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Former Morrison police officer pleads not guilty

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By Deborah Swearingen

A former Morrison police officer pleaded not guilty Thursday morning to charges of theft, attempt to influence a public servant, embezzlement and forgery.

Anthony Joiner, 38, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury in July on 29 counts. He is accused of stealing more than $132,000 from the town of Morrison between December 2010 and February 2016 through a private fund he created called the “5280 Police Motors Memorial Fund,” according to a news release from the Jeffco District Attorney’s office.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Eidsness asked for a continuance of arraignment for his client, citing more than 8,000 pages of discovery to analyze, but Judge Dennis Hall denied the request.

“I’m not willing to continue the arraignment again,” Hall said.

Joiner returns to court for a Dec. 7 pre-trial motions hearing, and Hall said this would be Joiner’s last opportunity to work out a plea bargain should he choose to.

“You must do it on or before Dec. 7th,” Hall said. “Once I set a trial, I won’t accept a plea.”

Initially, Joiner was being held at the Jefferson County Jail on a $50,000 cash bond. It was reduced to a $50,000 cash or surety bond, according to Pam Russell, spokeswoman with the Jeffco DA’s office. Joiner made bond on July 25 and has been released from jail.

Joiner’s past

At the time of Joiner’s hire with the Morrison Police Department, Robert Wasko was the police chief and thus tasked with hiring employees for his department. Although background checks are now a requirement for potential employees, town administrator Kara Winters said she is unsure of past hiring practices.

“I honestly don’t know what was done when he was brought on,” she said.

A Colorado Bureau of Investigation background check indicates Joiner had been arrested on similar charges in the past. He was found guilty of a misdemeanor forgery and criminal simulation charge in March 2000 after being arrested by the Thornton Police Department. Later that year, he was found guilty of a misdemeanor theft charge in November 2000 after being arrested by the Westminster Police Department. Other accusations of fraud, theft and forgery have been made, but many of these charges were later dismissed.  

The 5280 Fund

As second in command at the Morrison Police Department, Joiner was involved in a variety of administrative functions, including making bank deposits for the town, arranging extra duty contracts with Bandimere Speedway, coordinating the cell phone contract for the town’s authorized employee cell phones and managing the department’s fleet.

An online search suggests Joiner registered the “5280 Police Motors Memorial Fund,” with the Colorado Secretary of State as a corporate nonprofit in December 2015.

Money in the 5280 fund, with Joiner the sole name associated with it, was intended to be used to pay for a trip to Washington, D.C., for police officers during National Police Week, according to Russell. Though the fund did pay for trips to the nation’s capital, there also were numerous transactions where money meant for the town of Morrison was deposited and used personally.

An embezzlement charge alleges that, in January 2016, Joiner received a $10,000 donation check made payable to the Town of Morrison and meant to support the police department. Without authorization, he deposited the check into his 5280 Police Motors Memorial Fund and never returned the money to the town.

The former police officer also is accused of diverting funds from extra duty shift wages in the 5280 fund and is alleged to have billed both Bandimere Speedway and the town of Morrison for extra duty shifts worked at Bandimere, according to the release.

In April 2016, the indictment says Bandimere issued a check of nearly $10,000 to the 5280 fund after being instructed by Joiner to do so as payment for extra duty hours performed by other Morrison police officers.

Morrison has completed the restitution process in hopes of receiving compensation for money lost, but the town hasn't received anything yet.

“I’m assuming that will be once the court case is closed,” Winters said. “We turned it into our insurance company. They’ll probably collect (the money) from the county.”

Chief Rudy Sandoval recently retired from his position with the department, and the town is in the process of bringing on an interim chief and hiring a new one. Once someone new joins the department, the town will likely implement new procedures for vetting employees and handling money.

“Yes, we do expect additional policy changes once the interim chief is on board or the permanent chief is hired,” Winters said.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.