JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - The former second-highest ranking member of the Denver Sheriff's Department has been indicted on eight felony counts. One alleges that he stole 1,288 copies of Turbo Tax software from metro Denver Target stores and resold them on eBay for about $60,325.
A Jefferson County grand jury indicted Michael Than, 46, on one count of theft over $20,000, one count of attempted theft, three counts of filing a false tax return and three counts of tax evasion. Than, a Westminster resident, turned himself into police on April 25 and was released from jail that day after posting a $10,000 bond.
"It's always sobering if people in a position of public trust are involved in any instant that tends to diminish that trust," said First Judicial District Attorney Peter Weir.
The investigation offers a stunning glimpse into the secret life of the former sheriff's division chief, who was a high-rolling gambler at Ameristar Casino in Black Hawk.
The indictment says that from 2010 to 2012 Than was involved in gambling $233,675 at Ameristar -- money that could not be traced to "documented sources" of income and that was not reported on Than's state and federal incomes taxes.
When asked if gambling was the motive for the alleged thefts, Weir replied, "You have to draw your own conclusions on that. There is an indication that significant gambling is going on in Gilpin County."
The indictment also alleges that between Jan. 1, 2010 and April 16, 2013 Than stole 1,288 copies of Turbo Tax software from Target stores, and possibly other retailers, throughout the metro Denver area.
Than is accused of concealing the stolen Turbo Tax software packages in other merchandise, including large bags of dog food, a cooler and a padded package envelope. He then paid for the other merchandise -- but not the tax software.
Surveillance cameras captured Than placing Turbo Tax packages in his shopping cart at several Target stores, including some in Jefferson County, and leaving the stores without paying for the tax software, the indictment states.
The indictment says the scheme unraveled on Jan. 19, 2013, at the Target store at 10445 Reed St. in Westminster.
As Than was checking out of the store, an employee attempted to help him with a big bag of dog food when Than abruptly left the store, leaving the unpurchased items behind.
Store staffers inventoried the items Than left behind and found the six Turbo Tax packages stuffed in the dog food bag, the indictment says. The tax software in that incident was valued at $529.93.
The indictment alleges that after selling the stolen tax software on eBay, Than failed to report the profits on his state and federal income tax returns. Than is also accused of failing to report income he earned from tax preparation services he provided for people.
All the alleged crimes occurred while Than was chief of the Downtown Division. He was placed on investigative leave on Dec. 20 and immediately resigned.
Than oversaw the Downtown Denver Detention Center, court services and the civil process unit, according to the department's website.