Newberry charged with official misconduct
Grand County Commissioner James Newberry has been charged with one count of first degree official misconduct, a class two misdemeanor, for double charging mileage.
Bruce Brown, 5th Judicial District Attorney, filed the charge in Grand County Court on Wednesday, April 29.
The charge stems from information brought to light in July 2014 that Newberry had filed expense reports for the same mileage to both Grand County and the Colorado River Water Conservation District, of which Newberry is president.
The complaint states that Newberry’s mileage charges violated the law by “exceeding the actual amount incurred and/or exceeding allowable limits as permitted by law.”
Newberry has previously maintained that his actions did not violate the law or county policy.
Newberry deferred questions to his lawyer, though he stated that a “deferred prosecution agreement” has already been negotiated.
“Right now, I think the way this thing has been resolved is actually going to work out fine for everybody,” Newberry said.
Newberry’s attorney Pat Burke could not immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
Brown, whose investigation started in November 2014, said his office had found that Newberry double-charged about $1,700.
Brown said the investigation was drawn out as more pressing cases took priority, adding, “I don’t think you can extrapolate from it the amount of work that went in to it.”
Brown would not comment about whether his office had investigated any other allegations regarding Newberry.
“This is the only issue that we feel constituted criminal conduct,” Brown said.
County Court Judge Nicholas Catanzarite recused himself from the case, citing his personal and professional relationship with Newberry.
An employee with the Grand County Clerk of Court’s Office said that an outside judge would oversee the case, though one had not yet been appointed to the case and a date for arraignment has not been set.
Brown, who will be prosecuting the case, said he anticipated an arraignment hearing in the next two to three weeks.
Local group Citizens for Transparency in Grand County Government first raised concerns about Newberry’s mileage last year.
The group again raised an alarm when County Attorney Anthony “Jack” DiCola wrote a letter to a 5th Judicial District investigator offering a legal opinion on Newberry’s actions.
DiCola wrote that the letter was drafted at the direction of the board, though both Newberry and Grand County Commissioner Merrit Linke said they hadn’t seen the letter before it was sent.
Linke stated that he did not like the “exact wording” of the letter.
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