D.A. not concerned with losing prosecutor | VailDaily.com

D.A. not concerned with losing prosecutor

Veronica Whitney

The Eagle County District Attorney’s Office is going through a change, but District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said it won’t affect the work there nor the prosecution of Kobe Bryant’s rape case.

After one year with the District Attorney’s Office, Deputy District Attorney Dave Moffat left last week.

Hurlbert already has found a replacement. Karen Romeo, 35, who was a prosecutor in Eagle County for six years, will start working next week. After working as a prosecutor in Eagle County, Romeo, who lives in Summit County, spent a year in private practice.

Romeo has been in the news recently for her involvement with a homeowner who had been critical of Vail’s plan to redevelopment the base of Vail Mountain at the top of Bridge Street. The woman Romeo represented was a homeowner in One Vail Place, which overlooks the Vista Bahn.

“This will work out well,” Hurlbert said. “Karen has worked at this office for six years, she’ll be able to pick things up. She’s one of the best prosecutors this district has had. We’re happy to have her back.”

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Moffat’s departure is the first one in a year.

A high turnover at the District Attorney’s Office in 2002 and early 2003 had several local attorneys saying instability in the prosecutor’s office was hurting cases.

The wave of departing prosecutors began in the summer of 2002 when felony prosecutor Dave Lugert left the office. His departure was followed by the resignation of longtime felony prosecutor John Clune. Another longtime deputy district attorney, Taggart Howard, also left in 2002. Then, District Attorney Mike Goodbee left and was replaced in December 2002 by Hurlbert, who was promoted from his prosecutor’s post in Summit County.

Other departures included former Deputy District Attorney Dave Hoerber and former Deputy District Attorney Brenda Parks, who left the office in early 2003. The attorney who succeeded her, Jean Powers, resigned in March 2003.

“I understand there will be some shifting,” Hurlbert said, “but we have really remained very stable.

“It would have been nice that after the huge shake up happening when I came, everybody I hired would stay forever,” Hurlbert said.

Eagle County Chief Deputy District Attorney Greg Crittenden said that though it never helps to have people leave, he is optimistic about the situation.

“This will keep us busy,” said Crittenden, who with Hurlbert is handling the prosecution of Bryant, who is accused of raping a 19-year-old Eagle woman.

“We just have to make it work,” Crittenden said. “Things are tough at times, but we will have to work and we’ll have to roll with the punches.”

Hurlbert called Moffat’s departure “amicable,” but declined to discuss details.

“It’s best for both the D.A.’s office and Dave to part ways,” he said. “He is a good attorney and he did a good job in the courtroom.”

Hurlbert said Moffat, who is currently teaching skiing at the ski school in Vail, is planning to go back to his native Canada.

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.

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