Wall advised to seek attorney

Commissioners: Sheriff's policies have legal, fiscal risks

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Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall shown in his office in Steamboat Springs on Friday afternoon.

— The Routt County Board of Commissioners has advised Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall to seek legal counsel, citing Sheriff's Office policies that commissioners say "present significant legal or financial risk for the county."

In a letter dated Oct. 2 - the latest correspondence in nearly four months of ongoing policy discussions - the commissioners and County Attorney John Merrill cite inconsistent and incomplete Sheriff's Office policies that "require modification" and may not be in compliance with state and federal laws.

"Based upon advice John (Merrill) has given us, we believe that we should advise you at this time that you will need to seek legal advice from attorneys other than those in the County Attorney's Office from now on," reads the letter signed by all three commissioners. "You will need to adjust your budget request for 2008 accordingly."

Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said independent attorney fees for the Sheriff's Office could reach $100,000.

Wall said he does not anticipate spending close to that amount on legal fees.

"Absolutely not," he said. "I'm shocked at that number. I don't intend on this being an ongoing cost. I don't see huge legal bills related to this."

The Sheriff's Office already is incurring legal bills related to the ongoing policy discussions between Wall and county commissioners.

After receiving a legal memo from Merrill in July, Wall hired the Law Offices of Ralph Cantafio, P.C., to represent the Sheriff's Office, which Wall asserts is not subject to the same administrative oversight as other county departments.

The county recently approved a $3,100 legal bill that the Sheriff's Office already has acquired. Wall said Cantafio charges $150 an hour. Wall said he intends to keep Cantafio as the Sheriff's Office attorney.

Other county's policies?

Wall recently posted several dozen Sheriff's Office policies on a new Web site, www.co.routt.co.us/sheriff/.

In a three-page document attached to the commissioners' Oct. 2 letter, Merrill presented a detailed review of the policies and cited numerous "areas where there are legal problems or areas of conflict between the sheriff's policy and the county policy."

Merrill questioned the origin of many of Wall's policies.

"Most of these policies seem to have been copied from the policies of some other county's sheriff," Merrill wrote. "There are several references to Boulder County, at least one reference to the need to maintain good relationships with the 20th Judicial District (Boulder County), numerous references to Sheriff's (Office) sections, divisions and ranks which do not exist in the Routt County Sheriff's Office, references to county offices and practices that do not exist : and there is at least one policy signature line for "Joseph K. Pelle" as sheriff."

Pelle is Boulder County Sheriff and president of County Sheriffs of Colorado.

Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush called the mistakes "an obvious lack of review and oversight."

Wall acknowledged that some of the policies need corrections, and said he used templates from Boulder, Larimer, Pueblo and Douglas counties for some of Routt County's policies.

"I didn't want to reinvent the wheel," he said. "We wanted to get our policies online as soon as possible. Those were some growing pains of operating our first Web site."

Wall said the mistakes are "simple things to fix." Wall said he is happy to modify the policies, especially those that do not comply with state or federal law, but maintained that he is a separate elected official and does not need the county's "approval" to run his office.

County concerns

Wall said Merrill's contention that Sheriff's Office policies could propose risk to the county could take more research and review.

Specifically, Merrill expressed concerns about Sheriff's Office policies that present contradicting regulations about staff pay, could violate the Fair Labor Standards Act administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, and do not comply with the federal Armstrong/Walker Excessive Force Amendment.

Wall said the excessive force policy, which was adopted Sept. 1 with different language than a policy certified by commissioners in August, already has been updated. Wall said he will continue to review policies and amend them as necessary to be in compliance with state and federal law.

"We'll continue to update and change our policies regarding public safety just as the county has updated their policies from time to time," Wall said. "It isn't the end. Nothing is etched is stone."

Mitsch Bush said her concerns are the county would still assume "legal and financial responsibility and liability" if anything happened as a result of an inconsistent Sheriff's Office policy.

"I'm very concerned about what's going to happen," she said. "The taxpayers are going to be paying for the inconsistencies with these policies. Let's hope nothing happens."

Stahoviak said the county has been more than happy to allow other county department heads to modify or create "stand alone" policies, as long as the policies met county approval.

