Past mistakes

Sheriff's candidate Wall filed for bankruptcy, Wiggins reprimanded twice



Gary Wall, the Democratic candidate for Routt County sheriff, served as Vail's police chief during the 1970s and currently is a private investigator.


Garrett Wiggins, the Republican candidate for Routt County sheriff, is a police officer and narcotics investigator with the Steamboat Springs Police Department.

— Gary Wall, the Democratic candidate for Routt County sheriff, filed for bankruptcy protection and had liens filed against him by the IRS in the 1990s.

Garrett Wiggins, the Republican candidate, has never been arrested nor filed for bankruptcy. However, he acknowledged Wednesday that he has been reprimanded twice in his law enforcement career.

The Steamboat Pilot & Today questioned both candidates about their backgrounds Wednesday and then ran background checks using a fee-based Internet service called IntegraScan. The background checks did not produce any information that the candidates had not already acknowledged.

Wall's background

The background check on Wall showed that the IRS filed three tax liens ranging between $2,064 and $15,553 against him between 1990 and 1992. Wall said the liens were resolved years ago.

The check also showed that Wall filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 1996. Wall, 65, said he filed for bankruptcy on the advice of attorneys. He said the financial crisis was the result of a bitter divorce that left him thousands of dollars in debt.

"Every attorney I talked to back then told me I had no choice but to file bankruptcy because I was responsible for (all of the debt from the marriage)," he said.

Under Chapter 13, debtors repay as many creditors as possible from future income.

Wall said his 10-year-old bankruptcy filing was for personal reasons and does not have any bearing on his ability to manage the Sheriff's Office. "This has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with me running for sheriff or my capacity for doing so," he said.

Wall was charged in 2001 in Maricopa, Ariz., for obstructing traffic and disorderly conduct. Wall said he chose to jog home, rather than drive, after a night at a casino. He was stopped by officers who found his presence along the highway that late at night suspicious. All charges were later dismissed, Wall said.

Wall said he has no criminal history, which the background check verified.

"As a licensed private investigator in Arizona, I am required to give fingerprints every two years, and they do background checks on me," he said. "There is nothing there."

Wall served as a detective in Aspen and as the police chief in Vail during the 1970s. He had a clean and successful record in both roles, said Terry Minger, Vail's city manager at the time. Minger said he recruited Wall from Aspen to be Vail's police chief.

"I hired Gary from the Aspen Police Department because at the time he was a sergeant on the Aspen force and had a good reputation there," Minger said. "I had just fired a police chief in Vail and was looking for someone younger, less rigid and that fit into a resort community."

Minger said he and Wall both left the city of Vail within six months of each other to pursue private business opportunities. Both left under good terms, he said.

Wiggins' background

Wiggins, 40, said he has never been arrested or convicted of a felony but that he has been reprimanded during more than 20 years as an officer.

"Yeah, I've been reprimanded," Wiggins said. "Once during my first year as a police officer in Quincy, Fla., and once in 2001 at the (Routt County) Sheriff's Office."

The reprimand at the Sheriff's Office later was removed from his file after he had an opportunity to explain his position with his superiors, he said.

Wiggins said he has not been reprimanded during his five years working as a police officer in Steamboat Springs. Public Safety Director J.D. Hays confirmed Wiggins' statement.

Wiggins said his first reprimand in Florida came after he "got out of line and used some inappropriate" language with his supervisor, a sergeant.

While working at the Sheriff's Office, Wiggins was written up for using poor officer safety during a situation in 2001 in which Wiggins pulled over a driver who was driving with a revoked license and whose two passengers were intoxicated. The men also had weapons and ammunition in the car because they had been hunting, he said.

Wiggins said he made the decision to get the men out of the car and stand them alongside the highway, which his sergeant felt exhibited poor officer safety because Wiggins did not have backup. Wiggins said he wrote a letter justifying his actions and got the reprimand removed from his personnel file.

