By Sara Burnett, Rocky Mountain News
June 12, 2007
David F. Holt, a former Denver police officer, built an international reputation as a bowhunter — leading trips to Africa, writing books and starring in instructional videos.
And while he was doing all that, he was fraudulently collecting at least $667,000 in worker’s compensation and disability payments, the state attorney general said today.
Holt, 60, of Lakewood, was indicted on nine counts of forgery, two counts of theft and one count of making a false statement. If convicted, he faces up to 54 years in prison and a fine of up to $2.5 million.
The indictment charges that Holt lied about his disability for 18 years, convincing doctors he suffered from serious psychological and physical problems.
Holt’s attorney, Rick Kornfeld, denied the charges, saying Holt engages in his bowhunting and related activities only with help from friends and colleagues.
"He never intended to defraud anybody or any entity, nor did he do so," Kornfeld said. "We have 20 years of medical records that support the fact he was and still is disabled."
Holt was in Africa Tuesday on a pre-scheduled trip, Kornfeld said.
Holt started working as a Denver police officer in 1968. According to the indictment returned Friday in Denver District Court, he claimed to have hurt himself in March 1986, while running a Denver Police Department obstacle course.
Though initial tests were negative, tests six days later revealed Holt may have been suffering from a ruptured blood vessel just outside his brain. He also told doctors he was suffering severe psychological problems, including paranoia, short-term memory loss and an inability to control his emotions, the indictment states.
His girlfriend at the time said Holt walked with a shuffling gait, but that the injury "resolved a couple of weeks after the accident, except when he went to a doctor," according to the indictment.
Holt was approved for temporary disability in 1986, receiving weekly payments of about $336. The following year, the City and County of Denver granted permanent total disability.
Meanwhile, Holt was working on his first book, Balanced Bowhunting, which he self-published in 1988. He told doctors that friends helped him complete the project, according to the indictment.
In the following years, Holt traveled extensively promoting the book, taking hunting trips, writing for magazines and appearing in promotional videos.
In 1999 he formed a company called "Dave Holt’s Africa," to take bowhunters on overseas trips. He published Balanced Bowhunting II in 2004, and was one of two instructors featured on the cover of the 2005 DVD Africa With Stick and String.
In 2004, suspicious of his many bowhunting activities, Denver hired investigators to conduct surveillance on Holt, the indictment said. A psychologist was later hired to conduct an examination, which Holt was required to attend.
Holt missed the first two appointments with the psychologist, saying he was too upset to attend. When they did meet, Holt sat in a corner. He seemed "child-like and fearful," and said he couldn’t read or write without help, according to the indictment.
The psychologist diagnosed Holt as "malingering," or faking or exaggerating his illness, and Denver moved to revoke Holt’s disability status. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers took the case to a statewide grand jury last fall.
"Workers’ compensation is an important tool to protect the health and well-being of employees in Colorado," Suthers said in a statement released today. "It is imperative we ensure the integrity of the system by catching those who commit fraud and prosecuting them to the full extent of the law."
Holt’s bond has been set at $1 million. His attorney said he didn’t know when Holt is scheduled to return to Colorado.