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Kristin Bantle testifies in her own defense Wednesday at the Routt County Justice Center. Bantle got emotional while
talking about working at the Steamboat Springs Police Department.

Kristin Bantle takes stand


By Matt Stensland
Wednesday, December 2, 2015

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#Steamboat Springs Kristin Bantle chose to testify in her own defense


Wednesday and could not tell a jury why she omitted information on a
questionnaire that included questions about her past drug use.
#"I have no idea," said Bantle, a former Steamboat Springs Police Department
officer who was fired in August.
#On Thursday, a jury will have to decide whether enough evidence was
presented to convict Bantle, who has been charged with attempt to influence a
public servant, specifically Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins.
In Other News: Donkey basketball at Steamboat Springs High School.
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#Disenchanted with the Steamboat Springs Police Department administration


and atmosphere, Bantle applied for a job with the Sheriff's Office in 2013. The
District Attorney's Office alleges Bantle lied about her past drug use during the
pre-screening process. The charge is a Class 4 felony.
#The jury is expected to reconvene at 9 a.m. Thursday, and closing arguments
will be made. The jury will also be read the elements of the charge before going
into deliberations.
#The definition of the charge is any person who attempts to influence any
public servant by means of deceit or by threat of violence or economic reprisal
against any person or property, with the intent thereby to alter or affect the
public servant's decision, vote, opinion, or action concerning any matter which
is to be considered or performed by him or the agency or body of which he is a
member.
#The key pieces of evidence presented at the trial were two questionnaires
Bantle was asked to complete as part of the hiring process at the Sheriff's
Office.
#The first 22-page questionnaire was given to Bantle after she was
conditionally offered the job. The questionnaire allowed the Sheriff's Office to
conduct their own background check.
#One of the questions asked was about Bantle's past drug use and listed the
names of drugs. She only circled marijuana and wrote that she had done it
about six times during college. Bantle did not write anything about the
marijuana edible she admitted consuming during the previous Christmas
holiday.
#"I was just in a hurry," Bantle testified. "I just circled one. Yeah I did it in
college. That's what I was thinking."

#District Attorney Brett Barkey asked Bantle whether she circled the word
cocaine.
#"No, I did not," Bantle said.
#Bantle admitted during testimony that she did cocaine while employed as a
Steamboat police officer during a vacation in Chicago. Bantle said that at the
time she was upset with her current employer.
#"I let my hair down and made a mistake," Bantle said.
#The second questionnaire Bantle was asked to fill out during the hiring
process was for a polygraph test on the Front Range.
#On that questionnaire, polygraph examiner Brent Sprague testified that
Bantle wrote about recent marijuana use, the cocaine use and to doing ecstasy
during college.
#When Sprague interviewed Bantle, she then admitted to also using acid and
mushrooms during college.
#That's when I thought about it, Bantle said to the jury when talking about
the belated disclosure.
#The video interview with Sprague was shown to jurors.
#Sprague asked Bantle whether she had declared to the Sheriff's Office that
she had used marijuana recently. Bantle said she reported using the marijuana
in college.
#"But you didn't tell them about last Christmas, no?" Sprague asked, while
laughing.
#In his report to the Sheriff's Office, Sprague testified that Bantle falsified
information regarding her use of illegal drugs.
#Bantle's attorney, Matt Tjosvold, asked Bantle why she disclosed the drugs
during the polygraph process.

#"Because I'm an honest person and thought it was important for the sheriff to
know," Bantle said.
#After not being hired by the Sheriff's Office, Bantle met with Undersheriff
Ray Birch. He recorded the interview with a recorder covered by a piece of
paper. The recording was played for the jurors.
#"I was naive," Bantle said to Birch. "I shouldn't have told the truth."
#The District Attorney's Office began investigating the allegations against
Bantle this summer after Wiggins tipped off Interim Police Chief Jerry
DeLong about Bantle's past cocaine use while being employed as a police
officer. Bantle also served for a period as the school resource officer.
#The District Attorney's Office was granted a court order for Bantle's preemployment file at the Sheriff's Office.
#The jurors watched a video recording of District Attorneys Office
investigator Doug Winters interviewing Bantle, who was accompanied by her
former attorney at the police department.
#During a Oct. 30 hearing, Tjosvold argued jurors should not be shown the
video, where Bantle is heard saying she did not know why she wrote having
used cocaine.
#Bantle admitted that she lied to Winters because she thought the preemployment information would be kept confidential.
#"I wasn't going to tell him," Bantle said. "That was my choice."
#To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email
mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland