Former Chaffee County Emergency Manager Phil Graham received fines totaling $3,500 Wednesday as the penalty for his conviction on a felony and two misdemeanors in a jury trial and a guilty plea for a misdemeanor.
Eleventh Judicial District Chief Judge Patrick Murphy imposed the fines after hearing from two character witnesses for Graham, Mark Boley of the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze.
Both Boley and Spezze spoke highly of Graham in a professional capacity.
Spezze characterized Graham’s work as Chaffee County emergency manager as “as good as it gets.”
Boley said he considered Graham a good friend after four years of working with him.
Graham’s attorney, Randy Canney, told the court that Graham had already lost his job following his conviction on charges of impersonating a peace officer, first-degree official misconduct and false reporting to authorities in a case involving a road rage incident from March 15, 2018.
Deputy District Attorney Rex Kindall said as a former and current law enforcement officer, he found Graham’s action offensive, and such actions gave law enforcement a bad reputation.
He called for a sentence of two years probation, appropriate community service, prohibition of operating any vehicle with lights and a siren and 30 days jail time.
Canney said of his client, “he blew it” and made a mistake.
He told the court Graham had already voluntarily taken a road rage class and reminded the court of character letters provided by the fire chiefs of Salida and Buena Vista.
He said jail time was “way beyond what was called for,” and the nature of Graham’s work is already public service.
Graham chose to speak on his own behalf, saying he appreciated the compassion and professionalism of the court.
He said he was sorry to have made a mistake and was not afraid to own his mistake.
Murphy said he did not think jail was appropriate since the public did not need protection from Graham, and he gave a similar reason for not imposing probation.
Murphy said this was not a common type of offense, and he did not recall ever having such a case before as a judge or an attorney.
He gave Graham a $3,000 fine for the three charges of which he was convicted in the June jury trial and $500 for the other charge of providing false information in order to misrepresent identification in a firearms background check, a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Another case involving a separate road rage incident was dismissed.