District Attorney issues new round of Dinosaur subpoenas
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect Dinosaur’s previous town marshal was not fired.
The Dinosaur Town Council will be taking another taxpayer-funded trip Thursday, Feb. 28, to Steamboat Springs to testify before a grand jury regarding an ongoing, sealed investigation into the small town of about 300.
Trustee David Heinrich on Tuesday, Feb. 26, confirmed he and at least eight others were served a second round of subpoenas by 14th Judicial District attorneys on or about Feb. 18 compelling them to appear before a grand jury.
“I have to be in Steamboat on Thursday for the grand jury,” Heinrich said during an interview Tuesday.
The grand jury would decide whether to charge anyone with a crime, but its proceedings are secret and sealed from public disclosure.
On Jan. 31, the Craig Press requested a search warrant affidavit that was executed on the town council, but the newspaper was denied access to the warrant, which had been sealed Jan. 29 by Moffat County Judge Sandra Gardner.
Donna Zulian, public information officer for the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, said the search warrant was sealed due to the ongoing investigation.
“There is an investigation going in Dinosaur at this time, but that’s all we can release,” Zulian said.
The Dinosaur investigation story has spread across the state, having recently been picked up by The Colorado Sun — an independent online publication started by former Denver Post journalists.
Heinrich alleged the investigation into Dinosaur arose from rumors and lies from Dinosaur residents who — had they simply been involved in their local affairs — would’ve know there was nothing to investigate.
“It’s costing the taxpayers money,” Heinrich said of the town administration’s trips to Steamboat. “If they’d (Dinosaur residents) just come to the budget meetings, we wouldn’t even be here.”
Heinrich borrowed a favorite phrase of President Donald Trump when describing the Dinosaur investigation.
“This is fake news,” Heinrich said. “I never thought I’d say that, because I’m a Democrat.”
The subject of the investigation is not yet known, but several Dinosaur residents contacted the Craig Press in January alleging financial mismanagement of increased tax monies related to Dinosaur’s legalized recreational marijuana initiative. The residents also were outraged over the firing of Darren Reed, Dinosaur’s town marshal and only police officer.
After residents and business owners learned Dinosaur’s second town marshal in less than a year has been pushed out, they held a town hall meeting Jan. 29 at the Highway Bar & Grill.
During the gathering, which was streamed live on Facebook by Reed, residents expressed their concerns and decided to initiate a petition to recall the town council.
A GoFundMe page for Reed — Financial Assistance for Marshall (sic) Reed — has been created and so far has collected $400 of a $6,000 goal to help pay Reed’s living expenses.
Heinrich alleged Reed wasn’t honest and was fired for disobedience, though the accuracy of this statement has not been confirmed.
“He went behind our back,” Heinrich said. “If you have an employee who does the opposite of what you tell him to do, that employee will suffer the consequences.”
Heinrich claimed Reed was trying to circumvent council regarding funding for his department.
“When you need money to purchase items you need, you go the council,” Heinrich said. “He didn’t do that.”
Reed has declined to speak on the record about the Dinosaur investigation while it is ongoing.
According to meeting minutes from the Dinosaur Town Council meeting Feb. 12 — obtained via a Colorado Open Records Act request — no mention was made during the meeting of any town council recall petition. However, financial spreadsheets show the town is awash in legalized marijuana tax income — some $35,000 in the offseason month of January. Some of that money is being used to increase the budget in key areas — including the general fund and law enforcement, according to Heinrich.
Despite all that cash, Dinosaur officials are confident they’ve complied with the law and haven’t made any mistakes — other than maybe one.
“The only mistake we made was hiring him (Reed) in the first place,” Heinrich said.
Contact Clay Thorp at 970-875-1795 or cthorp@CraigDailyPress.com.