Deja vu: Second Paschall trial under way

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By AJ Vicens

It was dj vu all over again in Jefferson County Courtroom 5D.

Sixty-four new potential jurors filed into the room for former Jeffco treasurer Mark Paschall's second kickback trial, but all else was a replay of the February day when Paschall’s first trial began. Paschall was there with defense attorney David Lane, and his family was there to support him. Deputy District Attorneys Tom Jackson and Sean Clifford were there again, hoping this time they can convict Paschall of a second charge against him — compensation for past official behavior.

In the first trial, Paschall was found not guilty of the first charge, attempted theft. The jury deadlocked on the second.

Paschall stands accused of offering a political appointee an $18,000 post-tax bonus in the twilight of his term as treasurer on the condition she give him half. The bonus was never approved, and the appointee, Kathy Redmond, told Commissioner Jim Congrove about Paschall's alleged offer. Congrove called Jeffco District Attorney Scott Storey, and an investigation was launched, which eventually produced a tape of Paschall discussing the supposed kickback. Paschall was indicted in January 2007 and went on trial on the two felony charges in February 2008.

After the latest jury was whittled down to the final 12, Clifford opened the prosecution’s case almost exactly the way he did in February. He read the oath Paschall recited when he was sworn in as treasurer in January 2003: "I, Mark Paschall, do solemnly swear by the ever-living God that I will support the constitution of the United States of America and the state of Colorado and faithfully perform the duties of the office of treasurer."

But after a primary loss in August 2006, Clifford said, with no job prospects in sight, Paschall discarded that oath.

"He made a decision to violate the very oath that he took," Clifford said. He said Paschall told Redmond twice that he would giver her a "ridiculous-sized" bonus if she would give him half.

"She thought it was unethical," Clifford said. "And she didn't want to be a part of it."

Clifford painted Paschall as pushing the arrangement on Redmond.

"When Kathy Redmond was last employed at the treasurer's office, she was making roughly $52,000," Clifford said. "The defendant's proposal was almost half of her salary — a sizable bonus he wanted half of."

Lane had a defense similar to the one he maintained in the first trial: "This is not about a kickback; this is about a payback."

Lane said Paschall and Congrove became allies when both were state legislators in the late 1990s, and that Paschall brought Congrove to the treasurer's office as a political appointee in 2002. Redmond — Paschall's other political appointee — Congrove and Paschall were all friends, and Paschall developed a close platonic friendship with Redmond, Lane said.

It all went sour when Paschall was subpoenaed to testify in a grand jury investigation of Congrove, who had authorized the use of county funds to spy on a private citizen and a county employee. Congrove became upset when Paschall wouldn't discuss his testimony before the grand jury, Lane said, and "this leads to a major blowout between Congrove and Paschall." The grand jury didn't indict Congrove, "but Congrove has a long memory," Lane said.

Paschall planned to give all his employees bonuses as he left office, Lane said, but since Redmond was going to be out of a job and has a child with health problems, he wanted to help her. Lane said that Paschall, in a tongue-in-cheek response to Redmond’s question, suggested she could give him a third, keep a third, and a third would go to taxes.

Lane said the comment was made in one of more than a dozen conversations about the bonus, and Paschall was, in reality, saying she could do anything she wanted with the money.

"Kathy Redmond, I predict, will admit to you under oath from that witness stand that Mark Paschall did in fact say, 'You can do with this money anything you want,' " Lane said. The prosecution has him on tape discussing the alleged kickback only briefly, Lane said, because it wasn't real.

"The only thing you're going to hear in this whole case is ‘a third, a third and a third,’ " Lane said. "That's the entire foundation of their case. That's it, that's all, there ain't no more."

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com.