Naming suspects may be ‘tactical ploy’ |

Naming suspects may be ‘tactical ploy’

Scott N. Miller

EAGLE COUNTY – What’s behind naming suspects before charging them?In a pair of recent court hearings, federal prosecutors have named Chelsea Gerlach and William Rodgers as “suspects” in the 1998 arson fires on Vail Mountain. While the pair are facing a host of other charges, they have yet to be formally accused in the Vail case.”We couldn’t do that unless we’d charged them,” Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said. “If you haven’t rounded up other people, I’m not sure why you’d name people.” But rounding up other people may be exactly the point.”It could be a tactical ploy,” Jim Fahrenholtz said. Fahrenholtz, a longtime local defense lawyer and former prosecutor, said federal attorneys could be trying to flush out other people involved in the Vail fires.”People will be nervous that the other two might be talking,” Fahrenholtz said. “That might generate some movement.”That movement could come from people already under surveillance or whose phones are tapped, Fahrenholtz said. And, he added, all the phones are tapped at federal detention centers, which is where Gerlach and Rodgers are being held.”It could look stupid,” Fahrenholtz said. “But given that these are U.S. attorneys, and the level of prosecutors they are, it makes me think its an intentional strategy.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or Daily, Vail Colorado

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