| Crime |

Pat Sullivan, disgraced sheriff, could get 12-18 months after probation violations for meth

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Back in 2011, former Arapahoe County Sheriff Pat Sullivan fell from grace in a startling way after he was accused of trading meth for sex. In 2012, he received a 38-day wrist-slap of a sentence, but he subsequently violated his parole.

Now, he's done it again, in a very big way, and with more than a little help from meth, to which he retains an apparent fondness. After a hearing today, he could be facing twelve-to-eighteen months behind bars.

As we've reported, Sullivan became an undersheriff in Arapahoe County way back in 1983, rising to the top job a year later. In 1989, he cemented his image as a man still willing to mix it up with the bad guys when he personally rescued a deputy trapped in a hostage situation involving Eugene Thompson, who'd murdered two women -- one of them his mother-in-law. The image of Sullivan squealing away from the scene as an ambulance waited to care for his colleague was indelible.

Ten years later, the attack on Columbine High School took place, and while the facility isn't in Arapahoe County, Sullivan played a major role in the subsequent investigation, emerging with his reputation further enhanced. No wonder that when the onetime national sheriff of the year retired from his post in 2002, he was quickly snapped up by the Cherry Creek School District, which made him director of safety and security -- a position he held for the next six years.

After leaving the Cherry Creek job, Sullivan faded from public view -- but he returned in a big way on November 17, 2011, when the sheriff's department announced that "several individuals presented credible information that provided probable cause to believe that Sullivan may be involved in the distribution and use of methamphetamine."

The inquiry that followed culminated when Sullivan was taken into custody after allegedly attempting to trade meth for sex with what was described as a "male acquaintance."

Then-Sheriff Grayson Robinson offered the following comment about this bizarre turn of events: "The allegations of criminal behavior involving Pat Sullivan are extraordinarily disturbing... While the arrest of the former sheriff is very troubling, the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office continues to ensure that those who are responsible for criminal behavior and the victimization of our community will be held accountable by the criminal justice system. No one, and particularly a current or a former peace officer, is above the law. The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office has always demonstrated a solid commitment to our community and to public safety. This is a very sad time for the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office and our community."

The next year, Sullivan pleaded guilty to drug possession and soliciting a prostitute -- a felony and a misdemeanor, respectively. Three other charges were dropped, with the court agreeing to put Sullivan behind bars for a month or so and also hitting him with two years' worth of probation. (See editor's note below.)

The following August brought evidence that Sullivan hadn't exactly been walking the straight and narrow after completing his term in stir. A so-called "Special Report" by Sullivan's probation officer, Hallie Miller, maintained that "the probation department has become aware of behaviors of the defendant that are concerning."

Continue for more about former sheriff Pat Sullivan's parole violation, including a video, documents and more. The document went on to say that "the defendant's behavior around his offense is alarming, in that he was soliciting from an individual that in the past Mr. Sullivan had been his payee. In this transaction, the defendant selected his partner to be someone whom he previously had authority over, indicating issues related to power and control."

No more details were offered about this last paragraph, but the reference implied strongly that Sullivan was involved with someone with whom he had a previous relationship -- one in which money, sex and more may have been intertwined.

The next line was blacked out -- but the sentence after it revealed that "as a sanction, the defendant is currently on SCRAM, an alcohol-monitoring device; the company that makes them is based in Littleton, and its signature products have been worn by the likes of Lindsay Lohan. "However, the defendant's continued violations indicate the defendant chooses not to abide by Court orders," the report went on -- meaning, presumably, that Sullivan had been caught imbibing.

The documents suggested that Sullivan was at risk of a returning to the detention center that formerly bore his name.

Nonetheless, Sullivan remained free. But in March, his probationary term was extended after the onetime lawman failed a drug test -- and now we know this wasn't a rare occurrence. 7News quotes paperwork divulging that Sullivan failed three tests for meth, four for alcohol, and failed to submit required samples on an astonishing 35 other occasions.

Presumably, most people who'd racked up this kind of record would already have been returned to a cell. Somehow, though, Sullivan has managed to steer clear of the hoosegow since serving his original sentence. But his luck may be about to run out. Today, he was found to have violated the terms of his parole, and when he returns for sentencing on June 19, he could get be sent to jail for a year-plus.

Look below to see Sullivan's original booking photo, the 7News report and the 2012 special report.

Pat Sullivan Special Report

Editor's note: The original version of this post mischaracterized the role of the Colorado Attorney General's Office in Sullivan's original sentencing. The court determined the sentence and the manner with which Sullivan's case was handled when he violated his probation. We regret the error.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Pat Sullivan: Tales of meth for masturbation, gay porn in bust of ex-Arapahoe sheriff (VIDEO)."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.