I attempted to help the former owner of 30-Mile Resort, Charlotte Trego, recoup something from her years of operation, but ultimately was unsuccessful. I was repaid with a criminal action. I was charged by the Hinsdale County District Attorney, Keith Mandelski, with the very serious charges of Felony Theft and Felony Filing of a False Document. This resulted in my arrest.
Within days of his arrest those charges were reduced, within months all of the Theft charges were voluntarily dismissed and a Misdemeanor Count was added. This led to a plea to the misdemeanor. At sentencing, Mr. Mandelski argued for the maximum sentence250 hours of Useful Public Service and 30 months of probation. To support his argument he spoke only to the unproven allegations in the Theft count that he had abandoned. Unable to prove his case he was attempting to get his sentence through the misdemeanor.
This led to me having to state the true facts of the Theft case in his defense. In 2006 Mr. Mandelski was fired from his position as District Attorney for defying office policy and allowing an Archuleta County Commissioner plea bargain for lesser charges in violation of office policy.
"This was the most important case on his (Mandelski's) plate. He negotiated a plea agreement against my wishes. It was a transgression of such magnitude that I had no alternative but to terminate his employment," District Attorney Craig Westberg said. "I don't do this lightly."
The following is the text of a statement made I made in the sentencing phase of the Hinsdale County District Attorneys action against him. The plea that he entered did not admit guilt nor admit the materiality of the alleged false document charge. The plea was entered to end the case and avoid a possible trial where a felony would be one jury option. He clearly did not believe that there was any real chance of a conviction but the draconian possibility of a felony left him no choice. Members of the community who have wondered about the resort and those concerned about the actions of your District Attorneys Office will find this interesting.
I am a 61-year old living in Aurora, Colorado who has never been in trouble in his lifejust the opposite, I am a homeowner, have lived in Colorado for 30 years, am a respected member of the community, have owned small businesses and have been a management consultant for the last 15 years putting to use my 20 years of education. I formed a non-profit organization that provides management consulting through Metro State University where I currently volunteer. I am a father of five with four grandchildren and one more on the way. My most serious transgressions are traffic tickets.
A year ago last fall, I spent three months working with an 80 year-old woman, Charlotte Trego. Her family had operated 30-Mile Resort for some 65 years. Four years previous she had allowed it to fall into disrepair and then by refusing to make the needed repairs and by so alienating the forest service, they had revoked her operating permit and closed it. They were however allowing her to find a buyer for whatever she owned. For the first month that I worked with her, her story was that she needed a buyer by October 1st or she would lose her right to sell. This was verified through my discussions with the forest service, so I spent September going through the permit process, creating a management plan, and making estimates of projected revenue and expenses.
I viewed the venture as extremely speculative as there was no way to know what would have to be done to even reopen the resort. After working for a month to prepare this offer, she announced that she had another buyer who was going to pay her significantly more and pay it in cash. I spent the next month encouraging her to take that deal as it was well beyond what I believed her interest was worth, however she continued to call me and express her concern that that deal was going to fall apart. I assured her that if it did, my offer would still be there for her but that it was clearly in her financial interests to do all that she could do to make it happen.
Then things started to change. The buyers had been given an extension of their time to close from October 1st to November 1st but still had not closed. She told me that the deadline had again been extended to December 1st. The forest service again verified this to me but also made it clear that this was the final extension and if there was no sale by December 1st they were taking back the property. She was now telling me repeatedly that she did not want to sell to this other buyer.
Finally she produced what she had told me was the other buyers offerturns out it was not an offer at all but a Bill of Sale. Charlotte had actually already sold her interest to these people with no contingencies. Quite frankly I could not understand why the buyers were not enforcing their agreement and the sale had not been completed but other discrepancies in her story were also arisingshe had lied about the condition of the property and we discovered a $30,000 lien on the property due un-paid contractors.
What was becoming clear is that Ms Trego had such emotional ties to the property that she simply could not bear selling to anyone and that she was the one stopping the sale from taking place. I attempted to find out if the deal was real and if the buyers were going to perform for if the property didnt close this time, Charlotte would lose everything. I had watched my parents lose my mothers family farm which had been in that family for over 100 years and I was seeing the same fate in Charlotte.
