Lawyer Complaints

Over in Colorado; A Judge Tips Off Drug Dealer, is Disbarred, Now Plea Dealin’ As He Faces Jail

Ex Judge in Colorado, Ryan Kamada pleaded guilty to obstructing a federal drug investigation, has been disbarred.

LIT UPDATE

Sunday 7th Feb, 2021

LIT pulled the docket today as it seemed like this criminal case was percolating too long. We’re correct – Kamada is being given extended vacation from criminal prosecution – which we’ve seen before…and if you read the recent LIT article on the state of the Colorado Judiciary, well…

ORDER as to Ryan Kamada (1) granting the Defendant’s Unopposed Motion to Continue Sentencing 21 . The Defendant’s Motion is GRANTED for good cause shown. The Sentencing Hearing set for May 19, 2021 is hereby VACATED and RESET to July 28, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom A801. Counsel are directed to this Court’s Revised Practice Standards (as revised effective December 1, 2020) with regard to the deadlines for filing sentencing-related motions. SO ORDERED by Judge William J. Martinez

U.S. District Court – District of Colorado
District of Colorado (Denver)
CRIMINAL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 1:20-cr-00174-WJM-1

Case title: USA v. Kamada Date Filed: 06/10/2020

 

Date Filed # Docket Text
01/15/2021 25 OBJECTION/RESPONSE to Presentence Report 19 by USA as to Ryan Kamada (Fields, Bryan) (Entered: 01/15/2021)
01/15/2021 24 RESPONSE by Ryan Kamada To Government’s Objections and Amendments to Presentence Investigation Report [ECF No. 20] (Bender, Michael) (Entered: 01/15/2021)
12/17/2020 23 ORDER as to Ryan Kamada (1) granting the Defendant’s Unopposed Motion to Continue Sentencing 21 . The Defendant’s Motion is GRANTED for good cause shown. The Sentencing Hearing set for May 19, 2021 is hereby VACATED and RESET to July 28, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom A801. Counsel are directed to this Court’s Revised Practice Standards (as revised effective December 1, 2020) with regard to the deadlines for filing sentencing-related motions. SO ORDERED by Judge William J. Martinez on 12/16/2020. Text Only Entry (wjmsec, ) (Entered: 12/17/2020)
12/16/2020 22 ORDER as to Ryan Kamada (1): This matter is before the Court on the Defendant’s Objection to Presentence Report for not Including a Mitigating Role Adjustment for Defendant Kamada as a Minimal Participant under U.S.S.G. Section 3B1.2(a) 19 and the Government’s Objections and Amendments to Presentence Investigation Report 20 . The Government and the Defendant are DIRECTED to file a Response to each other’s Objections on or before January 15, 2021. No Replies will be permitted. SO ORDERED by Judge William J. Martinez on 12/16/2020. Text Only Entry (wjmsec, ) (Entered: 12/16/2020)
12/16/2020 21 Unopposed MOTION to Continue Sentencing by Ryan Kamada. (Bender, Michael) (Entered: 12/16/2020)
12/15/2020 20 RESTRICTED DOCUMENT – Level 2: as to Ryan Kamada. (Attachments: # 1 Letter from WCDTF, # 2 Letter from Greeley PD, # 3 Letter from Chief Judge James Hartmann, # 4 Letter from Judge Shannon Lyons, # 5 Text Messages)(Fields, Bryan) (Entered: 12/15/2020)
12/15/2020 19 OBJECTION/RESPONSE to Presentence Report by Ryan Kamada (Bender, Michael) (Entered: 12/15/2020)
12/14/2020 18 ORDER as to Ryan Kamada (1): This matter is before the Court sua sponte. Due to a conflict in the Court’s calendar, the Sentencing Hearing set for February 17, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. is hereby VACATED and RESET to May 19, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom A801. Counsel are directed to this Court’s Revised Practice Standards with regard to the deadlines for filing sentencing-related motions. SO ORDERED by Judge William J. Martinez on 12/14/2020. Text Only Entry (wjmsec, ) (Entered: 12/14/2020)
12/01/2020 17 RESTRICTED PRESENTENCE REPORT first disclosure for attorney review as to Ryan Kamada (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A)(jeasl, ) (Entered: 12/01/2020)
09/21/2020 16 ORDER as to Ryan Kamada (1): This matter is before the Court sua sponte. Due to a conflict in the Court’s calendar, the Sentencing Hearing set for December 4, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. is hereby VACATED and RESET to February 17, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom A801. Counsel are directed to this Court’s Revised Practice Standards with regard to the deadlines for filing sentencing-related motions. SO ORDERED by Judge William J. Martinez on 9/21/2020. Text Only Entry (wjmsec, ) (Entered: 09/21/2020)
