A former Colorado judge pleaded guilty today to obstructing a federal task force investigation of a large-scale drug trafficking organization.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Jason R. Dunn of the District of Colorado and Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider of the FBI’s Denver Field Office made the announcement.
Ryan Kamada, 41, of Windsor, Colorado, pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of proceedings before a department or agency of the United States before U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez of the District of Colorado. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 4, 2020, before Judge Martinez.
According to admissions Kamada made in connection with his guilty plea, beginning in or around October 2018, a federal task force was investigating an international 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 had known the drug trafficker since high school.
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. But 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 Chacon modified his own behavior in order 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 Kamada to the drug trafficker, Chacon destroyed records of his communications with the drug trafficker in order 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.
The FBI’s Denver Field Office is investigating 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 are prosecuting the case.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.