Hickenlooper Rejects Calls For Investigation Of Forged Lab Signatures

By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4) – Gov. John Hickenlooper is rejecting calls for an independent investigation of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment breath testing protocol after a former lab worker told CBS4 his signature was repeatedly forged on documents certifying the accuracy of breath testing machines.

In an interview with CBS4 last Friday, Mike Barnhill, who worked at the lab as an electronics technician, said his signature was repeatedly forged in 2013 on official forms, certifying that as many as 150 Intoxilyzer 9000 machines were accurate and had been calibrated by Barnhill.

“Somebody else did this and signed my name,” said Barnhill.

He said the forgeries occurred because the state needed to get the new Intoxilyzer machines into service quickly and lab workers were facing intense deadlines. Barnhill said he did not agree with allowing others to forge his signature.

”I felt uncomfortable about it … but you go along with it.”

He said there was no way he could have calibrated and certified all those machines in a limited amount of time.

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CBS4 Investigators Brian Maass interviews Mike Barnhill(credit: CBS)

He said there was no way he could have calibrated and certified all those machines in a limited amount of time.

Defense attorneys asked Hickenlooper to order an independent investigation based on the whistleblower’s firsthand account.

But in a statement Monday afternoon, Jacki Cooper, Melmed, the governor’s chief legal counsel, wrote, “The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has conducted a complete investigation of this issue.  They found no evidence to support the allegations of misconduct related to the certifications.  We believe that an independent investigation is not needed at this time, but if new facts emerge, we can always reconsider.”

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(credit: CBS)

Darren Cantor, president of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, had written the governor requesting the investigation saying, ”The breath test results from these devices continue to be critical in thousands of cases per year, and we believe that you are in the position to make sure there is honesty, transparency and accuracy in the science used to prosecute persons accused of criminal offenses.”

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

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