Commissioner, ex-county attorney named as defendants in federal wiretapping case

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By AJ Vicens

A judge has approved the addition of County Commissioner Jim Congrove and former assistant county attorney Duncan Bradley as defendants in a federal lawsuit involving alleged wiretapping and character defamation.

Mike Zinna, a longtime county gadfly who has been involved in several lawsuits against the county, has alleged for two years that Congrove, Bradley and private investigator Daril Cinquanta, while he was working for the county, illegally intercepted Zinna’s e-mails and phone calls. Zinna says they used the materials to defame him on a website, www.coloradowackoexposed.com. Records show the site was established by Robert Cook of Lakewood, who Zinna alleges is a friend of Congrove. The site apparently was a response to the website Zinna operated skewering Jeffco public officials, www.coloradoexposed.com.

The county tried to prevent Congrove and Bradley from being added as defendants, but an Oct. 6 ruling did just that. A status conference has been set for Nov. 25 in federal court in Denver.

"Frankly we would rather have had it dismissed," said Ellen Wakeman, Jeffco's acting county attorney. "It's just a complaint. It's what he's alleging so far. Mike Zinna's allegation is all we have. So far there's been no evidence, no trial and no proof of anything."

"I think the judge's ruling speaks for itself," Zinna said. "There exists in this case substantial forensic computer evidence and sworn statements from at least seven individuals, all of whom are friends or co-workers of the accused in this case. Furthermore, a significant portion of the (Colorado Bureau of Investigation's) independent investigation substantiates the wiretapping allegations."

The CBI investigated the county's hiring of Cinquanta after allegations were made that it was an illegal use of taxpayer money. The case was handled by the Adams County district attorney, who decided not to seek criminal charges.

Zinna alleges that the documents posted on Cook's website included false information about Zinna's criminal records. Zinna also claims the site posted details of his alleged romantic relationships and of his discharge records from the military, which he said were also partially fabricated.

Congrove, whose second term as commissioner will end in January, said he couldn't comment on the matter "until it's all over with."

County Commissioner Kathy Hartman declined to comment on the specifics of the case. She did speak generally on the fact that a sitting county commissioner and a former assistant county attorney are now defendants in an alleged wiretapping scheme.

"I think it's sad," Hartman said. "I think it is particularly sad for the taxpayers because we are required by law to provide outside defense for Congrove and any county employee named in this lawsuit, current or former. If anyone is ultimately found to be liable for these charges, the county has the ability to attempt to recover the legal fees from those persons, but we have to advance the fees."

Kevin McCasky, the third county commissioner, said: "I am not a party to this case; however, this individual that is bringing the suit has never prevailed in any suit against the county or any of our employees. I don't expect him to prevail in this one, either."

"How can I be expected to prevail when county attorneys are wiretapping my house?" Zinna said. "ee Jefferson County attorneys have outspent me 10-to-1 trying to stall this case, and now we're finally going to trial."

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com.