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Colorado Department of Law — Annual Report 2009 - page 14 / 41





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Colorado Department of Law — Annual Report 2009

In 2009, the unit opened 39 new investigations (35 fraud and four abuse) and filed five new cases of fraud, including licensure fraud and durable medical equipment fraud. Four criminal convictions, one revocation of a deferred sentence and eight civil settlements were obtained, with recoveries totaling more than $6.3 million.

The unit also works closely with its counterparts in other states and the federal government on a broad range of fraud cases that span multiple jurisdictions. Several of these cases resulted in regional and national settlements that included activities occurring in Colorado.

deputy district attorneys in the 22 judicial districts.

The Unit also is handling the investigation of the 1987 murder of Peggy Hettrick in Fort Collins. In early 2008, Gov. Bill Ritter issued an executive order that placed the Attorney General’s Office in charge of the case. During 2009 a unit prosecutor and three unit investigators were assigned to work with the Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice as well as with an attorney and an investigator from the Attorney General’s Homicide Assistance Team to conduct this investigation.

Special Prosecutions

The Attorney General has statutory authority to prosecute specifically enumerated crimes including environmental violations, tax fraud, mortgage fraud, election fraud, workers’ compensation fraud and other fraud-related offenses. Additionally, the Attorney General functions as the legal adviser to the Statewide Grand Jury. This duty allows for the prosecution of complex criminal cases which occurred in multiple judicial districts throughout the state. The Special Prosecutions Unit, which is comprised of five attorneys, four investigators and one support-staff employee, is responsible for prosecuting many of the state’s multiple jurisdiction matters, as well as special investigations which may be referred by other state agencies or the governor.

Unit attorneys prosecute cases throughout the state either under the auspices of the Attorney General or as specially appointed

In 2009, this unit indicted 60 defendants who were involved in two separate drug distribution enterprises that operated not only in the Metro Denver area, but also throughout Northern Colorado and into Southern Wyoming. The leaders of these schemes were charged under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act and continue to be prosecuted by a Special Prosecutions Unit in Adams County. This unit continued with its prosecution of 10 offenders who were associated with a sophisticated mortgage fraud scheme. This particular prosecution included this unit conducting a successful multi-week jury trial in 2009 against Uto Essien, the key leader of the criminal enterprise. Mr. Essien ultimately was convicted of violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Other cases indicted and prosecuted by this unit included a seven-defendant illegal gambling ring that also involved loan- sharking, insurance fraud and money laundering. The ring leader, Jeffrey Castardi pleaded guilty to violating the Colorado


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