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Colorado police officer charged with selling marijuana that he confiscated on duty

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Posted at 3:59 PM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 17:59:25-05

ROCKY FORD, Colo. — A Colorado police officer accused of trying to sell marijuana that he confiscated in December has been charged in the case, officials said Thursday.

James Lopez, 56, faces charges of distribution of a controlled substance and official misconduct, according to court records.

Lopez had seized marijuana from an investigation in the Rocky Ford area, southeast of Pueblo. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said Lopez later brought about a pound of the marijuana to a home of an acquaintance and packaged it for distribution.

Lopez was placed on administrative leave from the police department in January. The 16th Judicial District Attorney's Office filed charges against Lopez on Tuesday. A summons was issued for Lopez and he is expected to appear in court in La Junta on March 30.

The small town's police department has seen controversy in recent years. In 2016, ex-cop James Ashby was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his 2014 on-duty killing of a man. Relatives said Ashby followed Jack Jacquez to his home and shot him in the back after a struggle over a skateboard on Oct. 12, 2014.

The incident was a catalyst for a 2016 state law that overhauled the hiring process for police officers, according to the Denver Post.