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Gunnison Co. Deputy Suspended After Off-Duty Job At Koch Ranch

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Bear Ranch near Paonia is owned by Bill Koch. (credit: CBS)

Bear Ranch near Paonia is owned by Bill Koch. (credit: CBS)

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PAONIA, Colo. (CBS4) – A Gunnison County Sheriff’s deputy will be suspended and has to teach an ethics class for not asking the sheriff if he could take an off duty job at a billionaire’s ranch.

That billionaire, Bill Koch, is accused in a lawsuit of kidnapping and holding a man against his will.

The alleged incident happened on an unusual ranch named the Bear Ranch near Paonia. The ranch belongs to billionaire Koch, whose famous brothers are well known for funding conservative causes.

The kidnapping claim was made by Kirby Martensen, a former executive in Koch’s Oxbow Corporation.

In a lawsuit, he claims he was brought to Koch’s ranch in March where he was fired from his position of senior vice president. Martensen said there was a deputy present to make sure he didn’t run away.

Deputy Clarence “Bill” Hart was hired to work off duty in case there was trouble but he never told Gunnison County Sheriff Rick Besecker about the gig.

Besecker says he asked the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to investigate the claim that one of his uniformed deputies and his patrol car were involved in the alleged kidnapping.

“I am curious on why this was not reported to a law enforcement agency. It definitely wasn’t reported to us and to the best of my knowledge it wasn’t reported to any other agency,” said Besecker.

“Due to the severity of what is being claimed we contacted CBI and asked them to investigate this head on.”

The report from that investigation states Deputy Hart was hired for $50 per hour and paid $500 at the end of the day.

He stayed at the office while Martensen toured Koch’s Old West Town that he is building on the ranch.

A Koch spokesman said the kidnapping claim by Martensen is a “cheap shot” in retaliation for a corporate theft lawsuit Koch filed against Martensen.

“He participated in dinner and wine and could have left at any time. He was not restrained in any form or fashion,” said Koch spokesman Brad Goldstein.

The head of security at Koch’s ranch is a former Gunnison County deputy.

Hart admitted using his patrol car for the off-duty job but his daily log did not record the miles added to the vehicle.

That day Hart said it was a mistake, adding, “I’m so stupid. I can’t believe I did this.”

Hart has been given a one-day suspension and ordered to create a class on ethics.

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