By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
"Excellent. I appreciate it. Thank you."
Later, when he listened to the tape of the conversation, the first part of the exchange struck Zinna as particularly odd. Most people, he reasoned, when asked if they were the Pinky T faxer, would want to know what the hell he was talking about. If they'd never heard of such a thing, they'd want to know what it was.
Commissioner Sheehan simply denied it, without hesitation.
Zinna says he's spoken with every one of the six people named in the Pinky T faxes, whom he describes as "victims" of a botched defamation campaign.
"They're outraged," he says. "By the language, the allegations, by who it came from. Every one categorically denied every allegation made against them."
The perps are "going to answer for this under oath," Zinna vows, "in a civil case, whether it's mine or one of the victims'. Rick and Sheri Sheehan and Cynthia Beyer-Ulrich are facing a posse of individuals who want them to answer for this. If they try to dispute that they're responsible for these faxes, there's a mountain of evidence to contradict them. They're cold busted."
But the people Zinna accuses of being the Pinky T faxers do dispute it. Commissioner Sheehan's calendar for the day of the Albertson's fax indicates he was in a public meeting all morning and met with Jim Moore, the county's human resources director, at one o'clock. Moore confirms that the meeting took place in Sheehan's office on that date, within a few minutes of one o'clock; Moore had a meeting with another commissioner right after that, at 1:30. The time stamped on the fax, which was sent from a location seven miles from Sheehan's office, is 12:58 pm.
An electronic log of Sheehan's comings and goings from the Taj Mahal that day, based on a magnetic card reader in the Taj Mahal garage, indicates that he left the building at 11:20 that morning and returned at 12:47. County spokesman Masson says the card reader is "extremely accurate" and corresponds closely to real time, which gives Sheehan a comfortable margin of time and distance from the offending fax.
Still, the alibi is hardly ironclad. In studying the tapes and the faxes, Zinna discovered numerous discrepancies between the time indicated on the surveillance tapes and the time stamped on the faxes. When he visited the fax outlets, he discovered that the machines were often out of sync. In one case, there was a full 24 hours' difference in the two readouts. And both video and fax records could be at odds with the actual time by several minutes, due to power surges, machines unplugged and then reset, or any number of other factors.
Whether a jury is more inclined to believe the alibi evidence or the images on tape is an open question. But it's not clear what kind of case could be brought against the Pinky T faxers, even if Zinna's identification of them is accurate. There's no evidence that they disseminated confidential personnel information, for example, or that Colorado's seldom-used criminal-libel statute could be successfully applied to people venting their spleen at government employees.
But expect Zinna and his allies to pressure the county to take some kind of action. "I think the faxes are slanderous," says Frank Hutfless, a former county attorney who's named in one of them. "There is an element of payback here, and an element of ego and uncontrollable temper and immaturity."
Hutfless resigned abruptly as county attorney in 2001 after tangling with Rick Sheehan and Michelle Lawrence on several matters. He has seen the surveillance tapes and says he has "no doubt" that the faxers are the Sheehans and Beyer-Ulrich. He's no longer active in Jeffco politics and doesn't know why he was singled out for attack. One possible motive, he suggests, is that the faxers believe he's a key source for JeffcoExposed.
"The suspicion over there is that I am in the middle of perpetuating what Mike writes about, and that's absolutely not true," he says. "But I've never seen anything that Mike has done that's been a lie. They'll do anything they can to get rid of him. It's amazing how far they have gone."
Hutfless notes that, since all three of the alleged faxers work for public agencies, violations of standards of conduct could be involved -- particularly in the case of Beyer-Ulrich, whom Zinna has accused of sending the fax attacking Hutfless and Commissioner Holloway.
"If I was county attorney," Hutfless says, "and I was convinced that someone who worked for me did this, I'd fire her immediately -- not only for insubordination, but for ethical violations. One of the people she made comments about was one of her employers. You don't go around badmouthing the person you work for. You don't subject your boss to public ridicule. Totally irrespective of whether the statements are true or false, you don't tolerate this kind of action."
He sighs. "There is so much history underlying all this stuff," he says. "It's a Machiavellian political realm over there. Mike has been a terrible thorn in their sides. They've been violating the law for some time, and no one, especially [Jefferson County District Attorney] Dave Thomas, has held them accountable. As a consequence, they keep doing more, until they get to the point where doing slanderous activity is just second nature to these people.