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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 He's no longer active in Jeffco politics and doesn't know why he was singled out for attack.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.



"It doesn't surprise me that they've hung themselves out like this. The only thing that surprises me is that it's taken this long."

Rick Sheehan is in the middle of his second term as Jefferson County commissioner. Both Michelle Lawrence and Pat Holloway are facing term limits, so two seats on the board -- and the leadership of the county -- are up for grabs this fall. Zinna is looking forward to covering the election as well as the fallout of the Pinky T faxes. How will Jeffco's GOP-leaning citizenry react to the spectacle of high-ranking Republicans being slimed from the shadows, allegedly by other prominent party members?

"The Republicans need to take a hard look at this and clean their own house," Zinna declares. "I've been shouting from the mountaintop about Tuthill and Cynthia, Rick and Michelle for years. Now the chickens are coming home to roost at the worst possible time."

He chuckles. "And it's their own damn fault," he says.



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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast