Charges dropped against Robert Polich, man accused of stealing $550K
October 5, 2016
District Judge Mark Thompson granted a motion early Wednesday morning to dismiss felony charges against Robert Polich, who was accused of embezzling more than $550,000 from the Hamilton Creek Metropolitan District in his capacity as a financial manager. In his 17-page order, Judge Thompson wrote that the District Attorney's Office was aware of the allegations during another embezzlement case against Polich and was required by law to join the two. The DA's office plans to appeal the decision.
"We disagree with the court's ruling but respect its decision," said assistant district attorney Heidi McCollum. "We think it was an incorrect ruling and will be filing a notice of intent to appeal."
District Attorney Bruce Brown declined to comment, citing official policy that bars multiple prosecutors from commenting on the same case.
Polich, who pleaded guilty last year to stealing $160,000 from the Enclave Homeowner's Association in Keystone, allegedly stole money from Hamilton Creek as well by routinely overbilling the district over the course of 15 years, according to court documents. The Enclave plea was unaffected by Wednesday's ruling.
His defense team, led by Harvey Steinberg of Denver law firm Springer & Steinberg, argued that the DA's office was aware of the alleged Hamilton Creek theft during the Enclave case and was thus obligated by law to amend those charges. Former assistant DA Rusty Prindle, who relocated to New Mexico last year, testified during the motion hearing that he had considered adding the Hamilton Creek allegations to the Enclave case but decided not to.
The prosecution countered that since the victims and methods of theft were different, they constituted separate crimes. Polich stole from Enclave by taking treasury notes, but at Hamilton Creek, he allegedly used phony billing, which the prosecution argued constituted a different type of theft.
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Judge Thompson concurred with the defense, writing that both cases were part of the same, years-long scheme of using management authority to defraud clients. Thompson added that the evidence in both cases was overlapping and interrelated, and since the DA's office knew about both, they should have been joined.
"Based on the testimony that had taken place during the hearing and the particular law in question, we feel the judge was compelled to rule the way he did," said Steingberg.
"I'm surprised and disappointed the judge ruled that way," said Tom Hand, president of the Board of Directors for the Hamilton Creek District. He said the district is considering its options for pursuing civil action against Polich but hasn't come to any decisions yet.
Polich has made full restitution to the Enclave but has not returned any of the money he allegedly stole from Hamilton Creek.
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