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Colorado governor sees 2 high-profile departures

The Associated Press- Updated: June 13, 2013 at 8:12 pm

DENVER — Two high-profile departures from the governor's administration came Thursday in agencies that have been accused of serious mistakes in recent months.

The Department of Corrections announced that it had fired the director of its parole division, Tim Hand. The state's parole system came under scrutiny after the slaying of Department of Corrections chief Tom Clements in March. Authorities believe he was killed by a parolee who slipped out of his ankle monitoring bracelet. The suspect died in a shootout in Texas.

Also Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced the resignation of his chief medical officer. Dr. Chris Urbina resigned less than a week after the release of a state report raising questions about a laboratory under his supervision. A spokesman for the governor declined to say whether Urbina's resignation was related to alleged wrongdoing at the state toxicology lab.

Hand went on leave several weeks ago. Staff members were told Thursday of his firing, effective June 30. The Department didn't release reasons, and Hand didn't immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Urbina, executive director of Colorado's Department of Public Health and Environment, said in a release that he's resigning June 28 "to explore other opportunities."

The announcement came less than a week after the state made public a March report critical of a lab at the Department. Some workers of the lab had complained that a supervisor made statements suggesting a bias in favor of prosecutors. Urbina said the supervisor was later reassigned.

Defense attorneys said the report raised the possibility of thousands of appeals to drunken driving convictions.

Asked whether Urbina's resignation was related to the alleged problems at the toxicology lab, Hickenlooper spokesman Eric Brown said in an email he didn't "have anything to add to what's in the press release."

Urbina's two-year tenure at the agency included running the state response to a 2011 listeria outbreak traced to Colorado-grown cantaloupe. Urbina also oversaw the medical marijuana patient registry.

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