Brittny Lewton, an Eastern Plains-elected district attorney, took opioids from the desk of one of her subordinates last summer and threatened office workers who reported her behavior, according to an indictment unsealed Monday.
The details were outlined in an eight-page narrative by a grand jury that indicted Lewton last week, charging her with drug possession and official misconduct. She turned herself in to authorities on Friday.
Lewton remains in her job as district attorney in seven counties in northeastern Colorado.
The 13th Judicial District DA might be the highest-profile defendant yet ensnared in Colorado’s decade-long opioid and prescription drug abuse crisis. Her indictment describes how a seemingly benign pre-weekend office interaction became four criminal charges threatening to derail a legal career.
One of Lewton’s employees, identified only as M.R., told the grand jury that Lewton sent out an email on Friday, July 12, 2019, telling everyone to go home early at around 4:20 p.m.
One of Lewton’s new hires, Tina Dobson, had been in the hospital the night before and had some pills sitting on her desk. The district attorney then asked Dobson, to “help a sister out” before Dobson handed the pills over. Lewton also then allegedly opened Dobson’s bag, pulled out a white-colored bottle and dropped the bottle into her own purse, according to the grand jury report.
Investigators determined the pills were Vicodin — or hydrocodone — an opioid which requires a prescription.
The grand jury report indicated Lewton had told others in the office that she had previously been warned about prescription drug abuse.
“DA Lewton had shared with some staff at the DA’s office information that her medical provider had entered strict orders or had cut her off from receiving certain medications,” it said.
The staffer, M.R., began notifying other supervisors in the office about seeing Lewton place a prescription bottle in her purse, touching off a night of text messages between her, supervising attorneys and office investigators, culminating in a report to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation about what M.R. had seen.
After CBI investigators began conducting interviews in the office, Lewton asked an office investigator if he knew why. When told he could not disclose it, she threatened to suspend him and her chief deputy from work.
Lewton told the Colorado Bureau of Investigation investigators that the two staffers faced suspensions because they were “unwilling to tell her what was being investigated.”
Attorney General Phil Weiser on Monday called Lewton’s criminal charges “painful.”
“Many Coloradans have seen up close how the opioid crisis has caused horrendous harm on lives, families and communities across our state,” Weiser said. “The allegations in the Lewton indictment are painful to behold, especially if, in the midst of the opioid crisis, she used her position as a law enforcement official to illegally obtain opioids from another person for her own use … No one is above the law.”
Lewton’s attorney, Stan Garnett, maintains her innocence and said he feels confident her case would win if it went to trial.
“I absolutely believe this can be defended,” he said. “Nobody is perfect.”
Lewton, who rose from office intern to elected district attorney in the district, won election to two terms and is due to leave office at the end of this year.