Cronk plea deal may hinge on whether he can pick jail


Ex-Montezuma County Undersheriff Robin Cronk might plead guilty to public-corruption charges if he's allowed to choose where he can serve his sentence.

Cronk's court-appointed defense counsel, Katharine Whitney, announced at a hearing last week that her client was considering a plea deal that would include a mandatory 30-day jail sentence. She said Cronk had requested that he choose a detention center other than the Montezuma County jail because of safety concerns with local authorities.

"There's a lot of adversity in this jurisdiction," Whitney said last Thursday.

District Court Judge Todd Plewe said he was unopposed to Cronk's request, but insisted the sentence be carried out behind bars - not in a halfway house or under home detention.

The proposed plea deal also would include six months of unsupervised probation. Whitney said restitution has been made.

Cronk's next hearing is set for 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 20. If a plea agreement is not reached, the case is set for jury trial starting April 21.

Cronk questioned the court on a number of issues, including his eligibility to serve as a trustee while incarcerated and whether he could be released early for good behavior.

Plewe said the court was unable to dictate what another jurisdiction might impose. Cronk was also advised he'd be responsible for all financial costs associated with his detention in an outside jurisdiction.

Last month, Plewe rejected a plea deal because it didn't include jail time.

In the new proposal, Cronk would plead guilty to a felony charge of embezzlement and a misdemeanor of official misconduct. With a felony conviction, he'd be unable to serve in law enforcement again.

Now a resident of Phoenix, Cronk was indicted in August by a Montezuma County grand jury on 17 felony counts of embezzlement and a misdemeanor count of official misconduct.

Records show Cronk bilked taxpayers out of nearly $7,500 for personal gunsmithing services, vehicle maintenance, holsters, generators, gun components, ammunition and firearms. He was forced to resign in June 2013 and is free on a $1,500 bond.