DENVER - He's a convicted felon who spent years as a drug addict and a gang member. He is also Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia's son. He lives in the Governor's Mansion compound, a property that technically belongs to Colorado taxpayers.
"The real thing is he's living with me," Lt. Governor Garcia said. "The fact that I happen to be here is what makes it unusual."
Unusual is perhaps an understatement. Nearly a dozen arrests in as many years makes 30-year-old Joaquin Garcia a poor candidate for sympathy.
"This is life. What I'm proud of is what Joaquin is doing now," Lt. Governor Garcia said.
The once skittish Joaquin was adopted by the Garcia family when he was 3 years old.
"Joaquin was always quiet, and believe it or not, a thin, frail, kind of kid," Lt. Governor Garcia said.
Thin and frail eventually turned into tough and violent. Joaquin became addicted to alcohol and drugs - mainly methamphetamines.
It all culminated in 2005, when he threatened a teenager with a handgun and stole a car. For that offense, he went to prison for seven years. Two years ago, Joaquin went in front of the parole board and convinced the members to let him out before his mandatory release date. It worked, thanks in part to his father's testimony during the hearing.
"We would provide him with a place to stay," Lt. Governor Garcia said at the hearing. "We have a residence in Colorado Springs and a family home in Pueblo."
Joaquin was out by June 2013. A few months later, as Lt. Governor Garcia and Governor John Hickenlooper's re-election bid neared, Joaquin failed multiple drug and alcohol tests. When police found him with a BB gun, Joaquin went back to prison.
"That's not been my concern," Lt. Governor Garcia said when asked if he was worried the incident would impact his position. "My concern has been for my son not for my position."
It's the reason a three-room apartment in the carriage house next to the Governor's Mansion represents yet another chance.
"Families can't give up on each other. They've got to keep working at it," Lt. Governor Garcia said.
Since his dad stays at the mansion five days a week, so does his son. It's part of the new parole arrangement, which also includes drug tests and a 10 p.m. curfew. Joaquin is in college now and says he's changing.
"It's not something you do by yourself," Joaquin said. "Addiction, you don't conquer that by yourself. You do it with lots of support and love from family and friends."
Since moving to the Governor's Mansion in December, he's already failed one drug/alcohol test and missed another.
"He made a mistake. His parole officers told him, 'You're going to end up going back to prison if you do that again,'" Lt. Governor Garcia said.
Will it work? Joaquin knows if it doesn't, there's more than another trip to prison at stake. "It's a blessing for me that I have a dad who, in the position that he is in, will put his position on the back burner to help his failing son, continuously."
"My reputation might be on the line, my future career, but nothing is more important to me than my family," Lt. Governor Garcia said.
The governor's office insists there is no additional cost as a result of Joaquin's living at the carriage house.
The governor's office says Governor Hickenlooper is supportive of Joe Garcia and his family.
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