Felony embezzlement charge filed against former DA Robert Willett
By Owen Woods | firstname.lastname@example.org
A felony embezzlement charge has been filed by the 12th Judicial District Attorney’s Office against former District Attorney Robert Willett. The DA’s office filed one count of embezzlement of public property.
The charge is a Class 5 felony which carries with it potential prison time between one to three years and fines ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000, and a mandatory parole period of two years. A conviction would also disqualify Willett from being a member of the general assembly in Colorado.
The filing states that former DA Willett “knowingly converted, on December 16, 2020, the public monies or property to his own use or to a use other than the public use authorized by law.”
According to the Colorado Revised Statutes “the compensation for his or her services [those of the District Attorney] will be no less than one hundred thirty thousand dollars per annum…. Any amount in excess of this shall be set by the board or boards of the county commissioners.” The filing alleges that no excess amount was set by any of the San Luis Valley’s county commission boards. Read the filing here
District Attorney Alonzo Payne couldn’t be reached for comment.
Willett’s attorney, Joseph Maher, appeared in Alamosa County court on Friday on behalf of Willett. Maher requested all of the prosecution’s evidence for the defense.
Maher also couldn’t be reached for comment. Maher is an attorney for Maher and Maher Law in Colorado Springs, where Willett currently resides.
Willett was appointed by Gov. Jared Polis in December 2019 and began his term in January 2020. He worked with the office as deputy district attorney and senior deputy district attorney since 2013. Willet now works as a deputy district attorney with the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Willet and Payne ran against each other in the 2020 Democratic primary election. Payne won the primary with 62 percent and was elected district attorney in the November general election.
The felony charge of embezzlement against Willett comes at a time when the 12th Judicial District Attorney’s Office is under scrutiny by the Colorado attorney general for alleged violations of Colorado’s Victims Rights Act. The city of Alamosa is also pressing for a recall against Payne for what they characterize as “malfeasance.”
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said that he found the alleged violations of the Victims Rights Act “extremely troubling” when he appeared on an episode of Alamosa Citizen’s podcast The Valley Pod.
On additional complaints and concerns of the DA’s office and Payne, Weiser said, “Those are outside of our authority. Our authority is really around this Victim Rights Act issue.”
The Crime Victim Services Advisory Board forwarded four complaints to Governor Polis, with four more still under review. The Rocky Mountain Victims Law Center also filed a formal complaint to Weiser’s office.
Last week’s Alamosa City Council meeting saw an unprecedented step by the council to propose amending an ordinance allowing the city to use funds to support a recall election. The change to the city’s Fair Campaign Practices Act would allow up to $10,000 to be used to recall a non-city elected official. A public hearing is set for March 16. The city will also be sending a letter to Weiser to make a case for a broadened investigation and directing city staff to investigate any additional ethics violations.
You can read our coverage of that meeting here.
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