Arapahoe County (Colorado) district attorney Carol Chambers faces a three-day trial after she was accused of threatening a debt collection attorney with a grand jury investigation.
The threatened attorney, Jonathan Steiner, is a lawyer for Central Credit Corp, a Colorado-based collection agency. Steiner was in the process of trying to recoup bad checks allegedly written by Englewood City Councilwoman Laurett Barrentine, a member of Arapahoe County’s Republican Party. Barrentine claims to be the victim of identity theft, and not liable for the $320 dispute. Chambers thought she could be helpful.
The complaint states that in January, Chambers called Steiner, identified herself as the district attorney, and said she had received several complaints about his collection agency.
"I am looking at investigating this with the grand jury, and I’d like to hear your input first," Chambers said in the voice message.
"I thought I was being threatened with an indictment, with a grand jury investigation. Like I said, to this day I still feel threatened," Steiner testified in court Monday.
Chambers said earlier that the phone call was not a threat and when she mentioned a “grand jury investigation,” she was referring to various victims of identity theft and collection agencies that try to collect money from them. She said she was simply upset with the collections community — those who tried to collect debt from victims of identity theft — and not Steiner in particular.
"I’m saying ‘you’ in your representative capacity, not ‘you’ as Mr. Jonathan Steiner. I did not know that he was an independent attorney," Chambers said.
If found guilty of professional misconduct, Chambers could face discipline ranging from a reprimand to disbarment. The judge cannot remove her from her office but if she is disbared she could lose her job as Arapahoe County’s district attorney.