Fearing that Charlotte was not working in her best interests I prepared a Purchase Agreement under which she would sell the property to us but retain an option to sell to a third party for the next year. My reasoning was that if this were completed by December 1st, we could move forward with our deal which paid her a percentage of the revenue for her lifetime, and if a cash buyer could be foundor if the previous buyer still wanted itCharlotte could take the next year to finish her sale. I also strongly urged her to hire an attorney.
She did hire an attorney. Mr. Patrick Tooley of Denver law firm Dill and Dill, the son of the long time District Attorney in Arapahoe County, was familiar with the resort from his familys past visits. He had previously provided Ms. Trego with the form for the poorly drafted Bill of Sale and should have been familiar with the issues.
He came to her home and like me, tried to get her to complete the previous buyers deal. He also rightly looked at my offer as significantly worse than the first buyers offer. It had never been represented as anything other than a fall back should her sale fall through. However, without ever contacting me, he instead set out on a personal vendetta to discredit me. He simply had no idea of what I was trying to
do and no interest in finding out.
Finally on November 28th, despite having consulted with Tooley, Charlotte called me and left a voice mail telling me that she was going to sign a Quit Claim Deed to me. Even after we met again and discussed it and again attempting to get her to complete her sale, she was adamant in her irrational reasoning that she would not sell to the other buyer. She closed her bank account to protect her from the buyer just transferring the money to her to complete the sale and I did not speak to her again for 3-4 days. Given her changing stories, I seriously doubted that she would accept my offer. December 1st was a major Denver snowstorm and I assumed that she had done nothing. I was wrong.
She went out in that snowstorm with a Quit Claim Deed, signed and had it notarized. I was unaware of this and unable to reach her for another couple days as she didnt answer her phone. When we met she gave me a file with the Deed dated December 1st but without the Purchase Agreement. Knowing that the forest service needed the December 1st date met, I immediately sent to the Hinsdale County Clerk the Deed that she had signed and notarized together with my latest copy of the Purchase Agreement. As the Quit Claim Deed referenced the Purchase Agreement, I wanted there to be no misunderstanding regarding the Purchase Agreement terms.
If, as the DA now alleges, I had been trying to mislead or hide anything, no additional document would have been filed. There had been numerous forms of that Purchase Agreement and the copy that I had did not have signature lines. Charlotte had the only copy that did contain signature lines but the terms and wording were otherwise identical. I also immediately contacted the forest service and the previous buyers and let both the forest service and the other buyers know that if the other buyers were still interested I would act only as a straw man and allow them to take possession. They declined.
To say that Mr. Tooley went berserk is probably an understatement. In a flurry of emails and text messages followed causing me to twice have to tell him to stop, he rose to the level of threatening criminal actionproceed at your own risk was how he was signing his correspondence. I believed this to be a direct threat of criminal prosecution and notified the Grievance Committee. He then convinced the forest service that since my Deed included Charlottes option to sell it was therefore void. They agreed with him, treated the Deed as void, and of course took back the property. His actions resulted in Charlotte being cut out completely.
A few days later Charlotte contacted the City of Lakewood police and needing someone to blame for her actions, filed a complaint against me! I can only surmise that it was encouraged by the attorney who, only days prior, had threatened criminal action against me. She blatantly lied to the officer but after their investigation no charges were filed. However Mr. Tooley was not satisfied. He set up a meeting with people he knew at the Jefferson County District Attorneys OfficeMs Trego failed to appear at this meeting but Mr. Tooley let them know that he would do all he could to assist. Jefferson County also refused to file any charges. Then an improved version of the story went to the Hinsdale County District Attorney. The Hinsdale County District Attorneys office then declared me the most dangerous criminal in the state that day and issued warrant for a Felony 2 threatening to put me in jail for the rest of my life.
If this were actionable at all, it is a civil caseand probably mine against Charlotte. At best an overly zealous DA might find a potential misdemeanor charge. Instead of charging correctly and sending a summons for me to appear before their court, the District Attorney filed charges which were so serious and vial as to require an immediate arrest and a $60,000 cash bond. Despite the fact that the allegations could never have survived a preliminary hearing, a warrant was issued for a Felony 2 causing my arrest.
