Steve Bachar to plead guilty again after Denver judge rejected first deal

A disbarred Denver attorney accused of defrauding an investor of $125,000 is set to plead guilty in Denver District Court on Monday — six months after a judge rejected the first plea agreement reached in the case on the grounds it was too lenient.

Steve Bachar, 57, on Wednesday asked to plead guilty to a single count of felony theft in a deal with prosecutors in which the two other felony counts against him — securities fraud and a more serious theft charge — would be dismissed, according to a series of court filings.

Bachar could be sentenced to as much as six years in prison under the terms of the new agreement — a change from the last plea deal, which Denver District Court Judge Eric Johnson rejected because it would have allowed Bachar to avoid prison time and have the felony wiped from his record if he’d met certain conditions.

Bachar pleaded guilty under the first plea agreement in November, but then withdrew his plea when Johnson threw out the agreement in March after Bachar failed to show up to court to be sentenced.

The tossed deal would have required Bachar to pay $174,000 in restitution to the man he defrauded — money he did pay to Denver District Court ahead of the plea. Johnson said the deal gave the impression Bachar was buying his way out of the felony conviction.

Under the new plea agreement, Bachar must repay $182,000 to the victim, an amount that accounts for interest — but there’s a catch.

Bachar also owes more than $5 million to companies and people who sued him for fraud and other misconduct. After the first plea agreement was rejected, those entities asked a  judge to send the money to them, instead of returning it to Bachar. The judge agreed and in July ordered that the money be split between those various groups.

But that did not happen, court records show, and the Denver District Court clerk instead continued to hold the money because of a conflicting order by Johnson in the criminal case.

On Wednesday, at the request of the clerk, Johnson issued an order releasing the funds to those with civil claims, as ordered by the other judge in July.

But both Bachar’s defense attorney and prosecutors with the Denver District Attorney’s Office immediately objected. They want the judge to rescind that order and keep the money for the victim in the criminal case, court filings show.

“The People believe that it is most appropriate that the (money) remaining in the court’s custody be ordered as restitution payable… as such would be consistent with the original intent of the parties and in the interest of justice,” a motion by Associate Deputy District Attorney Ashley Beck reads.

“The $174,369.89 payment made by Mr. Bachar was always intended to satisfy the restitution he owed pursuant to the original plea agreement in this case,” public defender Robert Swetka wrote in a motion Wednesday.

Johnson did not immediately rule on those requests, according to available court filings, and it was not clear whether the money would ultimately go to the companies and people in the civil proceedings, or to the victim in the criminal case.

Bachar is scheduled to appear in Denver District Court at 8:30 a.m. Monday.

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