Former Police Chief Sentenced for Crimes
Former Leadville Police Chief Michael Robert Leake, 52, of Aurora, was sentenced on Friday, Feb. 23 to 15 years probation and other restitution, for two felony counts related to pawning firearms (from 2013- 2015). Leake stole from the Leadville Police Department’s evidence room while he was Chief of Police. Leake pleaded guilty Dec. 1, 2017, to: Theft (a Class Four Felony), and Providing False Information to a Pawnbroker (a Class Six Felony).
The following report was released by the office of District Attorney Bruce Brown, who represents Colorado’s Fifth Judicial District which includes Leadville and Lake County.
Leake’s scheme involved controlling the evidence room exclusively, ensuring no one else under his command could monitor or remove items. He would then take the firearms to pawn shops in the Denver area, claiming he was the lawful owner. Several of the guns he pawned had also been purchased by the City of Leadville for use by the police department.
Friday’s sentencing occurred in the District Court of Lake County before the Honorable Judge Charles R. Greenacre. In addition to the probation, Leake was ordered to pay $25K in restitution (to the City of Leadville), perform 200 hours of community service, and 90 days in jail for each charge concurrent to the sentence he is currently serving in Arapahoe County for his third impaired driving offense.
Leake, who despite his years as a police officer, was a sloppy criminal. In 2015, he also deposited a check made out to “M&J Ammunition Wholesale”, intended to look like a police force ammunition purchase, into his personal account—an amount of $2,262. When the City of Leadville noticed the oddity, the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office began investigating with the assistance of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, leading to a search of Leake’s Leadville apartment where city-owned weapons were found, including pawn shop receipts.
Many of those weapons were recovered and returned to the Leadville PD’s armory. “Leake’s actions constitute a major breach of trust within our small mountain community,” said Bruce Brown, 5th Judicial District Attorney. “And for what, a few dollars? The cost that continues to be experienced as we rebuild public trust is incalculable. Most police officers perform a fantastic service and deserve our appreciation. Defendant Leake deserves prison,” Brown added.
The District Attorney asked the court at sentencing for Leake to serve four years in the DOC. 2 Colorado continues to improve oversight of police financial records. In 2017’s a law was enacted (House Bill 17-1313), which requires public disclosure of detailed police records of seizures and forfeited proceed expenditures by law enforcement agencies in the state. If an agency seizes property, they must file reports twice a year, and failure to report that can subject a law enforcement agency to monetary penalties.
In July, those first reports will be due from all law enforcement agencies. According to a June 24, 2016, Huffington Post article called, ‘Here’s How Often Cops Are Arrested For Breaking The Laws They’re Paid To Uphold’, a new study finds that hundreds of law officers are arrested each year—across the country—for crimes they are supposed to be preventing. Per a study at Bowling Green State University, researchers identified 6,724 cases involving the arrests of 5,545 officers between 2005-2011. The categories of crimes were broken down by: sex-related; alcohol-related; violence-related; and, profit-motivated. Leake’s crimes appear to be profit-motivated, and the research showed 1,592 cases of 1,396 officers.
“We may never know what causes someone to cross that line,” said Brown. But, we do know that no one is ever above the law.”