U.S. attorney vows to aggressively pursue financial wrongdoing

Financial crimes will have a high priority in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado, the new head of the office said.

Such cases “are my background,” U.S. Attorney for Colorado John Walsh said last week during a visit to Grand Junction.

Counterterrorism will remain the top priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the state, as it is in the nation, Walsh said.

Walsh, who grew up in Denver, headed the major fraud unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles before returning to Colorado in 1995. Since then, he entered private practice, ran unsuccessfully for the district attorney’s job in Denver and took over the U.S. Attorney’s Office in August.

That office is now prosecuting the owner of failed Grand Junction business Valley Investments on charges of mail and securities fraud.

The Western Slope is like the rest of Colorado in that such things as investment fraud cases, identity thefts, even tainted or diluted drugs obtained via the Internet, demand federal attention, Walsh said.

“You’ll see an increased level of law enforcement activity on the West Slope” as his office tackles those issues, in addition to working with the drug task force, engaging in counterterrorism and dealing with the special issues of reservations in the state, Walsh said.

The case of Najibullah Zazi, who pleaded guilty to plotting to bomb the New York City subway system, began in Denver and illustrates Colorado isn’t immune to terrorism threats, Walsh said.

Judges on the federal bench in Denver have been inclined of late to conduct trials in places such as Grand Junction and Durango, which also has a federal courthouse, Walsh said.

His office “is strongly supportive” of conducting trials in the locations where crimes are alleged to have occurred and where witnesses and victims live.

Such is the case with the prosecution of Philip Rand Lochmiller Sr. in the Valley Investments case, which Walsh’s office is seeking to conduct in Grand Junction, rather than Denver, he said.


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