Former Colorado Judge Sentenced for Obstructing Federal Investigation of Drug Trafficking Organization
A former Colorado state court judge was sentenced Wednesday in the District of Colorado to a year and one day in prison for obstructing a federal task force investigation of a large-scale cocaine trafficking organization.
Ryan Kamada, 42, of Windsor, pleaded guilty on June 30, 2020. According to court documents, beginning in or around October 2018, a federal task force was investigating a drug trafficking organization that was distributing large quantities of cocaine throughout northern Colorado. One of the members of the organization was a drug trafficker who lived in Greeley, Colorado. Kamada learned about the investigation in his official capacity as a judge and then disclosed details of the investigation to a friend, who then tipped off the target individual. Kamada had known the drug trafficker since high school.
“By leaking the existence of a search warrant to help his close friend avoid possible criminal exposure, Ryan Kamada abused the power of his judicial position and violated the trust that the people of Colorado placed in him,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This prosecution confirms that no person – even a judge – is above the law.”
“Public officials charged with upholding the law must be held to the same standard by which they judge others,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Matt Kirsch for the District of Colorado. “Former Judge Kamada has been held properly accountable for his breach of that public trust.”
“The FBI has a solemn responsibility to investigate allegations of public corruption and the abuse of power by any public servant,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider of the FBI’s Denver Field Office. “The actions of Ryan Kamada were not only illegal, but they also interfered with a federal investigation and undermined public trust in our judicial system. This sentence highlights the commitment of the FBI and our partners to root out corruption. FBI Denver thanks the Greeley Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their dedication throughout this investigation.”
Beginning in January 2019, Kamada served as a District Court Judge of the 19th Judicial District of Colorado. While serving as the “on call” judge one evening in April 2019, Kamada received a phone call from a task force officer who was seeking a search warrant related to the investigation into the drug trafficker. The task force officer pointed out to Kamada that he was associated with the drug trafficker on social media. As a result, Kamada recused himself from the case. Early the next morning, Kamada called his best friend, Geoffrey Chacon, who had also known the drug trafficker since childhood. Kamada told Chacon that law enforcement was “watching” the drug trafficker’s house, car and phone, and instructed Chacon to “stay away” from the drug trafficker. Chacon subsequently informed the drug trafficker about the warrant and modified Chacon’s own behavior to avoid law enforcement attention.
The information that Chacon provided to the drug trafficker also caused the drug trafficker to change his pattern of conduct and substantially interfered with the task force’s investigation. After Chacon relayed the information that he received from the judge to the drug trafficker, Chacon destroyed records of his communications with the drug trafficker to impair efforts by law enforcement to tie Chacon to the drug trafficker. In November 2019, Chacon pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of destruction of records with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation, and he is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 27.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Kirsch of the District of Colorado and Special Agent in Charge Michael H. Schneider of the FBI’s Denver Field Office made the announcement.
The FBI’s Denver Field Office investigated the case, with substantial assistance from the Greeley Police Department.
Trial Attorney John Taddei of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Fields of the District of Colorado prosecuted the case.