Former DA Tucker dies
January 4, 2006
Former District Attorney Frank Tucker, who resigned in June 1978 after his conviction on two counts of embezzling public funds, died of cancer Monday in Montrose. He was 64.In June 1978, Tucker was convicted of double-billing Garfield and Rio Blanco counties for expenses he and Deborah McGuern incurred at a Colorado Springs convention in 1975.He was also convicted of falsely representing $320 in telephone charges between himself and McGuern, who then was living in California. Tucker said McGuern was an informant in drug cases.Tucker was charged with embezzling $680 from Pitkin and Garfield counties. About half of that was allegedly used to pay McGuern’s hotel and food bills when she accompanied Tucker to conventions in Hawaii and Colorado Springs.On July 14, 1978, then-Gov. Richard Lamm appointed Glenwood Springs public defender Charles Leidner to take his place.Tucker served six months in jail and more than five years of probation. After his sentence, he opened the Tucker Fairlawn Funeral Home in Glenwood Springs. A few years later he moved to Montrose and opened the Montrose Valley Funeral Home.He also bought the Moynahan-O’Malia Mortuary in Leadville in 1983 and closed it in 1996.In 1976, Tucker prosecuted Claudine Longet, who shot and killed ski racer Spider Sabich in his Aspen home. Longet, the wife of singer Andy Williams, was convicted of criminal negligence and sentenced to probation. Tucker came under fire for letting Longet off too lightly. It was also during Tucker’s tenure as district attorney, in June 1977, that serial killer Ted Bundy was captured and then escaped from the Pitkin County Jail. He was recaptured a week later and housed in the Glenwood Springs jail, where he escaped again. He was recaptured in Florida in February 1978.”I remember him as a very colorful person,” said retired county court Judge Steve Carter, who was county court judge in Rifle during and after Tucker’s time as district attorney.Tucker grew up in Rifle and graduated from Rifle High School. Before his election as district attorney, Tucker and his first wife, Louise, who was also an attorney, had a private law firm, Tucker and Tucker, in Glenwood Springs, Carter said.”He was flamboyant, that’s the best way to describe him,” Carter said.Carter remembered Tucker’s fall from grace and had some colorful stories of his own to tell about Tucker.”He served [his jail time] in Georgetown. He became a favorite of all the prisoners there because he was a gourmet chef and he was put in charge of cooking for them,” he said.Carter was also harsh in his assessment of Tucker.”He was an embarrassment to the legal community,” Carter said. “Flamboyant and colorful don’t begin to describe him.”Carter recalled an incident just after Tucker was convicted of embezzlement.”In the midst of his legal troubles, he [was on] a float in the Carbondale Potato Day parade,” Carter said. “He was in a handmade jail with a handmade ball and chain, and someone with a donkey pulling him along. He was not the least repentant.”Retired Chief District Court Judge Tom Ossola also knew Tucker. The two men met in law school at the University of Colorado in the mid-1960s.Ossola said he was sad to hear about Tucker’s death.”He was a really complicated person. At the same time he was a very compassionate person, but he obviously had some significant blind spots,” he said. “Once you met him you never forgot him.”According to his obituary, Tucker is survived by his wife, Debbie; three daughters, Whitney, Morgan and Sloan Tucker; and his sister, Judy, and her husband, Glenn Brice, of Grand Junction.A funeral Mass at St. Mary Catholic Church in Montrose is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday.Visitation will be from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Montrose Valley Funeral Home. A final funeral service is set for 1 p.m. Sunday at Martin Mortuary in Grand Junction. Interment will follow at Memorial Gardens in Grand Junction.