DENVER — Information used in Rep. Bob Beauprez’s television ad against gubernatorial opponent Bill Ritter could only have come from a confidential police computer, authorities said Monday as the congressman’s campaign said it would cooperate in the criminal investigation.
Gov. Bill Owens has asked the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to expedite its investigation into the possible illegal use of the federal criminal database. Its use for any purpose other than law enforcement is a crime punishable by fines and up to a year in prison.
“The system has the ability to show who used it, what information was retrieved, what agency that person was associated with. It is only available to law enforcement agencies and criminal justice agencies,” CBI spokesman Lance Clem said, adding that the only information that is public are arrest records.
Beauprez’s spokes- man, John Marshall, said their attorney has contacted the CBI and agreed to cooperate.
Marshall said Ritter’s campaign is trying to distract voters from the ad’s message that Ritter, a Democrat and former Denver district attorney, offered a plea bargain to a man later accused of sexual assault.
The ad in question mentions a Carlos Estrada Medina, a suspected illegal immigrant who was arrested in Denver on suspicion of heroin trafficking. The ad said Medina avoided deportation and was later arrested in California on suspicion of sexually assaulting a minor.
Television reporters found that the person arrested in Colorado was Walter Noel Romo and had a different birthdate than Medina, said Thomas M. Rogers III, a lawyer for Ritter’s campaign.
When questioned about the man’s identity, the Beauprez campaign said Romo and Medina were the same man because federal criminal databases indicated the two men had the same FBI numbers.
Ritter campaign spokesman Evan Dreyer has said they tried verifying that information through public records but could not, raising the possibility that the databases were illegally accessed.
“If we couldn’t do it, how was the congressman able to do it?” Dreyer asked.
Dreyer said Ritter gave the CBI a list of 152 cases referred to in the ad to determine if one person accessed other cases on it.