friday denied all the allegations, saying commissioners have acted on the advice of attorneys.

"We've not done anything illegal and have always followed a public process," Raftopoulos said.

Myers, meanwhile, said his investigators would simply be a "substitute" for Moffat County district attorney staff.

"I don't know what the allegations are, but we'd get somebody working on it fairly quick," Myers said. "If we decline to file charges, we would likely file a memorandum with the court. If we decide to file,

our attorneys would prosecute the case."

Myers declined to discuss potential penalties.

Roesink's office would pay all costs associated with the probe, he said.

Myers said referred special prosecution cases are common. Six cases sent from other districts remain active in his office because of conflicts, while about the same number have been referred outside of the Ninth Judicial District for review, he said.

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

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