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Former Pueblo City Councilman convicted of damaging public property could be jailed

PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- Probation officers in Pueblo County are alleging a former Pueblo City Councilman isn't complying with multiple conditions of his probation supervision, including paying back the City of Pueblo for the damage he caused to public property.

Vicente Martinez-Ortega, former District Four representative, was convicted in early 2022 of misdemeanor criminal mischief after he chiseled off a row of bricks adjacent to the base of the controversial Christopher Columbus statue in Pueblo.

Martinez-Ortega was originally charged with felony mischief, but after he accepted a plea deal down to a misdemeanor, he was sentenced to 18 months on probation by Pueblo County District Judge Amiel Markenson on January 19, 2022.

Now, over two years after the guilty plea, Pueblo County probation officers are sounding the alarm on his lack of compliance with the conditions of probation supervision.

In court documents obtained by KRDO13 Investigates, we've learned Martinez-Ortega allegedly is out of compliance with these four requirements:

  • Report to probation officers, either at home or elsewhere
  • Make restitution payments to the court
  • Complete 100 hours of useful public service
  • Pay $5,537.01 in fines and court costs

On Thursday, Feb. 8, Martinez-Ortega will be back in front of Judge Markenson, who will decide if his probation is expended, giving him time to comply with these conditions, or if he will be sent to the Pueblo County Jail as a punishment for not complying.

Martinez Ortega originally told KRDO13 Investigates he believed the charge was politically motivated.

“I do want to let the people of Bessemer know that Political Prosecutions still do happen,” said Martinez Ortega in November 2021. “What this shows us is that it is super unfair to folks who get elected, win a position and now they are under such a microscope because of their political activism."

Had Martinez-Ortega been convicted of a felony, he would have lost his position as a councilman. In the most recent election, he lost his bid for a second term to the current City Councilman for District Four, Roger Gomez.

Monday, KRDO13 Investigates sought comment or an interview from Martinez-Ortega. He told us "no comment" and said to "see him in court."

The City of Pueblo confirmed that the bricks adjacent to the Columbus Statue have since been repaired, presumably by taxpayer money. However, they said they were unaware that the former councilman's probation could be revoked.

Back in October 2023, Martinez-Ortega lost an appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals alleging that the prosecution had inaccurately computed the amount of restitution owed. Martinez-Ortega claimed he should only owe $2,300 in restitution, instead of the over $3,800 imposed by the court.

To read the Court of Appeals decision, click here.

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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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