Colorado City denied return of seized items

The Mohave Daily News/October 19, 2010

Kingman - A Mohave County judge denied a motion allowing the return of seized computer items from a Colorado City fire department.

Superior Court Commissioner Derek Carlisle denied a request by the city of Colorado City to return computer hard drives and cameras sized when Mohave County law enforcement officers raided the fire stations April 6 in Colorado City and in Hildale, Utah, as well as the homes of Colorado City Fire Chief Jake Barlow and Colorado City Manager David Darger.

The investigation is looking into the alleged misuse of the fire department's credit cards for personal use in connection with the fire departments and the city government.

Carlisle also denied the appointment of a special master, an unbiased third party who would review data from the seized computers. A Utah judge also

denied returning the items seized in Hildale but did appoint a special master to review information on the computers, Deputy Mohave County Attorney James Schoppman said.

Schoppman added that the case still is being reviewed by his office for criminal charges against Barlow or Darger. The computers are being examined by experts from the state's Attorney General's Office and the Arizona Department of Public Safety in Phoenix.

Colorado City, along with Hildale, is the home of the polygamist sect of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints church.

The county attorney's office has investigated charges in recent years of child abuse and sexual misconduct by nine church members including the church's prophet, Warren Jeffs, whose charges of sexual conduct with a minor in two 2007 Arizona cases were recently dismissed. Jeffs was convicted in Utah for rape and is serving a 10-year prison term when his conviction was overturned in July by the Utah Supreme Court and remanded for a new trial. He also faces charges in Texas.

The county recently bought a 5-acre lot near Colorado City and has recently moved into a building, which houses the sheriff's office, the county attorney's office, victim's advocate group and other county offices. The county was forced to abandon the modular building on Mohave Community College property in Colorado City after MCC ended a five-year lease in early 2009. The county also recently approved putting a new Moccasin Justice Court in the Colorado City area.

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