Saturday, November 11, 2017

Grand Junction Regional Airport (KGJT) will keep its file on fraud case closed

The Grand Junction Regional Airport’s internal case file on its investigation into fraud allegations that sparked a federal probe will remain a closed book.

Airport board members noted Thursday that the airport rejected a request by two tenants to see the file now that the case is over.

The tenants, Bill Marvel and Dave Shepard, who had filed a whistleblower case against the airport, sought the file under Colorado Open Records Act statutes.

The file, however, is covered under an attorney-client privilege and contains work product, said board member Chuck McDaniel, an attorney.

It also contains records of discussions with employees that were made under an arrangement that they wouldn’t be made public.

“We intend to abide by that,” McDaniel said.

Marvel said the investigative file ought to be considered an open public record, but “it’s their call and not ours.”

The records relate to an investigation by the airport, which ran parallel to the FBI investigation that became public in November 2013 with a raid on airport offices. The FBI investigation was an outgrowth of Marvel and Shepard’s case, which was filed under seal in federal court.

Marvel and Shepard’s request for the file arrived at the airport as members of the board’s compliance committee were discussing it on Monday.

Jane Quimby, who along with attorney Bill Taylor conducted the internal investigation, received the file from a former airport board member, Rick Wagner, and delivered it to McDaniel, McDaniel said.

“Before that, the Airport did not have a copy — I had asked,” McDaniel said in an email.

Wagner confirmed that he gave the file to Quimby. Wagner sat on the litigation committee during the investigation and dealt with a range of issues, including negotiating a non-prosecution agreement for the board with the U.S. Department of Justice. He also dealt with a range of other matters arising out of the federal investigation.

The compliance committee, which included himself and board member Erling Braebeck and others, were meeting Monday with Quimby “at the time the request arrived in Mark Achen’s email inbox (he attended part of the meeting),” McDaniel said in the email. “The notebook was on the table and was a part of the discussion.”

Marvel said he was aware that the airport had the file “from one of the meetings,” but that he didn’t recall anything specific.

Quimby declined to comment on Friday. Shepard didn’t respond to a request for comment.

McDaniel wanted the committee “to learn a little more about what happened in the airport that caused the investigations so we can deal with references to those times from others and to be sure we plan compliance programs that avoid repeating history,” he said in an email.

“A number of the new commissioners have met with Jane to learn about this history. Since the notebook is the record of the internal investigation, I took it to the meeting.”

Discussion about the notebook centered on how the investigation was done and by whom, and who was interviewed, McDaniel said. 

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.gjsentinel.com

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