BILL ALL THE LAWYERS
Earlier this year, when Boulder attorney Peter Rogers lost a routine child-support case for client Richard Kosnar, he appeared to go out of his way to make amends. Not only did Rogers write Kosnar a profuse letter of apology, according to court records, but he even offered to make Kosnar's support payments for him.
"I screwed up," Rogers wrote Kosnar in a March 23 letter filed recently in Boulder District Court. "I made a stupid mistake which has cost you a lot of money...I just hate the fact that my negligence has caused you harm...I will do my level best to make it right, starting with my paying all the costs."
The only problem now, Kosnar's ex-wife, Linda, says, is that Rogers, former president of the Boulder County Bar Association, has never followed through on his promise. Richard Kosnar relied on his lawyer's word and stopped paying child support in May, she says. But so far, Linda says, Rogers hasn't sent her a dime.
"It's bad enough that I have to deal with my ex-husband," she says.
Last week, in the wake of inquiries by Westword, Rogers agreed to pay Linda Kosnar six months' worth of child support. Citing attorney-client privilege, he refuses to discuss the case. But he says he is "mortally offended" that his letter to Richard Kosnar has become public.
Richard Kosnar could not be reached for comment. But his second wife, Tresa, says the missed payments aren't Rogers's fault. Tresa says she spoke with Rogers last week and that he said he "didn't realize what was going on," she says. "He thought we were making the payments."
Tresa Kosnar blames Linda's attorney, Candace Bowie, for the communication breakdown. "Candace doesn't do her job and Pete gets the bull--that's not right," she says. Bowie refuses to discuss the case.
Linda Kosnar, a 48-year-old Westminster resident, says this is just the latest in a string of difficulties she's had collecting child support since divorcing in 1979. Her ex-husband has asked judges to reduce his payments three times in the last fifteen years.
Richard Kosnar, a mineral dealer who now lives in Black Hawk, made his latest request last year. According to court records, Kosnar had become "totally disabled" by a number of serious illnesses, including Epstein-Barr syndrome. He no longer worked and couldn't afford the $300-a-month payment for the Kosnars' sixteen-year-old son, Erik.
At a hearing before Boulder Magistrate Edward Kingery last December, attorney Rogers asked the court to cut Kosnar's payments for Erik in half. Kingery refused, but he did reduce the amount by about $30 a month. Not satisfied, Kosnar and Rogers appealed the case to Boulder District Judge Roxanne Bailin. Records show that Bailin let Kingery's ruling stand--and ordered Kosnar to pay his ex-wife an additional $600 to cover her attorney fees.
In his March 23 letter, Rogers wrote that he should have proved that monthly Social Security Disability payments sent to Erik on Richard Kosnar's behalf should be credited toward Kosnar's child-support obligation. Instead, Kingery ruled that the SSD payments were actually Erik's income--and that Kosnar should make additional payments of $122.03 a month.
"I should have won the case," Rogers said in the letter. "I did not. I am sorry. I will not have you pay for my mistake."
Rogers offered to pay the $600 in attorney's fees and said he would pick up the tab for Erik's child support as well. "I will pay the $122.03 myself every month," Rogers wrote.
Since then, however, Rogers has made "no attempt" to pay Erik's child support, Linda Kosnar alleges in court papers. Last month, in a letter to Magistrate Kingery, Linda wrote that "it is obvious that Mr. Kosnar and Mr. Rogers care nothing about my son's welfare and also care nothing about the ruling of the court."
This isn't Richard Kosnar's first time in the news. Nine years ago he figured prominently in a scandal involving the Boettcher collection of silver and gold at the Colorado School of Mines Museum in Golden. According to news reports, Kosnar bought specimens from the museum from former museum director John M. Shannon, who sold them without the permission of the school.
Shannon was later charged with bribery and embezzlement. Kosnar testified against him in return for a grant of immunity from prosecution, but Shannon was acquitted on all counts.
Linda Kosnar says she's glad she'll now be getting the money she's owed, but she worries about what will happen if the payments stop in the future. The Boulder District Court order, she says, requires that Richard Kosnar pay child support and is not legally binding on Rogers at all.
"I'm happy I'm getting paid, but it's more of a hassle," she says. "What am I going to do if a year from now this man [Rogers] decides he's not going to pay anymore?
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