Complaint prompts investigation of District Attorney’s Office | SteamboatToday.com

Complaint prompts investigation of District Attorney’s Office







— A former Steamboat Springs police officer has accused a Routt County District Attorney's Office investigator of felony perjury, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation is investigating.

The former officer, Kristin Bantle, was charged with attempting to influence a public servant in July 2015. She was subsequently fired from the police department. A jury ultimately acquitted Bantle.

The felony charge against Bantle was the result of an investigation by the District Attorney's Office into whether Bantle has used cocaine. That information came to light after Bantle applied for a job with the Routt County Sheriff's Office in 2013.

Despite the possibility that Bantle could file a lawsuit against the sheriff for disclosing confidential information, Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins leaked the information about Bantle’s drug use to the District Attorney's Office during the summer of 2015.

The District Attorney's Office then obtained a search warrant to get the confidential, pre-employment information from the Sheriff's Office, which is when Bantle contends District Attorney's Office investigator Doug Winters committed perjury by supplying false statements in the search warrant affidavit that establishes probable cause.

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Bantle also accuses Wiggins of being a conspirator.

"Hopefully, the CBI investigation will reveal the truth behind all of this," Wiggins said Wednesday. "I feel very confident that the investigation will reveal that her accusations are false."

The validity of the search warrant was raised in court when Bantle was being charged with attempting to influence a public servant. Bantle was accused of lying to Wiggins about past drug use when she was applying for a job.

The probable cause for the search warrant prepared by Winters was related to the past drug use.

"Not only does the affidavit never mention the crime of attempt to influence a public servant in his affidavit, he does not state facts sufficient to establish probable cause for that crime," Bantle's attorney Matt Tjosvold wrote in a court filing.

Tjosvold wrote that Winters was not relying on bad information when obtaining the search warrant, "but rather this is a case in which the affiant (Winters) completely invented information that he otherwise did not obtain in the course of his investigation."

Tjosvold contended that Winters was never told the illegal drug use occurred in Routt County.

According to Tjosvold, Winters "flatly concluded without any evidence to support his conclusion that 'I am under the impression that the illegal drug used by Bantle, more specifically cocaine use, occurred within the past couple of years and may have occurred at Bantle's place of residency in Routt County, Colorado."

Bantle was never charged for the past cocaine use. During her trial, Bantle said it occurred in Chicago.

District Attorney Brett Barkey and a Colorado Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman both refused to comment about the investigation, citing it was an active investigation.

Despite the investigation, Barkey said Winters was still working in his normal capacity.

Bantle said she has not been contacted by CBI about the investigation.

Bantle is currently suing Wiggins and the Routt County Board of Commissioners claiming Wiggins unlawfully leaked confidential information about her past drug use to the city of Steamboat Springs as part of a plan to get her fired from her job.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland