DA Mark Hurlbert Charges Two Top Women Mountain Bike Racers with Felony Criminal Impersonation for Using False Racer Number in Leadville Competition: Snowball DA Strikes Again – UPDATED

DA Mark Hurlbert filed felony criminal-impersonation charges against two veteran Vail, Colorado,  mountain bike racers, Wendy Lyall and Katie Brazelton,  after an injured Brazelton, 40, gave her registration materials and entry number  to her friend, Lyall, 36, so she could race

Wendy Lyall Faces Felony for "1383" on Bike in Leadville 100 (Photo Courtesy Rob O'Dea, who holds and reserves all copyrights)

in the 2009 Leadville  Mountain Trail 100 .   This meant that Lyall  finished second in the women’s age 40-49 class, despite being 36.  As the Denver Post explains, spaces are highly coveted for the grueling race, and there are more masochists than slots for the competition, which elevated in prestige last year as Lance Armstrong entered and won the event.

The soaring popularity has converted the race’s entry lottery into a gone-in-minutes clamor for bib numbers. Entries are not refundable or transferable, which is reiterated at every pre-race briefing, [race organizer] Chlouber said.

Just before last August’s race, Chlouber said he received a call from a local bike-shop owner pleading for an entry number for Brazelton, who did not win a slot in the lottery. Chlouber granted the request.

“This truly is really sad for us,” he said. “We try to do the right thing, and then people cheat.”

Certainly some athletes cheat, but I naïvely thought that these sports rules violations were usually handled within the sport rather than being prosecuted as felonies by local DAs.  But then again, Hurlbert himself spends lots of time on the men’s 40-49 cross-country skiing circuit , so this “crime”  probably hit him close to home.  I wouldn’t want to be some 36-year old guy caught skating past him across the finish line in the Frisco Gold Rush nordic race, that’s for sure.

But it looked like the event organizers did take care of the problem from within:

When contacted by Chlouber and, later, by Lake County Sheriff Ed Holte, the women confessed to the deception. They returned the coveted belt buckle, pendant and necklace that came with second place and sent Chlouber a letter admitting their wrongdoing and offering “to do anything to rectify the situation.”

“But the situation cannot be rectified,” Chlouber said. “You can’t go back in time and give those ladies who should have podiumed their time in the sun. That’s gone.”

Well, not exactly.   The women who should have been on the podium, will be there this year in a special ceremony at the August event.  And, both Lyall and Brazelton are banned for life from the competition and may receive other intra-sport sanctions.   If organizers want more action taken, that’s what private civil lawsuits are for.  [Update 5-10: Sheriff Ed Holte told me he did not contact either of the women or take a confession from them and had no contact with them whatsoever.  He simply took Chlouber's complaint and passed it along to the DA.   It seems clear, then, that this was primarily a Hurlbert transaction].

Hurlbert says, “after talking with people in the race, this is something very serious.”  Very serious to whom?  The plaintiff in the case,  The People of the State of Colorado?  Do we the people really need to have our  money spent in a recession to protect us from the growing scourge of entry swapping at endurance sports events?   Real criminal filings are down, Hurlbert’s budgets and salary are up, and I guess this is what happens when government has too much of our money to play with.  Good thing he’s not the Denver DA or we might see “illegal receiver” at a Bronco’s game take on a whole new meaning.

[Updated 5-10: More details about how this race is run and what may really have happened with the registrations of the racers, are commented on  by some Eagle County mountain biking bloggers, who point to a $265.00 non-refundable and non-transferable fee, which Chlouber allegedly resells to other racers.   The latest is from Eric Rubottom.  The comments section to this post contain more inside-mountain bike racing insight.

Race Director  Ken Chlouber is  a former House District 56 Rep.,  a  Republican who often went against the Republican party on issues he disagreed with.  He served from 1986-1996, and was a state Senator before that.  Chlouber failed in another  run for HD 56  in 2006].

I’ve  written elsewhere that Hurlbert “picks the wrong battles to fight, and the wrong ones to quit.”  Just like the infamous snowball throwing case at Copper that gained international notoriety, and left Hurlbert whining defensively after his lengthy and expensive pursuit ended in failure.  This laughingstock  is mocked in this Hitler parody video of Hurlbert.  (Like other Hitler parody producers, we are involved with a “fair use” copyright appeal,  so just click on the link on the screen after hitting play, and the video will play in its own window).

