Dennis Hartley, attorney for the Rev. Don Armstrong, who is accused of embezzling nearly $400,000 to finance his children’s higher education, says the client’s criminal trial may or may not start on Oct. 18.
But it’s not Hartley’s fault. “We’ve set aside time to try the case,” Hartley told me today. The reason for the wishy-washy aspect of the Oct. 18 date is typical this far away from the trial, he said. Things should be firmed up by late September.As for the trial itself, Hartley said he feels “good” about vindicating Armstrong in the case.
The trial was originally scheduled to begin Feb. 22, but attorneys had scheduling conflicts.
Armstrong, the former rector of Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Colorado Springs, was indicted April 2009 by a 4th Judicial District grand jury on 20 felony counts of theft charges. The indictment concluded an 11-month investigation by Colorado Springs police and the Pueblo District Attorney’s Office into Armstrong’s alleged financial misconduct while rector of Grace.
Police maintain that between 1999 and 2006 Armstrong funneled about $392,000 of church funds earmarked for Episcopal seminarians to finance his two children’s college education.
If convicted on all felony counts, Armstrong, 60, could spend the rest of his life in prison. Each count comes with a possible prison sentence of four to 12 years.
The Pueblo District Attorney’s office is prosecuting the case because of a conflict of interest with the local DA’s office. Former Springs DA John Newsome was on Armstrong’s vestry at Grace and St. Stephen’s.
Armstrong is no stranger to trials. He was the focal point early last year in a trial to determine ownership of the $17 million Grace and St. Stephen’s Church property downtown.