Some Colorado Springs City Council candidates in the April 2 election have faced restraining orders, financial struggles or both.
The Gazette searched El Paso County and 4th Judicial District court filings and other records for cases involving the 11 city council candidates, vying for three at-large seats, and the four mayoral candidates.
The following was found during background checks for council candidates Randy Tuck, Regina English, Tony Gioia, Wayne Williams, and Gordon Klingenschmitt and mayoral candidates Lawrence Martinez and Juliette Parker. The rest of the candidates did not have noteworthy local criminal or civil records, The Gazette found.
Tuck, retired after a more than 30-year career in the construction industry, has been taken to court by collections agencies and other companies more than a dozen times in the past decade. Since 2010, judgments or default judgments have been entered against him for debts totaling more than $30,000, according to court records. All of those cases are now closed; however, six of the judgments, worth more than $10,000 total, remain “unsatisfied,” records show.
Tuck said he’s still working on paying some of the debts.
Two surgeries left him partially immobile and disabled after a work-related injury crushed several discs in his spine sometime before 2013, he said. His family lost a car, nearly lost their home, and “cleared out” their savings account. Bills continued to pile up as he dealt with ongoing health issues, he said.
“When you’re disabled and income is fixed, you have to meet your obligations however you can. Sometimes decisions made are based on what your ability and current situation happen to be at the time,” he said in an email, adding that it would be unfair to expect him to have a “spotless past” given the accident and other obligations he’s had.
The Colorado Department of Revenue also issued distraint warrants, allowing the seizure of property to pay off a debt, against him in 2011 and 2014 for a total of about $8,000 in delinquent taxes, according to court records. The 2014 distraint warrant, for about $100, might have been a late fee, Tuck said. His accountant is still disputing the 2011 case because the taxes due are “incorrect,” he said.
Aurora Federal Savings Bank filed a foreclosure against Tuck and his wife on their Colorado Springs home in July 2012. The foreclosure was withdrawn about five months later, according to the El Paso County Public Trustee’s website. Tuck attributed the foreclosure filing to an error by the bank. He and his wife refinanced their home loan with a new company, and that company paid off the $200,000 they owed, he said.
In 1997, the mother of a 17-year-old-boy sought a restraining order against Tuck for her son. She alleged that Tuck, the father of one of her son’s classmates, made false statements to police about her son, which led to the teenager being wrongfully charged with witness intimidation. Tuck forced her son to lie down on his property in 1996, put a shotgun to his head, and made “racial derogatory remarks” in 1996, she wrote in a court filing.
Tuck said the teenager was associated with a gang and had threatened to beat up his son. While he did “detain” the teenager with a gun, he denied pointing the weapon at his head, he said.
“This person came onto our property and threatened harm to my son and myself,” Tuck said, adding that he had the right to protect himself and his home.
The restraining order was retaliation by the teenager’s mother, who found out several days later that Tuck was going to seek charges against her son after a bullet was shot through the front window of Tuck’s home, he said.
The protection order was never vacated, court records show.
“I knew all of this was public record, it didn’t matter to me. I am interested in making sure that there is a strong effort to make certain that there are new faces and ideas coming to our City Council,” Tuck said.
A woman had a protection order against English after she alleged in a court filing that English and several other people had assaulted her in September 2016. The woman, who has a child with one of English’s sons, had come to pick up her child when English called her demeaning names and slapped her, according to the complaint filed in 2016. Others then punched the woman’s face, kicked her head, pulled her hair and dragged her on the ground until English told them to stop, the woman claimed in the filing.
English, the founder of a nonprofit that serves at-risk youth, denied the allegations. She said that there was an altercation that day, and she and her family weren’t involved, but were in danger. The boyfriend of the woman who sought the protection order was also there, and when English refused to allow the child to go with the couple, he began shooting a gun, she said.
Charges were never filed against the woman, court records show. The Gazette could not confirm if her boyfriend was charged.
