Former Denver police officer Larry Stevenson has been known as a high-profile employee for the city's Excise and Licensing Department, a personal friend of Mayor Michael Hancock, the creator of the anti-crime program known as Transportation on Patrol, and developer of the Medina Alert system, intended to help catch hit-and-run drivers.
Now, however, he's got a new and unwanted item on his resume: He's been indicted on two counts of bribery.
Continue for more details about Stevenson's background, information from the indictment on view below, and efforts by the Hancock administration to keep at arm's length a person who'd previously been embraced.
The indictment quotes Stevenson boasting about his friendship with Hancock to Lucilious Ward, a transportation-industry pro whose main business is called Global Alternative Energy Solutions, LLC. Ward is the man who Stevenson is accused of shaking down for bribes.
An excerpt reads:
During this time, Stevenson often told Ward about Stevenson's close personal relationship to Mayor Hancock and how they were best friends. Stevenson told Ward that he and Mayor Hancock had gone to high school together, that Stevenson was Mayor Hancock's son's godfather and that Stevenson was Mayor Hancock's best man at his wedding.In a piece about the indictment on 9News, which has previously utilized Stevenson as an on-air analyst, Hancock spokesperson Amber Miller denied the godfather claim and pointed out that the mayor's wedding "was more than twenty years ago."
Be that as it may, Stevenson has gotten plenty of publicity for assorted public-service initiatives, including Transportation on Patrol, which Patricia Calhoun described in a 2013 post as "a program that empowers Denver's cabbies, limo drivers, truckers and even pedal-cab operators to alert law enforcement of suspicious behavior."
Just how effective the program has been is a matter of debate. Shortly after its launch, for example, reports surfaced about a a taxi driver calling the cops because a supposed gun dealer seemed like a potential terrorist — a story that was later revealed to be a hoax.
This embarrassment didn't slow down Stevenson. In 2014, he was front and center as Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill that established the Hit and Run Medina Alert Program, inspired by an incident three years before in which 21-year-old Jose Medina, a valet at the now-defunct Rockstar Lounge, was killed by a hit-and-run driver,
Here's a passage from our coverage of the bill's signing, featuring plenty of Stevenson quotes:
"We've known for far too long that hit and runs are the most unsolvable crimes in law enforcement, but today we add shape and form and color to the ghost," said Larry Stevenson at yesterday's signing ceremony at the State Capitol. "Today we illuminate what would chose to hide in the darkness, to flee the scene of a crime of leaving somebody to possibly die in the street, worse than a dog."
Stevenson, founder of Taxis Patrol (now Transportation on Patrol), had already created a municipal Medina Alert Program in use in Denver and Aurora. Through that program, he says he's already trained over 5,000 transportation providers in Colorado to keep their eyes open and be good witnesses when a hit and run occurs. The new state law just expands the tools they can use — and encourages citizens to join in. The Medina Alert will work like an Amber alert, notifying the public to keep their eyes open after a hit and run.
"We will have a way on some platform, whether the digital signs, whether VMS signs on the highway, whether by text messages, e-mails, news alerts, breaking news, whatever it is — we will have a way to reach over 4 million residents in the State of Colorado," Stevenson said. "What that means is that the person who would chose to hide...they don't only have to be on the lookout for the police department or a taxi driver or a limo driver, they have to be on the lookout for every resident here in the state of Colorado. What that means is that Colorado is Biblically correct: We are our brother's keeper."
The behavior alleged in the just-issued indictment is considerably less holy.
The document states that in 2013, Mayor Hancock introduced Stevenson to Ward "as his right hand man and someone Mayor Hancock would go to when 'he needed something done.'"
This comment and subsequent conversations with Stevenson convinced Ward that "Stevenson could help him in obtaining contracts or subcontracts with the City and County of Denver without having to go through any formal bidding process," the indictment maintains.
Then, in August 2014, Stevenson is said to have texted Ward about a man named David Cole, who Ward had hired to help him get business for his company. The message reads, "Are you still working with David Cole and if so are you happy with the results and progress? I have another option for you for half the month retainer cost:)"
Days later, the document continues, Stevenson and Ward met at the Four Seasons hotel on 14th Street. At that get-together, the indictment states, "Stevenson solicited and agreed that if Ward would pay Stevenson $3,000.00 per month, Stevenson would use his influence with Mayor Hancock and his position in the City and County of Denver Excise and Licensing Department to influence Denver City and County employees at DIA to get Ward a portion or all of the subcontract" from a contract pertaining to "standard parking."
A few weeks later, the indictment says Ward gave $2,500 to Stevenson during a rendezvous near the Wellington Webb Building — and when Stevenson noted that the deal was for "three," Ward promised to give him the additional $500 the next month.
He allegedly did better than that, as spelled out in this description of an exchange the following month: "After a brief discussion, Stevenson opened up his small briefcase and Ward took out $3,000.00 in cash and placed it on top of a pistol, which was inside the briefcase. Stevenson then closed the briefcase and the meeting was concluded."
Also concluded is Stevenson's job at Excise and Licensing, at least for now. When the Denver District Attorney's Office formally charged Stevenson with two counts of felony bribery, he was placed on what's described as "investigatory leave." At this writing, a warrant is pending for his arrest and no announcement has been made about him having been booked.
In the meantime, Mayor Hancock has released a statement about the indictment that reads in part: "If the allegations are true, these actions are flat-out wrong and will not be tolerated. I'm appalled and outraged that a city employee would use their position as a public servant, and my name, for personal gain."
Look below to see a video of Stevenson appearing on KNUS radio last October alongside Denver DA Mitch Morrissey — the same man whose office has now charged him with bribery. That's followed by the indictment.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.