Ex-judge heads to prison over tipping off best friend in drug sting

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(Reuters) - A former Colorado state court judge was sentenced to a year and a day in prison after he admitted to tipping off a high school friend about a drug trafficking investigation.

Prosecutors say Ryan Kamada, 42, had only been a judge in Weld County, Colorado, for a few months when he learned a federal task force was investigating a local cocaine trafficking operation.

He told his best friend about the investigation, who had close ties to the feds' target, according to court records. The friend then passed the information on to the trafficker, prosecutors said.

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As a result, the trafficker changed his behavior, which harmed the investigation, prosecutors said.

“By leaking the existence of a search warrant to help his close friend avoid possible criminal exposure, Ryan Kamada abused the power of his judicial position,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr. said in a statement after the Wednesday sentencing.

Kamada pleaded guilty to obstructing a federal investigation in June 2020. A few months later, he was disbarred, according to Colorado Supreme Court records.

Kamada had served as a county magistrate before becoming a judge in 2019, according to court records.

Counsel for Kamada did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday, nor did a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Colorado, which prosecuted the case.

The case is USA v. Kamada, U.S. District Court, District of Colorado, No. 1:20-cr-00174.

For Kamada: Michael Bender and T. Markus Funk of Perkins Coie

For the government: U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division attorney John Taddei and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Fields

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