Cronk pleads guilty to public corruption

Sheriff’s office questions if justice has been served; Cronk allowed to choose his jail

Former Montezuma County Undersheriff Robin Cronk Enlargephoto

Former Montezuma County Undersheriff Robin Cronk

Ex-Montezuma County Undersheriff Robin Cronk pleaded guilty Thursday to public corruption charges. He’ll be sentenced May 28.

Appearing before District Court Judge Todd Plewe, Cronk pleaded guilty Thursday, March 20, to a Class 5 felony charge of embezzlement and a Class 2 misdemeanor charge of first-degree official misconduct. Under the terms of the plea deal, Cronk is likely to be sentenced to 30 days in jail, ordered to pay restitution, forfeit weapons and serve six months of unsupervised probation. The deal also enables Cronk to choose where he’ll serve his jail term.

Unopposed to the defendant’s request to select the jail, Plewe insisted the sentence must be carried out behind bars – not in a halfway house or under home-monitored detention. Plewe also said he didn’t have to agree to the terms of the plea agreement,saying he could impose a longer jail sentence.

In a letter to Plewe, Montezuma County Undersheriff Lynda Carter said the sheriff’s office feels that “justice has been compromised” in the case, questioning how a “high-ranking former law enforcement officer” is held at a “lower standard than the average citizen.”

“A former law enforcement officer, who has shown no remorse, is still trying to use his past authority to gain favors from jails in order to secure a cake-walk sentence,” Carter wrote.

“To allow a defendant to choose his own jail could be a slippery slope in this jurisdiction,” the letter states.

Plewe ordered Cronk to inform the court of the jail site prior to sentencing at 9 a.m. on May 28.

District Attorney Will Furse responded to Carter’s letter, saying he believed the sentence was appropriate since Cronk received a felony conviction and would no longer be eligible to serve in law enforcement.

Furse added that he remains unsure of the sheriff’s motives and actual desires in the case.

“I find the sheriff’s comments to be contrary to his previously articulated desire to give Mr. Cronk a deferred judgement, a sentence that would not have the kind of lifetime consequences this plea provides and would have allowed for the felony to be dismissed after a period of time.”

Now a resident of Phoenix, Ariz., Cronk was indicted last August by a Montezuma County grand jury on 17 felony counts of embezzlement and a misdemeanor count of official misconduct. The alleged public corruption charges stem from his abuse of Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office financial accounts over a 26-month span starting in February 2011.

On Thursday, Cronk pleaded guilty to count 13 of the indictment, which alleges that he used a Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office credit card to purchase a performance chip for a Chevrolet Trailblazer. The maximum penalty for the offense is three years in jail followed by two years of probation.

In response to the crime, Carter also wrote that Cronk not only “used his position to steal,” but he also used his subordinates to “further his objectives of theft.”

Records show Cronk bilked taxpayers out of nearly $7,500 for personal gunsmithing services, vehicle maintenance, holsters, generators, gun components, ammunition and firearms.

Tapped as undersheriff in January 2011, Cronk was forced to resign the post in June 2013. He remains free on a $1,500 bond.

tbaker@cortezjournal.com