06/30/2020 15 STATEMENT IN ADVANCE OF PLEA OF GUILTY by Defendant Ryan Kamada. (afran) (Entered: 06/30/2020)
06/30/2020 14 PLEA AGREEMENT as to Ryan Kamada. (afran) (Entered: 06/30/2020)
06/30/2020 13 COURTROOM MINUTES for Change of Plea Hearing as to Ryan Kamada held before Judge William J. Martinez on 6/30/2020. Defendant entered a plea of guilty to Count 1 of the Information. Sentencing set for 12/4/2020 at 2:00 PM in Courtroom A801 before Judge William J. Martinez. Court Reporter: Mary George. (afran) (Entered: 06/30/2020)
06/24/2020 11 ORDER as to Ryan Kamada (1): At the Change of Plea Hearing set for June 30, 2020, the parties should be prepared to discuss whether the Defendant should remain on pretrial release pending imposition of his sentence, or whether his bond should be revoked and he should be remanded to the custody of the USMS at the conclusion of the Change of Plea Hearing. It is FURTHER ORDERED that if the Government will be recommending immediate remand of the Defendant, it is DIRECTED to notify Chambers of its intent to do so as soon as practicable. SO ORDERED by Judge William J. Martinez on 6/24/2020. Text Only Entry (wjmsec, ) (Entered: 06/24/2020)
06/12/2020 10 ORDER Setting Change of Plea Hearing as to Ryan Kamada (1): Pursuant to the Notice of Disposition 4 filed by the Defendant, a Change of Plea Hearing is hereby set for June 30, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. in Courtroom A801. Based on the record before it the Court FINDS that Defendant’s Change of Plea Hearing cannot be delayed without serious harm to the interests of justice. Accordingly, pursuant to the CARES Act, the Court ORDERS that Defendant’s Change of Plea Hearing set for June 30, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. be conducted by video teleconference. The parties will receive an email from this Court’s Courtroom Deputy, Ms. Anna Frank, with instructions for participating in the videoconference. Counsel for the parties shall e-mail to Chambers courtesy copies of the “Statement by Defendant In Advance of Change of Plea” and the “Plea Agreement and Statement of Facts” no later than 12:00 p.m. on June 23, 2020. The plea documents that are submitted at the Change of Plea Hearing must have the Defendant’s original wet ink signature, or a photocopy or facsimile of same. An “s/ signature” of the Defendant will NOT be accepted. SO ORDERED by Judge William J. Martinez on 6/12/2020. Text Only Entry (wjmsec, ) (Entered: 06/12/2020)
06/11/2020 4 NOTICE of Disposition by Ryan Kamada (Funk, T.) (Entered: 06/11/2020)
06/10/2020 9 ORDER Setting Conditions of Release by Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter on 6/10/2020. (slibi, ) (Entered: 06/11/2020)
06/10/2020 8 Appearance Bond Entered as to Ryan Kamada personal recognizance, (slibi, ) (Entered: 06/11/2020)
06/10/2020 7 COURTROOOM MINUTES for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter: Initial Appearance and Arraignment as to Ryan Kamada held on 6/10/2020. Defendant present in person. Defendant advised. Plea of NOT GUILTY entered by defendant. Discovery memorandum is waived. Defendant is released on a personal recognizance bond with conditions. Defendant shall surrender his passport to the Clerk’s Office. Defendant advised of conditions of bond and remanded for processing and release. Counsel is directed to chambers. (Total time: 27 minutes, Hearing time: 2:03 – 2:30 p.m.)

APPEARANCES: Bryan Fields and John Taddei on behalf of the Government, Michael Bender and Markus Funk on behalf of the defendant, Pat Hanley on behalf of probation. FTR: Courtroom A1002. (slibi, ) Text Only Entry (Entered: 06/11/2020)

06/10/2020 6 Passport Receipt as to Ryan Kamada.Surrender of passport re Bond Conditions; Passport Number 469977523 issued by USA. (alave, ) (Entered: 06/11/2020)
06/10/2020 5 WAIVER OF INDICTMENT by Ryan Kamada by Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter on 06/10/2020. (rvill, ) (Entered: 06/11/2020)

As ex-judge faces possible prison time, those who appeared in his Greeley courtroom wonder why his judgements stand

Ryan Kamada pleaded guilty to obstructing a federal drug investigation, has been disbarred

Originally Published; Oct. 3, 2020 | Republished by LIT; Oct 11, 2020

For most of her life, Amanda Harmon believed the courts were fair and just.

Save for a few traffic-related instances, Harmon had rarely dealt with legal issues. A courtroom didn’t give her anxiety. It didn’t give her fear.

