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Onetime "sheriff of the year" charged in Colorado drug case

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - A former Colorado sheriff who once was named national "sheriff of the year" made his first court appearance on Wednesday on charges that he provided methamphetamine to a police informant in exchange for sex.

Retired Arapahoe County Sheriff Patrick Sullivan, 68, who is charged with distributing a controlled substance, was ordered held on a $500,000 bond in the very jail that was named after him when he retired.

Sullivan, who served as the county's top lawman from 1984 until 2002, was arrested on Tuesday after a two-week undercover sting. He faces up to six years in prison if convicted.

"Sullivan arranged to meet with an adult male acquaintance and agreed to provide (him) with methamphetamine in exchange for a sexual encounter," Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson told Reuters.

Robinson said the arrest of his predecessor was "extraordinarily disturbing and troubling." He added: "But no one, and particularly a current or a former peace officer is above the law."

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, two informants told police that Sullivan had exchanged drugs for sex with them in the past. One of the men agreed to allow the installation of video and audio equipment in a house to record Sullivan.

When Sullivan handed over the meth, he was arrested without incident, the affidavit said.

Never publicity shy, the flamboyant Sullivan was known as a tough-on-crime lawman who served on national law enforcement task forces. He once raced into the middle of a stand-off with a murder suspect to rescue a wounded deputy in full view of television cameras.

Aaron Kennard executive director of the Washington D.C.-based National Sheriffs' Association said the organization had feted Sullivan with a "Sheriff of the Year" award in 2001.

"This is disheartening and devastating to the family of sheriffs," Kennard said.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Cynthia Johnston)

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