Former "Sheriff of the Year" jailed in Colorado sex-for-drugs case

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 03, 2012 9:03 PM
Former "Sheriff of the Year" jailed in Colorado sex-for-drugs case

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - A retired Colorado lawman once named national "Sheriff of the Year" was sentenced on Tuesday to serve 30 days in the jail that bears his name after he pleaded guilty to trading drugs for sex with male prostitutes, prosecutors said.

Former Arapahoe County Sheriff Patrick Sullivan, 69, was immediately taken into custody after pleading guilty in Arapahoe District Court to felony drug possession and misdemeanor solicitation of a prostitute, the Colorado Attorney General's Office said in a statement.

Prosecutors from the attorney general's office were appointed to the case because of Sullivan's longtime connections with law enforcement in Arapahoe County, where the county jail was named after him when he retired in 2002.

Sullivan was arrested last November after two police informants said the former high-profile lawman had exchanged methamphetamine for sex with them in the past, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in the case.

Police set up a sting operation and arrested Sullivan after he was recorded handing over drugs to one of the informants, the affidavit said.

Sullivan read a brief statement in court apologizing for his behavior, according to Rob McCallum, spokesman for the Office of the State Court Administrator, who attended the hearing.

Sullivan's attorney told the judge that Sullivan had long struggled with his sexuality, McCallum said.

Known as a hard-charging, by-the-book cop who was sheriff for 18 years, Sullivan served on national police task forces, even testifying before Congress on law enforcement issues.

The National Sheriffs' Association had feted Sullivan in 2001 with its "Sheriff of the Year" award.

The association's executive director, Aaron Kennard, called the case "disheartening and devastating" given Sullivan's reputation in the law enforcement community.

Sullivan's lawyer could not be reached for comment.

(Editing by Mary Slosson, Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)