Nearly three years after the murder of the head of Colorado’s prisons, internal emails suggest the Department of Corrections did not warn staff about other threats surrounding a suspect allegedly involved the murder the DOC executive director Tom Clements.
9NEWS obtained the emails, which show confusion among the agency’s leadership about how and whether to notify DOC staff about a recent series of crimes in which 34-year-old Thomas Goulee appeared to target other DOC staff members.
Guolee is a member of a white supremacist prison gang, and a reported associate of Evan Ebel, the man who shot and killed Clements in 2013.
Guolee's latest arrest came Dec. 30, 2015, after allegedly stealing a car belonging to either a DOC case manager or that man's family member, and then attempting to break into the home of a former DOC officer.
When Colorado Springs police responded to the attempted burglary, Guolee allegedly fired two shots at police, then led them on a chase through the city. Guolee is currently in the El Paso County Jail on $1 million bond.
Newly released emails show problems with the information flow following the incident between law enforcement agencies and within DOC.
On Jan. 1, two days after Guolee’s alleged attempted burglary and shoot out, the Steve Hager, Director of Prison Operations, wrote “The stolen car [Guolee] was in belonged to another DOC employee ... To [sic] coincidental!”
In the same email chain, James Moore, another DOC manager, wrote, “The CSPD Major Crimes person still hasn’t returned my call."
The next day, Jan. 2, DOC Inspector General Jay Kirby sent an email to DOC executive staff in which he wrote “I want to take a moment to apologize and take responsibility for the fractured information that went out, or did not go out, pertaining to the Guolee incident the other day.”
On Jan. 4, Hager acknowledged in another email: “Not only was/is Guolee a suspect in the murder of Mr. Clements, the home he was burglarizing was that of a former (DOC) staff member.”
At the end of the email, Hager wrote, “Currently, these are being viewed as a coincidence and not an organized effort by 211 (the name of the white supremacist prison gang) until more information can be developed.”
Despite the car theft and attempted burglary, DOC continues to insist that there were “no verified threats to any DOC employees.”
9NEWS made several attempts to confirm when and how employees were notified of the attempted burglary.
On Jan. 6, then-DOC spokeswoman Adrienne Jacobson told 9NEWS, “Appropriate information was shared with employees.” After pressing for further details, Jacobson said, “Management staff were given information to share with their employees.”
Kirby's acknowledgement of fractured information contrasts Jacobson’s statement. What's more, a new DOC spokeswoman, Laurie Kilpatrick, told 9NEWS in an email almost a month after our initial inquiry that, actually, employees were not given a formal notification. The only notice came in a safety bulletin the day after 9NEWS aired the story.
“Due to the ongoing investigation and no validated threat against any staff in the Department of Corrections, we did not immediately notify employees," Kilpatrick wrote.
Kilpatrick went on to write, “While the department was in the process of gathering more information for a formal statement, local media outlets had reported that a former DOC employee had been involved in the case, which unfortunately, is how many employees were notified.”
Mike Violette, the executive director of Colorado’s Fraternal Order of Police, calls DOC “delusional” in its assertion that no connection between the DOC and Guolee exists, given that both recent victims have a clear connection to the agency.
“I don’t see how they can come up with that excuse,” Violette said, adding that he believes DOC had a “moral obligation” to alert employees.
“We also heard from our parole officers after the fact about how upset they were – and DOC employees – as to why they weren’t informed,” Violette said.
Guolee has cycled through the justice system for more than 15 years. He first went into DOC in 2001, after being convicted of drug possession and possession of a weapon by a felon.
His criminal history includes convictions for assaults, property crimes, witness intimidation and theft.
Records obtained by 9NEWS show in 2003, a corrections officer tried to remove Guolee from the general prison population "due to him making threats against staff."
In 2004, he reportedly had an altercation with an inmate.
Upon meeting with the parole board in 2010, board members decided to defer his case for a year. Goulee's DOC records show he became "argumentative and confrontational," with a board member, and later told a corrections employee the person "copped an attitude" with him.
Problems continued to plague Guolee even after leaving prison on parole, though DOC redacted many of the details of his most serious infractions. In multiple cases, Guolee was arrested on a parole violation within a few days or hours of his release.
Guolee’s parole ended in November 2014. His arrest for the car theft and burglary happened a little more than a year later.
9NEWS has made multiple requests for an interview with Department of Corrections Executive Director Rick Raemisch. Kilpatrick told 9NEWS he would not be available for an on-camera interview for at least two weeks.