DENVER (CBS4) – The Adams County District Attorney has reopened a criminal investigation into a burglary case involving a former top Northglenn police commander after a CBS4 Investigation raised questions about the way the case was quickly dismissed as nothing more than a “civil matter.”
The ex-wife of police commander Jeremy Sloan told CBS4 she believed the case was quickly buried due to what she called “the buddy system.” She suspects her ex-husband received preferential treatment due to his high-profile law enforcement position.
Jamie Matheney and Jeremy Sloan were married, but their divorce proceedings began in 2013. On Feb. 19, Sloan and Matheney appeared in court for a divorce hearing in which a judge issued temporary orders that said no marital property was to be split up until the divorce was final.
“Any disputed items shall be left in the home until that time,” the judge ordered.
After being out the entire next day, Matheney came home the evening of Feb. 20 and discovered someone had broken into the home she had shared with Sloan.
“As I walked in, the cupboards were open, the filing cabinet was out. Someone had been in the house and had burglarized the house,” Matheney said. She said most of what was taken was personal property belonging to her estranged husband, but several items belonging to her — like family heirlooms — were missing.
She said she immediately suspected Sloan, who had recently retired from the Northglenn Police Department and had headed up the joint Northglenn/Thornton SWAT team for several years. She said she suspected “right away” her estranged husband had broken into the home.
She called 911 and Thornton police responded, characterizing what had happened as a second-degree burglary. At the scene, a Thornton police officer telephoned Sloan about the burglary.
“This is a civil issue,” Sloan responded, according to the officer’s report. “I’m going to go ahead and refer this issue to my attorney.”
Five days later, a Thornton police detective reported he contacted Adams County Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Ratkiewicz. The detective wrote that after explaining the case to the deputy DA, “DDA Ratkiewicz told me the District Attorney’s Office does not get involved in the civil matter and the incident would have to be taken up in civil court most likely in the permanent order hearing, therefore there are no criminal charges in this case against Jeremy Sloan.”
The detective wrote: “I recommend this case status be changed to ‘Cleared as Civil Situation.’ ”
“They didn’t do anything,” Matheney said. “If it was me or you or someone else, we would be charged criminally.”
Three months after the burglary case was dismissed as a civil situation, a CBS4 Investigation began asking questions. Adams County District Attorney Dave Young said he had been unaware of the case until the CBS4 inquiries, but after looking at the case, he said he was initiating an official review.
“We don’t make filing decisions over the phone,” Young said. He said the case was not handled correctly. Asked about his deputy DA’s comments dismissing the case as a civil matter, Young said, “She disagrees with that assessment.”
Young said his office is now conducting an official review of the burglary case and has asked Thornton police to gather more information so a filing decision can be made.
Officer Matt Barnes, a spokesman for the Thornton Police Department, told CBS4 he could not discuss the newly re-opened case or the way it was handled.
“The case is still considered an active and ongoing investigation until a final disposition on the case has been reached,” Barnes said. He did, however, indicate it was prosecutors who decided to write the case off as a civil matter, not the police: “As you saw in the report, we conferred with their office, and were advised by a DA of the civil recommendation.”
Harvey Steinberg, a Denver criminal defense attorney, said the handling of the burglary case was highly unusual.
“Trying to clear it is way off the pale,” Steinberg said. “Any time there is a break-in or forced entry, it’s not civil. It doesn’t pass the smell test.” He noted that Sloan’s response — that it was a civil matter — when contacted by a Thornton police officer was suggestive. “The response implies ‘I did it, but it’s civil. I did it, but it’s criminal. Don’t worry about it,’ ” Steinberg said.
“I think the buddy system kicked in here,” Matheney said. “I know that’s why it wasn’t pursued as a criminal matter.”
CBS4 left two phone messages for Sloan that were not returned. Multiple emails to Sloan also went unanswered.
Young said Thornton police have now been asked to do further interviews and his office should make an official filing decision within approximately two weeks.