Whistleblower under investigation for perjury by DA’s Office
Steamboat Springs — Dave Kleiber, the former Steamboat Springs Police Department detective and whistleblower whose letter led to the resignations of Steamboat’s top two cops, is being investigated by the District Attorney’s Office for perjury, according to court documents.
Kleiber is being represented by Steamboat attorney Charles Feldmann, who said Kleiber was outraged by the accusations.
“Frankly, it just smells as kind of a witch hunt, or what I would call classic government retaliation against a whistleblower,” Feldmann said Wednesday.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the DA’s Office had not filed charges against Kleiber.
“I’ve not seen anything close to that,” Feldmann said. “I would just be shocked. We’ve done a detailed look into this matter, and it just would be so beyond anything I would expect.”
Routt County Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Karzen released a statement Wednesday afternoon:
“Audio evidence was recently brought to the District Attorney’s attention which warrants further investigation regarding Mr. Kleiber’s conduct in connection with a criminal investigation while he was a police detective. Consistent with our ethical obligations, the evidence was turned over to the attorney for the defendant in that case. Additionally, the evidence requires further investigation to determine if any crime was committed. The investigation will be guided only by the facts, and if no crime was committed, it will be closed without prosecution, just like any other investigation. We respect Mr. Feldman’s duty to advocate for his client, but our duty is to the public and to the integrity of the investigative process, and it would be inappropriate to comment further on an active investigation.”
It recently became clear the DA’s office was investigating Kleiber when the topic was brought up as part of a sexual assault case in Moffat County.
Patrick Welsh, an attorney with Feldmann’s law firm, is representing the defendant in that case. Kleiber had been retained by the defense as a private investigator and was expected to testify during the sex assault trial.
According to a document filed in Moffat County Court, Welsh said he received a voicemail from the District Attorney’s Office on July 8 stating Kleiber was a “perjurer” and “may have violated someone’s civil rights.”
Welsh, who was asking a judge to reschedule the trial, stated in the document that he spoke to Assistant District Attorney Han Ng, who no longer works at the office. Ng told Welsh the prosecution planned to cross-examine Kleiber “regarding these issues should he testify for the defense.”
Feldmann on July 9 received a letter from Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Karzen outlining some of the allegations against Kleiber.
Feldmann on Wednesday said he could not discuss the allegations. Feldman said he provided the District Attorney’s Office with substantial materials “that would completely clear up and exonerate any claims of perjury or any improper conduct when Dave Kleiber was a detective at the PD.”
According to a subpoena served on the Steamboat Springs Police Department by the District Attorney’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office on July 8 ordered interim police chief Jerry DeLong to produce all internal affairs/investigation files, including documentation and video/audio files.
When reached Wednesday, DeLong referred questions to the District Attorney’s Office.
It was believed the perjury accusations against Kleiber were related to the October 2013 Steven Torres trial. On July 8, the District Attorney’s Office requested transcripts of Kleiber’s testimony during the trial. Kleiber was a detective with the police department at the time. Kleiber left the police department on unknown terms a month after the trial.
Kleiber has not said why he left the police department.
Feldmann also would not comment on why Kleiber left the police department.
Feldmann said he does not think the timing of the District Attorney’s Office investigation into Kleiber was coincidental with Kleiber’s public outing of the police department’s leadership in his March letter distributed throughout the community. The letter sparked a three-month-long investigation by an investigator hired by the city.
“On the heels of that, you see government trying to look back through his disciplinary records and recordings and looking back through anything that they could find regarding his service as law enforcement,” Feldmann said. “I represent people in the military all over the world, and it’s a classic tactic to retaliate against a whistleblower that way.
“I don’t know where the DA’s office fits into that system, but certainly we’re confident — I know Mr. Kleiber is extremely confident — that there is no perjury or anything to substantiate anything like that,” Feldmann said. “It just seems to be a great way to smear someone who has tried to clean up some things in our community that needed cleaning up.”
Feldmann said Kleiber takes his honor very seriously, and Kleiber is a very truthful person.
“It’s easy to claim perjury and throw that out there,” Feldmann said. “I think we all think it’s an outrageous claim.”
Claims of retaliation related to the Kleiber letter are not unique to Kleiber.
The District Attorney’s Office on July 14 filed one charge of attempt to influence a public servant against Steamboat police officer Kristin Bantle.
According to the charge, Bantle provided false information on an employment application submitted to the Routt County Sheriff’s Office in early 2013.
In his letter, Kleiber wrote that Bantle reported to city officials issues of sexism, sexual harassment and the hostile work environment toward women at the police department. According to Kleiber, no corrective action was taken.
Steamboat Springs City Manager Deb Hinsvark on July 21 told police department employees that police officer Kristin Bantle had been “recommended for termination.”
Bantle’s attorney, Matt Tjosvold, did not want to comment Wednesday for this story.
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