SAGUACHE COUNTY — Nobel Havens, running against incumbent Dan Warwick for county sheriff, was interviewed by Westword Oct. 3 following the free, alternative newspaper’s coverage of a suit settled in Rio Grande County naming him as a defendant.
Havens, a Rio Grande sheriff’s deputy at the time, denied he had anything to do with the actual events that led to the lawsuit. He also says his name does not appear on the settlement agreement because he had no actual involvement in the incident.
The Delgado family of Monte Vista settled with the Monte Vista Police Department and the Rio Grande Sheriff’s Office for $290,000 after the tazing, arrest and alleged manhandling of two male family members without cause. Havens denies he was a participant in these events.
In the Westword article, Havens also complained that while his lawsuit was mentioned in Westword and the Center Post-Dispatch, a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office by a former employee was scarcely mentioned in the local papers. Westword cites a four-paragraph article from the Aug. 2 Center Post-Dispatch on the settlement, calling it “a brief item.”
While Havens says he knows the mother and father of the plaintiff in the suit “very well” a source close to one of the plaintiff’s parents says one parent knows Havens only in a casual way.
Another source close to the sheriff’s office explained that the plaintiff was not injured on the job but had been ill for some time and was unable to work on a steady basis. So the settlement was basically an acknowledgement and resolution of the existing situation. Sheriff Warwick said the suit, settled outside of court, was not a workman’s compensation case.
The suit was mentioned once again in an Aug. 28 Center Post-Dispatch article addressing Facebook posts which appeared to be authored by supporters of Havens. The posts were made anonymously, accusing Sheriff Warwick of breaking campaign practice laws and accepting bribes. Although Havens accuses Warwick of “mudslinging” in the Westword article, no similar written examples of statements made against Havens by Warwick or his supporters have been discovered on Facebook or other social media forums.
In the Oct. 3 Westword article, Havens states he filed a report with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) accusing Warwick of “multiple violations of the law,” but CBI never acted on the report. He also accuses Warwick of foiling his father Chester Sr’s. attempt to run for sheriff against former Sheriff Mike Norris in 2010 by having him arrested for felony menacing.
Felony menacing case
In May of 2010, Nobel Havens and Joshua Baker of northern Saguache County were charged with five counts each of felony menacing. When Havens was arrested on the charges, Saguache deputies confiscated his concealed carry permit necessary for the bounty hunting business he was running at the time. The incident in question involved a group of people who appeared on Baker’s property regarding a parental custody issue, then refused to leave.
Hearings on the charges lasted for over five months before further investigation led to the discovery of additional evidence. Based largely on the new evidence, the district attorney’s office dismissed Havens’ felony menacing charges in January of 2011.
A Center Post-Dispatch article shows Chester Havens Sr. did not even announce his candidacy as a write-in candidate until July of 2010, although his intention to run may have been known before that time.
Following the dismissal of his felony menacing charges, Havens told this reporter: “I feel [Investigator] Mark Werts and [Sheriff] Norris are incompetent for letting it go this far. I feel Norris should be recalled.” No mention is made of Warwick.
At about the same time, Chester Havens Jr. said after his brother was arrested, Werts told him to go home and tell his father, Chester Havens, Sr. “We have your boy(s).”
In fact another Center Post-Dispatch article shows Warwick resigned his undersheriff position in October of 2010 while Havens’ case was still in the court system. Warwick had mentioned he was considering resigning some months previous to the actual event.
Deputy Trevor Hawkins was appointed as undersheriff following Warwick’s departure. It was Hawkins and Investigator Mark Werts who took statements from those alleging the felony menacing against Havens and his friend Joshua Baker. But neither Hawkins or Werts took statements from Baker, Nobel Havens or his brother, Chester Havens, Jr., who was present during the incident. Baker, his mother, Nobel Havens and Chester Havens Jr. all submitted statements after Baker and Havens’ arrest and release, but those statements were not attached to the initial incident report made available to the press.
The Westword article states that the reporter, Michael Roberts, tried to reach Sheriff Warwick for comment but Warwick never returned the call. Warwick examined his voicemails, logs and emails, also written messages and could find no record of a call placed by Roberts requesting to speak to him.
Recently (Independent) Saguache County commissioner’s candidate Lisa Rosen, a nearly 11-year Army veteran, challenged Havens’ quote in Westword that he is “retired from the Army and doesn’t need the [sheriff’s] job.” In a Facebook post she wrote: “His biography on his candidate page tells a different story… Seven years — three active [duty], four [National] Guard. Only a catastrophic lifelong medical injury can lead to a military retirement with those time in service numbers… It is not a lifetime of military experience from entry to retirement.”
Havens told Rosen he is “medically retired through the VA.” He accused Rosen of attacking him “only to attempt to get votes.” Rosen told Havens there is no way she can support him as a candidate for sheriff because he cannot “tell the truth about basic, verifiable facts.” She indicated she is looking further into his claims he was medically discharged and will make her findings known to the public.