Lawyer: Tippetts denies illegalities

Rex Tippetts

Suspended airport aviation director Rex Tippetts is unaware of any illegal happenings at the airport and denies wrongdoing, his Grand Junction lawyer said Wednesday.

“The airport board has confirmed they do not know what the authorities are investigating, and insofar as Mr. Tippetts is aware, nothing amiss has occurred out at the airport,” attorney Harry Griff said in a statement to The Daily Sentinel.

Tippetts, who earns $132,000 annually, was suspended with pay Tuesday night by the board of directors of the Grand Junction Regional Airport amid a federal investigation into airport business. Tippetts has retained the Grand Junction firm, Griff Larson Laiche & Wright, although Griff did not specify when Tippetts retained the firm.

“If something amiss has occurred at the airport, Mr. Tippetts is not responsible,” Griff said, while adding, “there are a lot of people at the airport who may have been involved with the monies, grants or contracts that the authorities may be investigating.”

Griff said his client is “cooperating fully” with the airport’s board.

“We ask the community to recognize this investigation is in very early stages,” he said.

Asked who’s paying Tippetts’ legal fees, Griff said the airport authority has “errors and omissions” liability insurance.

“I believe the airport authority has put the carrier on notice of a claim,” he said.

A Denver attorney who represents the Grand Junction airport couldn’t immediately be reached Wednesday afternoon.

Tippetts has not responded to requests for comment since agents of the FBI and U.S. Department of Transportation on Nov. 7 showed up at airport properties with search and seizure warrants, seeking records for an unspecified fraud investigation focused on airport administration.

Tippetts was also not in attendance Tuesday night when the airport’s board voted to suspend him with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

Airport board member Rick Wagner said Tuesday night that an internal investigation had completed “a lot of work,” but declined to share more detail, explaining more needs to be done.

A Dec. 17 meeting was scheduled to discuss the results of the internal probe.

Among other business Tuesday, the airport board passed a resolution which lowered a threshold from $30,000 to $500, when airport checks will require more than one signature, either the chairman or vice chairman of the board plus a staff member.


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