State whistleblower Mike Barnhill visited Tiftickjian Law Firm recently to discuss the forged certifications of Colorado’s breath testing machines.
Barnhill, a former lab technician for CDPHE from 2010 to 2015, recently went public with his concerns regarding the initial roll-out and certification of the Intoxilyzer 9000 when the machines were purchased in 2013. During the discussion and interview, which took place at Tiftickjian Law Firm, Barnhill stated he was the only person on staff qualified to calibrate the new breath testing machines, and that his boss, Jeff Groff, passed on the calibration duties to a temporary employee and two employees from the machine’s manufacturer. Barnhill states that Groff supported and encouraged the use of his professional ID and credentials along with forging his signature on the original certifications in 2013. Barnhill objected to the forgery, but his objections and complaints were ignored and dismissed.
According to Barnhill, “Of the 160 odd instruments that were certified in that time frame I probably certified a dozen or so of them. So, the vast bulk of them were done by others.” The devices are required to be re-calibrated each year so this issue may be limited to breath tests done between 2013 when the machines were first put into service and into 2014 when the machines would have received their first annual re-certification. According to prominent Denver DUI Lawyer Jay Tiftickjian, “The Defense Bar has asked Governor Hickenlooper to launch an independent investigation into these allegations so that the people of Colorado can determine the veracity of these allegations and how deep the issues run within the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.” To date, Governor Hickenlooper has declined to launch an independent investigation and has instead fallen back on the internal investigation that was done on this issue and which allegedly resulted in no findings of fraud or inappropriate behavior.
Tifitckjian and many others question how thorough of an investigation the state did if they never even spoke to or interviewed the person making the accusations?
In addition, many breath testing certification documents carry an electronic signature of an employee who left in 2014. This signature has recently been replaced with a CDPHE seal. Tiftickjian stressed the importance of transparency and reliability in breath testing as “”it can be very, very strong evidence in a DUI conviction and it can be the difference between an innocent person being convicted based on that test result,”
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