|Judge denies motion to remove county attorney's office from FLDS case|
By JIM SECKLER|
Mohave Daily News
KINGMAN — A Superior Court judge denied a motion to disqualify the Mohave County Attorney's Office from prosecuting two former officials of Colorado City Fire District.
Colorado City Manager David William Darger and former Colorado City Fire Chief Jacob Leonard Barlow are each charged with the alleged misuse of the fire district's credit cards for personal use.
The fire district's money was allegedly deposited into the suspect's own bank account and used for purchases at restaurants, grocery stores, discount department stores and food and lodging at an Idaho resort, which was claimed to be for fire training.
At a January hearing, Barlow's attorney, Mike Piccarreta, argued that since Mohave County Attorney's Office has represented the fire district in the past that would have an appearance of impropriety. It was also the prosecutor's job to provide advice to the fire district in civil matters. The defense attorney, who once represented Warren Jeffs on his Arizona sex abuse charges, downplayed the items bought as necessary for volunteer firefighters.
Deputy Mohave County Attorney James Schoppman argued that the defense attorneys failed to prove specifically when or on what case his office represented the fire district. The prosecutor also said he is not prosecuting the fire district but rather Darger and Barlow for the misuse of the funds.
Superior Court Judge Steven Conn denied the motion ruling that he found no factors identified by the defense attorneys that Schoppman or the county attorney's office represented Barlow, Darger or the fire district or gave them legal advice relating to criminal charges in this case. Conn also refuted the defense's claim of a meeting between Schoppman and the defendants saying it was more adversarial than a meeting between a client and an attorney.
Darger is charged with 10 counts of violating the duties as custodian of public funds, two counts of participating in a criminal syndicate and one count of assisting in a criminal syndicate. The charges allegedly occurred between February 2004 and April 2010. Darger had been elected the secretary-treasurer for the Colorado City Fire District.
Barlow is charged with 27 counts of violating the duties as custodian of public funds, two counts of participating in a criminal syndicate and one count of assisting in a criminal syndicate. Barlow had also been elected the fire chief for the fire district, which is now governed by a five-member board.
The county attorney's office began its investigation in 2008. On April 6, 2010, Mohave County law enforcement officers raided the Colorado City and Hildale, Utah fire stations as well as Darger and Barlow's homes. Colorado City, along with Hildale, is the home of the polygamist sect of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints church.
Originally published Sunday, February 12, 2012
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