Within days the charges were significantly reduced and a few months later the core of the case was dismissed outright but by now damage had been done. Had the District Attorney filed the charges that he reduced them to three days later, it would have resulted in a summons be served upon me to appear rather than the despicable event of the arrest.
The mere filing of the arrest warrant has severely impacted my life. I was pulling out of my driveway on Good Friday afternoon with my wife when the Aurora Police pulled in behind me. They dragged me out of my car in front of my daughter, my grandchildren and my neighbors, searched me for guns, handcuffed me, and hauled me off in the back of their car. I then spent 36 hours on the floor of holding cells. I was on the floor in a holding cell of the Aurora City Jail for 17 hours until I was driven in chains 250 miles to Gunnison.
Finally, 24 hours later I was able to call my wife and let her know where I was. They had no ideathe family just sat around in silence and panic. Thereafter I spent another 12 hours in the dark, on the floor of their holding cell treated like a dog. I spent a total of six days in jailincluding Easter because of the $60,000 cash bond the charges carried. Finally, after two 500-mile trips to Gunnison made by my wife I was released with a $2500 bond on a significantly lesser charge. Upon release my punishment continued. The arrest warrant appears on the internet.
Having this on the internet stopped a local investment firm from hiring me to a $12,000 per month job. My existing clients cancelled their consulting engagements leaving us with basically no income for the past year. I have not to sleep a full night for the past 317 nights. Now at 61 I have to rebuild my career and spend countless hours defending information readily available to all on the internet. Ironically, all this was generated from Hinsdale Countydespite the fact that I have not even been in Hinsdale County for the past 20 years!
I stand before the court now on my second sentencing on this misdemeanor. The first sentence was imposed arbitrarily by the District Attorney.
Their sentence consisted of six days in jail, public humiliation, 317 sleepless nights, denied job opportunities, a year of probation and public internet scorning for the rest of my life. Please these factors into account when you complete this second sentence. I have consented to the entry of this plea to avoid an extremely unlikely but conceivably possible conviction of a felonythat risk is simply too great.
In your sentencing I urge the court to consider the punishment that I have already received and which will continue on forever. I do not need rehabilitation. I do not need further punitive actionthe punishment that I have already received far exceeds the misdemeanor to which I plead. Effectively I have already been on probation for the past year. I would also request that the Court immediately seal the arrest record in regard to the dismissed felony charges.
I do wish to thank the Public Defenders office, particularly Mr. Stephen Dooley, for their representation. And for the record, I forgive Charlotte Trego.
The District Attorney was quite agitated with this statement and immediately represented to the court that he had never spoken to Mr. Tooley. This is interesting. Other than the sheriff and members of the forest service, Mr. Mandelski listed only two witnesses for the trial scheduled next weekCharlotte Trego and Patrick Tooley.
Since he listed Mr. Tooley as a witness in his case, was he not forthcoming with the court or doesnt he even talk to the witnesses that he lists in his cases? Additionally he claimed that the file had arrived from Jefferson County without even a cover letter and that they had independently decided to file the charges.
The file consisted of approximately 70 pages of text summarizing the investigations of Lakewood and Jefferson County. The only source of information in those 70 pages who had first-hand (non-hearsay) information regarding the case was Charlotte Trego. A phone call to the Hinsdale County Sheriff would have revealed that he was on tape agreeing to the statement, Charlotte Trego lives in an alternative reality. The vast majority of the file was based upon information provided by Patrick Tooley, who never had met the defendant, had threatened the defendant, did not even get involved in the relationship until after all of the events had been completed and who is the lawyer for Ms Trego.
Following meeting with Mr. Tooley, Ms Trego had signed the Quit Claim Deed independently and, it was Mr. Tooley who caused the forest service to void the transaction causing the forfeiture of the property. So, without any independent verification of the allegations in the file, Mr. Mandelski simply had him arrested.
Judge Patrick heard the arguments and ignored Mr. Mandelskis recommendations. He used the standard guidelines for the nominal misdemeanor charge: unsupervised probation and 98 hours of Useful Public Service, and declined to levy a fine.