CONEJOS — County Commissioner John Sandoval, 53, will resign as part of a plea agreement entered into Thursday, March 28, on charges stemming from a Statewide Grand Jury indictment on three tax complaints and one count of theft over $5,000, all class 5 felonies.
Appearing before District Judge A. Bruce Jones, Sandoval pleaded guilty to Perjury in the Second Degree, an added count amounting to a first class misdemeanor. The felonies were dismissed.
A special meeting was held this past Friday to consider Sandoval’s next steps. He didn’t resign, but said he would do so at the regular meeting this week.
Although he has been a member of the Conejos Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) for more than 18 years, Sandoval’s charges relate to a period between June 7, 2012 and Oct. 15, 2016.
As a condition of the plea, Sandoval initialed court papers indicating he would resign from the office of County Commissioner, as well as any other public offices me might hold, and would never seek out or run for any public office of trust or profit, elected appointed or otherwise, in Colorado due to a provision in the State Constitution that makes him ineligible.
Article XII §4:
“No person hereafter convicted of embezzlement of public moneys, bribery, perjury, solicitation of bribery, or subornation of perjury, shall be eligible to the general assembly or capable of holding any office of trust or profit in this state.
Sandoval acknowledged to the court that the conditions were part of the bargained-for agreement and initialed his agreement.
Sentencing was set at 8:30 a.m. May 9 and Sandoval is expected to have completed the terms of his plea agreement.
He paid $20,000 Thursday as partial payment of the total restitution owed. Court papers state $13,947 would be paid by the Colorado Department of Revenue to the town of Antonito for sales taxes owed by him and his former business for the 2012-2015 tax years.
The remaining balance of $6,053 would then cover a portion of the total sales tax owed by Sandoval and his former business to the State of Colorado for the same four-year period.
Since that balance would not cover the total amount due, the court ordered $4,055 to be paid at the time of sentencing at part of an assessment of up to $23,000 in taxes, penalties and fees, to be paid by the sentencing date.
Sandoval would be permitted to present the prosecution team with evidence that might affect the amount of total restitution owed for evasion of income tax.
If he remits the full amount of the assessed restitution and resigns from office by the sentencing date, he will serve no time. If he fails to do either, sentencing could be open to the court, including up to 18 months in the Denver County Jail.
Prosecutor Robert Shapiro, first assistant attorney general, was open to post-conviction probation, if any, would ne unsupervised.
The Attorney General’s office made no promises that the defendant’s presented evidence would be persuasive and this, it might not impact or lower the amount of restitution assessed for the income tax obligation.
He was indicted by the grand jury June 1, 2018 and advised June 14 for the offenses of evasion of state taxes, a class 5 felony, failure to collect for or pay over any tax, a class 5 felony, one count of filing a false tax return, a class 5 felony and theft between $5,000 and $20,000, also a class 5 felony. He posted $5,000 surety bond.
Appearing March 28 for disposition hearing, he pleaded guilty to class 1 misdemeanor second-degree perjury.
Evidence was developed by the grand jury alleging Sandoval earned additional income in the State of Colorado during the 2012-2015 tax years that was not accounted for and/or declared when his state income tax returns were prepared and filed under the penalties of perjury with the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR). He also allegedly failed to collect, account for or pay over any tax authorized by state statute.
According to the indictment, the sources of Sandoval's additional, undeclared income included, but was not limited to, various checks that he received from hay baling work or hay sales he conducted and from a restaurant in Antonito that he owned and operated and, as owner, was required to collect and remit state and local sales to the Colorado Department of Revenue.
Sandoval no longer owns the business.
Further evidence reported by the grand jury alleged Sandoval did not fully collect, account for and/or remit the proper sales tax from his restaurant, based on the record of transactions that was obtained by the Grand Jury, permitting a comparison of the actual sales that occurred at his business versus what was reported.
For example, investigators identified a bank account for the business owned and operated by Sandoval that showed bank deposits greater than the amounts listed as gross sales on the reported sales tax returns.
Count three alleged Sandoval filed a false tax return and count four alleged felony theft.
The indictment states, in the end, a reasonable inference could be drawn that sales tax funds, in excess of $5,000.00 but less than $20,000.00, from the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 tax years, were supposed to be held in trust by Sandoval and payable to both the State of Colorado and the town of Antonito were taken and converted by Sandoval instead of being remitted to the designated recipients.
Sandoval originally offered to write a check for $20,000 to the state in exchange for dismissal and reported claims revenue agents refused. On March 28, that amount was accepted and more money was requested.