Councilman to pursue civil lawsuit |

Councilman to pursue civil lawsuit

Veronica Whitney

Avon Councilman Peter Buckley said Thursday he will pursue a $2 million civil lawsuit against those he believes were responsible for his being charged with computer fraud.

“I want to clear my name and hold the individuals responsible,” said Buckley, a day after District Attorney Mark Hurlbert dropped all charges against him. “I still want $2 million because of defamation, damage to my business, damaged to my personal and public reputation and my wife’s (Debbie Buckley) reputation, who also is an elected official.”

Buckley said he intends to sue Vail Resorts, Vail.Net and John Uhley.

That comes a day after Hurlbert, citing lack of evidence, said he was dropping computer fraud charges against the councilman.

Defamation suit

In June 2002, Buckley filed a $7,000 defamation lawsuit in Eagle County District Court against John Uhley, vice president of internet services for Vail.Net, Vail Resorts and Vail.Net – a Vail Resorts company.

As the fines of the felony charges went up to $1.5 million, his civil lawsuit increased to $2 million, Buckley said.

“I filed my lawsuit because at that point no criminal charges were filed, and neither (Vail Resorts Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Adam Aron nor Martha Rehm (the company’s senior vice president) tried to do anything to clear my name,” Buckley said.

Buckley, who with his wife, Debbie – an Avon councilwoman – operate, a home computer and Internet business, was accused of illegally flooding Vail.Net’s e-mail server with thousands of “spam” messages, or bogus e-mails.

Insufficient evidence

Buckley’s computers were seized from his Wildridge home in October 2001 after Vail.Net filed a police complaint. Vail.Net, a local e-mail and Internet provider owned by Vail Resorts, 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 said, bore an Internet protocol address from Buckley’s computer.

Buckley said his computers were returned in February 2002.

After dismissing charges against Buckley, Hurlbert said, Vail.Net services had been disrupted but he couldn’t prove Buckley was the one responsible.

“Vail.Net was informed by the district attorney that law-enforcement investigators were able to find evidence that the attacks against Vail.Net were launched from one of the computers seized from the Buckley’s home,” John Uhley said in a written statement. “However, the district attorney also informed us that he had to dismiss the case because he was unable to determine who actually used the computer in the Buckley residence to launch the attacks.”

Abuse of process, too?

Hurlbert cleared Buckley of three felony charges, which could have carried sentences of two to six years and a fine of up to $500,000.

“Mr. Buckley has yet to make a final decision on whether he will file an additional $2 million dollar lawsuit for abuse of process,” said Buckley’s attorney, Diane Levin.

Buckley said his computer expert, Buddy Shipley, gave a very convincing technical presentation to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s computer experts in Denver, which Hurlbert attended.

“I am genuinely looking forward to delivering a similar presentation to the jury in Mr. Buckley’s defamation lawsuit,” Shipley said.

In April, Bruce Black, attorney for Vail Resorts, Uhley and Vail.Net, introduced a motion to dismiss the defamation lawsuit, but so far, Eagle County District Judge Tom Moorhead hasn’t rendered a decision.

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at

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