Wendy and Katie (aka Vail’s Thelma and Louise) would have been much better off  if instead of committing a serious felony like cheating at mountain biking, they snowboarded drunk down the slopes of Vail and ran over an eight-year old girl in a hit and run.  That man got a few hours of community service in Hurlbert’s plea deal.  Or they could have been charged with attempted murder, and got that plead down to a misdemeanor with no jail.  Another option would be to pull a black woman by her hair across a bar room floor, tearing half of it out while screaming the c-word and the n-word at her.  They could have gotten that felony assault reduced to a misdemeanor with 60 days of work release.

I haven’t seen this criminal-impersonation law used much, but Hurlbert’s expansive application of the statute opens up some interesting possibilities.  Given Hurlbert’s lackluster campaign for state Senate District 16 and his dismal fundraising,  perhaps a  special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate whether to charge Hurlbert with felony criminal-impersonation of a Republican  Senate candidate.

29 responses to “DA Mark Hurlbert Charges Two Top Women Mountain Bike Racers with Felony Criminal Impersonation for Using False Racer Number in Leadville Competition: Snowball DA Strikes Again – UPDATED

  1. What can we expect of Mark Hurlbert other than to go off on tangents, prosecute minor crimes, look the other way on major crimes and continue to turn lives upside down, ruining people, reputations and businesses in the process. Balanced, good prosecutions maintain, even build credibility, tangential abuses, such as these felonies for number swapping, are pitiful. Mark Hurlbert wants to be a Senator? How about some real world experience first. Career government employees are problematical.

  2. Jacki, thanks for your comment. This prosecution, because it’s not only stupid and overreaching, but it’s so novel, may be his most ridiculous pursuit yet. At least in the snowball case, it was only a misdemeanor charge. Hurlbert for some reason he doesn’t bother to explain to the public he serves, considers it “very serious.”

    The public doesn’t seem to feel that way. The story’s made prestigious national legal blogs, and Colorado media outlets (except as usual, the Summit Daily failed to even mention the story). The comments are almost universally critical for the same reasons I wrote about. Sports infraction are traditionally handled in the sport’s governing body, they mete out punishments, and people don’t get charged with felonies for this sort of thing. There’s been cheater’s who’ve won the NYC marathon.

    And of course in these hard times, this seems like such a ludicrous waste of money. Here’s the post from 9News, with quite a compendium of comments, almost all negative towards Hurlbert.

    http://www.9news.com/news/local/article.aspx?storyid=138482&catid=346

    I got more views on this story than any other story I’ve posted, and a record number of views yesterday on the site. And conservatives are out there analogizing this type of heavy handed government meddling to the Obamacare mandates.

    Makes you wonder how Hurlbert would prioritize spending cuts and make good judgments on legislation with this kind of inexplicably poor judgment.

    I should add that a local mountain biking blog indicates that Katie had just had hip surgery, couldn’t get a refund of the $250 registration fee and her buddy just wanted to do the race. Apparently, Katie is a stronger racer than Wendy, so that if she had raced the event wouldn’t have changed outcomes anyhow, or she would have done even better. These women appear to be upstanding citizens who had no evil intent. More is on the Vail mountain biking blog http://addictedtobicycles.blogspot.com.

    Hurlbert’s an avid endurance athlete who’s climbed all 54 14ers and went to Dartmouth on a skiing scholarship. He must know all of this. Prosecutors rarely drop cases no matter how ill-conceived their initial charging idea turns out to be. Maybe Hurlbert will man up on this one and drop this case. Beyond the two women involved, it sets a dangerous precedent by criminalizing alleged violations of internal sports competition rules.

  3. Look, I do not know much about Hurlbert and his past, I do know plenty about the two women involved in this issue as they are both friends. This is not a case of intentional cheating as both of these women are very fast and talented riders. I do know that the rider that did not race, desperately wanted to but could not due to injury. We are not people of great wealth here in the mountains for the most part, and the fact that the entry fees are not refundable or tranferrable is the issue here, not the fact that another rider used a number plate that was “purchased” by another rider. Entry into the Leadville 100 is extremely difficult to obtain, it is by lottery only (which brings up another issue), so should you get an entry and can not race, why should that slot remain empty in the race while the promoter pockets your $250? Because he is greedy, that’s why. On the promoter’s side of things, (I also promote mountain bike races here in Eagle, http://thedustybootshorttrackseries.blogspot.com/ )I do not agree with or support the fact that one of these women stood on the podium to accept a belt buckle and other “dust collectors”, but I also know that this is not worthy of a felony charge or the waste of tax payer’s money to even consider prosecuting. I’d like to know how Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis (who was under investigation for doping while he won the Tour De France at the time) gained entry into the Leadville 100, I’m thinking it’s a safe bet that they did not enter through the lottery process, and if that is indeed the case then Lance Armstrong should be stripped of his 2009 title and the proper champion Dave Wiens, who made the race what it is today should be crowned 2009 champ as he finished second to Armstrong. Seems Mr. Chlouber likes to bend the rules so they work out in his favor financially? I mean really folks, how much do you think his three ring circus has gained from bringing Lance Armstrong to his race? Do you believe that Lance has “fee” associated with participating in these “off” type of events. Lance Armstrong is arguably the greatest cyclist who has ever pushed the pedals and he comes to Leadville to beat up on the “local” talent? The only person who truly wins on that deal is race promoter Ken Chlouber and the depressed town of Leadville, Colorado. If you are going to bend rules Mr. Chlouber for your own benefit, then you better ease up on two amateur women cyclists who just wanted to ride a bike in your race and made a poor decision which they will now regret for the rest of their lives I’m sure, that is enough punishment. What truly needs to happen here is Mr. Chlouber needs to re-evaluate his race entry system and allow for transfer of entry fees from one rider to another, especially in case of injury, for a nominal fee, or agree to refund a portion of the entry fee so he can re-sell the spot to another rider, that s the actual problem here, created by the promoter, not the racer who supports him. Get a clue Chlouber, and Hurlbert, apparently you are a piece of work as well….this should have been a done deal when the racers agreed to return their “buckle” in the first place. The fact is there have been many “ghost” riders in the Leadville 100 for many years, for the same exact reason, racers did not want to just throw away $250 to the pocket of the selfish and greedy promoter. These women meant no harm, they just wanted to ride bikes, and paid to do so.

  4. I think you are referring to Rosie Ruiz in the 1980 Boston Marathon

  5. And how about this for thought from a racer’s perspective trying to get in? This actually happened this year…

    “someone” entered the lottery this year and sent in her nonrefundable $10 lottery fee, along with 10,000 other hopefuls. That’s right, $100,000 bucks from the lottery alone.
    “She” got rejected, but got an offer a few days later that there were a few hundred ( … See Moreout of 1000 entries) that would be available IF she wanted to sign up for a $1500 dollar “training camp” run by Lance’s personal trainer (inaddition to the entry fee). She did not sign up.

    Let’s do some math. $10 x 10,000= $100,000
    $250 entry fee x 1000 riders =250,000
    $1500 training camp x (estimated) 400 riders =$600,000

    $950,000 to run the Leadville 100?

  6. Great post, Laura. Although Chlouber doesn’t appear to be very bright, (joining Hurlbert in that category) he’s smart enough to know that, as someone once said; ‘Any press is good exposure!’
    It’s unfortunate he had to bring these two women down to his and Hurlberts level to promote his little bike race.

  7. Hi Laura, my blog has been reactivated. Check it out:

    http://helpwangkho.wordpress.com/

    I like what you are writing about Mark Hurlbert. I’ve been telling many people about your blog and this story about the mountain bikers. I think of those women and feel so sorry that they have to go through this. I guess our own situation has given us a unique perspective. Thanks for being proactive about revealing this information to the public. People need to know what our DA is doing how petty he is.

  8. While I agree with what is written by the blog author and the comments regarding Hurlbert making more out of this than should be made, as a race producer (east coast) I would disagree with the thinking that what Brazeleton and Lyall did should have been allowed or that it was not a big deal. Entering this bike race is a choice that Brazelton made. By entering the race she agreed to abide by the race rules. If one of those rules is that entries are non-transferable then that is what you need to abide by. If you don’t like the rules don’t enter the race, simple. If you really don’t like the rule go work with the race and get the policy changed internally. But don’t just say the heck with it I can do whatever I want.

    Worst case scenario, Lyall gets injured (or worse!) during the race. If she’s racing under Brazelton’s bib then all treatment is rendered based on the data known for Ms Brazelton, and all notifications of family members would be to Brazelton’s family. Consider the anguish this could cause.

