Cronk appointed new attorney
Former undersheriff faces 17 embezzlement charges
A plea hearing for former Montezuma County Undersheriff Robin Cronk was delayed this week as a new court-appointed attorney was assigned to the case.
Formerly represented by public defender Amy Smith, Cronk was granted a new attorney last week when the Durango public defender’s office cited they had a former client conflict, court records reveal.
Cronk’s new attorney, a tab taxpayers still must pick up, is Katharine Whitney from the Office of Alternate Defense Counsel. During a scheduled plea hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 8, Whitney requested a continuance, saying she had yet to receive all of the files.
“I haven’t represented my client from the beginning of this case,” she told District Court Judge Todd Plewe.
Plewe granted the plea hearing continuance until 10 a.m. Nov. 21.
During the proceedings, Whitney indicated she was preparing to enter a second gag motion in the case, so Plewe took time to bring her up to speed. The court previously rejected a defense request for a gag order last month.
“You can provide another motion, but you need to provide something with it,” Plewe said.
In open court, Plewe told Whitney that his previous gag order rejection included a five-day window for the public defender’s office to file supplemental information about rumored Facebook posts from Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell.
“Nothing was filed,” Plewe said. “Personally, I deem that to be a waiver.”
A Montezuma County grand jury indicted Cronk on 17 counts of felony embezzlement charges in August. The alleged public corruption stems from his abuse of multiple Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office financial accounts for personal gunsmithing services, vehicle maintenance, holsters, generators, gun components, ammunition and firearms over a 26-month span starting in February 2011.
Records show Cronk left taxpayers holding a $7,415.36 bill for his personal items.
Cronk was tapped as undersheriff in January 2011. He was forced to resign the post in June because of the public corruption allegations. He is currently free on a $1,500 bond.
The OADC is funded to provide representation for indigent people in criminal and juvenile delinquency cases in which the public defender’s office determines that an ethical conflict of interest exists.
In fiscal year 2011, OADC paid nearly $20 million to some 400 private Colorado attorneys contracted by the agency as defense representatives in nearly 12,000 cases.
Whitney was appointed to represent Cronk on Oct. 3. She is allowed to bill taxpayers $65 per hour plus transportation costs.
Cronk was declared indigent and eligible to receive court-appointed counsel despite earning more than $6,000 a month as undersheriff.