Admitted Union Thief Running for Denver City Council

The ex-treasurer of the Denver Sheriff’s Union who pled guilty in Apr. 2000 to stealing funds from the union’s coffers is running for the Denver City Council. Leonard F. Ortiz pled guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge and was ordered to return the money he took. Although Ortiz was ordered to repay more than $4,700 he had skimmed from union bank deposits and union checks he wrote to himself while treasurer, he admitted to stealing no more than $500. During the union’s investigation, Ortiz reportedly attempted to obstruct auditors from reviewing the union’s records.

Ortiz said Oct. 1 that he entered the plea after eighteen months of investigation to spare his family further anguish and to save his job. Despite the guilty plea, he denies he stole the money. Accusations of skimming also involved a commission he took on the sale of pins and badges he ordered for union members and money he spent for a table at a trade show, Ortiz said.”They did an audit and they felt some of the expenditures were incorrect,” Ortiz said. “I got slammed with those.”

Ortiz received no jail time for the misdemeanor offense. He was merely suspended from his job at the Denver jail for thirty days. Ortiz appealed the suspension, but lost and subsequently resigned. Ortiz was one of three union bosses accused of taking union money in connection to the probe.

Ortiz is running for the District 2 City Council seat held by Dean Gokey, who is seeking re-election. Ortiz said he hopes Wheat Ridge voters will overlook his misdemeanor record. Election Day is Nov. 6. “I am just hoping the people of Wheat Ridge will see that I didn’t do any of this with malice. I didn’t do anything wrong. I pled guilty to something I didn’t do. I didn’t steal that money.” [Rocky Mtn. News (Denver) 10/2/01; Denver Post 7/21/00]