Neil Macey, who came on board as Poticha was leaving, was on Poundstone's side during his initial months on council. But after that, he says, "I saw what she was doing, and jumped to the other side and stayed there for the rest of my two years.
"Getting rid of Freda became my goal," he admits now. "I figured if we could get her out of there, it would solve a lot of problems."
But thanks to a brewing scandal over at the police station that stands next to the town hall, the mayor and council soon had a whole new set of problems to wrestle with. Greenwood Village has a relatively small police force. But like the town's governing body at the time, it seemed to have an oversized capacity for mischief. By 1988 the town's police officers were becoming more vocal in their complaints about chief Daryl Gates and the way he managed the department. It was a prickly issue, primarily because Gates and Poundstone were allies.
"Sonny and Myrna had been hearing for a long time about all the problems with the police," says Macey. "Then, after several meetings, officers started to call me and tell me stories of sexual harassment and mismanagement. Finally, I came to the conclusion that if 5 percent of these things were true, it had to be a mismanaged department."
The council invited the disgruntled officers to share their concerns at a meeting. About twenty officers--roughly half the department--attended that meeting, many of them testifying about such things as inadequate training and alleged sexist slurs and racist jokes made by the chief. The turnout itself made an impression on the council, says Wiegand, since police officers are generally apolitical and don't like to be caught publicly criticizing their superiors.
By the summer of 1989 things had reached a crisis point with both the chief and the mayor. In July an Arapahoe County grand jury began a five-month probe of the city's political power structure. The grand jury's first charge was to look into Poundstone's alleged mismanagement and conflicts of interest. The second was to look into possible mismanagement of the police department by Gates. And the third issue, originally nothing more than an offshoot of the second, was to look into the way Gates handled a 1984 investigation into the death of Greenwood Village stockbroker Larry Ocrant.
The grand jury investigation was prompted, Denver DA's investigator Jim Clement would testify, by information provided by "a city councilman and a former city councilwoman." Those sources are commonly believed to be Poundstone's old enemies, Wiegand and Poticha. But, says Poticha, "I'm not going to confirm it." Wiegand's reply: a terse "no comment."
The allegations against Poundstone included claims that she and her son had used a city credit card to make unauthorized charges. She also was accused of receiving free personal services from a computer company that she later hired to perform a wage survey of city employees, Clement told the grand jury.
But concerns about Poundstone's work as a paid lobbyist were central to the investigation. There were at least three specific instances, Clement testified, where Freda Poundstone was representing developers and construction companies that had dealings with the city--in direct conflict with her position as mayor. Among other things, Clement told the grand jury, Poundstone represented the Happy Church, which hoped to build a huge edifice on residential land not zoned for that purpose. (The church later built in a commercial sector of the city.)
Clement also looked into the police officers' complaints about Gates, and the allegations that the chief had interfered in the investigation into Larry Ocrant's death.
Ocrant was found dead in his bed in April 1984 with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hand. The police investigation was irregular, to be sure. Gates initially barred a medical examiner from the scene. He destroyed the weapon, bullet and bloody sheets at the urging of Ocrant's widow, Sueann. According to grand jury testimony from police officers, Larry Ocrant was abusive, and Sueann had considered divorce. The coroner ruled, however, that the death was a suicide.
Sueann Ocrant was a close friend of Poundstone's who the mayor had urged to run for council back in 1985. Ocrant won the election, and after being sworn into office was perceived as one of the mayor's staunchest supporters--even, claims Macey, basing her votes on hand signals delivered by the mayor at council meetings.
But the grand jury investigation four years later took its toll on Poundstone and her allies. A month into the investigation, Chief Gates resigned under pressure from the council. Poundstone declined to run again that fall. Sueann Ocrant also chose not to seek re-election.