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Lawyer-Trustee: Use Of Funds Approved By Finance Director

By James Carlson, LAW WEEK COLORADO

The Weld County trustee who resigned along with the state’s other nine governor-appointed public trustees says using the office’s money to cover her attorney registration fees and bar dues was approved by the county’s finance director.

In a statement originally released to the Greeley Tribuine and provided last week to Law Week, Susie Velasquez, who is also an attorney, said media portrayals of her actions as surreptitious are unfair.

“The public trustee is willing to cover the attorney registration expense if the county now thinks their former position was ill advised,” she wrote. “The office benefits from having an attorney serve as the public trustee and the public trustee does not use the attorney license to practice law at any other office.”

Her statement also addressed media accounts of using office money to cover the health benefits of her employees. Read her full statement here.

Velasquez was one of 10 public trustees appointed by the governor who resigned earlier this month amid questions about their spending. But she was one of only two trustees who are also attorneys. The other, Pueblo County trustee Nick Gradisar, moved the trustee’s office into a building owned by him and his law partners. Since 2007, Gradisar paid himself and his other partners $120,000 in rent from public money, according to the original story by the Denver Post.

For more analysis of ethical issues surrounding actions by the two lawyer-trustees, read the July 30 print edition of Law Week.

- James Carlson, JCarlson@CircuitMedia.com

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