Former Lake County deputies being sued in U.S. District Court

by Robert Boczkiewicz

Special to the Herald Democrat

December 13, 2012

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Denver – A U.S. District Court trial began Monday in which two former Lake County sheriff’s deputies are being sued by a man who alleges they used excessive force on him.

The former deputies, Antonio Lobato and Aaron D’Mize, deny the allegation.

They contend they used only the degree of force necessary to arrest the man, Osvaldo Barrientos-Sanabria, in 2009.

He was arrested on Colo. 91 at Fremont Pass for allegedly resisting arrest, obstructing a peace officer and having an open beer can in a car in which he was a passenger.

The charges were dropped by the Lake County District Attorney’s Office after an investigator for the office evaluated the circumstances, Barrientos-Sanabria’s attorney said in opening statements to jurors.

Lobato had stopped the car, which was driven by Barrientos-Sanabria’s wife, for speeding.

Barrientos-Sanabria and his wife, who lived in Silverthorne, were on their way to Salida, where his son lived, to visit him.

An attorney for the sheriff’s office told jurors that Barrientos-Sanabria was forcibly arrested because he repeatedly interfered with Lobato while the deputy was dealing with the stop for speeding.

Barrientos-Sanabria contends that he didn’t interfere with Lobato, but instead repeatedly asked why he was being arrested.

D’Mize assisted Lobato in arresting Barrientos-Sanabria, who alleges he sustained ongoing injuries from handcuffs that were too tight.

Lobato also denies that he used excessive force in pushing Barrientos-Sanabria to the floor of a cell at the jail where he was taken.

Barrientos-Sanabria is seeking monetary damages for medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering.

The trial is scheduled to last five days.

Barrientos-Sanabria’s attorney, Heather Beattie, of Silverthorne, told jurors they will see photos of injuries to his wrists from handcuffs.

The sheriff’s office’s attorney, Leslie Schluter, of Greenwood Village, said the injuries were a preexisting condition and that Barrientos-Sanabria is using his claim as a way to obtain money from the county.

She said the situation of his arrest was “self-created by Mr. Barrientos.”

The claims against the former deputies are excessive force, false arrest and violation of Barrientos-Sanabria’s right to freedom of speech.

Ed Holte, who was sheriff at the time of the arrest, is also a defendant at the trial for allegedly failing to properly hire, train, supervise and discipline his staff.

D’Mize is now the Crowley County undersheriff.

Lobato was a police officer in Center, Lamar and Leadville before joining the sheriff’s office.

He resigned in 2004 from the Lamar job after he was investigated for withholding videotapes of arrests and traffic stops from court cases.

The district attorney in Lamar at the time said Lobato’s conduct was highly unprofessional and would have a crippling effect on Lobato’s credibility in future cases the district attorney would be asked to prosecute.

Hospital facing a net loss of $1.2 million through October

by Danny Ramey

Herald Staff Writer

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Through October, St. Vincent Hospital is facing a net loss of $1,178,795 for fiscal year 2012.

The loss was one thing that Chief Financial Officer Jim Van Hoet covered in a presentation at the hospital board’s regular meeting on Nov. 29.

In October alone, the hospital had a net loss of $635,299. The hospital took in $321,665 in revenue against $1,004,799 in operating expenses for that month.

The hospital took in $457,380 less in revenue than it did in October 2011.

One reason that the revenue was lower for October, Van Hoet said, was that Dr. Wayne Callen was on vacation for a good portion of the month, so the hospital saw a lighter volume of patients.

Bed admissions for the hospital were down from 17 in September to nine in October, Van Hoet said. The hospital had 17 bed admissions in October 2011.

Prior to October, the hospital had had three consecutive months where it saw income gain instead of loss. In those three months, the hospital had a net income of $273,624, according to information provided with the presentation. However, in five of the six months before then, the hospital saw a loss. Those six months combined for a net loss of $730,693.

While six of the ten months this year have seen a loss, it appears that the hospital could see gains in November and December.

The current $1,178,795 loss is projected to fall to a loss of $892,293 by the end of this year, according to the budget for 2013.

Just like the movies

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In many ways, Saturday turned out to be a lot like the 1954 movie “White Christmas” and any number of Christmas movies to follow. In “White Christmas,” which played in Leadville several years ago, the setting is a lodge in Vermont where a group of entertainers try to save the lodge from failure. One of the main problems? No snow.

The movie stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney, and consists of many musical numbers. Needless to say, the snow starts falling and the lodge is saved.

Likewise, we in Leadville have been anxiously waiting for the snow to fall, Ski Cooper to open, the sledding hill to start operating. We haven’t been waiting for snow just so we can all play outdoors. As in the movie, snow is crucial to our businesses in the winter months, and snow also is essential to the water supply going forward.

The Leadville Parade of Lights is an annual event here. It usually qualifies as one of Leadville’s “five-minute parades,” but this year Mayor Jaime Stuever, his wife Jo Ann and a number of others decided to step it up a bit. They started promoting the event, called “Bringing Christmas Back,” far and wide in order to increase entries in the parade. When all was said and done, entries numbered about 21 and a large portion of the community became involved.

In fact, with that many entries, we wondered if anyone would be left to actually watch the parade. Not to worry. Throngs of people lined Harrison Avenue to watch the floats pass by and then hurried to the courthouse so the kids could see Santa and tell him their Christmas wishes.

But the most amazing thing: It started snowing Saturday afternoon, continuing through the parade and into the night. It was perfect snow. Big flakes rapidly covering everything.

Never does Harrison Avenue with its historic buildings look more like a movie set than at night when the snow is falling.

And it appeared everyone got into the spirit. There were numerous familiar, smiling faces along Harrison Avenue and at the courthouse.

So thanks to Jaime, Jo Ann, committee members and all who took part.

It was one of those perfect Leadville moments.

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It was another great moment earlier in the day Saturday when people packed the conference room at St. Vincent Hospital to extend birthday wishes to Sophie Kalanj.

Sophie, a lifelong Leadville resident, turned 100 years old on Dec. 7 and graciously received her visitors at a party sponsored by the hospital and the Eagles Lodge Auxiliary. Sophie is a charter member of the auxiliary.

The event reminded us once again that Leadville produces some strong women.

Marcia Martinek

Herald Editor

Judge rules for deputies

by Robert Boczkiewicz

Special to the Herald Democrat

December 20, 2012

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Denver – A jury returned a verdict Thursday in favor of two former Lake County sheriff’s deputies who were sued by a man who alleged that they used excessive force on him.

U.S. District Court jurors reached their verdict in less than two hours.

The trial began Monday and closing arguments were on Thursday.

The former deputies, Antonio Lobato and Aaron D’Mize, had denied the allegation of Osvaldo Barrientos-Sanabria.

The deputies arrested him in 2009 on Colorado 91 on Fremont Pass for allegedly resisting arrest, obstructing a peace officer and having an open beer can in a car in which he was a passenger.

Lobato had stopped the car, en route to Salida from Silverthorne, for speeding.

An attorney for the sheriff’s office told jurors that Barrientos-Sanabria was forcibly arrested because he repeatedly interfered with Lobato.

Barrientos-Sanabria contended that he didn’t interfere with Lobato, but instead repeatedly asked why he was being arrested.

D’Mize assisted Lobato in arresting Barrientos-Sanabria, who alleges that he sustained ongoing injuries from handcuffs that were too tight and from the way the deputies pulled his arms behind his back.

Lobato also denied that he used excessive force in pushing Barrientos-Sanabria to the floor of a cell at the jail.

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