GRAND JUNCTION - A Colorado Department of Corrections parole officer faces allegations he forged documents that kept parole violators in jail longer than allowable under state law.
9Wants to Know obtained a report from Office of the Inspector General within the Colorado Department of Corrections. The report documents several cases in which Parole Officer Jeffrey Wells was suspected of forging arrest dates of parolees.
The forged dates, according to the report, kept parolees in jail beyond time frame known as the 10-day-rule. Under Colorado law, parole officers have 10 days to file paperwork once someone is arrested on a parole violation. If paperwork is not filed within 10 days, the parolee should be released under the law.
The report suggests Wells changed arrests dates of parolees which extended the paperwork deadline.
"Parole Officer Wells' conduct is egregious. He took away a huge portion of these people's lives," attorney Siddhartha Rathod said.
Rothod has filed a federal lawsuit against Wells and the Department of Corrections on Sunday for false imprisonment and for depravation of liberty and due process. Four parolees are listed as plaintiffs.
"He was committing the crime of forgery and false imprisonment. And this is not just our client saying this. This is the Office of Inspector General saying Parole Officer Wells and the Department of Corrections have falsely imprisoned our clients," Rathod said.
Rathod told 9Wants to Know one of his four clients was illegally held for six months because of falsified paperwork.
Department of Corrections response
The Department of Corrections declined an on-camera interview with 9Wants to Know.
In a statement, DOC said it could not disclose or acknowledge any action taken against Wells.
"Under the constraints of state employees' right to privacy, the Department is restricted in the information that it can share in the public domain regarding actions taken by an appointing authority to correct behavior or carry out disciplinary action on any employee," the DOC statement said.
DOC also said in its statement it "has implemented short-term measures to address the issues raised through the investigation."
A call and an email to a DOC spokesperson on Monday was not returned to 9Wants to Know seeking to clarify what short-term measures were implemented.
Click here to see the entire DOC response.
Case sent to district attorney
9Wants to Know learned the case was handed over to the Mesa County District Attorney for possible prosecution against Wells.
On Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for the District Attorney's office told 9Wants to Know, "We reviewed the case last year. We determined we could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt criminal intent."
Wells is still currently working as a parole officer in Grand Junction. The Department of Corrections said in its statement he was recently named employee of the quarter by co-workers.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012