CBI report: New interim Denver Sheriff has criminal history

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DENVER -- Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced Monday that Denver Sheriff Gary Wilson has stepped down and will be replaced. But the man replacing him temporarily, Division Chief Elias Diggins has an issue of his own.

According to a Colorado Bureau of Investigation report, Elias Diggins was arrested in 1996 in Arapahoe County for a felony of attempting to influence a public servant. The CBI report says he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, a misdemeanor of false reporting.

Diggins, 41, told FOX31 Denver late Monday night he made a "mistake" when he was 23 years old. It was two years after he became a deputy. He says he did not try to bribe anyone, he just lied to a judge about having car insurance.

Diggins says he went to court after a car accident and told the judge he had car insurance when he did not have it. He says his sentence was community service and he had to pay for repairs to the other person's car.

He says he's worked to become a better person and that he hopes to make positive changes in the sheriff's office as interim sheriff.

Daelene Mix, a spokeswoman for the Manager of Safety says she doesn't know if Mayor Hancock was aware of the arrest record when he appointed Diggins earlier Monday.

At a news conference announcing Sheriff Wilson's departure earlier Monday, Hancock said the city will also conduct a "top-down" review of the department that has already been stained by accusations of abuse and misconduct.

Denver Sheriff Gary Wilson

Denver Sheriff Gary Wilson

Hancock was joined by Department of Safety Executive Director Stephanie O'Malley, independent monitor Nick Mitchell, City Attorney Scott Martinez and Sheriff's Department officials at the City and County Building in making the announcement.

"The public’s trust in its Sheriff Department has been shaken, and that is simply unacceptable," Mayor Hancock said. "The city is taking action to address several recent incidents and to rebuild confidence in the department by raising the bar of accountability among sheriff’s deputies, supervisors and command staff. The people of Denver deserve nothing less than a department they can be proud of."

Diggins will assume the duties of Sheriff on an interim basis.  Hancock says a national search will be conducted for a permanent Sheriff. The Denver sheriff is appointed and not elected.

The move comes after two veterans of the sheriff's office were put on leave last week after an incident with a detainee.

Video showed deputy Thomas Ford slugging a man in the face and apparently kicking him as he was being booked into the downtown detention center.

Officer William Lewis was also put on investigative leave with pay for “writing an inaccurate reported related to the inappropriate force incident,” a release from the city said.

“The incident occurred the evening of July 13, during the book-in process of a detainee,” the news release read. “Sheriff Gary Wilson has requested an investigation of criminal charges against the officer, which will be decided by the Denver District Attorney’s Office.”

Hancock has been under pressure after a string of high-profile excessive force incidents within the department.

"I've instructed the department to expedite discipline at the jail for outstanding incidents," Hancock said.

Four task forces made up of internal and external stakeholders, including safety experts and members of the community, are currently examining training, discipline, staff well-being and policy and procedures within the Sheriff Department, Hancock said.

The Office of Human Resources is also completing an assessment of operations and organization at the Sheriff Department.

Finally, Hancock said he has ordered a review of the scope and capacity of the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau to investigate complaints against deputies and other sworn personnel.

The Denver Sheriff's Department has about 890 employees. They operate the jails and a work-release facility and provide security for courts.

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32 comments

  • Weezer

    9News’ reporting makes it look like he’s just retiring…like a city press release. He’s getting dumped because the sheriff is a bafoon and has no management of his department…he lets the goons run the jail.

  • Anonymous

    Why are these police getting paid leaves for these crimes that they commit. When normal people would be getting criminal charges put against them.

  • Anonymous

    He was replaced by another goon, the dept cant have any respect or confidence in the new one either..but the old chief gets to keep his job? how is that comforting to the citizens?

  • Craig Smith

    Can the next permanent sheriff be someone that has the experience and credentials to run the dept or is being black a prereq? If so, there has to be a black guy that can do it…..If not, Im sure theres plenty of other races which could fill the bill. Yep, that will happen! haha

  • mc

    Can someone explain the Denver Sheriff’s dept? Typically, a Sheriff is elected, not a position that serves at the pleasure of a mayor.

  • Fred Luna

    Every couple of years the Sheriff”s dept ask if they can have arrest powers and they always get told no i cannot imagine the lawsuits that would arise.Just like the movie Walking tall they need to get rid of at least 50% of the force
    and bring in someone from the outside too damm out of control

  • Anonymous

    John Simonet must be so disappointed. These reprobates running the Sheriff’s Department are disgusting.

  • Weezer

    Bribe? Pull out a 50 dollar bill on a cop? In Chicago that’s reality, not in Colorado. Aunt Esther ought to give the mayor some upside and a can of whoopin’.

  • anonymous

    My concern is more this – If he is a Sheriff he carries a gun correct? Correct! My husband is a felon… it is another felony charge for him to possess a firearm. SO HOW THE HELL IF THIS MAN WAS CHARGED WITH A FELONY walking around carrying a weapon. And there is no time limit on it if you have a felony charge even 30 years ago today you can still NOT carry a gun. So much for your stricter background check laws. Only the citizens have to follow the law.

    • anonymous

      Nevermind I just seen that SOME HOW it was dropped from a felony to a misd. Anyone besides a cop and it would have stayed a felony

    • Out of Town

      Because he wasn’t convicted of a felony. Read the story, he plead it down to a lesser charge.

  • Anonymous

    If you are charged with a felony and you get it reduced for admitting to it you are basically still a felon. So now we have a felon in charge of other felons. I wonder why things never work out for the Denver Sheriff’s Dept.

  • Anonymous

    He lied, he lost his license, because he had no insurance, all still while a sheriff, he most likely drove a city vehicle with no license and never told his supervisor! Now he’s the boss?

  • Dave

    Character matters — it’s an indicator of future performance and ethics. When you PURPOSELY OVERLOOK MERIT when hiring/promoting the “right guy” (ie likely for racial quota reasons), your own character and decision-making skills will be questioned (rightfully so). That’s where the good mayor finds himself. This is the same mayor that frequented brothels prior to taking office. He’s incapable in making the important good decisions because he himself has his own character issues and skeletons in his closet.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone watch the press conference with Mayor Michael “Denver Sugar” Hancock? It’s apparent that the city is now just another failed “chocolate city”.

  • Out of Town

    Well, he was the lesser of the two evil’s the mayor had to pick from. His other choice of chiefs also has a felony conviction from a pyramid scam she was involved with. The sentence was deferred, but she plead guilty to it. Its time to sleep in the bed they’ve made.

    • Anonymous

      At least she took responsibility for what she did and didnt blame it on stress like every body else does, take responsibility for what you do and not pass it on as something else,

  • anonymous1

    Wilson ( a known gang member, ask to see his tats) thinks the problem inside the dept. is stress?? How about a workforce that has no respect for a corrupt, lawless administration?

  • disgrace

    Why should we believe he is a changed man? When an ordinary Joe, commits a crime they’ve came from a dysfunctional family, they can never be trusted ,and lock and throw away the key.
    Diggins cant control nothing he cant even perform his duties in a professional manner. He runs around the county jail puffing his chest out likes he is gods gift.
    you really expect us to believe the mayor didn’t know about his criminal history. I thought everybody was screened before they are given a position. Hmmm must have been a who you know, not what you know situation.

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