Mitsch Bush agreed, noting that the ongoing policy discussions are not partisan in nature.

"I hope the public and the press doesn't see this as partisan in any way," she said. "It's not just (Stahoviak) the Republican questioning Gary. All three of the commissioners want all policies to protect the people of Routt County. It isn't about personalities. It's about what's on paper in black and white."

Mitsch Bush said it is inappropriate for the county to tell Wall what to do, how to run his office, or which policies he should adopt or alter, but that she hopes Wall will continue to work with the county on the issue.

"As an elected official, your policies need to be detailed, open, legally defensible and fiscally responsible to the public," she said.

Moving forward

Stahoviak said the county's actions are not "nitpicking."

"I know the sheriff thinks we're nitpicking here. We aren't. We're trying to protect the citizens of Routt County through our authority as the Board of County Commissioners," she said. "Our goal is to protect the county from any undue financial risk because of liabilities that are being created."

Mitsch Bush agreed.

"I think Gary does see it as a power struggle," she said. "We don't."

Although the commissioners and Wall might not agree about policies or their exact relationship, they do agree on one thing: they want to move forward.

"I wouldn't think that this issue would create such a problem that we can't have a working relationship with our sheriff," Stahoviak said. "That would be a concern of ours."

"This has nothing to do with not getting along," Wall said. "I want to get along with the Board of County Commissioners. We're all in this together, we just have some differing opinions."

Comments

dave reynolds 7 years, 2 months ago

be carwefull what you wish for you just might get it..i voted for wiggins

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dave reynolds 7 years, 2 months ago

be carefull what you wish for you just might get it..i voted for wiggins

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Gladys 7 years, 2 months ago

LOL - I can't believe you people elected such an incompetent Bozo for your Sheriff. What were you thinking?

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dundalk 7 years, 2 months ago

This arrogant and pompus stooge continues to amaze me.

Certified yet Gary?

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thecondoguy1 7 years, 2 months ago

Wall is plagerizing bafoon, when is this going to stop? He gets an F on the website, very sloppy work, an E may be as appropriate..................

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CoJustice 7 years, 2 months ago

I wonder who the "copy-and-paste" policy specialist is ?

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Malcolm_Reynolds 7 years, 2 months ago

Gladys, Only Steamboat Springs carried Wall not the rest of the county. The majority of the voters in Steamboat are the real bozos. That's why he is the Sheriff of Steamboat Springs.

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CoJustice 7 years, 2 months ago

I am interested in knowing if other Sheriffs Offices that are named will co-op legal expenses to acquire a cease order to protect themselves.

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whyquestion 7 years, 2 months ago

stop wasting our TAX MONEY on your EGO!!!!WALL!!! give your deputies a raise, more TECH SUPPORT etc. how about finding the people that gave drugs to the KIDS that BLEW themselves UP????lots of better places to spend OUR taxes!!!!!

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id04sp 7 years, 2 months ago

Why?

Well because they were in Rio Blanco County when they blew themselves up. It's called J-U-R-I-S-D-I-C-T-I-O-N!

Why hasn't GRAMNET or ACET or whatever it's called found the folks who sold the drugs? It's because they are YO-YOs, that's why. They want us to fund their "Wild-West Cowboy Cop Camp" adventure, and that's about it.

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dundalk 7 years, 2 months ago

Id:

Very every intelligent remark you make from time to time, you then go and blow it by example of your aforementioned comment.

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CoJustice 7 years, 2 months ago

id04: "They want us to fund ", interesting, who is us?

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id04sp 7 years, 2 months ago

CoJo,

The taxpayers.

I used to be in a job where my unit went out and burned up $10,000 to $15,000 of the taxpayers' money every day on jet fuel and aircraft maintenance so that we'd be ready to act when called to perform our primary function -- search and rescue.

It was FUN! It was NEAT! It was NECESSARY! It beat the heck out of driving a UPS package car or managing a Goodyear Tire store. And, occasionally, somebody got into trouble and we plucked them out of the water before they drowned. Most of the time, somebody got into trouble and we stuck a buoy on them after they drowned and waited for t he Coast Guard boat to show up and recover the body.

