Court date will come in March for developer
Local developer Ray Marshall will be tried in March on fraud and theft charges despite the prosecution losing a key battle over evidence, District Attorney Dan May confirms. On Dec. 9, the Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal over how much evidence can be presented to a jury about Marshall's alleged efforts to deceive investors.
May says the Marshall case will go to trial March 19, regardless of the Supreme Court's decision. He declined further comment.
Earlier, District Judge Barney Iuppa confined that evidence to Marshall's failure to disclose his 1996 personal bankruptcy and his 2003 business bankruptcy, two points listed by grand jurors in their indictment.
Chief Deputy DA Robyn Cafasso argued in court documents that Iuppa was wrong to narrow the evidence because criminal law doesn't require all evidence presented at trial to have been presented to the grand jury. She says Marshall made many misrepresentations that should be fair game in proving not only fraud but the underlying theft charges, which are based on the theory of theft by deception.
"The district court's ruling alters the fundamental law governing grand jury proceedings and securities fraud prosecutions," Cafasso writes in her petition. "If the same reasoning is adopted by courts in other cases, it will thwart the use of grand juries in future prosecutions."
Marshall and business partner James Brodie were indicted two years ago on charges of defrauding investors in various land deals. Marshall was the lead developer in the city's deal to provide new offices for the U.S. Olympic Committee, which wasn't part of the indictment. Brodie faces a court hearing Jan. 13. — PZ
Schools may win
No cuts for Colorado's K-through-12 schools? That's hard to believe — in the past two years alone, the state funding for this education system lost more than a half-billion dollars. Yet, reacting to the good news that the state might have an additional $231 million in revenues this coming year, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Tuesday that he wants to see $89 million go to reverse his earlier-proposed cuts to K-through-12 education.
Further, $30 million would go to higher education with $110 million directed to an account for education statewide.
According to House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, the goal is to not cut public education at all.
"The Democrats are going to fight to eliminate any cut," he says. As an appeal to the Lobato school-funding decision seems likely, he adds, "at a minimum we should hold the line on K-12 funding." — CH
Drilling expert hired
Colorado Springs City Attorney Chris Melcher has hired Howard Boigon of Hogan Lovells, a global law firm with a local office, to advise the city on oil and gas drilling matters. Melcher wouldn't say how much Boigon will be paid, but notes the Denver-based attorney is giving the city a discounted rate and his contract will contain a "not to exceed" figure.
Boigon, Melcher says, has more than 25 years of experience in regulatory matters on both sides of the issue — the regulation side and the industry side.
The city recently launched a task force to study oil and gas issues in light of Houston-based Ultra Petroleum's desire to drill on 18,000 acres of the city's east side that it recently purchased from bankruptcy. Councilman Val Snider is heading a task force that plans weekly meetings for the next five to six months. — PZ
State Rep. Pete Lee would like to lend a hand to promising local, small-but-growing businesses. One bill that the Colorado Springs Democrat plans to push in the 2012 legislative session would promote statewide establishment of "economic gardening."
Economic gardening is a concept first explored in Littleton. The idea is to offer businesses technical assistance, such as data from geographic information systems, or GIS, that will give them a clearer and fuller understanding of their community and customers.
This legislation ties into the Democrats' theme of economic development for the upcoming session — the first bill to be introduced into the Democrat-controlled Senate would give preference for government contracts to companies that hire Colorado employees. — CH
It still costs to reconnect
A west side couple will be able to reconnect water and sewer service to a home they own, next door to their actual residence, for a fraction of the cost.
In 1990, Sandra and Andrew Knauf bought the house next to where they live in the 1800 block of West Pikes Peak Avenue. A couple of years later they decided to disconnect the house and use it for storage. Recently, they wanted to reconnect service, and Utilities quoted a charge of $11,160 for water and wastewater ("Getting hosed," News, Sept. 15). Gas and electric connection fees were much lower. They appealed to City Council, which acts as the Utilities Board.
That was several months ago. Last week, Council voted to amend tariffs to allow for lower connection fees. In the Knaufs' case, they'll have to pay $3,259. Even cutting the bill by 71 percent, though, didn't satisfy Sandra Knauf. "In my opinion the whole thing still stinks," she wrote to us in an e-mail after the action, "but I don't know where we're supposed to go from here with no money to hire a lawyer." — PZ
Compiled by Chet Hardin and Pam Zubeck.