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.

Photo by John F. Russell

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.

Wiggins wants investigator Joe DeAngelo as his undersheriff

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

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Joe DeAngelo

— 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.

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

Comments

jk 3 years, 8 months ago

Ah, the new regime takes charge. So where are the comments from ftp, clare, and screamer about how much extra this is gonna cost us taxpayers??

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boater1 3 years, 8 months ago

jk, i'll chime in. so our new conservative sheriff is asking for more $ in a time of finacial hardship??? NOT a good way to start wiggins. so are you a george bush republican who spends way too much $???

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beverly lemons 3 years, 8 months ago

Here he comes, he's princess sheriff. Better do what he wants, commissioners, or he will plant drugs in your cars. He wants his pet to be his undersheriff, no one else in the department, or in the world of law enforcement, will wear that leash like DeAngelo.

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Tommie Belz 3 years, 8 months ago

jk, sorry been out of town. I can tell you the current admin has probably wasted more $ in the past three years than Wiggins is asking for. However, it IS a time of financial conservativism (is that a word) might agree with you on this issue. I don't know DeAngelo, need to do my homework.

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ftpheide 3 years, 8 months ago

jk, Yes-yes-yes! A great choice! A real investigator. He even investigates police corruption! I like it! He has a masters in criminal psychology and is a adjunct professor at Regis. Things are looking up for Routt County!

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justice4all 3 years, 8 months ago

Evidently Wiggins has lowered his standards to an unforgivable level to even consider DeAngelo for dog catcher! No wonder Wiggins would not reveal the name of his selection for Undersheriff. So we all can be informed as to the character of this nominee, do a Yahoo or Google search for " Joseph A DeAngelo " , Fort Wayne, Indiana police officer.Then, decide for yourself if you want this person to even reside in Routt County. He impersonated an attorney, denied a person her Civil and Constitutional Rights, threatened her with a "LENGTHY PRISON SENTENCE" if she did not cooperate with his underhanded tactics and commited other despicable acts--ALL UNDER THE COLOR OF HIS BADGE! What a piece of trash!!!

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 8 months ago

As someone that has read that case, those are not quite the agreed upon facts. Those are the claims from those suing DeAngelo and the judge said even if those were to be proven true then DeAngelo could still claim those were mistakes from a police officer not fully understanding what is and is not constitutional. Thus, case dismissed because even if the plaintiffs were to prove their claims then that would not be enough to satisfy the legal requirements to win their case. Though, these same actions prevented any criminal cases from proceeding (unclear to me if a judge quashed the case or the DA dropped it).

Regardless, DeAngelo is certainly a 180 switch from respecting people's civil rights. Certainly if there is a bust that seems to be overreaching and failing to respect people's rights then there will be immediate questions if it was merely stupid or the expected result of an overly aggressive policy.

And if they target some dispensary to satisfy some obscure right wing objective then get out the recall petitions.

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tcb 3 years, 8 months ago

Don't know anything about this guy. Looked him up on this website and it appears that he's only been working for Attorney General for about 4 weeks. Now he wants to come back here? Haven't read any of the case you all are talking about, but will go look it up. In the mean time, big red flag!

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jk 3 years, 8 months ago

Interesting comments from the angry mob that only a few weeks ago sounded like they were ready for a linching!! It seems we may already be headed down an interesting road with our new sheriff and our county commissioners that didn't play out so well in the past. If I remember this was a major barking point for the mob. I guess we will all find out together how slippery the slope will get!

lame, as I have said before your name is very appropriate for the comments you post!!

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aichempty 3 years, 8 months ago

An excerpt from Scott Wedel's post above: >As someone that has read that case, those are not quite the agreed upon facts. Those are the claims from those suing DeAngelo and the judge said even if those were to be proven true then DeAngelo could still claim those were mistakes from a police officer not fully understanding what is and is not constitutional<

Ah, yeah, I see where this is going. Two scenarios suggest themselves.

First, when the RCSO is forced to investigate someone who is wealthy, powerful or influential, doing something "unconstitutional" forces the DA to drop the case. This is why those people hardly ever show up in drug trafficking cases.

