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Cops expose fmr. sheriff's drug-exchange system

6:12 PM, Nov 30, 2011   |    comments
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VIEW SLIDESHOW OF SULLIVAN IN COURT

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.

Current Arapahoe County Sheriff and former Undersheriff when Sullivan was sheriff - Grayson Robinson - had heard prior rumors about Sullivan leading an "alternative lifestyle," but had never before heard of the drug connection.

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.

The Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility is named after Sullivan - which is where he was being held. The judge doubled his bond to $500,000 Wednesday morning. He will be formally charged on Dec. 5.

According to Robinson, Sullivan's bond was increased because it is a "high profile case with an ongoing investigation."

9NEWS reporter Jennifer Ryan says Sullivan entered the courtroom Wednesday morning in an orange jumpsuit, handcuffed and looking toward the ground. Ryan says Sullivan barely made eye contact with anyone but the judge. The judge also ordered a protection order against Sullivan, which prevents him from possessing a firearm or intimidating witnesses.

"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.

Investigators told 9Wants to Know the man that Sullivan wanted to have sex with was a long-time associate of the former sheriff.

The sheriff's department went to Sullivan's home that he shares with his wife. His wife gave them permission to conduct a search. They took large amounts of homosexual pornography that involves adults. They also took two computers that are being reviewed right now by the Arapahoe County forensics investigators. All the porn involved adults. Sullivan's family is cooperating fully, according to Robinson.

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."

This is an ongoing investigation, according to Robinson.

"We will move quickly as quickly as we can," Roinson said.

Robinson also mentioned there will be "additional charges and arrests if needed."

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.

VIEW: Sullivan's affidavit

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.

The adult informants both say they had sex with Sullivan previously. They do not currently have any minors who have come forward - or people who say they had sex with Sullivan while they were minors - but finding out if there were minors involved is a big part of their investigation. There are no allegations right now that any of this involves Cherry Creek Schools or his employment at the district. That potential connection is part of the investigation.

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.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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