CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) – Douglas County Deputy Clerk and Recorder Mike Acree admits he contacted the Elbert County Sheriff about a speeding ticket received by one of Acree’s subordinates, but Acree says he was not trying to act unethically.
“That was not the intent. I don’t fix tickets,” said Acree after CBS4 asked him about the incident.
According to court records, an Elbert County Sheriff’s deputy cited Acree’s employee May 29 for speeding and driving too fast for conditions.
After hearing about the citation, Acree acknowledges he first telephoned Elbert County Sheriff Shayne Heap and left a voicemail. When Heap did not return the call, Acree followed up and emailed the sheriff using his Douglas County email address. CBS4 has obtained a copy of that email sent by Acree on July 23.
After discussing some voting issues via email, Acree wrote to Heap:
On another note in reference to the Citation I spoke about the MTC# is 0020500 written on 5-29-13 with a court date of 7-30-13 (the employee) received a citation for speeding, I have had a very stern discussion with her about Safety and her commute. Could you look into the options available for a disposition of this citation, I would sincerely appreciate it, Mike.
Heap told CBS4 he believed Acree was asking him, “If there was any way to dispose of it other than her going to court. I don’t have the authority to squash a traffic ticket.”
Heap indicated he felt he was being pressured to “fix” the ticket.
“It’s against everything we are supposed to do,” said Heap.
Acree told CBS4 he was not trying to make the ticket go away for his employee, just trying to see if Elbert County had any alternative programs that would allow the employee to perhaps attend a class and get the points and/or fine for the ticket reduced.
“I’m sorry he interpreted it that way,” said Acree. “That wasn’t the intent. The intent was to assist the individual in getting a reduction in points.”
Acree, a former Douglas County Sheriff, said he is often approached by people who have received tickets and are seeking advice on how to deal with them.
Luis Toro, with the government watchdog group Ethics Watch, reviewed Acree’s email and said Acree’s actions were unethical.
“It’s not okay and the reasons it’s not okay is because public officials are entitled to a salary. They don’t get an extra perk and special favors. That’s a form of corruption. When you are abusing your public office to get a gain for a friend, that is unethical.”
After being contacted by CBS4 about his efforts on behalf of his employee, Acree said, “If I had it to do over again I wouldn’t have done it.” He said he would “probably not” contact the sheriff and ask him to intervene.
Court records show that a week after Acree emailed his request to Sheriff Heap and did not get a response, the employee appeared in court and pleaded guilty and paid $302 in fines.
– Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com