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El Paso County Sheriff candidate in question following felony conviction

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- A candidate's eligibility for El Paso County Sheriff is currently under question following a felony conviction.

According to the Colorado Secretary of State's database, Karl Dent is one of six candidates that have applied for the position of Sheriff in El Paso County. However, Dent was recently convicted of felony trespassing in El Paso County.

Dent pleaded not guilty after his arrest in May 2020 but was later convicted by a jury in October 2021. The conviction came one month after he filed with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office to run for Sheriff.

Dent says he is appealing the felony conviction for trespassing, but the El Paso County Clerk's Office tells 13 Investigates it cannot say he is eligible to run for the position until they receive his background check from the Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI).

CBI is required to conduct background checks for every potential candidate for the office of Sheriff throughout Colorado.

State statute says:

'The bureau shall utilize the fingerprints, its files and records, and those of the federal bureau of investigation for the purpose of determining whether the person has ever been convicted of or pleaded guilty or entered a plea of nolo contendere to any felony charge under federal or state laws ... If a conviction or plea is disclosed, the person is unqualified for the office of sheriff, unless pardoned.' - 30-10-501.5 (c)

Dent says he has 15 years of law enforcement experience working as an officer at Cripple Creek Police Department, a federal law enforcement agent, and starting a security protection company.

13 Investigates asked Dent if he is concerned about his candidacy.

“I’m not really concerned because what we are going to do is given the case is up in appeal," Dent said. "We are going to go to the Colorado supreme court and file an injunction and ask them to hold off from making any determination as far as disqualifying me from the ballot.”

Dent alleges he should never have been arrested by El Paso County Deputies, claiming the house he was trespassing in was a place where he lived. He also claims the Fourth Judicial District Attorney's Office withheld evidence during his trial.

“I was wrongfully convicted of a crime I did not commit," Dent said. "They had no regards for the constitution.”

The Fourth Judicial District Attorney's Office declined to comment on the story due to Dent's appeal stating "it would not be appropriate to discuss this litigation in further detail."

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office said they are legally obligated not to speak on the story.

Colorado Fair Campaign Practices Act (C.R.S. 1-45-117) restricts the things that our Office may do or say with regard to political questions and candidates. It is the stance of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office to not comment on statements made by those competing for political office to ensure there is no violation of campaign laws.

Lt. Deborah Mynatt with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office

The CBI background checks for the five other Sheriff candidates haven't been returned to the El Paso County Clerk's Office yet either.

The other candidates include Joseph Royball, Greg Maxwell, Steven Noblitt, Todd Watkins, and John Foley.

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Dan Beedie

Dan is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about Dan here.

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