The Colorado Independent,2020
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Weeks after Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton took office this past January he drew a flurry of questions about a lucrative consulting contract he made with SonomaWest Holdings, the Northern California real-estate firm he headed for years as CEO. Stapleton arranged to work for up to 250 hours per year with Sonoma for $150,000 while acting as Colorado's treasurer. Colorado AOL reporter Sandra Fish discovered the arrangement by looking at paperwork SonomaWest had to file as a public company, and government watchdogs took comfort from the fact that those public records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission or SEC would continue to provide some level of transparency. Now Stapleton's family finance business, Denver-based Stapleton Acquisitions Company, is proposing to buy out shareholders of SonomaWest (pdf) and take the company private. That would mean no more filing with the SEC. It would mean no more public records from which to monitor Stapleton's moonlighting as a consultant.
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Tuesday that it obtained an emergency court order to freeze millions of dollars in the assets of Golden, Colorado-resident Richard Dalton, who the SEC alleges has been running a Bernie Madoff-style Ponzi scheme. As head of Universal Consulting Resources LLC, Dalton allegedly told investors he was using their money as leverage to secure loans to "purchase and sell bank notes" to finance a diamond trading business. It was the kind of convoluted program that only friends and family could sell and, according to the SEC, it sold well by word of mouth alone.
It's not quite on par with the salacious Minerals Management Services sex, drugs and oil scandal that rocked the Denver-based office last fall, but a new episode of employees behaving badly has tarred another federal agency.