DEA agent: Judge is clean

Sperry says Thompson merely tried to help girlfriend

Gary E. Salazar

— A Drug Enforcement Administration agent said Friday he determined after about two months of surveillance that 14th Judicial District Judge Joel S. Thompson was not involved with illegal drugs.

DEA Agent Donald Sperry testified he investigated Thompson between April and May because of the judge’s live-in girlfriend, 36-year-old Billie Jo Vreeman. Vreeman was arrested May 10 in connection with a federal drug sting.

“Vreeman was associated with Thompson, so I wanted to make an inquiry to find out if Thompson was involved with drugs,” Sperry said.

Vreeman faces federal drug charges for introducing Sperry to a cocaine dealer, Sperry alleges.

Sperry’s testimony came during a hearing where defense attorneys for accused murderer Thomas Lee Johnson were seeking to remove 14th Judicial District Attorney Paul McLimans’ office from prosecuting their client.

Sperry was called to testify by Norm Townsend and William Schurman in an attempt to connect Sperry with McLimans’ office.

The two court-appointed attorneys were unsuccessful in disqualifying McLimans’ office from prosecuting the case.

During his close to two-hour testimony Friday morning, Sperry testified he set up surveillances of Vreeman and of Thompson at their homes and once when the couple was having dinner at a Steamboat restaurant.

Sperry also testified he met Vreeman on a number of occasions to discuss how the undercover agent could get cocaine and to get information about Thompson.

Sperry testified Thompson knew of Vreeman’s drug use, but the woman never used drugs in the presence of the judge.

“Thompson was trying to help her get into a drug rehabilitation center,” Sperry said.

“He encouraged her to go to rehab, and he would pay for it.”

In his investigation of Vreeman, Sperry testified he went through Vreeman’s garbage and took bank transactions and a letter Thompson wrote to Vreeman.

The surveillance of Thompson and a trip the couple took to Spain earlier this year convinced Sperry Thompson was not involved in drugs or the distribution of drugs, Sperry said.

Sperry testified Vreeman told him she smoked “hash” while she was in Spain. When she offered some to the judge, she said Thompson flatly refused.

“The judge told Vreeman that even though he was in a foreign country he would honor his oath to his office,” Sperry said.

Thompson was appointed to the bench in 1994 by Gov. Roy Romer.

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