Investigation of former commissioner stalls

Auto-theft case awaits prosecutor’s decision, state says

Launched in 2012, the vehicle-theft investigation of a former Montezuma County commissioner appears to be stuck in neutral.

Conducted by the Colorado State Patrol in December 2012, a three-day search of former county commissioner Larrie Rule’s home and business and subsequent state investigation now rests in the hands of District Attorney Will Furse. It’s unknown how Furse will proceed.

“The case is awaiting summation for a prosecutorial decision,” said Robert Force, director of the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA).

Described as a “long-standing case,” Force said he had no other information to reveal in connection to the investigation.

Reached via telephone this week, Rule told The Cortez Journal that he too knows very little on the status of the investigation. He assumes the case is still pending, but he has yet to be notified either way.

Previous media reports revealed an unknown eyewitness saw law enforcement seize two cement trucks from Rule’s home on the day of the search.

In May, the case was turned over to a special prosecutor in the 7th Judicial District in Montrose. No charges were ever filed.

“It was a political move, because I was a county commissioner,” Rule said of the initial investigation. “I had no idea the trucks were stolen.”

“They don’t have nothing,” Rule proclaimed. “Even the special prosecutor turned the case back over.”

Colorado State Patrol spokesperson Capt. Jeff Goodwin confirmed that the investigation has been returned to the 22nd Judicial District.

“The next step in the process, as I understand it, will be the selection of a grand jury,” said Goodwin.

No official timetable has been determined for impaneling a grand jury, and Furse declined to comment when asked if a grand jury would hear the case.

Rule, who served two terms as a Republican county commissioner, left office in January 2013 because of term limits. His wife, Pat DeGagne-Rule, resigned her position as head of the local Republican Party before a failed campaign attempt to obtain her husband’s commissioner post.

Beat Auto Theft Through Law Enforcement — the task force conducting the investigation — is made up of investigators for the Colorado State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies.

More than a dozen law enforcement vehicles, including the FBI, were reportedly seen at the Rules’ home during the search, which started on Dec. 12, 2012.

Former 22nd Judicial District Attorney Russell Wasley, Furse’s predecessor, reportedly sealed the case.

tbaker@cortezjournal.com