Paid leave and defense costs for Fort Collins police Lt. James Broderick reach nearly $500,000

City pays defense with perjury charges dropped

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Since facing perjury charges related to the Tim Masters murder trial, Fort Collins Police Lt. James Broderick has been on paid administrative leave.

7NEWS found out the city of Fort Collins has paid Broderick more than $234,000  to stay off the job.

Masters was wrongly convicted for the 1987 murder of Peggy Hettrick, and Broderick was the lead investigator in that case, and in 2010 he was charged with lying in the trial.

Masters was arrested in 1998 in California. A year later, a jury convicted him of first-degree murder and he was sentenced to life in prison. Yet, DNA evidence from Hettrick's clothing and personal effects was re-examined in 2008 and did not match Masters' DNA, according to attorneys who filed Masters' appeal of his conviction.

Last month, special prosecutor, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, dropped all charges against Broderick.

"It is a sad day for justice in Colorado, in my opinion, but it is really something that I can't do more than what we've done. It's unfortunate," said Buck.

Buck told 7NEWS that he made the decision to drop the remaining charges after the Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal to restore two additional counts of perjury previously dismissed by the trial court.

"The two counts that were dismissed were critical to this case," he said.

One count involved an allegation that Broderick lied when he testified there was only one shoe print at the murder scene made by a Thom McCann shoe.  Buck said Masters didn't have Tom McCann shoes.

"That testimony was probably the most misleading part of the trial," Buck said. "It was something we considered perjury, and something the judge didn’t. And the Supreme Court decided not to take the issue on.”

The second count involved an allegation that Broderick lied about the color of spray paint on a bridge near the murder scene.

Broderick remains on paid leave. 7NEWS found that Broderick has received $234,131.36 in two-and-a-half years on leave.

7NEWS also discovered that Broderick's defense has cost the city of Fort Collins $256,975. A city spokeswoman said the defense is paid through the city’s risk management self-insurance fund.

"Needless to say, when I heard the numbers, I of course, was surprised," said Fort Collins Mayor Karen Weitkunat. "Those are the policies and procedures that were in place at the time this occurred."

Weitkunat was unaware of the dollar amounts until 7NEWS brought them to her attention.

"As with anything, there's always lessons learned from where you're coming from and where you're going and what happens in between, and we can learn," said Weitkunat.

7NEWS made repeated attempts to interview the city manager about the rising costs.

"The costs incurred by the City of Fort Collins are consistent with current provisions in the City Code and the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police. The findings from the internal affairs investigation will determine our next course of action. We do not have details available at this time because the investigation is currently in progress. We’re committed to a thorough and fair process, as well as a prompt conclusion," the city released in a statement to 7NEWS.

"I can't even a fathom a reason why it take this long to complete an investigation even if the criminal investigation was going on at the same time," said Metro State University business law professor Whitney Traylor. "The two years is absolutely unreasonable. Within the two years they should have completed the investigation, made a recommendation and either brought him back or terminated him."

7NEWS confirmed with the Weld County District Attorney's office that no one involved in the criminal case requested that the city of Fort Collins halt its internal investigation.

According to the Fort Collins police spokeswoman, the investigation was ongoing, but was awaiting information from the Weld County District Attorney. She said when the criminal charges were dropped, Fort Collins police were given access to documents and information not previously available that need to be examined.

Attempts by 7NEWS to reach Broderick were unsuccessful.