    Also, consider the liability a race can incur if a non-registered participant, someone who has not signed the race waiver, is injured during the event. Races have disappeared due to incidents of this nature. Any Race Director who knowingly puts their event in this position or does not take a hard-line stance against those who engage in these practices is a fool.

    If you don’t produce events you can’t imagine the things you need to worry about and plan for. While I agree that Hurlbert is going over the top on this case, to excuse Brazelton and Lyall for their actions is not proper either.

    For what it’s worth, the race production company I work for has a list of about 25 people who have a lifetime ban from our events for actions similar to this. Oh, and we’re also one of the few races that actually allows transfers between entrants and/or deferrals to next year’s event. We were one of the first companies in the industry to set up a formal plan to take care of runners who enter and then something happens and they can’t be a part of this year’s event. Despite our going far beyond standard industry practice (which is no refunds, no transfers, no deferrals) every year we catch a few people who decided what they wanted to do was more important than our need to manage our events in the way we see fit.

    Bottom line, participating in race or other similar event is a choice, not something that one HAS to do. If one does not like the rules of the event, or the price, or anything else about the event, one can simply choose to not sign up for the race.

    • Joe, Thanks for commenting. I don’t disagree with a thing. Many commenters here and at mountain biking sites that have linked the story are race promoters, and agree that severe sanctions should occur within the sport. My understanding is that these two women now also have a lifetime ban from this race.

      My focus is on the legal system and politics. I think the sport can regulate itself within the sport, and this is not something a DA should be intruding in. The public has made it clear it doesn’t approve of the DA abusing the criminal law this way – especially a DA as soft on so many violent assaults as Mark Hurlbert has been. His latest backpedalling is a ludicrous claim that he “had to file” felony charges. That’s a lie, pure and simple. He’s also a DA who has failed to use the criminal impersonation law for what people in Colorado think it’s most needed for – illegal aliens using false identities to obatain jobs or benefits.

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  11. “after talking with people in the race, this is something very serious.” – Mark Hurlbert

    Apparently cheating in a race is “very serious” but running over a cyclist and driving off, leaving the cyclist for dead, is only worthy of a misdemeanor charge.

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  14. Thanks for the discourse. This issue and the Leadville link are bounding around Florida now, which is one of the most dangerous places for cyclists in the nation. Mr. Hurlburt’s actions defy logic, and the petition to pursue felony charges SHOULD make headlines!

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  17. Question: Why is the Eagle County DA Mark Hurlbert prosecuting an alleged felony that occurred in Lake County??

    I realize the two mtn bike riders live in Vail, but the race occurred in Leadville. I guess Hurlbert wanted to make up for his lack of prosecuting felonies in Eagle County. Or maybe he is just confused about the definition of felony crime vs. misdemeanor. This guy is an excellent example that the worst people always rise to the top in government.

    • Good question, Kirsten. Hurlbert’s territory is the 5th Judicial District, and consists of Lake, Eagle, Summit and Clear Creek Counties. Give praise to Lake, as they are the county that shut down Hurlbert’s bid to extend his term limits a year ago. The thought of being stuck with him until January 2013 is bad enough, but 2017?

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  20. This DA is a joke. What about his changing a felony charge to a misdemeanor after he decided that the hit and run driver was “too important” to the community? Since when does your job give you special driving privileges??

    http://www.versus.com/cycling/videos/bobs-beef-rider-gets-run-over/#none

  21. I followed this link. Does anyone know anything about this guy? The accusations he has made about Mark Hurlbert are extremely serious.

    With regard to the Erzinger case, one would have to wonder about the DA’s ethics, that is, if he has any at all.

  22. realize the two mtn bike riders live in Vail, but the race occurred in Leadville. I guess Hurlbert wanted to make up for his lack of prosecuting

  23. District Attorney Hurlbert refused to meet with the victims of these serious Hate Crimes. There was never an appropriate investigation into these alleged attacks. Mr. Hurlbert decided to bury the evidence and these serious crimes because they implicated persons in positions of public trust as well as wealth real estate developers.