But her whole perception of justice changed after her time in Judge Ryan Kamada’s Greeley courtroom.

“I knew right away he was crooked,” Harmon said. “There was something corrupt and vile about him.”

Her suspicions were confirmed, she said, when the former Weld County District Court judge pleaded guilty last year to obstructing a federal investigation into a large-scale cocaine trafficking organization.

A disciplinary investigation showed Kamada had also maintained long-running text chains with his friends, during which he disparaged those appearing in his court, mocked attorneys and joked about the safety of children as he decided on custody arrangements.

Kamada resigned from the bench last year, was disbarred this summer and soon could face prison time.

But while Kamada is no longer a judge, his rulings continue to be felt by Harmon and a host of other families, who are now expressing dismay, alleging their cases were tainted by the disgraced judge as they wonder how they can make their voices heard.

“All of these decisions are fruit of a poisoned tree,” Harmon said.

Investigation into Kamada

Kamada’s downfall began in October 2018, when a federal task force began investigating a drug trafficking organization that was distributing large amounts of cocaine throughout northern Colorado, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado. Investigators realized that Kamada had known one of the drug traffickers since high school.

Just one month earlier, former Gov. John Hickenlooper had appointed Kamada to replace Elizabeth Strobel as a district court judge in Weld County.

In April 2019, Kamada received a call from a task force officer seeking a search warrant as part of an investigation into a suspected drug trafficker named Alberta Loya, according to the former judge’s admission of misconduct during his review before the Colorado Supreme Court. The officer noted that Kamada was friends with Loya on Facebook, prompting the judge to recuse himself from the case.

But the next morning, Kamada called his best friend, an assistant middle school principal named Geoffrey Chacon, who also grew up with Loya, investigators said. Kamada warned Chacon that authorities were following Loya and that his friend should stay away from him.

Chacon then notified Loya about the warrant, and changed his own behavior “in order to avoid law enforcement attention,” federal prosecutors said.

In August 2019, Kamada resigned from the bench. Two months later, Chacon pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of destruction of records with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation.

Loya was indicted on 21 counts related to drug trafficking activity, and pleaded guilty to felony counts of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute a controlled substance and conspiracy to launder money. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in June.

Also in June, Kamada pleaded guilty to obstructing the federal investigation, and in August he was disbarred for violating eight different rules of professional and judicial conduct. He’s scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on Dec. 4, and could face between 12 and 41 months in prison, according to his plea agreement.

John Gleason, who represented Kamada during his disciplinary review process, told The Denver Post that “everything I’ve heard about him is that he was a great lawyer and great judge who simply made a mistake, and he’s paid dearly for it.”

Kamada, through his criminal defense attorney, declined to comment.

But during the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel’s investigation into his misconduct, new details emerged about Kamada’s behavior during his time on the bench.

As a magistrate judge, Kamada would routinely text his friends information about people and cases in his courtroom, according to the stipulation filed with the Colorado Supreme Court, which deals with attorney discipline.

In one September 2016 exchange, a friend asked the judge to look up information on an individual.

That person, Kamada said, “wasn’t convicted of the sex assault but he was on other charges and ended up in (expletive) prison man … Oh yeah. He was (expletive) a 14-year-old and giving her cocaine. Don’t say anything man,” according transcripts of the text in the stipulation.

In a December 2016 group text, Kamada talked about a former client, saying, “I did her custody (expletive) and she is one strange cat. If that kid lives I’ll be shocked.”

Soon after beginning his role as a district court judge in January 2019, Kamada was presiding over a divorce proceeding, which included an allocation of parental rights.

Kamada texted a photo of the divorce papers, telling his friends that he was “going to grant this today so she is free game tomorrow night.”

Fighting for new judgements

When Amy Barton heard these allegations, it confirmed her gut feeling that something just wasn’t right in Kamada’s courtroom.

She and her ex-husband appeared before Kamada four years ago for a child custody case and “the whole time in court, (Kamada) was picking his fingernails and you could tell he wasn’t paying attention,” Barton said. “He was completely checked out.”

For Barton and others who appeared before the judge, word of his indictment and disbarment served as a modicum of good news — “karma finally bit him in the (expletive),” she said.

But when several people appealed to get Kamada’s judgements vacated or their cases reheard, they were denied.

“It seems like the courts are trying to sweep it under the rug,” Harmon said.

While Kamada’s actions may be well-deserving of removal from the bench or disbarment, that does not mean that everything he touched gets to be relitigated, said Eli Wald, a professor and legal ethics scholar at the University of Denver’ Sturm College of Law.

