Attorneys exchange accusations

McLimans: Defense using information from Feldmann

Gary E. Salazar

— District Attorney Paul McLimans has accused his former assistant, Charles Feldmann, of providing information to the defense team representing suspected murderer Thomas Lee Johnson.

In court documents filed this week, McLimans said he suspects Feldmann gave Norm Townsend, Johnson’s court-appointed attorney, sensitive information about the Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Feldmann’s attorney, Michael O’Hara, and Townsend deny the allegation.

Feldmann served as a deputy district attorney under McLimans for five years. He resigned in May, and an investigation into how he used a GRAMNET expense fund was launched soon after. Feldmann was the project director for GRAMNET.

McLimans’ allegation came in a response to a motion Townsend filed Monday seeking to have McLimans’ office removed as the prosecution in the Johnson case.

McLimans noted that when Feldmann left the district attorney’s office, he first consulted with Townsend about legal representation on the expense fund investigation.

McLimans said it would be improper for Townsend to use information gained from those consultations in the Johnson murder case.

“The motion is not intended to criticize Charles Feldmann,” McLimans said. “Charles is the focus of an investigation as the GRAMNET project director. I would expect for Charles to talk to (Townsend) about GRAMNET.”

But O’Hara called McLimans’ accusation a stunt to do “more character assassination” of Feldmann.

Fifth Judicial District Attorney Michael Goodbee is investigating how Feldmann used the GRAMNET expense fund. No charges have been field against Feldmann.

In his response, McLimans notes Feldmann was involved in the Johnson case as a prosecutor for nearly a year, helping with strategic decisions and discussions of the case’s strengths and weaknesses.

McLimans alleges the motion Townsend filed Monday contained information about GRAMNET “which would appear could well have come from Feldmann,” records show.

In his motion, Townsend noted equipment for McLimans’ office has been purchased with GRAMNET funds. McLimans contends use of GRAMNET funds “would have been a matter uniquely within the purview of Feldmann.”

McLimans also suggests Feldmann told Townsend of a federal drug investigation that resulted in the arrest of 14th Judicial District Judge Joel S. Thompson’s live-in girlfriend, 36-year-old Billie Vreeman. As a result of the arrest, Thompson recused himself from the Johnson case Tuesday.

McLimans said Townsend created an appearance of impropriety for the Public Defender’s Office because he chose to represent Feldmann.

Townsend admits the Public Defender’s Office did initial work on the case, but noted Feldmann is not a client.

“At one time, (Feldmann) applied for our services,” Townsend said. “We did preliminary work on the case, but to the best of my knowledge, he is being represented by another firm. I’m upset Mr. McLimans chose to file a personal attack against Charles Feldmann.”

After initially consulting with Townsend, Feldmann hired the firm of Oliphant, Hammond, O’Hara and Atwell. Feldmann himself recently was hired by another Steamboat firm, Klauzer and Tremaine.

O’Hara said McLimans’ claims aren’t true.

“(Feldmann) has never supplied information to the Public Defender’s Office,” O’Hara said. “He resents anyone, especially Mr. McLimans, from making that claim.

“Mr. Feldmann never had any discussions with anyone at the Public Defender’s Office about the investigation of Judge Thompson’s girlfriend.”

Townsend has claimed McLimans’ office is responsible for Vreeman’s arrest and Thompson’s subsequent decision to quit the case.

The defense attorney accused McLimans’ office of failing to supervise Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Donald Sperry, who works with GRAMNET.

Townsend’s motion contends Sperry obtained a search warrant for Vreeman’s arrest in an attempt to gain an advantage over Thompson, who had threatened to force Sperry to testify about a warrant Sperry allegedly falsified to get pay phone records in the Johnson murder case.

McLimans said Townsend’s charge is baseless.

“For anyone to think we somehow set this situation up has a warped sense of reality,” McLimans said. “Anybody with half a brain would think that is not to the advantage of the prosecution.”

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