DA investigating former officer, ACET member | CraigDailyPress.com

DA investigating former officer, ACET member

Collin Smith

The 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office is investigating a former Craig Police Dep­artment officer and All Crimes Enforcement Team task force member for an incident regarding $500 in lost ACET funds.

Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta said officer Bob Brabo resigned Nov. 5 after an internal investigation revealed he violated internal department policies.

The Police Department first received a report Oct. 27 that Brabo lost $500 in drug buy money and started its investigation immediately, which Vanatta said is normal for any report of lost property.

Since then, Brabo has repaid the lost funds in full, and there is no unaccounted for ACET property, the chief added.

"There was an allegation made that he violated department policies, and we investigated those and found the allegations sustained, and he resigned in lieu of termination," Vanatta said.

The chief added that he could not disclose the specifics of the investigation because it is a personnel matter, but said the department has a policy similar to a state statute that prevents someone from using public property for personal use.

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Whether the property is used knowingly or by accident is immaterial to the state law and the Police Department's policy, Vanatta said.

The internal investigation did not find conclusive evidence of any criminal actions, he added, but the case was referred to the District Attorney's Office to proceed with a criminal investigation and charges, if appropriate.

District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham said her office has notified area attorneys that Brabo resigned after a police investigation.

If necessary, she said she will disclose all information about Brabo to past and current defendants, like her office did following its investigation of former Craig Police Detective Ken Johnson.

Johnson, who also was an ACET task force member, was arrested and charged with attempting to influence a public servant, a Class 4 felony; and accessory to crime and embezzlement of public property, both Class 5 felonies.

He is scheduled to appear at 11 a.m. today in Moffat County District Court.

All of Johnson's charges stem from alleged misconduct during his time as a police officer and ACET member, and a reported sexual relationship he had with Craig resident Tausha Merwin.

Merwin previously was convicted of drug charges and was on probation for additional drug charges during her reported relationship with Johnson.

Brabo was selected in March to replace Johnson on the ACET task force, however the investigations involving the two men are completely separate, Vanatta said.

Brabo's actions and the ongoing investigation could impact one or two existing cases he was in charge of before his resignation, ACET Commander Garrett Wiggins said.

However, those cases are continuing without Brabo's involvement, he added.

Despite two of his officers resigning amid recent internal and criminal investigations, Wiggins said he does not believe ACET has been compromised or that the supervision of its officers should be in question.

"We've had some problem employees," he said. "I think anybody who knows all of the specifics about these individuals and their credibility and what happened with these certain individuals knows it's not really ACET's fault. ACET gets these employees from certain departments. I don't really have any say-so in who I get."

Wiggins added that he is looking forward to a Colorado Bureau of Investigation inquiry of ACET's policies and procedures scheduled to begin Monday.

Local law enforcement requested the inquiry to help them strengthen the task force.

Everything always can be improved, Wiggins said, and ACET and the community can only benefit from the CBI's involvement.

Vanatta said the task force is vital to Northwest Colorado and curtailing the local drug trade.

"It provides a resource that individually each individual agency could not provide," he said. "Does it need some tweaking, and do we need to maybe reevaluate how we're doing it? Absolutely."

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