“The thing we worry about most is the integrity of the proceedings and compliance with the law and perception of law and justice,” Wald said. “Unless there’s anything in the removal proceedings that causes us to doubt the integrity of the proceedings, the mere removal (of a judge) should not cause us to worry about revisiting every case.”

This feels like a miscarriage of justice, Barton and Harmon said. And it has both of them, along with others who dealt with Kamada, questioning their belief in the entire judicial system.

“It’s disheartening knowing this man was appointed to a position that is supposed to uphold ethics and be honorable, and he’s doing such skeezy stuff,” Barton said.

That hasn’t stopped a group from organizing to raise awareness. A group of about 15 parents who had Kamada preside over their cases started a Facebook group, with people talking about a filing a lawsuit or protesting in front of the courthouse. The court may not rehear their cases. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to be silent.

“It’s always strength in numbers,” Barton said. “If five of us say we want change, they can ignore us. But if we get hundreds, then they have to listen.”

People v. Ryan L. Kamada. 20PDJ057. August 31, 2020.

 

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ conditional admission of misconduct and disbarred Ryan L. Kamada (attorney registration number 36984). The disbarment took effect August 31, 2020.

Kamada violated several Rules of Professional Conduct and Judicial Conduct while serving first as a county magistrate and then as a district court judge.

While Kamada served as a magistrate, he purchased marijuana from a friend on multiple occasions.

He also looked up information on a third party’s conviction for the same friend.

Over a group text chain, Kamada disclosed information about a former client and her case.

He discussed with his friends several cases over which he presided, and he made disparaging remarks about a lawyer who appeared before him.

Kamada also emailed his friends photographs of his work area that included a computer screen showing case numbers, litigants’ names, events, and document titles.

As a district court judge, Kamada discussed with his friends cases over which he presided, emailed photographs he took of parties and court documents, and attempted to look up case information for a friend.

When Kamada reviewed a warrant request by the joint drug task force, the law enforcement officer noted that Kamada was connected to members of the warrant subject’s social media network. The officer took the warrant to the next judge on the on-call list.

Kamada discussed the warrant with a friend, who then informed the warrant subject.

The friend asked Kamada for updates on the investigation, and Kamada fabricated information in an attempt to convince his friend to avoid the warrant subject.

Kamada pleaded guilty to the offense of obstruction of proceedings before a federal department or agency in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1505 for his actions related to the warrant.

Through this conduct, Kamada violated Colo. RPC 1.9(c)(2) (a lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not use information relating to the representation except as permitted or required by the Colorado Rules  of  Professional  Conduct);

Colo.  RPC 8.4(b) (it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects);

Colo. RPC 8.4(d) (it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice);

Colo. C.J.C. Rule 1.1(A) (a judge shall comply with the law, including the Code of Judicial Conduct);

Colo. C.J.C. Rule 1.2 (a judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety);

Colo. C.J.C. Rule 1.3 (a judge shall not abuse the prestige of the judicial office to advance the personal or economic interests of the judge or others, or allow others to do so);

Colo. C.J.C. Rule 2.9 (a judge shall not engage or consider ex parte communications except as allowed  by the Code of Judicial Conduct or otherwise authorized by law);

and Colo. C.J.C. Rule 2.10 (a judge shall refrain from making public and nonpublic statements that interfere with or are inconsistent with the fair and impartial administration of justice).

The case file is public per C.R.C.P. 251.31.

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Colorado

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Former Colorado Judge Pleads Guilty To Obstructing Task Force Investigation Into Large-Scale Cocaine Trafficking Organization

DENVER – United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn announced today that a former Colorado state district court judge, Ryan Kamada, age 41, of Windsor, Colorado, pleaded guilty to obstructing a federal task force investigation of a large-scale cocaine trafficking organization.

Kamada learned about the investigation in his official capacity as a judge and then disclosed details of the investigation to a friend, who then tipped off the target individual.

Joining U.S. Attorney Dunn in this announcement is Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider of the FBI’s Denver Field Office.

Kamada pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of proceedings before a department or agency of the United States.  The plea was entered before U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez.  A sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 4, 2020.

According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement,  beginning in or around October 2018, a federal task force was investigating a 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 modified Chacon’s 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 the judge 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. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Fields of the District of Colorado and Trial Attorney John Taddei of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section (PIN) are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado.  Related court documents can be found on PACER by searching for Case Number 20-cr-174.

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.

Topic(s):
Public Corruption
Component(s):
Contact:
Jeff Dorschner Spokesman, Public Affairs Officer U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Colorado 303-454-0243 direct; 303-489-2047 cell
Press Release Number:
Case Number 20-cr-174
Over in Colorado; A Judge Tips Off Drug Dealer, is Disbarred, Now Plea Dealin’ As He Faces Jail
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