Second, when going after someone who does not have the money, power or influence to protect them, busting up a trafficking operation which has a negative effect on the folks on the low-end of the economic scale has an immediate benefit, whether there's a conviction or not. So, a warrantless search (oops . . . I stumbled into this while investigating an animal cruelty complaint) leading to confiscation of drug paraphernalia, contraband pot, meth lab supplies, etc., still has the effect of shutting them down and spares the DA the expense of a trial. This could be very effective because it deals with the problem in a "frontier justice" kind of way and also saves the expenses of a trial, incarceration, etc., and makes the bad guys "move along," solving the local problem. Sure, they can sue for violation of their civil rights, but they'll never get anywhere with it, and as long as nobody is wrongfully imprisoned, physically injured or unlawfully detained they cannot sue to recover the cost of their lost illegal drugs. It's really a very smart thing to do as long as none of them come back ten years later and kill three or four people . . .

And it also protects the investment of the white-collar traffickers who bring it in through Bob Adams field . . . .

I had always suspected that there was a two-tiered justice system around here; one for nice people, and one for trouble-makers.

Well, since I no longer do legitimate business with people who are trafficking on the side (been there, done that, got the t-shirts . . . literally), I guess it doesn't matter to me. The only thing I've never been able to figure out is how the cops get their kickbacks, but maybe it's covered in their paychecks; you know, paying them top scale to look the other way when lawyers, realtors and business owners (people like the ones who serve on the county commission and city council) do a little bit of trading for "personal use."

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justice4all 3 years, 8 months ago

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION!!! The statement about DeAngelo investigating felony cases is a bad joke. I have personal and verifiable information that during an investigation DeAngelo not only swept a case "under the rug" to cover another officer's felony--- theft and embezzlement from the department that he worked for --- . He then allowed the original and sevely incriminating, written statement of the accused to be REWRITTEN to distort the facts and then removed the original statement from the file. DeAngelo then refused to prosecute the case and assisted the officer in getting hired by the Moffat Co Sheriff's Dept. Number 2: DeAngelo refused to follow up or prosecute an arson---burning the home of another. Number 3: A forgery of a legal document on a deed of trust. Number 3: Drug dealing by a government employee in a government office and while on the Government time. This case was then investigated by another agency and sucessfully prosecuted. And this is what Wiggins wants as a second in command. Quite obviously Wiggins does not do a thorough background investigation on his appointees. These facts have been brought to the attention of our local newspapers and they have refused to inform the public. Could be that I am wrong on this but I thought that was their job.

Stand by for more.

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greenwash 3 years, 8 months ago

Its wabbitt season and I plan on huntin wabbitts so be vewy vewy quiet.Mamas wittle baby woves wabbitt stew.

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aichempty 3 years, 8 months ago

Justice,

Wow. You came SO CLOSE to leaping to the obvious conclusion.

If what you say is true (which remains to be proved) and all those things were done, then maybe that's why Wiggins wants this man on his team.

If you have the proof you say, then you need to contact the U S Attorney's office and the FBI. Oh, but before you do, nothing will come of it.

How can these guys spend all the time and money they spend in this area and never catch anybody "important" unless it smacks them in the face? There have only been three cases where "respectable" people have been implicated in drug trafficking since back about '92.

It seems likely that the cops overlook most of it on purpose rather than that they are completely incompetent. I've often wondered if the turnover in our local agencies is due to people coming in, finding out what's really going on, and then leaving rather than be a part of it.

The history of corruption in police agencies across this country is full of instances where the higher-ups were using their positions for personal profit. There's nothing new about it. The difference is that, today, the public has more opportunity to communicate with each other and expose these situations when they become known.

Years ago, the real sheriff in the "Walking Tall" story took on corruption in his county and cleaned it up. Sheriff Wiggins will have an opportunity to do the same. Mr. DeMarco may be a PERFECT choice to help him do it. Assuming they can both get through the first couple of months without wrecking a vehicle or getting a DUI, we may see things get shaken up around town. An investigator who knows the DA's office and a Sheriff who knows the drug trade might make some changes for the better.

The question we need to have answered if your allegations are true is, did DeMarco let them off the hook as a "professional courtesy," because he could not make a case, or because he could not afford to put them in a place to trade information for leniency?

It's a sad fact that cops, DAs and judges can make a lot more money by NOT locking up criminals. Our liberal and drug-addled populace does not demand it. Around here, organized crime violence is unheard of, and that's why the feds never get involved. Non-violent crime is low priority for the feds. There has never yet been a reason for anybody from Denver to come up here and kick over stones, and that, I believe, is why people get away with the little "victimless" crimes that only cost honest people their hard-earned money. The feds are not going after a judge over $15,000 unless you have video of him accepting a bribe, and unfortunately, my case was one of simple theft under color of official right. Not a big payoff considering the cost of making a case, so I had to eat it.

