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CO: Adams County Sheriff Candidate Investigated for Domestic Violence

Last Friday, the Adams County (AdCo) Sheriff office hired former Westminster Police Chief Dan Montgomery to conduct an official independent investigation around recently reported allegations of domestic violence against Sgt. Rick Reigenborn, the Democratic candidate for AdCo Sheriff, by his ex-wife Sabrina Reigenborn.

Sabrina Reigenborn released a statement on October 8, 2014, alleging that Sgt. Reigenborn has a history of domestic violence, exemplified in their divorce decree and a 2010 restraining order issued one week after he filed a similar order on her.

While some might question the timing of the complaint as having a political motivation behind it, Sabrina denied the notion in an exclusive interview with Watchdog Wire: “This is NOT in my best interest to come forward with the truth, but I feel I must,” she said. “If Rick is not elected, I will be paying him child support. It would be in my best financial interest for Rick to be Sheriff, but morally, this goes against everything I believe.”

Where does the Sheriff’s Department stand?

In response to a request for comment, Adams County Sheriff Doug Darr said that he was not aware of any prior official complaints about Sgt. Reigenborn, and he had only became aware of any related restraining orders when he was contacted by Sabrina just over a week ago.

When we got notified of this I was surprised; I was not expecting it. The document Sabrina provided is a restraining order out of Weld County dated April 29, 2010. When dealing with civil divorce actions, unless someone makes us aware of them, we are just not aware of them. We try to stay out of people’s personal business unless it rises to the level of a violation of professional standards of conduct or Colorado law.

Standard operating procedures inside AdCo Sheriff’s office require these type of incidents to be reported for a variety of reasons, “the biggest of which is when our officers violate the law or receive a protection order, we need to know,” remarked Sheriff Darr. “I don’t get the option of turning my head and looking away when allegations of domestic violence are made. We have been entrusted by the public and it is our responsibility to make sure we deal with things in an honest way.”

Normally, under AdCo Sheriff policy, if an officer were to get a restraining order like the one issued against Sgt Reigenborn, then that would initiate an internal affairs (IA) investigation. Sheriff Darr confirmed there was never an IA case opened on the matter, and he said he knew nothing about it nor did anybody in his department, to his knowledge.

Darr, a Democrat, has publicly endorsed Reigenborn’s Republican opponent Mike McIntosh for sheriff. As a result, to avoid any appearance of “political bias or conflicts of interest, it was necessary to remove myself and the department from investigating the complaint,” Darr said.

After careful consideration, Chief Montgomery was selected to investigate the matter because of his 53 years of law enforcement experience and because he has no political connections with any of the people involved; he now runs his own professional police consulting company.

Reigenborn’s tainted past

Regardless of the many details surrounding the alleged abuse of Sabrina Reigenborn, she was not the only victim. Sgt. Reigenborn got Celia Garcia to drop her 1996 permanent restraining order against him after a 2004 law passed that would have prevented him from carrying a gun on duty with the order on his record.

The Lautenberg Amendment to the federal Gun Control Act bans the use of firearms by anyone under a restraining (protection) order for domestic abuse in all 50 states. So how can Sgt. Reigenborn even get away with carrying his firearm?

Responding to request for comment, Sgt. Reigenborn was insistent that the allegations are not true. “I too have photos and documentation; when things are a lie, there is no need to defend,” he said. “Those slanderous statements will be dealt with accordingly.”

Reigenborn says he had a restraining order against Sabrina 10 days before the 2010 restraining order filed against him. He and his defenders allege his ex-wife’s photographed injuries were the result of a karate match. They also allege Sabrina wrote a letter to a helmet manufacturer on account of the claim that its failure contributed to her injury. Reigenborn declined Watchdog Wire’s offer to publish his photos and documents.

What’s next?

Rick Reigenborn is represented by Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Chief Counsel Don Sisson, while he considers his own legal options. As of Friday, Reigenborn was not aware, nor had he been contacted yet, about the pending investigation. According to the online Free Dictionary’s legal dictionary, a public official or other plaintiff who has voluntarily assumed a position in the public eye must prove that defamatory statements were made with knowledge that they were false, or with reckless disregard of whether they were false.

The independent investigation is intended to sort out all of the allegations, discover the truth, and make choices based upon what the investigation reveals. It is unknown how long this process will take and what, if anything, will happen if he is found culpable. Some offenses likely to be investigated include official misconduct under Colorado Revised Statutes 18-8-404 and federal firearms violations. No official complaint against Sgt. Reigenborn has been filed with Adams County District Attorney at this time.

Adams County residents deserve a clearer understanding of Reigenborn’s case while deciding who will serve as their next Chief Law Enforcement Officer. If true, it would add to a tainted web of scandals by “The Adams Family” that have plagued the county for years and cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

Featured image from Shutterstock

Jen Raiffie

Jen Raiffie is the 3rd Vice Chair for Adams County GOP, newly elected to the Mapleton School Board and Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB). She runs a blog called Spotlight On Corruption, and is the co-founder of a video tracking group called "Chicks With Cameraz." Follow Jen on twitter @jraiffie and @spotcorruption. Jen's contributions do not reflect that of Mapleton Schools, CASB, or AdCo GOP. "Evil is made possible by the sanction you give it. Withdraw your sanction." -Rand

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