Plea deal expected at next hearing
Gunnison District Court Judge Steven Patrick granted a request by former Gunnison Watershed School District information technology director Cannon Leatherwood to relocate with his family from Gunnison to Arvada. The judge also agreed to delay a plea hearing that was scheduled for Wednesday, March 5.
Leatherwood’s defense attorney Forrest Lewis attended the hearing Tuesday by phone for health reasons and asked the court to delay hearing Leatherwood’s plea until he was able to attend in person.
Leatherwood faces eight felony counts of theft after school officials and Gunnison Police investigators found a steady stream of invoices paid by the school district for technology that was never provided by companies owned, or at least linked, to the district’s former IT director.
School officials have submitted a claim on a $500,000 insurance policy. However the charges Leatherwood is currently facing all relate to his connection with Colorado Computer Consultants, a company that billed the Gunnison Watershed School District for more than $411,000 for technology purchases between March 2010 and July 2013.
The district hired Leatherwood in 2006 and fired him before the allegations of theft were made public last August.
At the hearing, Judge Patrick indicated that Lewis and Deputy District Attorney Jessica Waggoner were in negotiations over a plea agreement and Lewis said, “I have every reason to believe there will be a plea deal at the next court date. If the deal falls through, the case would go to trial.”
Waggoner agreed to delay the hearing until March 26.
Judge Patrick granted the defense’s motion for modification of the bond, allowing Leatherwood to move to the Front Range on Friday, March 7, where, Lewis said, he can accept a position in the Denver Metro area and his wife will be in a better position to find a job to support the family’s two young children if Leatherwood isn’t able to work.
Leatherwood will still have to be tested for alcohol, which he’s had a dependency on in the past, and check in with police while he’s on the Front Range. The family’s house in Gunnison is on the market for sale.
“It makes sense to me that you can be in a place where you can earn money,” Patrick said.
But Leatherwood will be back in Gunnison District Court for the rescheduled plea hearing March 26.