Man accused of stealing $550,000 from Summit HOAs wants his case dropped
September 19, 2016
Robert Polich, a man accused of embezzling more than $550,000 from the Hamilton Creek Metropolitan District, was back in court on Friday. His attorney argued a motion to dismiss the case on procedural grounds, namely that the charges should've been added to a prior embezzlement case to which Polich pleaded guilty in 2015. Steinberg argued that charging the Hamilton Creek theft separately is unfair because it was part of the same crime. Judge Mark Thompson is expected to rule on the motion by an Oct. 5 case management conference.
Polich served as financial administrator for the Enclave Homeowner's Association in Keystone for years before external audits revealed he had stolen $160,000 in treasury notes from the HOA. He was arrested on Dec. 2, 2014 and later pled guilty to class-four felony theft. He was sentenced to 90 days in county jail and four years of probation. His legal team is also pursuing a motion to withdraw his plea in that case, arguing Polich's previous counsel was incompetent.
The Enclave case triggered an audit by the Hamilton Creek Metro District where he served as system administrator. According to an arrest affidavit, Polich routinely overbilled the district for work through his company, Mountain Systems Inc, taking more than half a million dollars over 15 years.
According to state records, Mountain Systems changed its name to NP Services on Dec. 11, 2014, eight days after Polich was first arrested. On that same day, Deborah Polich replaced Robert as the company's registered agent, according to the documents.
“This was the same district, same timeframe, same MO. Are we going to play this game where the prosecution gets to feign ignorance?Harvey SteinbergAttorney for Robert Polich
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Robert Polich's probation bars him from creating or managing a business. Deborah Polich could not be reached for comment.
same crime or not?
About a dozen of Hamilton Creek and Enclave residents sat in for a full day of arguments and testimony, during which Polich's attorneys made the case that the DA's office had knowledge of the Hamilton Creek case while they were preparing to prosecute the Enclave theft and therefore should have joined the cases.
Polich is represented by Harvey Steinberg of Springer & Steinberg in Denver, a firm that has exonerated several Denver Broncos players, including standout receiver Brandon Marshall, who has been accused of numerous assaults.
According to Steinberg, former Deputy DA Rusty Prindle testified that he had considered amending the Enclave case to include Hamilton Creek but decided not to. This, he argued, proved that the DA's office knew about the second theft but ignored its obligation to add it to the Enclave case.
"This was the same district, same timeframe, same MO," Steinberg said in closing arguments. "Are we going to play this game where the prosecution gets to feign ignorance?"
He argued that in addition to charging Polich twice for "the same scheme," separating the cases placed an undue burden on Polich, who would have to admit to a jury in trial that he had plead guilty to the same crime in a different case.
The prosecution countered that not enough information about the Hamilton Creek allegations existed at the time of the Enclave case.
"The actual substance of the knowledge would have been rejected for a warrant," argued assistant DA Heidi McCollum. "There is not a court in this state that would have granted a warrant with so little information."
Judge Mark Thompson pushed back on this claim somewhat, pointing out that prosecutors are expected to be "liberal" with amendments to a case right up until trial.
McCollum countered that it would be impossible for the prosecution to join the two cases when one of them didn't exist yet.
McCollum also argued that contrary to Steinberg's claims, the differences between the two cases—the specific method of theft and victim organization—were substantial enough to warrant separate prosecution.
"There is no evidence of a conspiracy at the DA's office," she said. "It is offensive that the defense would intimate malfeasance by the people."
District Attorney Bruce Brown gave a lengthy testimony against the defense's claims.
"It was fiery," said one observer outside the courtroom. "He wasn't gonna take any guff from the defense. It turned into a real shout-down. It was kind of fun."
Ron Morey, president of the Enclave HOA, watched the proceedings along with many fellow residents even though the motion was not directly linked to their case.
"I'd like to see our case left alone because full restitution has been made on ours," said Morey. "We'd like to move on and be pestered by other things."
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