The incident resulted in English’s family being “wrongfully dragged through the courts for the last two years” and forced to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees, she said.
The protection order was never vacated.
“The system is so unbalanced, and it’s lopsided — and I will say against people of color, because that’s what it is,” English said. “I’ve never, ever been in any trouble in my life. Or been in any trouble since then. The Colorado judicial system is absolutely ridiculous. And something needs to be done.”
Army veteran and former El Paso County planning commissioner Tony Gioia also has had financial difficulties. In 2014, Gioia’s home was under foreclosure with a loan amount of more than $175,000 outstanding.
“I had been laid off at my previous job, this was still during the recession,” Gioia said. “I was unemployed for a little over a year. Finding work was difficult … but I managed to get a new job.”
After finding a new job, Gioia said he was able to make up overdue payments and retain ownership of his home.
“I don’t have anything left that is outstanding,” he said.
The foreclosure and several other financial difficulties were learning experiences that now help him relate to many Colorado Springs residents, who faced similar challenges, Gioia said.
“I have actually gone through times in my life where I’ve had financial difficulty and worked my way out of it,” he said. “My wife and I have done quite well over the past five, six years. I got out of that situation and we have made a good life for ourselves.”
In the early 2000s, Gioia acknowledged he was taken to court for outstanding debts and had settlements against him for around $2,000. But, he added, those cases were years ago and he hasn’t faced collections for unpaid debts for quite some time.
Former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams is currently under investigation by the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission.
A complaint filed in October 2018, claims that Williams reimbursed himself $35 for continuing legal education in July 2018. He’s also accused of using a state credit card to pay for annual membership dues to the state Bar Association in July 2016, July 2017 and June 2018, totaling $1,270. In addition, Williams is accused of using his office’s discretionary fund to buy $2,427.86 worth of clothes between 2015 and 2017.
Those older complaints aren’t under investigation by the commission because the agency only reviews allegations that took place within a year of the complaint’s filing.
Williams denied any wrongdoing related to the investigation, calling it a campaign stunt stemming from the 2018 election. He noted that past secretaries of state received the same benefits.
“The office has a longstanding policy of paying bar dues,” Williams said. “And the stipulated facts say that we followed the office policy.”
Gordon Klingenschmitt was convicted of a misdemeanor in a Navy court-martial and involuntarily separated from the armed forces with an honorable discharge after he participated in a “religious observance” in 2006 in Lafayette Park across from the White House and said a prayer while in uniform.
Klingenschmitt noted that he “demanded” his own court-martial “to make them enforce the prayer policy, which they (the military) did, and the publicity inspired 300,000 petitions to Congress, which rescinded the same bad prayer policy for which I had been punished, so now other chaplains have freedom again to pray in Jesus’ name as I did not.”
Mayoral candidate Lawrence Martinez, who also ran for mayor in 2015, has a history of restraining orders being filed against him. Martinez said one order was the result of a heated domestic relationship rather than a physical altercation.
Martinez pleaded not guilty in 2001 to violating a restraining order obtained by his then-wife earlier that year, The Gazette previously reported. She filed for divorce weeks later.
In early 2002, Martinez said he was convicted of violating that restraining order, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to 24 months of probation, which ended in 2004. The restraining order was later dropped by the judge, Martinez said.
Martinez’s ex-wife obtained another restraining order against him in 2008, which was vacated that November.
Martinez told The Gazette he still sees his ex-wife and has a good relationship with her. Both orders were temporary and ultimately vacated, he said.
In 2014, mayoral candidate Juliette Parker was charged in U.S. District Court with larceny and trespassing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.
She said she was hiking and unaware she was on military property when she found old ammunition — including rifle bullets — on the ground and picked it up, intending to throw it away. She said that at home, one of the bullets spontaneously fired, leading police to respond.
She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor illegal burning and paid a $200 fine, she said.
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