Nominee for U.S. attorney in Colorado won’t talk about ad controversy
October 23, 2009
DENVER (AP) – President Barack Obama’s U.S. attorney nominee for Colorado is refusing to explain what conversations she had two years ago about an illegal immigrant who became a controversial figure in the 2006 gubernatorial race.
Stephanie Villafuerte, a former Denver chief deputy district attorney, was working for Bill Ritter’s campaign at the time. According to records from the Denver District Attorney’s Office, Villafuerte left a phone message about Carlos Estrada-Medina for DA spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough on Oct. 10, 2006.
But interview summaries obtained by The Denver Post show she told the FBI on Dec. 5, 2007 that she had “no conversations” with anyone in the DA’s office about Estrada-Medina, who is an illegal immigrant.
The FBI apparently never asked Villafuerte about the nature of a series of phone calls she exchanged over the following two days with Kimbrough and First Assistant DA Chuck Lepley. Those calls were made before and after Lepley asked a subordinate to check Estrada-Medina’s criminal history in a restricted federal database.
In 2006 and 2007, the FBI investigated who ran a check on Estrada-Medina’s name through a federal database after a Ritter opponent ran a TV ad confirming that Estrada-Medina, a suspected heroin dealer, had once received a plea deal under the name Walter Ramo while Ritter was Denver’s district attorney.
Cory Voorhis, a federal immigration agent, was charged with running a National Crime Information Center check on Estrada-Medina and providing the result to the Ritter opponent. He was later acquitted at trial.
It can be a crime to access the NCIC computer for a non-law enforcement purpose.
Villafuerte refused to tell the Post why she asked Kimbrough about Estrada-Medina, or to describe the nature of the phone conversations she had with Kimbrough and Lepley over the two days that followed.
She also declined to answer questions this week about whether she provided the FBI with a complete accounting of contacts she had with the DA’s office about Estrada-Medina.
Evan Dreyer, Ritter’s spokesman, said Villafuerte would not comment until possibly after she is confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Colorado’s top federal law enforcement official. She is currently Ritter’s deputy chief of staff.
“When it’s over, she may be more able to talk,” Dreyer said.