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5/2/2003

White files another suit

Travis Henry
The Daily Times-Call

BOULDER — Peripheral Ramsey character Fleet White is now focusing his attention on the Jefferson County district attorney after several of his legal proceedings in Boulder County have failed.

White, a frequent filer of lawsuits and motions regarding the

JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation, is now demanding that a hearing be held ordering Jefferson

County District Attorney Dave Thomas to explain why he failed to prosecute Globe tabloid editor Craig Lewis, who was indicted by a grand jury for criminal extortion and commercial bribery.

The new legal filing by White and his wife, Priscilla, also demands that Thomas explain why he failed to seek a special prosecutor or investigation into Lewis and Globe attorneys, whom White claims attempted to illegally influence Thomas’ handling of the case.

Lewis was arrested in 1999 for trying to buy a copy of the JonBenet Ramsey ransom note. Bribery and extortion charges were dropped after the Globe agreed to donate $100,000 to a journalism ethics program at the University of Colorado.

Lewis was accused of offering a handwriting analyst $30,000 for a copy of the note JonBenet’s mother said she discovered before the 6-year-old’s body was found on Dec. 26, 1996.

He also was charged with trying to extort information from a detective by sending him pictures of his deceased mother and threatening to expose a family tragedy.

In an affidavit filed last month, White, the former best friend of John Ramsey , claims that Thomas might have been unduly influenced by Lewis and his attorneys.

According to a sworn affidavit by White, Thomas told him in September 2001 that he declined to prosecute Lewis because of threats by Lewis and the Globe’s attorneys.

“At the meeting, I noted that Mr. Thomas (stated) that one of of the five lawyers told him he (Mr. Thomas) will no longer work again anywhere’ if Mr. Thomas continued his prosecution of Mr. Lewis and the Globe,” White said in his affidavit.

In a letter to White written in October 2002, Thomas said attorneys never told him he would “no longer work anywhere” if he prosecuted Lewis. Thomas said negotiations between him and the Globe’s attorneys were standard procedures and that he never felt attorneys were trying to influence him in a way that violated the law.

“It is not uncommon for defense counsel to discuss with me the community standard, the public image aspects of our decisions and how decisions might reflect upon me as an elected official,” Thomas wrote.

In his letter to White, Thomas said he was unsure why White was pursuing the matter years after the events took place.

“It is hard to fathom what has prompted you to contact me at this point in time,” Thomas wrote to White. “I respectfully decline to conduct an investigation or to seek a special prosecutor.”

Jefferson County District Attorney Pam Russell said Thursday that White’s claims are baseless. She said her office has filed a motion to have White’s demands dismissed.

She said the outcome of Lewis’ case was appropriate given the crime and that there was never coercion or threats by Globe attorneys.

“Dave would not succumb to pressure,” Russell said.

White has had his share of trouble with Jefferson County before.

In October 2001, White was sentenced to 30 days in jail by a Jefferson County judge after he ignored two subpoenas in a Ramsey -related trial.

White was subpoenaed in May and June 2001 to appear as a witness in a criminal bribery trial. He said he chose not to appear because he didn’t think he had any relevant testimony to give.

The case involved lawyer Thomas Miller, who was accused of trying to buy a copy of the ransom note found in the house. Miller was acquitted.

Thomas isn’t the only district attorney White is currently after.

Last month, White filed an affidavit claiming that Boulder County District Attorney Mary Keenan has failed to prosecute whoever leaked information from grand jury proceedings in the summer of 1999 that centered around JonBenet’s murder.

White filed a motion demanding a court hearing at which Keenan would have to explain why she refused to prosecute or cite any person who violated grand jury secrecy laws.

White has been involved in the Ramsey case since day one. He was with John Ramsey when JonBenet’s body was found in the wine cellar of the Ramsey home, and at first he supported John and Patsy Ramsey ’s claims of innocence.

At some point, White became convinced of their guilt and started a campaign to have the governor remove former District Attorney Alex Hunter and appoint an independent prosecutor to the case.

In 2000, White’s name surfaced again when a California woman came forward with allegations of ritualistic sexual abuse by a group that included people associated with the murder case, including Fleet White.

Since police said the woman’s claims weren’t connected to the Ramsey case, White has been on a rampage against the media, seeking criminal libel charges against outlets who told the woman’s story.

Two special prosecutors were appointed in the case, but neither filed charges.

Last month, White petitioned the Boulder District Court to turn over records of court proceedings in the investigation as he appeals the special prosecutor’s decision.

White has refused to speak to reporters and did not return phone calls made to his house Thursday.

Travis Henry can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 326, or by e-mail at thenry@times-call.com.