Sentenced to jail, probation, and community service
by Adam Broderick
Former Gunnison County deputy attorney Art Trezise will serve 90 days in the Gunnison County jail, work 200 hours of community service and spend up to four years on supervised probation as part of a plea agreement accepted Wednesday, April 29 by Trezise, the visiting “senior judge”, and the special prosecutor.
In an almost three-hour sentencing hearing Judge W.T. Ruckriegle accepted the guilty plea to the class five felony of being an accessory to a crime and laid out the punishment.
While the prosecution and defense requested no jail time in the original plea agreement proposal, Judge Ruckriegle told Trezise that he felt there was a need for incarceration.
“There was a breach of public trust, a danger to officers, a clear destruction of evidence,” Ruckriegle said. “You were a law educated person and for some reason still did not understand, even though you know more than most people and were aware of the legal consequences. I don’t think you will be doing this or any other criminal behavior again. But the court is to impose a sentence that provides some level of restoration and healing for victims.”
Trezise had signed a document admitting that last spring he “rendered assistance to Kendall Collins by warning Rodney Teem with intent to hinder, delay or prevent the discovery, detention, apprehension, prosecution, conviction and/or punishment of such person for the commission of a crime knowing that the person being assisted was suspected of the crime of Cultivation of Marijuana, a class 3 drug felony.”
Collins was being investigated for drugging and sexually assaulting a local woman in CB South last May. As part of the investigation it came to light Collins might have a major marijuana grow operation in his home. When police executed the search warrant they found evidence of a grow, but the plants were obviously newly planted flowers and vegetables.
Investigators built a case that it was Trezise who had tipped off Collins about the upcoming search. In March, Trezise pled guilty to one felony charge as part of a proposed agreement and he was immediately fired from his county job. The sexual assault case against Collins was dropped April 16 at the request of the district attorney.
On Wednesday, the victim of the alleged sexual assault spoke in court and said she had been severely impacted as a result of the action by Trezise.
Special prosecutor Thom Le Doux described the ramifications of Trezise losing his job and license to practice law as a “significant consequence” and did not feel incarceration was appropriate.
An emotional Trezise addressed the court and spectators in a full courtroom on Wednesday. “I know that I compromised the marijuana investigation. It is something I will wrestle with the rest of my life. It was a moment of total and complete lack of judgment, which I should have known better about. The shame over this whole thing, the loss of what I’ve worked 20 years for. I was a competent attorney, I was dedicated…” Trezise said, fighting back tears.
Ruckriegle concluded that, “This is a difficult decision in a difficult case.”
Trezise is to report to the Gunnison County Jail Monday morning at 8:30 after his kids go to school.