As it turns out, as time goes on there are more people with much better reasons to hate him, and maybe someday I'll get $15,000 worth of satisfaction some other way ;-)

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aichempty 3 years, 8 months ago

A quote from the link posted by screamer:

It thus appears (always construing the facts as we must at this stage of the litigation as favorably to the plaintiff as the record will permit) that the police may have obtained Gepfert's consent to sex by fraud, and if so that was a battery<

Holy cow. Gary Wall was run out of town for failing to take a roadside test, and now, according to the judge who wrote this opinion, Sheriff-elect Garrett Wiggins wants to hire a man who coerced a woman into having sex with another man, to set him up for a charge of soliciting prostitution, by threatening to lock her up for 40 years.

Everybody needs to follow that link and read it.

http://www.projectposner.org/case/2003/329F3d912

This is outrageous behavior by any standard.

Wiggins' true colors come out before he even takes office. Puts a whole new light on the ACET officer who, under Wiggins' supervision, engaged in a sexual relationship with a drug offender. No wonder it went on. Give you any inclinations about the "climate" at ACET? This is the first time I've ever been glad our daughter doesn't live in Routt County. Drugs, cops, and sexual exploitation under color of law. Wow. No wonder Wiggins kept quiet about his choice for undersheriff.

The whole thing is disgusting. The recall petitions ought to start circulating tomorrow.

Any of you who supported Wiggins on this forum on the grounds that he was somehow morally superior to Gary Wall ought to be the first ones to sign.

Tee hee. A dented fender and a desk were the big deal with Bustos. This is a riot. If this is the kind of stuff that comes out in open court, can you IMAGINE what has gone on that none of us will ever know about?

And the commissioners voted to pay him the maximum rate. I wonder how this is going to affect the "relationship" of the RCSO with the county commission? I'll bet THEY feel screwed when they find out about this.

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callguinness 3 years, 8 months ago

-Aich

I think you should reread the information in that link, most notably the last sentence in the last paragraph.

"... for we cannot say that it would have been obvious to the average officer that the deceit employed in this case rose to the level of a constitutional violation. Hence DeAngelo (and Hannaford, if as we doubt he is still in the case) is protected from liability."

Overall it sounds like they said that his decision making may have been unorthodox, but was not found to be criminal.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 8 months ago

First a few modest corrections - that case was not about a powerful person, but an investigation into the actions of another officer. The officer was fired due to another investigation, but DeAngelo's investigation violated constitutional rights and did not proceed. The fired officer sued DeAngelo and the court basically said that the standard to sue a peace officer for violating rights requires that the officer knew that rights were being violated. It is apparently much easier to sue a police dept for failing to train their officers than the officers themselves.

The court was rather dismissive of the claims that he was impersonating a lawyer or such because the woman had prior experience with defense attorneys, DA and court so she knew how the system worked. The judge noted she was also free, not in jail, for a couple of days, not being followed and had ample opportunity to seek legal counsel if she desired. So the judge considered that statement to be unfortunate hyperbole, but not a believable representation of her legal situation.

But it would seem that DeAngelo is aggressive when pursuing a case. Pressuring even a presumed prostitute to have sex with the target of the investigation is an ethical line that not all would cross. I would suggest that is not at all what the people of Routt County would expect of their Sheriffs dept.

Maybe DeAngelo has changed and become much more restrained. But with this choice we are being asked to believe Wiggins is nothing like the GRAMNET that he once worked for and DeAngelo is nothing like the guy that got unsuccessfully sued. Seems to me that this choice runs the real risk of some overreaching bust being seem by the community as part of dept policy to disregard people's rights.

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ftpheide 3 years, 8 months ago

lame, Think how dissapointed jk, aich and justice going to be if DeAngelo decides not to return to the "artic tundra". They will need to recoil and prepare for Garrett's next undersheriff choice!

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Brian Kotowski 3 years, 8 months ago

A friend of mine is a cop with another agency up here. He's never met DeAngelo, but says he has a sterling rep among law enforcement.

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aichempty 3 years, 8 months ago

Guiness,

This was an appeal by the plaintiff of a case in which the lower court found that DeAngelo was acting within his jurisdiction as a police officer, and therefore was not liable for civil damages. That's all it was. There was no criminal component of the case at bar. The federal laws cited in the opinon were enacted by Congress during the Civil Rights era to allow people to seek civil damages from police officers who violated their constitutional rights.

Although the opinion is detailed and rambling, what it really says is that the Court is not going to protect a person who engages in such activity (sex and drugs) willingly and knowingly from going back and doing the same damn thing as part of a deal with the police. If the woman had no previous relationship with the officer being investigated, and actually suffered physical harm, there might have been grounds for her to seek damages in a trial.