Routt County Sheriff John Warner said Wednesday he could not discuss Wiggins' personnel file.


liakoz 8 years, 12 months ago

On what grounds can you say that he was intoxicated?! Until you have proof, this is nonsense. It is comments like these that influence voters positively or negatively. Please be aware of that, Hmmm. I'm not going around saying untruths about either candidate. Before you post next time, think about the repercussions.


kingsride 8 years, 12 months ago

Tin Badges? Tin Badges? I don't got to show you no stinking tin badges!


ihatestupidpeople 8 years, 12 months ago

in the pitcure of gary wall where the heck did he get his badge if he is not post certified. what did he go to the walmart toy dept. and get the toy gun and badge


steamvent 8 years, 12 months ago

If you are stopped late at night by a law officer, do you want him walking up to your window with his hand on his gun ready to ratchet up the situation if you sneeze and seize the opportunity to utilize all his tough guy training, or do you want someone to respect you as a citizen and treat you with the same respect you treat him? When you vote, decide which of these guys will demand that his officers respect your rights.


kingsride 8 years, 12 months ago

I would want him walking up with that gun sober, thats for sure


weallnutz 8 years, 12 months ago

I have worked with Wiggins a lot, not once ever have I seen him get a tough guy, throw my weight around attititude...and believe me I've seen a lot of officers get that attitude, State Patrolmen are famous for it. I think I'll vote for the guy who I know will require his officers to respect the law, to enforce the law, and protect the rights of citizens, victims, and suspects, and who will require his officers to pay their taxes, and their debts, and not get arrested after casino nights!!


steamvent 8 years, 12 months ago

Whoa ... someone is a little sensitive ... assuming Wiggins has a grip on his weapon. Getting a little personal aren't you Nutzy? And you work with GW? Now I feel better.


Montana 8 years, 12 months ago

Of course being approached by an officer who is ready to pull his weapon would make anyone nervous but jaobee has a good point, they are in a very dangerous position. They are risking their lives daily, and without many thank-you's either. They'll have to crack down even more when we have idiots driving around 'dazed and confused'.
I'm buying stock in Dorritos and Betty Crocker!!! LOL


Hmmm 8 years, 12 months ago

First off, I did not say anything worse than what anyone else has posted about these candidates...maybe the Pilot staff doesn't want a Dem influencing people's the story for yourself people, because the article says it all (even liakoz says I'm influencing people's vote...decide for yourself). Hello liakoz...the article says that Wall chose to jog home (instead of drive) after a night at a casino? Why did he choose to do that? Come on people, it's not rocket between the lines...although, "ignorance is bliss" for some. Second, Wall was charged with 2 of them being disorderly conduct. Yes they were dropped, but come on!! He was arrested in 2001 (just 5 years ago) for obviously doing something...I'm sure he didn't say, "Hi officers, I'm just jogging home and thank you guys for stopping to check on me...I appreciate what you do." Again, decide for yourself people...someone who has been arrested and clearly appears to be anti-law enforcement (i.e. doesnt' respect them) to lead the Sheriff's Office or someone who currently holds a state certification, currently works in law enforcement, and has never been arrested? I know who I would choose.


Hmmm 8 years, 12 months ago talk about untruths in your post. What about the blanket statement that Wall made regarding the Sheriff's Office not respecting people's civil liberties and constitutional rights? Again, aren't there a lot of new deputies? Does Wall personally know these deputies and how they interact with citizens during the course of their duties? I would venture that he does not know them, so how he make such a statement (borders on being slanderous...and I do know the definition)? And he wants to lead the Sheriff's Office after a comment like that? I put out a challenge to Dems, Republicans, and otherwise to write in if they have actually had a good experience with law enforcement in this county. In fact, I've been pulled over by the Sheriff's Office and I should have received a traffic ticket (speeding). The deputy was very professional, very nice, and just gave me a civil liberties or rights violations complaint from me. Anyone else?


