Fremont County Clerk Katie Barr appeared in court for a bond hearing Wednesday afternoon. She will remain out of jail on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond unless she fails to show up for future court hearings.
Barr is charged with embezzling public funds, check fraud, harassment, and witness intimidation.
Per state statute, Barr will continue to collect her $72,500 salary unless she is recalled or convicted of a crime.
Commissioner Tim Payne tells News 5 Investigates a recall election may cost more money than her yearly salary.
In order to recall an elected official, a petition would have to be approved by the clerk and recorder. Since Barr is the current clerk and recorder, rules state that approval would have to come from a designated election official.
The recall process:
The recall petition must contain a statement of intent, not to exceed 200 words.
The petition can’t be circulated for more than 60 days and must be filed with the election official before Barr reaches her final six months in office. Since Barr’s term expires in January 2019, the petition must be turned in by July 18, 2018.
The recall must contain 3,581 valid signatures. Once signatures are verified, the election official will set an election date within 30-60 days.
The estimated recall cost would be around $80,000.
Chief Deputy Clerk Dotty Gardunio has taken over interim duties as clerk and recorder in Barr’s absence from work. It’s unclear whether Barr plans to return to work to finish her term.
County commissioners say they are waiting to meet with Barr and her attorney to discuss the matter.
Investigators say over a six year time period, Barr had written county checks to cover insufficient funds in her family’s personal and business bank accounts.
This investigation was launched after News 5 submitted an open records request seeking financial documents from the clerk’s office back in 2017. As a result of our inquiry, the county attorney discovered financial discrepancies and turned over records to the Cañon City Police Department and FBI.
After Barr found out about the investigation, she allegedly threatened county employees and DMV workers with termination and lawsuits if they spoke up.
“We’ll work through this,” Commissioner Tim Payne said. “I’m down there at the office everyday seeing how morale is and visiting with employees. It’s tough on them right now because they get blamed and it’s not their fault.”
A warrant for Barr’s arrest was issued last week and she voluntarily turned herself in to the Fremont County Jail.
Barr walked in and out of court Wednesday afternoon without speaking to the media.
She is due back in court April 18.
The open records request submitted to KOAA News 5 came from a story idea submitted by a viewer. If you have a problem or issue you’d like News 5 Investigates to look into, send an email to News5Investigates@KOAA.com.