Former Jeffco Treasurer Mark Paschall — on trial on two felony counts related to an alleged kickback scheme — will argue that Commissioner Jim Congrove set him up in a case of political “payback,” according to opening statements in Paschall’s trial.
“This case is not about a kickback,” said David Lane, Paschall’s attorney. “It’s about a payback.”
Paschall has been charged with one count of attempted criminal theft and one count of compensation for past official behavior related to a kickback scheme he is alleged to have proposed to Kathy Redmond in December 2006. Redmond, one of Paschall’s political appointees when he was Jeffco treasurer, told authorities that Paschall offered her an $18,000 bonus near the end of his term on the condition that she split it with him. Since she was a political appointee, Redmond was going to lose her job in the treasurer’s office when Paschall left office in January 2007.
Lane laid out a complicated scenario in which Paschall was trying to offer Redmond an $18,000 severance package that would be spread out over time, but Redmond wanted it to be a bonus so she could also collect unemployment.
During at least 20 conversations about the payment, Lane said, Paschall said it didn’t matter what Redmond did with the money, and in jest said that if she wanted to she could split it three ways — one third to taxes, a third to keep and a third to him. Redmond, who is friends with Congrove, reported what Paschall said to Congrove, and the District 1 commissioner said it was a crime and that they should get Paschall on tape talking about the alleged offer, according to Lane. He added that Congrove was a bitter enemy of Paschall because Paschall wouldn’t discuss his grand jury testimony with Congrove in a case in which Congrove was being investigated for hiring a friend to spy on a man suing the county and on a former county employee.
“In the world of political intrigue, that is an offense Mr. Congrove is not going to put up with,” Lane said. He added that because Paschall would not discuss his grand jury testimony with Congrove, “Congrove hated Mark Paschall with an undying passion.”
Redmond did end up taping a conversation with Paschall — with the aid of the district attorney’s office — in which he said the money could be split three ways, but Lane said that Redmond asked Paschall about the time he was speaking in jest about the money and mentioned the money being broken into thirds.
Deputy District Attorney Sean Clifford told the jurors during the state’s opening statements that the legislature sets elected officials’ pay, and “they’re not entitled to anything more, or anything less.” He said the behavior was in violation of the oath Paschall took when he swore to uphold the constitution. As Clifford read that oath to the jury, Paschall mouthed the words along with him.
Clifford also laid out a scenario involving Redmond and Paschall, only his version has Redmond being offered the $18,000 bonus unsolicited and feeling uncomfortable about it, so she reports it to county authorities and an investigation is launched.
“What happens if the press gets a hold of this?” Redmond allegedly asked Paschall, according to Clifford. “I don’t care,” Paschall reportedly said.
The prosecution was to begin presenting its case Wednesday.
After the lunch break, Lane told District Judge Randall Arp that a man in the audience, Roger McCarville, was perhaps in the courtroom to listen to the testimony on behalf of Congrove. Congrove is not allowed to listen to the testimony or discuss his upcoming testimony in the case, according to a witness sequestration order Arp issued earlier in the day. Arp said that only witnesses in the case were under the sequestration order, but if Congrove did discuss testimony in the case with McCarville or anyone else, he would be in violation of the order.
McCarville told a reporter he was there as a spectator only and that Congrove didn’t even know he was going to be in the courtroom.