Montana 8 years, 12 months ago

I happen to know that even when Joe Scumbag complains about being violated or harassed in any way at all, which becomes a routine for most Joe Scumbags, the complaints are investigated by the departments very seriously. VERY seriously. I also know that the undersheriff can have quite the temper, definately not someone you want to face when you have done wrong. All these claims of violated rights are very simply ...uneducated opinions. The same types of people who take Mickey D's to court for hot coffee. On a personal note, I have a heavy right foot and I have always been treated respectfully when contacted by the law. I have paid my tickets timely. I have not tried to discredit the officers ethics to get out of my fine. I appoligize, I pay for my crime, and then, since I HAVE a life, I live it.


techdubb12 8 years, 12 months ago

On the topic of ":uneducated opinions", "They'll have to crack down even more when we have idiots driving around 'dazed and confused'."

What makes you think these "idiots" aren't already driving around? Rest assured they are already on the roads. Where are they in our local crime log? The very same log littered with DUIs. Here's a proposed experiment:

On a daily basis, clip out segments, involving DUIs, from The Record and place them in a pile. In another pile, store all segments involving the "idiots" you refer to. This may be incorrect, but there is a good chance a trend will develop in the size of the piles.

Why the choice of the word "idiot"? Are you asserting that all those "dazed and confused" are idiots? What of driving under the influence of alcohol? Surely you'd agree that they, too, are "idiots". Should all people who consume alcohol be classified under this brand?

As long as this forum has been active (the old one included), many contributing writers make excellent points only to dilute them with poor choice of wording and/or blatant inclusion of "uneducated opinion". Simply put, facts are much harder to denounce or ignore.


Montana 8 years, 11 months ago

Don't assume what I think. It is common knowledge that people are driving about while ability impaired by a lot of things. Why would we go asking for more? You can sit with your articles and scissors and experiment your little heart away. Better yet, experiment now, and then again if this obserd ammendment passes, and you just prove your little 'trend' point wrong all by yourself. Okay kids, which pile will get bigger once 44 passes?
As for the "uneducated opinion" comment I made, this is honestly how I feel about all the people who walk through life, day in and day out, looking for someone to sue, looking for any way to blame their hardfalls on someone else, claiming violation of rights, etc. Turns out they have a new leader and lookey here, he wants to be Sheriff too. Ask anyone in a cell and they will tell you; 1) I didn't do it ; or 2) I did do it but it wasn't my fault. Do you happen to see a 'trend' at all? Well here is my new improved trend, I would like to THANK the officers for continuing to do an outstanding job (even when they are ridiculed by public and a Sheriff's candidate).


techdubb12 8 years, 11 months ago

Honestly, the overall hostility and emotion found in this forum is disheartening. At no point did I say driving under the influence of marijuana was safe, or mention that pot wasn't dangerous.

The only stance that I've taken is that marijuana is comparable to alcohol and/or nicotine in all levels of anti-marijuana debate. In fact, my views on amendment forty-four have always been; if our government gives us the freedom to choose the use of nicotine and alcohol, I'd prefer if they would allow the same in regards to decisions on marijuana, rather than jail time and fines.

As far as law enforcement and litigation-happy folk go, I couldn't be more in agreement with you Montana. I was merely pointing out that you clouded your point with a jab at marijuana smoking "idiots". It's approaches like this that fuel unnecessary aggression in the opposition. You're not convincing anyone of anything, you're venting. Someone who might have agreed with your point on law enforcement's highly dangerous job would then completely discredit you because of your closing comments.

And sbvor, you're correct that the legalization of marijuana use, while leaving production and distribution is a dangerous thing. But are you to have us believe that a multibillion dollar drug trafficking problem is going to be solved by further jailing and fining marijuana users? I can't imagine the problem getting much worse upon one state legalizing pot. (Colorado's population is ~1/8th of California's and ~1/58th of the overall population.) To stop illegal drug trade, passionate energy needs to be directly applied to the issue. Have you put any thought into how this problem could be solved? Or will it be a case of "I told you so"?

I'm not asking everyone to agree with me. For me to expect that would be a severe case of dementia. I'm merely looking for productive debate on an amendment that will affect an entire state. Please, use your passion to educate those who are uncertain. Words like "irresponsible", "hilarious" and general mockery are not going to sway the 35% of the undecided voters. If anything, this type of badgering and unfounded emotional debate is a disservice to the anti-amendment 44 campaign.


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