By Brian Maass
DENVER (CBS4)– CBS4 has learned that Denver prosecutors have charged the former audit director for the Colorado Department of Transportation with 17 felony charges for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the state agency.
Court documents say he spent the money on everything from a $1,585 artificial spruce Christmas tree to $937.63 spent to buy nine carbon monoxide/smoke detectors.
“So when you have a public official that does this, it does not lend itself to public confidence,” said Ken Lane, a spokesperson for the Denver District Attorney’s office.
“It’s a black eye on others who carry out public duties,” said Lane.
A CBS4 Investigation in January revealed that CDOT fired Chris Wedor amid concerns he stole thousands of dollars through the use of CDOT purchasing cards.
He was terminated Dec. 29, 2016.
Now, the Denver District Attorneys office has filed felony charges of theft, computer crime, attempt to influence a public servant, identity theft and forgery against Wedor. Court records show a warrant was issued for Wedor’s arrest.
According to an arrest affidavit in the case, Wedor made dozens of unauthorized expenditures by using state credit cards that had been issued to him and three subordinates. The court document accuses Wedor of squandering about $29,000 on personal expenses in less than a year that he spent as CDOT audit director.
Investigators say Wedor also bought about $4,000 in gift cards for himself.
When confronted by CDOT administrators, Wedor “claimed he had no idea what those charges could be and that he was not aware of the charges … Wedor stated that he had no idea what could have happened and that he was unaware of any such purchases and that he had not received any gift cards.”
The investigation also indicated that while traveling on CDOT business, Wedor made 25 unauthorized purchases for meals and food, toiletries and coffee.
Amy Ford, CDOT communications director, said in January, “CDOT was looking at expenditures and found irregularities, and when we did we turned it over to CBI and terminated him.”
One source familiar with the case told CBS4 Wedor was suspected of using the state credit cards to cover personal expenses, and the amount was in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Wedor was paid $112,000 annually by CDOT. He did not respond to emails, calls or a written letter from CBS4 earlier this year. During a visit to his Green Valley Ranch home, a second man refused to talk and quickly ran inside when he spotted the CBS4 reporters.
Wedor began working as CDOTs audit director in 2016 and previously was the audit manager for the City and County of Denver. Court documents indicate that investigators believe Wedor began stealing from CDOT in May 2016, one month after he began working for the agency.
He also ran unsuccessfully for Denver City Council.
“No one is immune and everyone is accountable,” said Ford, “it doesn’t matter if you are an executive or a mechanic.”