Wegge in the Spotlight Over Critchlow Crimes

11 Jun

Update: How about federal wire fraud charges for submitting fraudulent income data to the state retirement system over the internet, as the former St. Joseph superintendent was charged with?

Jefferson County Prosecutor Forrest Wegge has three Critchlow cases on his plate right now. Everyone knows about the Fox scandal (currently under review by Wegge’s office) and Jamie Critchlow’s latest DWI (case in progress, being handled by assistant prosecutor Thomas Hollingsworth), but Wegge’s office will also be defending the state Department of Revenue in Jamie’s petition to have his drivers license revocation overturned.

Wegge, a Democrat, was first elected as JeffCo Prosecuting Attorney in 2006. He won re-election unopposed in 2010 and 2014. He is two years away from having to face voters again, should he choose to run for another term. Given the Republican shift in the county, one would think a challenger will emerge in 2018.

The Critchlow Fox case may be the biggest one of Wegge’s tenure. Public interest and anger here are very high. You might say, oh, murder is a bigger deal than this, but murder is a black-and-white thing – somebody was killed or they weren’t – and most murderers around here are rather easy to identify (Amanda Jones case notwithstanding, though the culprit seems clear). In this case, the number of charges, the type of charges, and the number of people charged are open questions that are up to prosecutor discretion. Disgraced former Fox C-6 school district superintendent Dianne Critchlow could be charged with a number of offenses. Here are the potential broken laws that I can find, based on my reading of the law and the facts of the case (note: I am not a lawyer):

  • Felony stealing (B felony if over $25,000 stolen – multiple counts possible here)
  • Official misconduct (misdemeanor)
  • Fraudulent use of a credit device (felony if over $500 stolen within 30 days)
  • Fraudulent use of facsimile signature or seal (felony, 2-10 years jail). I’m not sure if this applies. We know she made unauthorized use of facsimile signatures on her contracts, but did she do so on “a public security or an instrument of payment?”
  • Tampering with physical evidence – felony in this case. Fox CFO John Brazeal said that several district employees destroyed electronic records and that former CFO Mark McCutchen shredded documents. Did Dianne do this or order others to do so?
  • Probably something securities related, having to do with the misuse of bond proceeeds that Brazeal reported in August 2014. While it noted the district’s failures in bond issuance, the auditor’s report did not mention anything about how bond proceeds were used.
  • Possibly something related to tax fraud due to unreported income, but I think this is mostly the district’s problem (this is related primarily to Critchlow’s vehicle mileage).

Let me know if you have other ideas for charges against Dianne.

Watch for how many counts Dianne gets charged with (assuming she gets charged – if not, it may be tar and feathers time). Also, McCutchen should get charged for at least tampering for his paper shredding. His role in all this has not been fully explored, and only at trial will this happen. Perhaps McCutchen will take a deal and testify against Dianne.

Jamie Critchlow could be charged with receiving stolen property, a felony; he surely knew what was going on. Could anyone else be charged? Several board members and administrators received scholarships for their kids or jobs for their relatives. Was there any quid pro quo? Other assistant superintendents made questionable credit card charges. What about former CFO James Berblinger? The district points fingers at him in the audit response, but Fox seems to allege incompetence, not malice.

A plea deal for Dianne is a possibility, but I think this needs to go to trial. Let’s hear all the details about what went on at Fox. Let’s see what defense she puts on. Her lawyer’s few media statements have been along the lines of “the board approved everything she did.” Do any former administrators or board members testify on her behalf? Or against her? I assume Dianne won’t testify, but you never know.

Jamie’s DWI

In addition, Jamie has been charged with aggravated DWI (a felony worth up to 7 years in jail) and misdemeanor leaving the scene of an accident (up to a year in jail) for an incident on May 30. One wonders why he was not charged with felony leaving the scene, though, since did this before (at his January 2015 Arnold DWI) and thus is eligible for a felony charge. Critchlow plead out his two recent Missouri DWIs; will he fight this one? He is already on probation, and this is his first felony, so there is a lot more at stake this time around.

As is his modus operandi, Jamie refused a breath test when arrested on the 30th, which means an automatic one year revocation of one’s drivers license (notably, Arnold police did not do blood tests at either arrest, while Iron County did perform one, revealing a 0.28 blood alcohol level in July 2014). The revocation can be challenged in court, and Critchlow is doing just that. While his suit in this matter is against the state Department of Revenue, which controls drivers licenses, state law requires the county prosecutor to appear in court on behalf of the DOR. At the hearing, the prosecutor must satisfy the court that the police had reasonable grounds to stop Critchlow and believe he was drunk in order to uphold the license revocation. Interestingly, Critchlow’s lawyer has already moved to have the assigned judge, Tony Manansala, removed from the case.

How will Wegge’s office handle these cases? The answer will determine what kind of justice gets served, and perhaps also if Wegge has any shot at re-election.

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6 Responses to “Wegge in the Spotlight Over Critchlow Crimes”

  1. Anonymous June 11, 2016 at 10:49 am #

    Well, she’s also subject to federal crimes. Start with mail and wire fraud. She clearly had a scheme to defraud Fox, and then I’m sure she used that money to pay bills, either by mail or by the internet. Money laundering too, since mail and wire fraud are predicate crimes and she probably deposited the “dirty” money in with her clean money in her bank account. And, there’s always the IRS. I’ll bet she never declared all of the “extras” she obtained on her tax returns. And, don’t forget that with a conspiracy, all the co-conspirators eat the entire conspiracy, even if they entered into the conspiracy late in the game or only played a minor part. Um, that might involve certain Board Members. That would be the Pinkerton Rule. And, all of her ill gotten gains are subject to federal forfeiture laws. That big ‘ol house that’s for sale? It could be stopped immediately with the filing of a civil forfeiture case and a Lis Pendens filed against the residence. Or, just get a money judgment and take whatever they want. And, since probably everything is marital property or jointly owned, make sure both are charged and convicted. If I were the Jefferson County Prosecutor, I might want to talk to the U.S. Attorney and see if he will pick up the charges allowing the County Prosecutor to just punt to the feds. Who would do the investigation? It could be IRS-CID, the FBI, or Postal Inspectors. If the Postal Inspectors pick up the case, watch out. They’re the best with these type of cases.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. James Osia June 11, 2016 at 10:52 am #

    It’s step up or step down time for Wegge! Also, the Lawyer for Diane needs to explain to the kids why they had to endure conditions in buildings that needed repairing. Why textbooks/technology wasn’t readily available! Why her kids “benefited” from district money and not more deserving students!

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  3. James June 11, 2016 at 1:55 pm #

    Remember she was not alone in all this .

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  4. Curtis June 15, 2016 at 5:29 pm #

    Possibly could be charges related to the “scholarships” provided to Dianne’s kids and children of other insiders? Money laundering, Federal mail fraud (for Dianne’s kids, the payment to McKendree across state lines), unjust enrichment.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sanchez August 18, 2016 at 12:24 pm #

    I hear Wegge’s wife is friends with Dianne. If that’s the case, it is a conflict of interest and someone else should be charging Critchlow. She made over $250,000 a year and she still had to steal from the school district. Plus Jamie’s salary of > $150,00 is a ridiculous amount of money for one household. I personally hope the U.S Attorney is given the case and sends both Dianne and her drunk of a husband to prison. And the “scholarships” provided to her kids is a bunch of BS. Look at how many applied for those scholarships and tell me that wasn’t rigged.

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