Complaint says DA office is protecting its own |

Complaint says DA office is protecting its own

ASPEN – Citing an “abuse of power” by the district attorney’s office, lawyers for the ex-wife of an Aspen prosecutor filed court papers Monday demanding that he be charged with computer crimes.

The complaint, filed on behalf of Elinor Dvir, seeks a special prosecutor to pursue a criminal case against Richard Nedlin, a deputy district attorney in the Pitkin County branch of the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. District Attorney Martin Beeson, named as the respondent in the complaint, said he stands by Nedlin.

“He did not commit a crime in my estimate,” Beeson said, “and this has already been addressed.”

Dvir’s complaint alleges that Nedlin committed a misdemeanor computer offense by using the National Crime Information database (NCIC) to obtain the criminal history of “one of the people he believed was supportive of Ms. Dvir.”

Dvir and Nedlin had been in a custody battle over their daughter at the time the prosecutor obtained the criminal history, which he sent to a custody evaluator “in an attempt to influence” the evaluation in his favor, the complaint says. Nedlin has since retained full custody of the couple’s daughter.

The complaint also comes less than a month before Dvir is scheduled to stand a second trial for hiring a hit man to kill Nedlin. Last month, a Jefferson County jury deadlocked 9-3 in favor of acquitting Dvir.

Nedlin, the complaint said, testified in the April trial that he committed a computer crime by using the NCIC database for personal reasons.

The complaint also alleges that Nedlin obtained the criminal history “despite knowing, as an employee of the district attorney’s office and as a licensed attorney in the state of Colorado, that state law prohibits using this database for personal purposes, much less to gain a personal advantage in litigation wholly separate from his official duties as a deputy district attorney.”

The complaint was filed in Pitkin County District Court by Douglas K. Wilson and Ann M. Roan of the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender. Roan represented Dvir in the May criminal trial.

Beeson said he was served with the complaint Monday at work. He called the allegations “appalling.”

“I believe this filing is totally devoid of merit,” he said. “It’s filled with inaccuracies and falsehoods, and what’s particularly appalling is this is not a criminal case, this is a civil case, and the public defender’s office is using taxpayer money to pay for it.”

Without going into detail, Beeson said the matter was handled in December 2008 and January 2009, around the time Nedlin apparently used the NCIC database for his personal use.

“It was addressed appropriately and it was addressed administratively,” Beeson said. “We made it clear to him that his actions were not to be repeated and that severe sanctions would be in effect if he did this again.”

The complaint, however, alleges that Beeson’s “decision to deliberately ignore criminal conduct on the part of one of his own deputies smacks of favoritism and special treatment, as well as a desire to avoid unfavorable publicity.”

The complaint goes on to say that there is sufficient evidence to charge Nedlin: “In this case, by turning a willfully blind eye to criminal misconduct by a member of his own staff, which misconduct happened within the course and scope of Mr. Nedlin’s employment, Respondent Martin Beeson has seriously eroded the public’s faith that his office is seeking justice, rather than protecting his own. The people of the Ninth Judicial District deserve better.”

Beeson suggested that the complaint is a ploy by Roan, the public defender, to impeach Nedlin’s credibility at next month’s murder-for-hire trial.

“When her client [Dvir] goes to trial again on the charge of soliciting the death of Mr. Nedlin, she can say, ‘Isn’t it true, Mr. Nedlin, that you are being investigated for committing a crime of your own?'” Beeson said.

The complaint asks that Beeson appear before a judge and explain his reasons for not prosecuting Nedlin. It also seeks a special prosecutor from the Front Range to pursue charges against Nedlin.

Public defenders Roan and Wilson could not be reached for comment at deadline Monday. Nedlin declined to discuss the case.

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