Exclusive: DA Wasn't Going To Prosecute Computer Theft Case

Manzanares Under Investigation After Laptop Was Found In His Home

7NEWS Investigators have learned that the district attorney and the state judicial department were originally not going to pursue charges in the theft of a state computer -- a computer that was found in the home of a former Denver city attorney.

Was the state court administrator and a deputy district attorney giving City Attorney Larry Manzanares preferential treatment or was this simply standard procedure for handling a theft case?

On Feb. 23, Manzanares explained in an interview with 7NEWS Investigator Tony Kovaleski that he bought the laptop from a stranger in the parking lot near the City and County Building. He said he had no idea that the computer was stolen and called his decision "foolish" and "not very smart."

When asked if there was any chance he took the computer out of the City and County Building, Manzanares replied, "I did not take this computer at all."

Three days before this interview, on Feb. 20, the attorney for the state court administrator -- the owner of the stolen computer -- made a statement to a Denver police detective saying, "After reviewing police reports and discussing the issue with the state court administrator, the branch's position is to ask that no prosecution take place at this time."

The next day, on Feb. 21, a deputy Denver district attorney declined to file charges in the case, according to information obtained from the Denver's District Attorney's Office. Later that day, Denver's assistant district attorney reviewed the information, saw that it involved Manzanares and determined that the case needed to go to a special prosecutor.

On Feb. 23, they filed the paperwork with the district court judge, seeking a special prosecutor.

Denver's deputy district attorney had originally declined to file charges because the stolen item was returned and the victim -- the state judicial branch -- had asked that charges not be filed at that time.

A spokesman for Denver's district attorney said it's fairly common practice in a theft case but when Assistant District Attorney Chuck Lepley learned this case involved Denver's city attorney, he determined that it must be reviewed by a special prosecutor because of a potential conflict of interest by the Denver Police Department and the Denver district attorney.

State Court Administrator Gerald Marroney said Manzanares received no preferential treatment, and his office was forced to make a determination of charges before it completed its own internal investigation.

"Before we make an accusation like this I want to have some information," Marroney said, "a little bit more than I had from what the Denver Police Department had done."

The special prosecutor in Jefferson County continues to investigate the criminal issues and no date or deadline for a decision has been set.

The computer was stolen in mid-January from a storage room in Denver District Court, where Manzanares was a former judge.

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