Searches at issue in embezzlement case against Bolton
Judge J.E. DeVilbiss reserved judgment yesterday on whether to suppress evidence obtained in two warrantless searches in the case against the man accused of embezzling some $200,000 from the Roaring Fork Club.
DeVilbiss said he would make his ruling April 19, when the case is scheduled for further proceedings.
Michael Bolton, 50, former construction manager for the Basalt golf and fishing club, is charged with three counts of theft series. The charges stem from embezzlement activities that allegedly occurred while he was employed with the club.
Bolton’s attorney, public defender James Conway, argued before DeVilbiss that searches of Bolton’s Roaring Fork Club office and of a Ford Expedition owned by the club and issued to Bolton were improper.
“People have a reasonable expectation of privacy at their homes and workplaces,” Conway said. Conway referenced a half-dozen or so cases which he said support his position.
The two searches occurred after Bolton was placed on “administrative leave” by the club on April 29 for suspected improprieties, according to testimony. They were conducted by Basalt Police Officer Chris Maniscalchi. Maniscalchi testified that he did not have a warrant for either search.
Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills argued Maniscalchi did not need a warrant to search the office and vehicle, because both belonged to the club and club officials consented to the searches.
The issue, said Wills, is whether Bolton had a proprietary or possessory interest in either the automobile or a computer seized in the office search. Wills maintained that Bolton had neither in either the vehicle or office search.
The evidence retrieved in the two questionable searches is Bolton’s banking records.
The case is scheduled to go to trial beginning May 25. Bolton remains in custody in the Pitkin County Jail.
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