Was the money spent by the taxpayers worth it? Not really. It would have been cheaper to just give the families of the victims $100,000 and skip all that flying stuff.

I think that GRAMNET's history of misconduct and controversy, combined with their low arrest rate and the insignificant amount (in dollar value) of street drugs recovered by them proves that the 'special unit' was pretty much a way for cops to play at being cops because, well, gosh, it's fun to be a COP!

Colorado state crime statistics, arrests and convictions are listed on the CBI website. The low numbers of narcotic arrests for the GRAMNET area pretty much prove that they were either not doing much, or that there was not much going on with narcotics in their area. Either way, they were not worth the money being spent on them. I've got to believe that the GRAMNET boys, who are now ACET, just got bored with being patrol cops and didn't want to go to work in a place with more "action." Hence, a "do nothing" special unit, or as I called it, a "Wild West Cowboy Cop Camp" for bored senior cops, just wasn't worth the money.

The stats for Routt, Grand and Moffat counties for 2007 will be out next year. Let's just wait and see if the demise of GRAMNET caused a blip in the numbers, or if the rise of ACET will be reflected in the numbers of arrests. If there's no perceptible difference either way, then it's obvious the programs are a waste of resources and the people should go back and work in their own agencies doing things like, oh, I don't know, running a radar trap just below the summit on Rabbit Ears to keep the trucks from turning over?

Anybody ever heard the term, "Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone?" That's pretty much what GRAMNET was. I guess we'll see if ACET is any different when the numbers come out.

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CoJustice 7 years, 2 months ago

Not familiar with the "self licking ice cream" story, but I do know "Sour Grapes" when I see them. Please do not despair, your buddy will get full credit for his contribution of the "winches".

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CoJustice 7 years, 2 months ago

At least ACET recognizes the more sophisticated crime and the value of coordinating their efforts to develop an effective approach to investigate and prosecute. They are more aware of the importance of some of the new crimes generated by computer connectivity and fraud associated with these crimes. ACET can conduct complex criminal investigations.

Without the development of ACET, investigator would not have the ability to be effective against crimes such as electronic mail crimes, on-line gambling, identity theft. Fraudulent credit card transactions, child pornography, crimes against children, which by the way not only effect citizens, they effect all local governments.

Think we are immune to these types of crimes, think again. If this program had not evolved, you would have been the one complaining about the department's inability to solve complicated crimes effectively.

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id04sp 7 years, 2 months ago

CoJo,

I do not know Mr. Good Winch and don't intend to cultivate such a relationship.

My grapes are sour over former Sheriff Warner's crew of Keystone Cops who disposed of cases by declaring them to be of a "civil" nature, or just plain failing to send the paperwork over to the DA so that the accused could be indicted.

Good God! ACET is looking into computer crimes? What happened? Did one of them take a course at CMC and figure out how to use GOOGLE?

Steamboat PD used to have a guy who handled computer crimes. When I went to him for help with an employee theft case, he told me it was too hard to prove and then offered to sell me the business software he had developed on his Macintosh as a side business.

I'm pretty sure that anybody with a high speed internet connection, a few utility programs and a set of working frontal lobes could handle the technical challenges facing ACET. I'm not impressed. It's just a way to get a patrol officer out of the vehicle and into a place where he can spend his day browsing the internet.

How do I contact ACET? I have a mail/wire fraud case that would be a slam dunk for them. It involves people acting under color of law to obtain money from homeowners, and then using the money so obtained for personal profit in real estate development through a supposedly non-profit corporation. How does 1/2 million in fraud sound to you?

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CoJustice 7 years, 2 months ago

I don't think your going to be contacting ACET, since you have previously stated that you live outside the city limits, and the Sheriffs office does not recognize their authority, or operate without consent of the Sheriff, you may go directly to the County Sheriffs Office and complete a report. I am more than confident that Sheriff Wall will complete an independent investigation on your behalf.

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id04sp 7 years, 2 months ago

CoJo,

That last sentence almost doesn't sound sarcastic.

Has Sheriff Wall finished his reorganization to the point that they can handle a complex case, or were you just kidding me?

One thing for sure; I don't believe Sheriff Wall would want to be placed in a position to enforce a judgment of foreclosure over a debt that was obtained unlawfully. If any property in the affected area went to sheriff's sale over failure to pay fees and assessments, that's what it would be.

