Special prosecutor appointed

Investigation of deputy district attorney moves forward

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— Routt County Judge James Garrecht appointed a neighboring district attorney's office Thursday to investigate an expense fund of former Deputy District Attorney Charles Feldmann.

Garrecht appointed 5th Judicial District Attorney Michael Goodbee to act as a "special investigator/prosecutor" at the request of 14th Judicial District Attorney Paul McLimans.

McLimans received Feldmann's abrupt resignation Monday.

Goodbee's district includes Summit and Eagle counties.

Since his resignation, Feldmann has been unavailable for comment. Feldmann worked under McLimans for more than four years in the Steamboat Springs office.

According to Garrecht's order, Goodbee's office will be investigating Feldmann's action during his recent tenure as a prosecutor and also as the project director of the Grand, Moffat and Routt Narcotics Enforcement Team.

The investigation will examine Feldmann's expense fund between October 2000 and the date of Feldmann's resignation, the order shows.

McLimans has refused to comment about any aspect of the expense fund because it is the subject of an investigation.

McLimans has said he is concerned with the situation and requested Garrecht to appoint a special investigator/prosecutor.

The veteran district attorney asked for an independent office to investigate the matter to avoid an appearance of impropriety and an appearance of conflict, his request shows.

Also on Thursday, McLimans denied Steamboat Pilot & Today access to Feldmann's expense documents. The newspaper filed an Inspection of Public Records Act request Wednesday afternoon.

McLimans denied the request because he claims the expense documents are part of Feldmann's personnel files.

McLimans also cited the expense files are part of a current investigation and therefore are exempt from being released to the public.

Feldmann's departure is being felt by other prosecutors in the Steamboat Springs office.

Cases Feldmann was responsible for are being continued to allow other prosecutors to get up to speed on them.

On Wednesday, a number of cases Feldmann was responsible for were picked up by Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James.

"In the interim, I will be handling all the felony cases," St. James said.

Prior to Feldmann's resignation, felony cases were shared by St. James and Feldmann. Cases were assigned to one of the prosecutors based on the first letter of a suspect's last name.

St. James believes the workload will again be divided up using this practice once a replacement is hired, he said.

In the meantime, the bulk of the cases in the Steamboat Springs office will be handled by St. James and Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Wittemyer, McLimans said.

The two attorneys may also receive help from other prosecutors within the three offices in the district McLimans oversees, he said.

Public Defender Norm Townsend is concerned with how McLimans' office will handle current cases to which Feldmann was assigned.

"I do have a concern," Townsend said Thursday. "There were a number of cases where we were close to reaching a settlement. I don't know how they will be handled. I don't know if they will have to be continued or we will have to start all over."

Townsend is especially concerned of delays in cases where a suspect is in custody.

The veteran defense attorney was surprised to learn of Feldmann's resignation.

"I'm saddened on a personal level," Townsend said. "It was so abrupt."

Feldmann's brief letter of resignation submitted does not give a reason for his departure, McLimans said.

Feldmann's resignation happened days after he had a meeting with McLimans last week to discuss the expense fund.

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