The DA Dispatch
Office Updates from Your Denver DA

Combatting the Opioid Crisis


I was honored in April to speak at The University of Chicago Institute of Politics Speaker's Series event, “The Opioid Crisis Redux: What Can and Is Government Doing” along with, Director of National Drug Control Policy, Rahul Gupta and U.S. Representative Angie Craig of Minnesota. My esteemed colleagues and I spoke of the more than 100,000 American lives lost last year to opioid overdose, people who, as Director Gupta said, were our "family, friends, neighbors, teachers.”

 Denver District Attorney Beth McCann

The number of cases we file involving fentanyl - a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin or morphine - is just about doubling every year. My co-panelists and I agreed that to combat the opioid crises, we must go beyond the traditional response of incarceration. Progress on this issue will not come from a single solution, but from people working together to find innovative solutions.


Last year I supported the fentanyl law that gave prosecutors more tools to pursue dealers especially if someone dies after taking drugs from that dealer. This year, I supported Colorado’s good Samaritan law that encourages people to report an overdose emergency.


In March and April, we participated in three Denver Public High Schools parent student panel discussions about the dangers of fentanyl. Fentanyl is most commonly sold in little blue pills made to look like oxycotin. I advise young people never to take those little blue pills because they generally contain fentanyl. Fentanyl may be mixed or laced in drugs such as Xanax, marijuana and oxycontin. The tiniest amount of a fentanyl-laced Xanax or marijuana can lead to drug poisoning or death. Education is key to understanding the risk of fentanyl. When talking to your teen about fentanyl, suggest that they carry drug test strips and Narcan/Naloxone. The risk of this drug is too great to miss an opportunity to talk about prevention.

April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month


Denver officials turned out for the 9th year to support Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). April started with Mayor Hancock issuing a proclamation to commemorate SAAM. The proclamation cited our work along with the Denver Police Department, Denver Health and The Blue Bench. 

Our office members wear denim to support survivors of sexual assault

We also participated in Start By Believing Day, a national campaign to encourage victims of sexual assault to report their experience. During a press conference, Assistant DA Maggie Conboy spoke of how half of all women and one in three men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. The month wrapped up with many members of our office making a $5 donation to the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault to support Denim Day. Those who donated got to wear their denim to work and were a visible sign to victims that there is help.   

Members of our office joined with other Denver agencies and pledged to Start By Believing

The majority of sexual assaults are not reported to police, but we hope that through these efforts more victims will come forward to receive the help and support they need and so that we can hold offenders accountable.  

Grand Jury Indictment


In March, a Denver grand jury indicted 13 individuals on 255 felony counts for alleged crimes involving 113 victims after a multi-year investigation by RAVEN, the Regional Anti-Violence Enforcement Network. As a result, our office opened criminal cases against each individual.

 

According to the indictment, the individuals were members of a criminal street gang that identified itself as “2DS” (Too Damn Smooth, Too Damn Self-Made and/or Too Damn Styling). The group is accused of being responsible for 18 Denver-area shootings, two of which resulted in homicides. The defendants are charged with attempted homicide, aggravated motor vehicle theft, assault, menacing and robbery.

 

Denver 7: Denver grand jury indicts 13 alleged gang members on 255 criminal counts


“This is a very important development in our continuing efforts to keep the community safe from violent organized criminal activities and the investigation took a tremendous amount of work by members of my office as well as our law enforcement partners. I thank all our partner agencies.”



-Denver DA Beth McCann

2023 Legislative Session comes to a Close



Before adjourning, Colorado’s state legislators passed several bills that we are very happy to see become law. Chief Deputy DA Chris Curtis proposed a new law that creates equality for indecent exposure to a minor. It was already a felony offense to expose oneself to a minor online but a misdemeanor if it happened “in real life”. Now exposing oneself to a minor is a felony offense in Colorado regardless of how it occurs. 

Outside, looking up at the dome of the Colorado Capitol Building

Colorado’s State Capitol Dome

We supported five gun control bills that should help improve public safety. One raised the minimum age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21. Another established a three-day waiting period between buying a firearm and obtaining possession of it. An expanded “red flag law” bill also became law and expands the list of who can file for an extreme risk protection order to include district attorneys, teachers, doctors and others. The fourth makes it easier to sue the gun industry and the fifth bans the sale and possession of ghost guns which are un-serialized firearms. This bill also bans possession of a trigger mechanism that turns a semi-automatic gun into an automatic gun.

Protecting our Houses of Worship


In late May our office joined with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado; the Denver Police Department and the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service, Rocky Mountain Region to sponsor a training for Denver’s houses of worship. The Colorado Muslim Society hosted this interfaith event that was open to all. Law enforcement and faith-related security experts provided faith-based institutions with information about the threats of violence facing houses of worship.

 From left to right: DA Beth McCann; United States Attorney, District of Colorado, Cole Finegan; Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas and FBI Special Agent in Charge, Mark Michalek

The training included discussion of how to defend against an active shooter and responsive measures to counter potential risks. Jeremy Shaver, Senior Associate Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League and Hate Free Colorado also spoke. The evening included a panel of leaders from the Colorado Muslim Society, Flatirons Community Church and Har Shalom Synagogue. During the panel, DA McCann told attendees that the DA’s office has a special group of attorneys who investigate and prosecute hate crimes and she encouraged attendees to report these crimes when they happen. 


CBS4: Colorado faith communities join with law enforcement to learn safety




An Award-Winning Quarter


In March, DA McCann was honored to receive the Denver Sheriff Department’s Alvin J. LaCabe Jr. Award. The award is named for a prior Manager of Safety for Denver, one of Denver’s true civic leaders, who helped reform the discipline system for the police and sheriffs’ departments. It is given to a person outside the department whose actions or leadership positively changed the course or direction of the Denver Sheriff Department. Sheriffs play a critical role in making sure the courts can function effectively and that those who are incarcerated are treated fairly and humanely. The work of our office requires constant collaboration with the sheriffs.

DA McCann along with Sheriff Elias Diggins and Alvin “Al” LaCabe shows off the

Alvin J. LaCabe Jr. Award

In May, the Cold Case units of our office and the Denver Police Department received the prestigious DNA Hit of the Year Award from GTH DNA, an international authority on DNA database policy, legislation, and law. The award was given for the combined work of our offices in solving the cold-case murders of four women who died about 40 years ago. At the time of the homicides, the cases seemed unrelated, but thanks to DNA technology and genealogy the cases were all linked to one man, Joe Ervin. Justice was finally delivered to the families of Ervin’s victims and that really is the highest honor we can ever receive. 


Our Office Values: Integrity


One of our office values is ‘integrity’, which we define as: doing the right thing for the greater good at work and in life. We are proud of Chief Deputy DA Khoury Dillon who exemplifies this value. He believes “integrity is doing the right thing and should be the overriding force in every decision we make." Khoury is an excellent and very experienced trial attorney, a valued member of our team who has been with us for 20 years.



Originally, Khoury came to our office for trial experience and while still new, joined our office baseball team. Years later, it was fitting that when Major League Baseball players’ jerseys mysteriously started to disappear it was Khoury who prosecuted the person who was stealing the jerseys from DIA. The Giants manager told Khoury he could keep the team’s recovered jerseys; but Khoury explained that despite being a huge Giants fan, ethics prohibit him from accepting gifts. Today, the jerseys sit in the Denver PD property office.


Sports Illustrated: The Great MLB Jersey Caper


Cheif Deputy stands between Mayor Michael Hancock and DA Beth McCann in Office setting as he and the mayor hold the pin

Khoury receives his twenty-year-service pin from Mayor Hancock

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