James Newberry pleads not guilty
October 14, 2015
Grand County Commissioner James Newberry has entered a plea of not guilty.
Judge Terry Ruckriegle approved a motion to amend the complaint against Newberry at an Oct. 9 hearing bringing the total number of charges against Newberry to 53, according to court documents.
Ruckriegle also dismissed a July 9 complaint filed in the case.
Newberry is facing 24 felony counts of attempting to influence a public servant, 24 felony counts of embezzlement of public property and five misdemeanor counts of official misconduct.
The charges stem from allegations that Newberry sought and received reimbursements for the same mileage from Grand County and the Colorado River District, of which he is a board member, to travel to district meetings.
The complaint also alleges that Newberry sought and received mileage reimbursements from Grand County for travel to Northwest Colorado Council of Governments meetings that minutes indicate he did not attend or attended by phone.
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The actions are alleged to have occurred between 2009 and 2013.
In their response to the motion amend, Newberry's attorneys Patrick Burke and Dean Neuwirth argued that 13 charges fall outside of the statute of limitations.
The defense also filed a motion to dismiss the 20 instances of alleged double reimbursement from the charging document arguing that they did not constitute a crime.
Newberry's plea now sets the case on the track for trial, which must begin within six months.
The case management order sets the trial date for March 21.
Ruckriegle has not ruled on the defense's motion to dismiss, and any additional motions are due ten days after the court rules on that motion.
Newberry's next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 20 at 1:30 p.m., at which time Ruckriegle will rule on the prosecution's motion for change of venue and a 404b motion, which seeks to introduce evidence of "other crimes, wrongs or acts," according to court documents.
Documents filed by the prosecution indicate that 5th Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown, the case's special prosecutor, aims to introduce testimony from special agents with the Internal Revenue Service and the Colorado Department Revenue who determined that Newberry's alleged excess reimbursements were taxable income and should have been reported.
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.