DENVER - After a series of CALL7 investigations exposing catastrophic failures in the Department of Corrections parole division, the head of parole was placed on administrative leave Wednesday while an internal audit is conducted.
Yet even as Tim Hand was being shown the door, DOC was booking him a plane ticket to an out-of-state national parole commission meeting.
CALL7 Investigator Theresa Marchetta obtained a copy of Hand's itinerary. His flight to Indianapolis was booked at 5:23 p.m. -- just one hour after acting DOC Director Rodger Werholtz sent an email announcing Hand's paid leave of absence.
Hand serves on the rules committee for the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision, an organization that ensures inter-state cooperation on the travel or relocation of prisoners. He'll attend the Indianapolis meeting on June 12.
Hand didn't return our calls Thursday.
But he spoke with Marchetta just a few weeks ago about gaps in the parole division's response when parolee Evan Ebel absconded and went on a multi-state rampage that involved the shooting deaths of DOC Director Tom Clements and Denver tech professional Nate Leon and the wounding of a Texas sheriff's deputy. Ebel was fatally shot during a wild car chase and shootout with Texas lawmen.
"There's a lot of internal review that's ongoing, but we've also brought in an external review with the National Institute of Corrections," Hand told Marchetta. "And it's our belief with this technical assistance, they come in and we really start to drill down on some of the questions you're raising right now."
According to DOC documents, Ebel cut off his ankle monitor and his parole officer didn’t check in on him for six days. By then, Leon and Clements were dead.
The CALL7 Investigators found a lack of accountability and an absence of policies requiring parole officers to respond to tamper alerts from ankle bracelets. Then, Tuesday, a parole officer blew the whistle on the department issuing expired ballistic vests and other mismanagement during an interview with Marchetta.
DOC spokeswoman Alison Morgan says Hand will remain on paid leave until the audit of his division is completed.
So, why is he still conducting business out of state?
"As we noted yesterday, Tim Hand was placed on paid administrative leave. It is at the discretion of the appointing authority to place an individual on paid leave for purposes deemed for the good of the DOC and the state," Morgan said in a statement Thursday.
"Likewise, the appointing authority may determine at any time an individual is on paid administrative leave to utilize that individual in an official capacity. Mr. Hand will represent the Department in his capacity as Interstate Compact Commissioner."
This could come down to semantics.
Hand is a contract employee, so it's not clear which DOC policy applies. But a written DOC policy regarding employee administrative leave states that, while "work time may include authorized time spent to attend work-related conferences, seminars, and official functions during the work day. These activities are not deemed administrative leave by the DOC."