    What happened to the evidence submitted to the prosecutor & sheriffs office, was it destroyed to obstruct this and other investigations? A Jewish family from New England; Boston Massachusetts and Concord New Hampshire was attacked for 3 years in Georgetown Colorado with this ethnic intimidation. The victims had to move from the 1st home they purchased because of this graffiti & threats. President Obama please have the Department of Justice, DOJ, investigate these Hate Crimes. The FBI is to busy with homeland security to protect & investigate these types of Hate Crimes. These Crimes are designed to ruin lives as they strike fear & intimidation in its victims. The victims of these attacks are requesting the Congress; House & Senate, and Executive Branch to form a new Law Enforcement Agency that would investigate and protect Victims of Hate Crimes. Presently these crime victims only have the FBI to help them. This deters Hate Crime Victims from coming forward, because the FBI is involved with Homeland Security. This is a a public request for Colorado legislature to impeach DA Mark Hulrbert. He did not take the steps and protect the citizens & visitors of Colorado. Governor John Hickenlooper, Claire Levy, Michael Bennett, Mark Udall, Ed Perlmutter have the CBI & FBI investigate these attacks. The CO Judiciary Committee needs to Investigate DA Mark Hurlbert and proceed with impeachment. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers investigate these incidents and whether the Sheriff of Clear Creek County & Georgetown Police obstructed this & other investigations. This isn’t the U.S.S.R & this isn’t Libya. The Governor of California, Jerry Brown, should also request the FBI to investigate these events. More than one citizen from California has been impacted by this DA; including L.A. Laker Kobe Bryant & the victims of the Cabin Creek Fire. The DA had plenty of time to prosecute 2 female Mountain Bikers, a student who threw a snow ball but failed to vigorously prosecute other violent crimes. A Morgan Stanley Hedge Fund, Money, Manager did not have to face felony hit & run charges, because felonies have serious job implications according to this DA. If just this presentation was banned in Germany, then we should not have had to face these symbols, in front of our home! Our Civil Rights would have been protected in Germany but not by this DA. A Victims Advocate, who was also a licensed Realtor, testified and perjured herself, lied in court on the witness stand, against the victims of these attacks. She also stated the Georgetown Police said that these crimes never happened & the victims of these crimes “must be stopped!” Basic Police work & a DA with ethics could have prosecuted these crimes. These attacks occurred over several parcels of Real Estate. The district attorney refused to meet with the victims. Evidence was submitted to the Clear Creek County Sheriff, the Georgetown Colorado Police, the Marshall of Georgetown and the Clear Creek Office of the District Attorney of Colorado’s 5th Judicial Circuit. Were the original photographs, and this evidence destroyed, in an effort to obstruct this and other investigations, including Cabin Creek? These symbols were not removed until the evening after the Cabin Creek Fire as federal investigators entered the town. Were these crimes not prosecuted because it may implicate influential people in positions of public trust? These crimes occured less then 60 minutes away from Columbine High School. Would these crimes been prosecuted, if they were in front of a DAs home, a court house, a mayors home, a town hall, or a realtors office? If you are a minority and or your family is of different faiths, it is our opinion, to think about purchasing real estate in the Mountains of Summit County or in Clear Creek County Colorado. How many towns would allow this to go not investigated? The Mayor of Georgetown said this was O.K. because the victims lived on the “other side of town”, away from the tourist attractions! in effect, as long its not near the Georgetown Christmas Market, the Railroad, the Georgetown National Historic District, the Georgetown Hotels, the Georgetown Lake or Historic Georgetown. However, it was acceptable for these crimes to attack a local family facing their home in a children’s park. At the time the Mayor of Georgetown told the victims of these attacks and their attorneys to prove it. An Individual on Megan’s list, a sex felon, would expose themselves by this park and the home of the victims. A member of the city government would drive by their home and yell our “effin jews”. Why didn’t the DA protect the victims of these attacks with stalking laws? This demonstrates this prosecutors ability to represent the citizens of Colorado. Whether you are jewish, muslim, christian, hindu, african, european, canadian or american we understand these are seriousness crimes. The persons responsible for these attacks also used children to assist them with these criminal acts.

    • You guys need to focus on getting rid of Mark Hurlbert by vigorously fighting the extension of term limits he got on the ballot for November 2011. If he gets the term limit extenstion, there will likely be no opponent for the 2012 election and we’ll be stuck with him until 2017. Why? Because no one inside his office and certainly no criminal defense attorney with an active practice within the 5th District will want to sacrifice their need to have their cases treated at least semi-fairly by him and his minions. Give up on this Quixotic quest to his friends in Colorado government to do something real. Fight the term limit extension and he’ll be gone in a little over a year.

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