Court records unsealed by newspaper motion show focus of Grand Junction airport probe

From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction):  Alleged fraud, money laundering and theft involving the leadership of Grand Junction Regional Airport is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation that started in February 2012, while centering on “fraudulent activity” by at least three people, according to court records made public.

“This affidavit,” FBI Agent Alex Zappe wrote to U.S. Magistrate Judge Boyd Boland, “includes only a portion of the expansive investigation, and focuses upon fraudulent activity of Rex Tippetts, Dennis Granum, and Travis Vallin as they pertain to the illegal acquisition of airport trucks.”

Acting on a motion filed by The Daily Sentinel, Boland on Monday unsealed a document explaining the government’s basis for seizing pickup trucks in 2014 from Granum and Vallin. The judge also made public a related affidavit filed by Zappe.

The released records have significant sections blacked out — some paragraphs were redacted entirely — consistent with the judge’s stated intent “not to compromise the ongoing investigation.” Still, the documents provide the most comprehensive overview so far on the airport investigation.

According to the records, a pickup truck seized last year from Vallin — a 2011 GMC Sierra 2500 “loaded with options” — had originally been purchased on Dec. 3, 2010, by Tippetts acting in the capacity of aviation director and using airport funds.

While the manufacturer’s suggested retail price was $58,445, the airport’s purchase price was $47,085, records say.

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