The issue here is that DeAngelo consciously engaged in a situation where he promised leniency to a female suspect on the condition that she have sex with the officer who was being investigated. Why not get her to help catch the guy for cocaine use, possession or trafficking instead? Does it bother anybody else that the details of the sex act and gathering of evidence were pretty much like something out of a porn flick? That's the issue here. How do we know DeAngelo won't promise leniency in return for sex in some other voyeuristic or male fantasy scenario when the person with the choice to make is one of our wives, daughters, or mothers?

There are lots of men who have the "whore-madonna" complex when it comes to sex. Wikipedia has a really good summary on it. Maybe it's the mother of their children they see as the madonna (the loving mother figure, but not a sex object), but when it comes down to doing something dirty in the bedroom, they need a whore for that. Can a man who would come up with this kind of scheme involving a woman and a police investigation really have anything like a normal level of respect for the other women he encounters in his life? Experience would say "no." I've seen it in the military, cops, fire fighters,construction workers, athletes, etc. It's called "misogyny." In English that means, "hatred of women."

A police officer is in a position of authority, and recent events with ACET prove they need better morals and a larger sense of responsibility and public trust than the people who Wiggins seems to hang with.

ftp, you've spent a lot of time railing against Wall and Bustos on issues much smaller than this one. Are you going to hear about that for four years? Oh, yeah, you are.

As to the next candidate, given his background in law enforcement, fire fighting and our local political scene, I'd say Kevin Nerny might be next. He's available, no?

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 8 months ago

Aic, The court did not say he was acting within his jurisdiction as a police officer. It said if he violated people's civil rights that it was of ignorance of the laws, not intentional. That he violated people's rights is apparent because his case against the defendant was dropped.

The law makes it hard to sue a police officer personally for damages by allowing the officer to claim that he was doing his job as he was trained and he didn't know he was violating some court decision. But it is far easier to sue a police dept for failing to properly train officers and having bad procedures. So the fact that a civil case against an officer fails certainly does not mean the officer acted correctly or legally.

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aichempty 3 years, 8 months ago

Scott,

As a student of appellate law, and "color of law" cases in particular, the question always hinges on jurisdiction, which is constitutionally determined. Immunity from prosecution hinges upon acting within the authority granted by a lawful government, and that's what the court actually decided. That is how immunity from civil prosecution is determined in color of law cases. It really doesn't matter what the opinion states. Those opinions are generally crafted by law clerks (law students or graduates who have not passed the bar exam) and even contain content cut and pasted from arguments submitted by the attorneys arguing the case. I know this for a fact. I've read them and it's plain on the face of the opinions as well as the pleadings submitted by the parties.

The opinion only deals with the matters before the appellate court. It does not extend too the peripheral issues, such as criminal liability for using police power to coerce a woman into having sex with another man. If that was going to be prosecuted, it should have been done by internal affairs at the department in question . . . oh. . . but it was IA that was DOING the coercing. Yeah, that makes sense.

Do you get it?

Asking for money in return for sex is a crime. The cops get around that by making sure the suspect is the one who offers money for sex. See the difference? The police cannot legally solicit a person to go out and commit a crime in order to catch someone else in the act of going along with it.

Again, just look at the facts of what the woman was asked to do in order to get a lighter sentence, and tell me you want somebody doing business like that in Routt County.

Screamer, there are plenty of cops who don't have "baggage" behind them. They're not going to come to work here, however, because this is where you come to pick up the baggage. It's obvious that local cops in high positions and positions of trust do some pretty shady stuff (back to the two who got in trouble at ACET under Wiggins).

There is a LOT of stuff around here that gets ignored by the police. I personally believe it goes to the ethics and conduct of the local judges, and that some people don't get arrested for some things because the cops know it will never make it to court. I believe there is a level of trafficking in cocaine, at least, which is immune to prosecution around here, and I believe it because I went to RCSO with PROOF of money laundering by people who were KNOWN to be cocaine traffickers. I was told, "That's too hard to prove." Yes, it is, when nobody will take a complaint and nobody will investigate. I saw it with my own eyes. If there is another explanation for why a police agency would not investigate a crime involving trafficking in cocaine, other than "certain kinds of people" are immune, please, tell me. I'd love to hear it.

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kathy foos 3 years, 8 months ago

I was hoping that Garret Wiggens would select Officer Bostick for undersheriff.

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