Click here for audio file- Portion of an Oct. 6, 2000 conversation between informant Randall Smith and County Commissioner Ed Jones at Leonards Bar II. Smith, who was wearing a wire, was being recorded by the Colorado Springs police during an undercover drug buy.
RANDALL SMITH: Yeah, Im still on parole for another 30 days or so.
ED JONES: Are you?
SMITH: Yeah. Yeah, Im not doing any dope or nothing.
JONES: Yeah, thats good.
SMITH: Ive got a guy whos sending some down to the penitentiary.
JONES: Sending dope down? SMITH: His girlfriend smuggles it into the... JONES: Oh, really? SMITH: visitor room. But I aint fucking with it. (pause) JONES: What, what, whats going on? (unidentified woman speaks inaudibly in background) JONES: (inaudible) (laughs) I know one thing, theres not a dull moment around here.
Click here for audio file - Informant Randall Smith talking to police outside the bar after a drug buy that occurred on Oct. 6, 2000 Leonards Bar II.
Click here for audio file- Portion of an Oct. 28, 2002 Independent interview with former Deputy District Attorney Dave Foley.
County Commissioner Ed Jones, a Republican running for state Senate, watched at least one drug deal go down at a Colorado Springs bar where he was a regular patron, an informer told police two years ago.
"Ed sat right there and saw every bit of it," the informer, Randall Smith, told police after he allegedly observed the drug deal -- in the middle of a business day at Leonard's Bar II on East Platte Avenue -- during an undercover investigation in the fall of 2000. Smith's remark was recorded on a police surveillance audiotape, a copy of which was obtained by the Independent along with other tapes.
Moreover, the detective in charge of the investigation told prosecutors that Jones had been sitting with him and Smith on at least one occasion when the detective and Smith purchased cocaine openly across the bar, according to former Deputy District Attorney David Foley.
Foley, the lead prosecutor in the case, was concerned enough about the statements that he asked his boss, District Attorney Jeanne Smith, to review the information and determine whether charges should be filed against Jones. However, Foley says there was insufficient evidence to charge Jones.
Jones, who did not return calls seeking comment for this story, has publicly denied knowing anything about drug deals at Leonard's Bar II.
Right in front of him
As initially reported in the Independent on Oct. 10, Jones -- who is in a close state Senate race against Democrat Tony Marino -- was a regular patron at Leonard's Bar II and a close friend of the bar's owner, Leonard Carlo.
The now-closed notorious bar was littered with prominently displayed signs containing the words "f***" and "c***," which in 1999 were confiscated by state liquor agents, though Carlo went to court and won his signs back.
A subsequent drug investigation led to 20 criminal charges against Carlo, ranging from robbery to racketeering and drug distribution. However, Carlo pleaded guilty and was convicted of just one count of possessing cocaine. He denies having committed any crimes and accuses police and prosecutors of lying. Several of his bartenders, however, pleaded guilty to selling cocaine.
Police had launched the drug investigation after being tipped off by Randall Smith, a career criminal who was also a longtime friend of Jones. Randall Smith and an undercover detective, Richard "Dusty" DuVall, proceeded to purchase cocaine at the bar on several occasions.
As previously reported, DuVall told the Independent that Jones was in the bar on at least four of those occasions. DuVall declined to speculate publicly on whether Jones knew about the drug deals.
But Foley says DuVall told him Jones must have known.
"He told us that Ed Jones was sitting right there at the bar with him when the transaction took place," Foley said. "And we asked him if Ed Jones knew what was going on. He said, 'I don't know how he could not have known. It was right in front of him.'"
The smell test
Surveillance tapes from the investigation also indicate that on several occasions when Randall Smith and DuVall bought cocaine in the bar, Jones was in close proximity to Randall Smith, who wore a concealed transmitting device. In the audiotapes, Jones can be heard chatting with Randall Smith.
And following one alleged drug transaction, Randall Smith can be heard talking to police after he has left the bar. He describes how bar staff conducted a drug deal "while I was sitting there talking to Ed."
He continues, "Ed sat right there and saw every bit of it -- and says he don't know what's going on. Yeah, shit, Ed -- you ain't blind."
The undercover operation ended abruptly when police raided the bar on Oct. 20, 2000, after Carlo found out Randall Smith was an informer.
Jeanne Smith, the district attorney, spoke with Jones in her office two days after reviewing the surveillance tapes, Foley says. However, Foley says he doesn't know what the two talked about.
Smith, who has contributed $100 to Jones' election campaign, did not return phone calls requesting comment for this story. However, in a fax message, she denied having summoned Jones to her office to discuss the drug case.
Foley says he believes his former boss handled the case appropriately, adding that he, Jeanne Smith and another deputy district attorney all felt there was insufficient evidence to charge Jones.
Still, Foley says he doubts Jones' claims that he had no idea what was going on. "It didn't pass the smell test. I mean, he's saying he knew nothing about it, but the detective is telling us he's sitting right there."
Silence from the cop
Jeanne Smith rejected a request from the Independent to release surveillance tapes from the investigation, instead referring the request to the Colorado Springs Police Department. Police, in turn, also refused, arguing that the tapes "contain intelligence and security information" and that their release "would be contrary to the public interest." However, the newspaper was able to obtain the tapes elsewhere.
DuVall also did not respond to numerous requests for comment for this story. After the detective gave an interview for the Independent's Oct. 10 story, Jones' campaign manager, attorney Bob Gardner, called top police department officials and demanded an internal-affairs investigation against the detective to find out what he had told the newspaper.
The commander of the Internal Affairs division personally conducted an inquiry and reported his findings directly back to Gardner within two days.
Since then, DuVall has not returned calls from the newspaper.
Colorado Springs City Councilman Charles Wingate said this week that he's concerned the internal-affairs investigation may have intimidated DuVall. Wingate says he plans to discuss the matter with City Manager Lorne Kramer.
"It's not the city's responsibility to protect political candidates of any party," said Wingate, himself awaiting trial on charges of illegally using a city credit card. The public needs to be assured, Wingate said, "that an elected official is not going to get a pass because they're an elected official."
Police Chief Luis Velez, however, rejects the notion that DuVall has been gagged.
"Officers, they become nervous, certainly, when Internal Affairs knocks on their door," Velez said. However, he added, "I don't know why Dusty's not returning your calls. ... It's not because anybody here has told him, 'You are not to do that.'"
On taxpayers' time
Meanwhile, Jones' opponent, Tony Marino, says he's troubled by the latest information on Jones.
"If this is true, it speaks clearly to Mr. Jones' character," said Marino, a former undercover narcotics officer in Utah. "I find it reprehensible that an elected official would sit and watch a felony narcotics transaction go down without notifying somebody."
And a representative from a county government watchdog group finds it disconcerting that Jones was hanging out in a bar during daytime business hours.
The surveillance tapes indicate that Jones, who is paid $56,600 per year to serve as county commissioner, was at the bar at least twice on weekday afternoons, when drug deals took place.
"That's inappropriate," said Jim Alice Scott, of the Committee for Responsible County Government. "I would think [commissioners] would have better things to do on county time."
A spokeswoman for one of Jones' biggest backers, Gov. Bill Owens, refused to comment. Owens has reportedly given $20,000 to Jones' campaign and was, as of press time, scheduled to walk precincts with Jones this weekend.
"Without seeing the information, I won't comment on it," said Cinamon Watson, the governor's campaign spokeswoman.