A Douglas County jury found a former criminal investigator with the Colorado Department of Corrections guilty of one count of official oppression, a Class 2 misdemeanor.
The jury agreed with prosecutors that Gary Valko, 61, of Parker, subjected another person to mistreatment while he was purporting to act in an official capacity.
“Badge or no badge, nobody is above the law in our community,” said District Attorney George Brauchler. “The significant authority and broad discretion with which we entrust our law enforcement officers is to be used for the enforcement of our laws and public safety, not to assuage anger or to make a point to young, hourly employees doing their jobs.”
On Sept. 10, 2017, Valko was driving his department-issued Chevy Impala through the drive-thru window of a restaurant in Parker when he got into an argument with employees over a recent price increase. When Valko began cursing, one of the employees asked him to leave and said he would call the cops if he did not leave.
Valko told the employee “I am the police” and said he was with the FBI. Valko made a punching motion toward the employees and drove off.
Later two people who had been informed of the incident from the restaurant’s manager left the restaurant, and Valko followed them, activating his red and blue lights. The driver pulled over. Valko pulled up alongside in his vehicle in order to prove that he was actually was a law enforcement officer, He said, “What if I pulled a gun on you? What if I had shot you?”
Valko drove away and the people reported the incident by flagging down a Parker Police officer who was in the area.
“A law enforcement officer who abuses his authority creates a bad reputation not only for himself, but for all fellow law enforcement officers,” said Deputy District Attorney Matt Chaput, who prosecuted the case with Deputy District Attorney Gwenn Sandrock.
Sentencing is set for April 11. The presumptive sentencing range for a Class 2 misdemeanor is 3-12 months in jail and/or a fine of $250 – $1,000.