The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office says the investigation into Sullivan, 68, began on Nov. 17 after deputies got tips that Sullivan was involved in distributing and using meth.
After the South Metro Drug Task Force and sheriff's investigators say they saw Sullivan give meth to the man around 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sullivan was taken into custody without incident.
He is being held on a $250,000 bond at the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office Detention Facility pending the filing of criminal charges. The Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility is named after Sullivan.
Sullivan is being held in isolation, according to Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson.
"I think the clear message is first and foremost, this is sad. This is a sadness for this organization. This is a sadness for men and women that serve with pride and integrity every day at the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office. And it's a sadness for our community. But beyond, and well beyond the sadness, no one is above the law," Robinson said.
Authorities say Sullivan faces charges of selling a controlled substance, a class-five felony. If he is convicted, he faces one to six years in prison.
He will appear in court on Wednesday.
The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office says Sullivan may face more charges and other suspects may also be charged.
Investigators told 9Wants to Know the man that Sullivan wanted to have sex with was a long-time associate of the former sheriff.
Neighbors of the home where the alleged transaction took place, in the 16000 block of East Ada Place, say they heard a loud boom that they assumed was police going into the home. One neighbor told 9Wants to Know she saw several unmarked units swarm the home and then police started pulling a lot of things out of the home.
"I've heard that he used to be the sheriff of Arapahoe County, so it's just quite shocking to know that a sheriff was next door to my house... conducting in drug transactions," Amanda Cardenas, a neighbor, said.
Sullivan served as sheriff from 1984 until he retired in 2002. He started with the department in 1979 after serving with Littleton Police beginning in 1962.
"The allegations of criminal behavior involving Pat Sullivan are extraordinarily disturbing," Robinson said earlier in a news release. "While the arrest of the former sheriff is very troubling, the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office continues to ensure that those who are responsible for criminal behavior and the victimization of our community will be held accountable by the criminal justice system. No one, and particularly a current or a former peace officer, is above the law. The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office has always demonstrated a solid commitment to our community and to public safety. This is a very sad time for the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office and our community."
9Wants to Know has also learned investigators have spent Tuesday evening conducting interviews and sources say the case is not over.
Investigators officers have looked into Sullivan's past going back many years and have discovered many encounters, 9Wants to Know has learned. They are still trying to figure out how those may play into Sullivan's charges.
Officials do not believe that all encounters were necessarily illegal and say some involved consenting adults not engaging in illegal activity.
Robinson confirms to 9Wants to Know that Sullivan did bond out several people at "a variety" of detention centers in the Denver metro area. Robinson says that is part of the overall investigation.
Robinson would not say what type of suspects he bonded out and would not confirm if they were drug suspects.
In 1989, Sullivan crashed his Jeep through a fence to rescue a wounded deputy during a standoff.
Eugene Thompson, Jr., 24, went on a rampage with a semiautomatic pistol in Arapahoe County, abducting a woman and then killing her and her mother-in-law. He then raped another woman before he was cornered in a town house. The gunman shot and wounded two officers and another hostage before he fatally shot himself.
During the standoff, Sullivan sped his Jeep toward the deputy to create a diversion during the standoff. He then jumped out of the Jeep and rescued the wounded deputy as others provided cover. He then quickly backed out of the scene, going right through a fence and slamming into a patrol car to get to safety.
At the time, Sullivan used the event to champion gun control. He held up a semiautomatic weapon on TV and demanded more restrictions.
Sullivan then participated in many national programs, some preparing the country for a national disaster. He also took a prominent role during the 1999 Columbine High School shootings. After he retired in 2002, he led the security department for the Cherry Creek School District. He worked there until the end of the 2007-2008 school year.
Cherry Creek Schools released a statement on Tuesday night:
"We are absolutely stunned at the news of Mr. Sullivan's arrest and are fully co-operating [with] the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office with their investigation," CCSD Superintendent Mary Chesley said.
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