Written by Brian Maass
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – A CBS4 investigation has learned that the West Metro Drug Task Force investigated, targeted and attempted to arrest former Arapahoe County Sheriff Patrick Sullivan nearly a year ago, but could not put together a provable, prosecutable criminal case.

The West Metro Drug Task Force is made up of seven different law enforcement agencies in Jefferson and Gilpin counties. They target groups and individuals involved in the manufacturing and distribution of illegal drugs.

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Three sources familiar with the case say Sullivan was in the task force’s crosshairs, but the case did not come together. All three asked their names not be used as they were not authorized to speak about the attempted bust.

According to information provided to CBS4 by those familiar with the case, the West Metro Drug Task Force investigation of Sullivan began with a tip from an informant in approximately January of 2011 that Sullivan was obtaining methamphetamine and trading it for sex with young men. The agency pushed the investigation, obtaining corroborating information suggesting Sullivan was indeed involved in the drug trade.

Pat Sullivan in court on Dec. 5, 2011 (credit: CBS)

West Metro then tried to set up a controlled drug deal earlier this year, a “buy/bust” in Jefferson County that was focused on ensnaring Sullivan and leading to his arrest. One source says Sullivan, who was under surveillance, drove to the home in Jefferson County where the deal was set to go down. But Sullivan remained in his car and did not take part in the drug transaction.

Subsequent to that, the West Metro Drug Task Force informant ceased cooperating and investigators were left with insufficient evidence to pursue the former sheriff, although one person familiar with the case said investigators had no doubt Sullivan was involved in illegal activity.

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Monday evening, Jacki Kelley, a spokesperson for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed the CBS4 report.

“When the information was shared with the West Metro Task Force, they vigorously worked that information until they couldn’t any longer,” Kelley said. “Sullivan was not shown any favoritism or special treatment.”

Kelley told CBS4 the near miss of Sullivan almost a year ago was not for a lack of effort.

“They lost their confidential informant and were not able to further the case due to the loss of the informant,” Kelley said.

Meanwhile, a Judge on Monday dramatically reduced the bond required for the 68-year-old Sullivan to get out of jail. He had been held on $500,000 bond on four criminal charges, but Judge William Sylvester lowered bond to $50,000. A prosecutor called Sullivan a “safety risk” and said the criminal investigation is ongoing. Sullivan’s attorney argued for the lower bond citing Sullivan’s lack of a criminal record and history of public service.

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Sullivan is scheduled to appear in court again Jan. 31 for a preliminary hearing.