Charges against Avon councilman dismissed
District Attorney Mark Hurlbert dropped computer fraud charges Wednesday against Avon Town Councilman Peter Buckley.
“After seeing more evidence, I realized I couldn’t prove my case,” Hurlbert said Wednesday. “This case is pretty much done. Unless I get new evidence, I won’t be refiling.”
Buckley faced three felony charges, which could have carried sentences of two to six years and a fine of up to $500,000.
Buckley was accused of illegally flooding a rival’s e-mail server with thousands of “spam” messages, or bogus e-mails.
“We alleged that he had used something that gathers e-mail to disrupt Vail.net,” Hurlbert said. “Vail.net was disrupted, but we couldn’t show that Buckley was the one who did it.”
Eagle County District Judge Thomas Moorhead signed the order Wednesday following Hurlbert’s dismissal.
Reached at his home in Wildridge Wednesday evening, Buckley declined comment, saying he’d issue a public statement today.
Buckley and his wife, Debbie – who also is on the Avon Town Council -operate Vail.com, a home computer and Internet business. Investigators’ reports said there may have been antagonism between Pete Buckley and rival Vail.Net after Peter Buckley unsuccessfully applied for a job at the company.
In September 2001, Vail.Net, a local e-mail and Internet provider, reported its server was overwhelmed with nearly 20,000 messages, effectively shutting down service to Vail.Net customers, according to investigator’s reports. Some of those messages, the reports state, bore an Internet protocol address from Buckley’s computer.
Charges of felony computer crime and transmitting a computer virus were filed by the District Attorney’s Office the next month, in October 2001, after the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation seized a dozen home computers from Buckley’s home after some of the “spam” messages allegedly showed the his address on the Internet.
Filed, dismissed, refiled
In January, another judge dismissed charges stemming from an error made when they were originally filed. Since then, the lead investigator on the case, left for the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and Hurlbert replaced former District Attorney Mike Goodbee, who left to work for a state attorney’s office.
Hurlbert refiled charges against Buckley in February.
Cliff Thompson contributed to this story. Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.