Case against ex-Sheriff Tom Hanna moves forward – South Platte Sentinel – South Platte Sentinel

Tom Hanna was arrested in his office in mid-August of 2016 on allegations that he took a female inmate from her jail cell in Julesburg on Aug. 10 stating that he was transporting her to the Logan County Jail. Rather than using his patrol car, Hanna was seen placing the prisoner, dressed in civilian clothes, in his personal vehicle, a violation of policy and procedure.

During Wednesday’s preliminary hearing, Special Prosecutor Danielle Jaramillo, deputy district attorney from the 18th Judicial District based in Arapaho County, called Colorado Bureau of Investigation Agent Tammy Lee to the stand. Agent Lee told the court during an interview with Hanna, when she questioned what he knew about her, Hanna said she was a meth user, and her boyfriend was a drug dealer.

Hanna went on to tell the agent that the victim was preyed upon by men. He also said he had previously issued her a citation for disorderly conduct for yelling at her children. Hanna described her as “slow” and said that her 15- and 16 year-old-children were smarter than her.

Lee testified that Hanna told her that on the day in question, he was short staffed at the sheriff office and he was traveling to the Denver area for a mini-vacation. He explained that he had the prisoner change out of her jail uniform to her civilian clothes, as was common for his office to do, because many times when prisoners are transported in jail uniforms, the uniforms are not returned back from the receiving facilities. Agent Lee asked if he had ever transported a prisoner before in his personal vehicle and he replied that he had another time three years before.

Hanna said he wanted to interview her privately and admitted during the interview that he had taken her to his home to do so, according to Lee. He said that she was wearing a belly chains and handcuffs and as she was dressed in civilian clothes so she wouldn’t attract attention. Once in the house, Hanna told Agent Lee that as he was interviewing the prisoner he un-cuffed her right hand so that so she could thumb scroll through the pictures on her phone. Hanna said the two of them were in his home for only 10 minutes.

Upon cross examination by Christopher Collins, Hanna’s private attorney, he entered into evidence photographs of Hanna’s cell phone displaying text messages from the prisoner’s phone. Lee said she recognized the photos as they also showed her hands holding the defendant’s phone. Collins asked if the messages could validate criminal activity, and she said yes; however it appeared to be more about burglary than drugs.

On redirect, Jaramillo asked Agent Lee in all her years as a law enforcement agent had she ever seen an officer take a prisoner to their home. She answered that she never had. Jaramillo then questioned if there would be concerns for doing so. Agent Lee said that officers shouldn’t mix their personal lives with their professional lives. She said she would worry for the family home and the officer’s family as well.

Chief Investigator for the 13th Judicial District Jeff Huston was the second witness called to the stand. Huston testified that he first learned of the case on Aug. 22. He said he spoke on the phone with then-Sedgwick County Deputy Larry Neugebauer. The deputy explained his concern about the sheriff transporting the prison in his personal vehicle and stopping at his residence. Neugebauer reported that he knew Hanna was using his personal vehicle to transport the prisoner that day. He then observed the truck parked at Hanna’s residence on his way home for lunch. Approximately 20 minutes later, returning from lunch, the deputy passed by Hanna’s home and saw Hanna’s truck still parked in the drive. Neugebauer told Huston he never saw anyone sitting in the vehicle.

Jaramillo asked Huston how he interviewed the victim. He said initially he was vague in his questions so as not to make suggestions to her. The victim questioned if she was in trouble. Huston assured her she was not. He initially explained that he was an investigator and sometimes he needed to investigate officers. He asked if anything had happened in Sedgwick County, and slowly the victim opened up. She told the investigator that Hanna had told her that she would go to jail if she told anybody. She went on to tell Huston that Hanna had sexually touched her, felt her breasts and told her to strip. She also said Hanna asked her if she wanted to make $60. Hanna allegedly took off his pants, exposing his boxers that the victim described as yellow. Hanna told her he wanted to have sex, but then realized she was menstruating. She told Huston he left the room they were in to wash his hands.

In his summation, Judge Singer said that the victim was in custody, but while in custody they can not consent to criminal acts. He said in such aspects, prisoners don’t have a lot of choices. Singer said there was sufficient evidence that the victim was lead into the house by Hanna for the purpose of giving drug intel, and was not aware something sexual would be involved. Singer was satisfied that the prosecution had met their burden of proof during the hearing and asked if the defense was ready to enter a plea or set a future date for arraignment. Hanna and his attorney asked to set an arraignment date. Hanna will be in court again on May 17. At that time he may enter a plea of guilt or move for a trial.