Newberry pleads no contest to felony
Former Grand County Commissioner James Newberry has pled no contest to one count of embezzlement of public property, a class five felony.
Newberry resigned from office on Wednesday, Nov. 18 as part of a plea agreement.
Newberry accepted the agreement of a deferred judgment and sentence on Friday, Nov. 20.
“The integrity of our government rests on the ethics of individuals elected to be stewards of the public’s trust,” said 5th Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown, the case’s special prosecutor, in a press release. “James Newberry repeatedly broke that trust by a small dollar scheme for pocket change that may have amounted to only a few thousand dollars, but cost the people of Grand County the confidence in their elected government. I believe his resignation from office is a key step in restoring governmental integrity.”
Newberry was accused of charging both Grand County and the Colorado River Water Conservation District, where he serves on the board of directors, for mileage to attend district meetings.
Newberry was also alleged to have double-charged Grand County for mileage and charged for mileage to Northwest Colorado Council of Government meetings that minutes indicate he did not attend.
Brown had charged Newberry with 24 felony counts of embezzlement of public property, 24 felony counts of attempting to influence a public servant and five misdemeanor counts of official misconduct.
The prosecution has dropped the remaining charges.
The judgment on the embezzlement was deferred for two years, during which time Newberry is subject to the supervision of the Grand County Probation Department, according to court documents.
During that time, Newberry is also barred from serving as “any officer or employee of government, whether elected or appointed, and any person participating as an advisor, consultant, process server, or otherwise in performing a governmental function,” court document state.
As part of financial reporting terms of his probation, Newberry must submit any claim for expense reimbursement from any state, local of federal agency to both his probation officer and the district attorney’s office.
Newberry must complete 130 hours of community service and pay $4,841.39 in restitution, $3,285.37 of which has already be paid.
Newberry, first elected in 1996, was serving his fourth term as a county commissioner.
He is the latest in a string of Grand County public officials to leave office this year.
Former Grand County Attorney Anthony “Jack” DiCola announced his resignation in February.
Former County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran announced her resignation in August. The county is currently searching for a replacement.
County Finance Director Scott Berger announced on Nov. 4 that he would vacate his position at the end of the year.
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.
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