Former Montezuma County Undersheriff Robin Cronk is back behind bars, accused of using taxpayer money to purchase nearly $7,500 of personal items.
An 18-count indictment handed down by a Montezuma County grand jury includes 17 felony embezzlement charges and a lone charge of misdemeanor first-degree official misconduct. The indictments are the first in the history of the grand jury, established earlier this summer, to be delivered on charges related to public corruption.
“The community-based grand jury found probable cause to indict Mr. Cronk on 18 counts,” said District Attorney Will Furse. “My office will proceed with their findings.”
Records show Cronk used both a Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office credit card and checking account along with a sheriff’s office line of credit to pay for personal gunsmithing services, vehicle maintenance, holsters, generators, gun components, ammunition and firearms over a 26-month span. The indictment alleges an “ongoing pattern” of public corruption by Cronk, revealing his personal items charged to taxpayers totaled $7,415.36.
Furse said Cronk was arrested in Arizona on Thursday in connection to the 18-count indictment. As of press time, it was unknown whether Cronk had posted bail.
“Mr. Cronk, of course, is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Furse said.
Records show that Cronk’s personal spending spree started in February 2011 with two separate credit card purchases for two holsters, totaling just under $200. Records show his personal expenditures then halted for more than a year.
But in 2012, the indictment states, Cronk again splurged from May to July, purchasing three Honda generators using a sheriff’s office checking account. Purchased at Mesa Verde Motorsports, the generators totaled more than $2,300, and were all used by Cronk for his own personal use, according to court records.
Also in 2012, the indictment reveals that Cronk spent more than $600 for gunsmithing services on three separate occasions, purchased $56 of ammunition and spent nearly $400 for gun components in both 2012 and 2013. Records show Cronk made all of the purchases for “personal gain or benefit.”
This year, records shows Cronk spent nearly $300 on four separate occasions for vehicle maintenance and improvements for a Chevrolet Trailblazer and a Mercedes Benz, both personal vehicles belonging to Cronk.
Then, within weeks of, and in one instance just days before, Cronk’s forced resignation from the sheriff’s office in mid-June, the indictment alleges that he purchased two firearms totaling more than $3,550. Records show Cronk bought a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun in early May and a .308 semi-automatic rifle from a Miami, Fla., gun dealer on June 6.
Last month, Cronk was arrested on a single count of felony embezzlement and a single count of official misconduct. The charges stemmed from a Colorado Bureau of Investigation probe into credit card purchases. Cronk was scheduled to appear before Chief District Court Judge Doug Walker on Aug. 20 for an arraignment hearing on the original charges.
Count 13 in the grand jury indictment appears to mirror those existing charges, but Furse declined to comment on how the original case would ultimately be disposed.
Throughout the state’s initial investigation, Sheriff Dennis Spruell maintained that Cronk’s abuses of public funds were minor in nature, and that he personally approved any purchases that totaled more than $500. Spruell declined to comment on the grand jury indictments, but Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office administrative supervisor Lynda Carter did release a written statement.
“When faced with a jury of [Cronk’s] peers, and a very competent prosecutor, I feel justice for the people of Montezuma County will be done,” she penned.
Since joining the county’s top law enforcement agency six weeks ago to replace Cronk, Carter said she has worked closely with the sheriff to identify and prioritize areas of concern, and set plans in motion to fix them.
“We have both been proactive to get a handle on anything that is not up to standard,” she wrote.
Cronk was tapped as the Montezuma County undersheriff in 2011 when Spruell took command of the agency. Cronk reportedly worked in the sheriff’s office, first as a deputy, for a total of four-and-a-half years before resigning after the credit card scandal.