County employee reportedly fears retaliation in Zinna case

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By AJ Vicens

A county employee fears retaliation from Jefferson County Commissioner Jim Congrove for her testimony in a civil lawsuit against him, Congrove's attorney said Nov. 25.

The employee — referred to in court filings as "Jane Doe" — allegedly has direct knowledge and evidence supporting Mike Zinna's claims that Duncan Bradley, a former assistant county attorney, participated in a scheme with Congrove and private investigator Daril Cinquanta to intercept Zinna’s e-mails. Those e-mails and other information allegedly were posted to a website used to defame Zinna.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer told Pat Tooley, Congrove's attorney, and Bradley's attorney to work with the witness' attorney to seek a protection order that will protect her identity but allow Congrove and the other defendants due process in examining the witness' evidence.

Tooley said it was strange that the witness would want to take part in the case and not expect to reveal her identity. He told the judge that the witness' attorneys said the witness is "fearful of some sort of retribution or reprisal."

Reached after the hearing, Tooley was skeptical of the witness' professed fears.

"I can't imagine," Tooley said, when asked why she would be fearful. He said he hadn't talked to the witness and was hoping to work something out with her attorneys.

Congrove couldn't be reached for comment Nov. 25.

Zinna said the witness' fears are well-founded.

"At great personal risk, this whistleblower has come forward and voluntarily provided irrefutable proof of the illegal activity perpetrated by Jefferson County officials," Zinna said after the hearing. "She is courageous, and she should be dutifully protected like any other federal witness to a serious crime."

Acting County Attorney Ellen Wakeman declined to comment on the validity of the witness' fears or the witness' alleged evidence.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com.