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CoJustice 7 years, 2 months ago

Id04: I am sincere in saying, that you appear to be an intelligent guy, and are probably a nice guy with a bona fide complaint.

In response to your statement "Has Sheriff Wall finished his reorganization to the point that they can handle a complex case, or were you just kidding me?" The Sheriffs Office should accommodate you with collecting necessary information, forward it to the DA, or refer you to legal council if it's a civil matter. It does not matter what his office can handle, he has a support staff.

I am not going to give you legal advice, but there is a process with many steps that take place before a "Sheriffs Sale" can transpire. Be specific in your complaint (not to me) but to the person charged with the responsibility of collecting data for your complaint.

HOAs, POAs and "Deed Restrictions" have specific guidelines to follow, they are governed by the same "Open Records" statutes and cannot refuse information to you, if you are the party directly involved. You have a period of time that the Courts allow for "rights of redemption" or appeals, and so on, and so on. The term "Sheriffs Sales" is just the power to enforce a judgment, the last catch phrase, not the first.

You appear to have a lot of legal problems, or are YOU just kidding me?

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CoJustice 7 years, 2 months ago

Ps, in regards to your statement "I don't believe Sheriff Wall would want to be placed in a position to enforce a judgment of foreclosure over a debt that was obtained unlawfully".

If you get a judgment, and the "Sheriffs Office does not want to be placed in a position of enforcement":... Were going to be contacting John W. Suthers, Attorney General.

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id04sp 7 years, 2 months ago

CoJo,

Thanks for the kind words, and I will be equally candid in my response.

I know all the steps for a sheriff's sale, etc. I am not subject to such a thing. I do know of bona fide cases where an HOA spent member's dues to foreclose and obtain property in 1998 and then sold it back to an officer of the HOA for $10.00, after which the property was resold for a profit to a third party. The HOA is out about $4,000 on the deal. It's pretty much just the same as embezzlement, but it was a "civil matter" under Warner. If a property owner files a lawsuit, they become liable for the HOA legal expenses of defending the case if the HOA wins. That is a powerfully coercive tool for the HOA to use against private parties to keep people quiet and in line. When the cops declare an act of criminal coercion under color of official right to be a civil matter, they become accessories to theft, plain and simple.

My "a lot of legal problems" stem from refusing to pay unlawful debts. Most people pay up and shut up because it's cheaper, and they are embarrassed to have their names dragged through the dirt. They fear their credit will be affected, etc. Not so, but it's a reasonable fear for people who don't know about such things.

My problems have been solved, but I know other people -- over 100 of them -- who are being robbed to pay for roads which benefit someone else's real estate development project. That's just not right. It's not my problem, but does that mean I should let it go?

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id04sp 7 years, 2 months ago

CoJo,

A judgment which is obtained unlawfully represents a fraud upon the court. A judgment obtained for the purpose of depriving someone of their property without lawful authority is theft under color of official right. It's all in the statutes. The Sheriff would be 100% within his rights and duties to investigate the nature of judgment, how it was obtained, and arrest and prosecute anyone who engaged in a fraud. This includes a fraud committed by a person in authority, such as a judge, clerk, police officer, DA, etc.

It is, in fact, a criminal offense to register or attempt to enforce any lien, etc., which has been obtained unlawfully.

As for the HOA involved in the situation I described, posting the name here would only result in having my posts removed.

(http://pioneer.co.routt.co.us/aptitude/oncoreweb/Search.aspx).

Try 499922

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justice4all 7 years, 2 months ago

Now let us look at incompetence in the D A 's office. Go to Yahoo search and enter JOSEPH DEANGELO ( the investigator with the D A's office) Read #3,----- Fort Wayne, Indiana police officers--- You will see what we have for a public servant. Ms Rosink, where was your head when you hired your investigator???? Is this the fair haired Joseph Deangelo that is employed by the 14th judicial district? Did you do a background on him? Obviously not!!! I URGE EVERYONE TO READ THIS YAHOO SEARCH!!!!! AND SHARE THIS WITH EVERYONE YOU KNOW. This will probably be the best reading you have done in a long time.

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