Thursday, January 3, 2002
Steamboat Springs The special prosecutor investigating Charles Feldmann has been taken off the case, further delaying an already lengthy inquiry.
Fifth Judicial District Attorney Michael Goodbee, not Rob Wheeler, will decide whether Feldmann used an expense fund inappropriately while Feldmann was a prosecutor for the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office in Steamboat Springs.
Wheeler, who worked out of Goodbee's Georgetown office, was placed on administrative leave in December for confirming information to his girlfriend embattled Georgetown Mayor Koleen Brooks, a controversial former stripper who is the target of an unrelated investigation.
"It wasn't criminal," Goodbee said of Wheeler's actions. "But it was clearly inappropriate."
Goodbee said Wheeler confirmed Brooks' suspicion that she was the target of an investigation regarding threats she allegedly made toward a Georgetown police officer.
"He confirmed information that she already knew," Goodbee said.
Brooks was investigated for allegedly making threats toward the officer.
An inquiry conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation determined the allegations were unfounded but the investigation did show Wheeler acted inappropriately, Goodbee said.
Prior to Wheeler's administrative leave, he had been working on the Feldmann case, which was assigned to Goodbee's office in May 2001.
In November, Wheeler met with Feldmann's attorneys and said in early December he was close to making a decision on whether to file charges against Feldmann.
Wheeler said he would hold off on making a decision until he had a second meeting with Feldmann's attorneys, Kristopher Hammond and Michael O'Hara.
Because of the situation, Goodbee has reassigned Wheeler to the Summit County office.
He gets back to work on Monday, Goodbee said.
Goodbee, who works out of the district's Eagle County office, said the Feldmann case is a high priority for him.
He said he is making arrangements to review Wheeler's files on the case and is scheduled to meet with the investigator next week.
"I don't have a target date," Goodbee said.
"But I need to wrap it up soon."
Hammond said on Thursday that he was not aware Goodbee was handling the investigation, which has been ongoing for almost eight months.
"It is an unfortunate thing to be hanging over our heads," Hammond said. "It is kind of hard not knowing what is going to happen. It would be frustrating for anyone."
According to court documents, Goodbee is examining Feldmann's expense fund between October 2000 and the time of his resignation on May 14, 2001.
Feldmann worked for 14th Judicial District Attorney Paul McLimans for about five years but abruptly resigned.
The expense fund was a point of contention for Feldmann and McLimans in the days leading up to the resignation.
McLimans met with Feldmann four days before the resignation to discuss the expense fund.
After Feldmann resigned, McLimans requested an independent investigation of how the fund was used. Routt County Judge James Garrecht repsonded to the request by appointing Goodbee's office to handle the inquiry.
The investigation was delayed during the summer and fall because of two murder cases that consumed much of the time in Goodbee's office.
McLimans has replaced Feldmann in the Steamboat Springs office with David Moffat.
Feldmann is working for a Steamboat Springs law firm.