Wiggins wants investigator Joe DeAngelo as his undersheriff | CraigDailyPress.com

Wiggins wants investigator Joe DeAngelo as his undersheriff

Sheriff-elect wants former DA’s Office investigator as undersheriff

Zach Fridell
Sheriff-elect Garrett Wiggins sits in front of the Routt County Board of Commissioners on Monday afternoon to request his choice for undersheriff, Joe DeAngelo, to come on at a higher pay level.
John F. Russell

— Routt County Sheriff-elect Garrett Wiggins wants investigator Joe DeAngelo to be his undersheriff. DeAngelo, however, isn’t sure he’s ready to move back to Northwest Colorado.

In an effort to convince De­­Angelo to take the job, Wiggins is asking the Routt County Board of Commissioners to increase the pay he can offer the veteran investigator. If the commissioners approve the request today, DeAngelo could be brought on at a Step 5 salary, or $79,539 a year.

Commissioners must approve any hires above Step 3 on the 11-step scale. The Step 3 hiring rate is $74,630.

Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan has recommended the commissioners approve DeAngelo’s hire at Step 5.

DeAngelo was the chief investigator for the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for five years before his October departure. He is working as an investigator with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office in Denver.

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Wiggins said DeAngelo has not yet accepted his offer.

“It’s not a done deal yet, until I can get the salary comparable to what he’s making there,” Wiggins said.

DeAngelo said there are many factors at play, including the pay.

“I have the dream job here in Denver and I enjoy it very much and work with wonderful people here,” he said by phone Monday. “Garrett has recruited me very heavily and obviously initially I turned him down.”

He said he’s now reconsidering after getting calls and letters from Routt County residents who would like him to take the job. DeAngelo said he differs from Wiggins on politics — he’s a Democrat while Wiggins is a Republican — but he would like the chance to work with him.

Wiggins and DeAngelo have known each other for about five years, and they worked together closely on the investigation of former All Crimes Enforcement Team officer Ken Johnson. Wiggins, ACET’s commander, asked DeAngelo and the District Attorney’s Office to investigate the case against Johnson.

“At great political peril to himself insisted that our office, the district attorney’s office, look at the case again,” DeAngelo said. “I told him we would, but I explained to him it would be extremely detrimental on his career, and the guy, he had such strength of character and tenacity, he said I don’t care, we have a rogue cop here.”

Johnson eventually was convicted of misconduct.

DeAngelo endorsed Wig­gins during his campaign against Sheriff Gary Wall and gave at least $100 to the campaign. The final campaign finance reports are not due until early December.

The commissioners, while reviewing Wiggins’ request Monday afternoon, commented on DeAngelo’s experience and background. He has worked in law enforcement for more than 20 years, has a master’s degree in criminal investigations from Regis University in Denver and is an adjunct professor there, teaching criminal psychology courses.

DeAngelo said he owns a house in Denver and has two children who live there with their mother.

Wall also asked for a hiring pay increase for his undersheriff, Dave Bustos, in 2007. Wall asked that Bustos start at Step 9, but commissioners denied the request and Bustos was hired at Step 3, or $68,515 a year, at the time.

— To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208 or e-mail zfridell@steamboatpilot.com

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