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Former Cortez officer pleads guilty to misconduct

Sentencing for former officer set for October

Reuben Liska, a former patrol officer with the Cortez Police Department, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Montezuma County Court to a charge of first-degree official misconduct.

Liska resigned from the police department during an internal investigation that started on Jan. 21, when he was accused of having “inappropriate physical contact” with someone who reported a crime, according to 22nd Judicial District Attorney Will Furse. He was charged with misconduct in connection with that incident after the Colorado Bureau of Investigations concluded its investigation in April. Montezuma County Judge JenniLynn Lawrence scheduled Liska’s sentencing hearing for Oct. 10 at 9 a.m.

First-degree official misconduct is a Class 2 misdemeanor under Colorado law. Standard sentences for such a crime include 3 to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of $250 to $1,000. Furse noted in court that Liska could also be sentenced to up to 24 months of probation and/or 48 hours of public service, among other sentencing options.

Before his resignation, Liska had worked for the Cortez Police Department for less than a year. He was hired in July of 2016, after leaving his former job as a patrol deputy in the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office. According to a 2015 performance evaluation from the Sheriff’s office, he was average in most areas of law enforcement work, only falling below department standards in his investigative skills. The evaluation, signed by then-Undersheriff Jim Kingery, Lt. Vernon Knuckles and Sgt. Travis Anderson, said he was “very outgoing and open-minded,” and worked well with the community and his fellow officers, though evaluators also said he needed to work on his report writing. No performance evaluations were available from the police department.

Liska was one of two Montezuma County law enforcement officers to face misconduct charges this year. The other, former Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Adam Alcon, pleaded guilty to first-degree official misconduct on July 16 and was fined $250 plus costs and fees, the minimum sentence for a Class 2 misdemeanor. A Class 6 felony charge, which he faced in connection with the theft of Sheriff’s Office equipment, was dropped as part of the plea agreement. The equipment was later returned.

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