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Two of Guerra's underlings, Weed & Seed coordinators Jim Dadiotis and Eric Willis, also have indirect ties to the Webb administration. Willis's father is a close friend of Borom's. And Dadiotis is the son of Takis Dadiotis, one of Webb's staunchest supporters in the Greek community. In March, Jim Dadiotis was among three dozen angry Greek Americans who stormed DeGroot's campaign office after she demanded that Denver County Court Judge Andrew Armatas step down from the bench. (Armatas, who is of Greek descent and whom Webb named chief judge of the court in January, filed for bankruptcy March 3, owing almost $275,000 in back taxes.) Dadiotis told the Rocky Mountain News he didn't attend the protest for political reasons. "I was Greek a long time before I knew Wellington Webb," Dadiotis said.
Sue Weinstein, the former Weed & Seed worker, wrote in a recent letter to local media that politics undermined the integrity of that program. Weinstein didn't name names in her letter and declines further comment. But she wrote in the letter that she "experienced first-hand the use of friends and political supporters in positions that they were...not qualified for.
"These...staffers were hired not because they had the appropriate qualifications and experience for the positions, but rather because they had strong ties with the mayor on a variety of levels," Weinstein wrote. "Their first priority is not to serve the communities they were hired to work in. Instead, their first priority is to make sure that the mayor is well `looked after.'"
Michelle Mobley, the former VISTA volunteer, voices similar complaints. "Webb has taken [tax dollars] and squandered them taking care of his buddies," she says. Mobley was assigned to work with Commission on Youth staffers last summer but says she "never did figure out what our purpose was.
"We didn't do anything," says Mobley, who eventually quit the VISTA program. "I'm still gnashing my teeth about my experience."
But Borom denies that HRCR is populated with political hacks. "I think it's an unfair criticism," Borom says. People like Guerra, Dadiotis and Simmons, he points out, are not political appointees. All, he says, were hired through the normal, merit-based career-service process. Borom says Weinstein's letter, which appeared on the editorial page of the Rocky Mountain News last week, is "not an accurate depiction" and is "really misleading."
"When you look at this agency, you've got some very well-qualified people," Borom says. "Whatever else you might say about them, they're very competent."
Competent or not, a review of public records shows that a number of people connected with HRCR have had run-ins with the police and the tax man.
Annie Slaughter, for instance, the $45,000-a-year director of HRCR's Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Office, owes the State of Colorado more than $4,000 for unpaid taxes dating back all the way to 1983, according to a 1993 tax lien filed with the Denver Clerk and Recorder's office. Slaughter did not return a phone call seeking comment.
That's nothing compared with Johnnie Williams, an unpaid block captain in HRCR's Neighborhood Watch program. Federal authorities allege in court records that the city crime fighter stood at the center of a well-organized cocaine distribution ring that masqueraded as a legitimate business enterprise known as "T.R.I.P.S." According to a transcript of a wiretapped conversation between Williams and his alleged co-conspirators, on file at U.S. District Court, Williams even bragged that he was virtually immune from prosecution.
"I ain't going to jail for nobody, unless I kill somebody," Williams said during the conversation, recorded last summer. "Even if they tie me into some shit, I'm smart enough to get off on it." If convicted, Williams could face life in prison and a $4 million fine.
Williams's simultaneous indictment and involvement in Neighborhood Watch were first reported by Channel 7 reporter Julie Hayden. When Hayden questioned Borom, the HRCR director told her he was aware of the charges against Williams, and he defended Williams's role in the Neighborhood Watch program.
"In general, is a person who is under federal indictment for drug dealing the kind of person you want as a block captain?" Hayden asked him.
"I think you have to say that when a person is under indictment, they have not been convicted of anything," Borom replied. "We might indict anyone." (Borom now says that block captains are elected by neighborhood residents--not chosen by HRCR. "We don't screen the people," he says. Borom adds that he has "no idea" whether Williams is still involved with the Neighborhood Watch program.)
Alvertis Simmons, another HRCR crime watchdog, has been arrested three times in the past twelve years ("Arrested Development," March 29). Simmons receives a taxpayer-funded salary of more than $28,000 a year.
Simmons's first arrest occurred in 1983, when he was caught shoplifting at the Target store in Glendale. Denver police arrested him again in 1988 and charged him with assault. All the court records relating to that incident have been destroyed, but Simmons says it involved allegations of domestic violence. His most recent arrest came on New Year's Day, 1994, when a police officer found him yelling at his wife outside their home and charged him with disturbing the peace. Records show the city later decided it couldn't prove its case and dropped the charges. "I was exonerated," Simmons says.