Former Leadville police chief sentenced for pawning guns he stole from evidence locker
LEADVILLE — The former Leadville police chief might have spent years in law enforcement but was a sloppy criminal, prosecutors said.
Michael Robert Leake, 52, will spend 15 years on probation for stealing firearms from the Leadville Police Department evidence locker and then lying to the pawnbrokers to whom he sold them.
Leake pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2017, to two felony charges. District Judge Charles R. Greenacre sentenced Leake on Friday, Feb. 23.
“Leake’s actions constitute a major breach of trust within our small mountain community,” said Bruce Brown, 5th Judicial District Attorney. “And for what, a few dollars? The cost that continues to be experienced as we rebuild public trust is incalculable. Most police officers perform a fantastic service and deserve our appreciation. Defendant Leake deserves prison.”
HE DID WHAT?
Leake, a former Avon police officer, left Avon several years ago to work with the Leadville Police Department. After Leake became Leadville’s police chief, he kept sole control over the evidence room. No one else in the department had access to it.
From 2013 to 2015, Leake took the firearms he stole to pawn shops in the Denver area, claiming he was the lawful owner. Several of the guns he pawned were purchased by the city of Leadville for police officers to use in the line of duty.
In 2015, Leake also deposited a $2,262 check made out to M&J Ammunition Wholesale into his personal account. The invoice was made to look like a police force ammunition purchase.
When Leadville city officials noticed the oddity, the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office began investigating with the assistance of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, leading to a search of Leake’s Leadville apartment, where city-owned weapons were found, including pawn shop receipts. Many of those weapons were recovered and returned to the Leadville Police Department’s armory.
Along with probation, Leake will have to repay Leadville $25,000 in restitution and perform 200 hours of community service. He also has to finish a 90-day jail sentence in Arapahoe County for his third impaired driving offense.
Prosecutors from the District Attorney’s Office asked the judge to send Leake to state prison for four years.
‘Not above the law’
In 2017, Colorado lawmakers enacted a bill that requires public disclosure of detailed police records of seizures. Twice a year, agencies must file reports. If they don’t do it, then agencies can face financial penalties. Failure to report can subject a law enforcement agency to monetary penalties. In July, those first reports will be due from all law enforcement agencies.
Hundreds of officers across the country are arrested each year for crimes they are supposed to be preventing. In a study at Bowling Green State University, researchers identified 6,724 cases involving the arrests of 5,545 officers between 2005 and 2011.
Leake’s crimes appear to be profit-motivated, Brown said, as were 1,592 cases involving 1,396 officers in the Bowling Green study.
“We may never know what causes someone to cross that line. But, we do know that no one is ever above the law,” Brown said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and email@example.com.