Conflict complaint against Stone lingers in D.A.’s hands |

Conflict complaint against Stone lingers in D.A.’s hands

Veronica Whitney

EAGLE – Six months after he started looking into a possible breach of conflict of interest law by county Commissioner Tom Stone, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said he’s still looking for a prosecutor to investigate an allegation made earlier this year.The next prosecutor will be the third Hurlbert has asked to see if charges are warranted. Stone and other county officials have said he did nothing wrong. “It’s not normal it’s taking so long,” said Hurlbert, who in March began an investigation after receiving a complaint from an Eagle County resident. To avoid his own conflict of interest – Hurlbert’s office receives funding from the Eagle County commissioners – Hurlbert requested the help of the district attorney for the Aspen and Glenwood Springs area, Mac Myers. In May, after Myers failed to take up the case, Hurlbert requested the help of Bonnie Roesink, the district attorney for Steamboat Springs and the northwestern-most corner of Colorado, he said. “After sitting on it for a couple of months, her investigator left for Iraq,” Hurlbert said. Now, Hurlbert said, he’s talking to other special prosecutors to see if he can get the case reassigned.”I could send the case to the state attorney general, but it would be up to them if they’ll take the case or not,” he said. “I feel I have my hands tied.”There could be a conflict of interest on his part if he were to investigate and ultimately file charges against Stone, Hurlbert said. “It’s important for the citizens of Eagle County to know if there is a conflict and for Commissioner Stone, if charges will be filed against him,” Hurlbert said.Stone said he isn’t concerned with the delays.”The district attorneys have more important cases to prosecute,” Stone said. “I still consider this a personal attack from (Commissioner) Arn Menconi and I believe most people see it that way.”Earlier this year, county Commissioner Arn Menconi – a frequent opponent of Stone’s – and some county residents questioned whether Stone’s actions were ethical when he brokered a deal in December with a real estate company building an affordable housing complex for the county. The matter came to Hurlbert’s attention in March when he received a letter from Edwards resident William Sepmeier asking him to do a criminal investigation of Stone’s relationship with ASW Realty, which is building the county’s Miller Ranch affordable housing project in Edwards. Stone, a real estate broker with Slifer, Smith and Frampton, worked a $7 million land deal between ASW and Cotton Ranch LLC in Gypsum that closed in December. Stone, who will share the sale with Slifer, Smith and Frampton, declined to disclose the amount of the commission.Stone’s business with ASW, however, began a year after the Eagle County Board of Commissioners picked ASW to develop Miller Ranch. Stone kept voting on Miller Ranch issues until the deal was closed on Dec. 23. He recused himself from any further voting on Miller Ranch on Feb. 4 to avoid any future potential conflict of interest, he said. Stone and other county officials have maintained that he has done nothing illegal. But Menconi and other county residents question the timing of the decision to cease voting on Miller Ranch issues. Staff writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or Vail Daily

Support Local Journalism