GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX)—
There wasn’t a seat left in the house during Tina Peters’ sentencing hearing for a class three misdemeanor for obstruction of government operations stemming from an incident captured on police body cam at a Grand Junction bagel shop more than a year ago while DA investigators tried to execute a search warrant for Peters’ iPad.
The former clerk is sentenced to serve 120 hours of community service, four months of home detention with electronic monitoring, and pay more than $700 in court costs and restitution. Both sides claim victory after the prosecution wanted Peters behind bars. District Attorney Dan Rubinstein says, “I was surprised at how harsh the judge’s sentencing was. I was expecting between two and five days in jail.”
Defense Attorney Harvey Steinberg says, “I was surprised, and shocked actually, that the DA would ask for a jail sentence on a first-time offender who’s never been in trouble in her life on a de minimis crime who’s given so much to her own country including her own son.”
The courtroom was crammed with people like County Commissioner Cody Davis, Sheriff Todd Rowell, and it was filled with officers packing heat all sitting and standing behind the prosecution. Steinberg says it wasn’t for security. “I’m thrilled that even though they packed the courtroom, they had the sheriff there, the under sheriff, and it was an unmitigated attempt to put pressure on the judge.” Some officers told KREX they were there out of personal interest.
Rubinstein dropped another bomb in the courtroom showing videos of Peters on her talk show after she was handed a guilty verdict in March detailing the arrest, the charge, and Peters saying it was a “badge of honor. Steinberg says, “”The DA wanted to sentence her because of her political views. There was no other reason to play those other than to say, “she needs to go to jail because she is not marching to the beat of our drummer.””
Rubinstein defends his position, “When you are a public official you are held to a higher standard, and not only is she calling out law enforcement and disregarding court orders, disregarding law enforcement’s attempts at serving a court order, she’s going on national television, and bragging about how it’s a badge of honor that she did that.”
Tina Peters addressed the court reliving the incident and emotional scars that dig even deeper including beating lung cancer, her husband of 35 years being diagnosed with both Parkinson’s and Dementia, but worst of all burying her son a Navy Seal who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country. “In 67 years I have never had any legal issues. I dedicated myself to serving the people of Mesa County as Mesa County Clerk, and I accept the responsibility of my ignorance.”
At the end of the two-day trial in the People v Tina Peters, more questions remain to be answered, including what’s next. Rubinstein tells KREX a contempt trial is set for May based on whether Tina Peters lied to the court. Then Peters, the former county clerk, will face the People of the State of Colorado again in mid-October where she faces multiple felonies for her alleged involvement in elections violations.