A Divide woman was arrested this week for allegedly attempting to influence a public official and making a fake emergency call, according to Woodland Park police.
Samantha M. Peck, 40, was arrested Aug. 2, on charges related to an emergency phone call she placed July 24, claiming a woman was about to drive drunk with a child in the car, according to a WPPD news release.
While an affidavit from Teller County Combined Court obtained by The Courier does not identify that woman by name (her name is redacted), the Woodland Park Police Department release states that Peck “relayed that she was concerned because the suspected drunk driver/victim, personally known to her as the wife of the Vice President of the Woodland Park RE-2 School District, was attempting to drive away with a young child in her vehicle.”
Illingworth is the vice president of the WPSD school board, and his wife is Katie Illingworth.
“When officers arrived approximately six minutes later they discovered the vehicle and contacted the person seated inside,” the WPPD news release states.
“During the contact with her, officers did not notice any children, nor did they detect any influence of any alcoholic beverage or impairment of any kind. The victim was released and the case then focused on possible criminal acts committed by Peck based on this call.”
Peck has been arrested on suspicion of attempting to influence a public servant, a misdemeanor, along with false reporting of an emergency to police, which is classified as a felony.
According to the court affidavit, Peck was arrested at midnight Aug. 2 at her Divide home. The arrest warrant was requested by Woodland Park Police Officer Nathan Humphrey.
Peck was taken to Teller County jail in Divide and released the next day on a $3,000 bond.
The incident happened the evening July 24 at the Woodland Park Safeway. Peck, who is active in the effort to recall three WPSD school board members, and Erin O’Connell, a district resident who is married to a Woodland Park Education Association member, arrived at the location to check on two circulators who were collecting signatures for a recall petition.
The petition is to recall board of education members David Rusterholtz, David Illingworth and Suzanne Patterson. (As of this writing, signatures were being reviewed by the court on the petition for Illingworth and Patterson, but there were not enough signatures to recall Rusterholtz.)
According to the court affidavit, Peck called dispatch from Safeway at 8:37 p.m. July 24 to report a potential drunk driver who was getting into a vehicle. She said, “I’m a little worried for her kid. She was slurring her words and her eyes were curling around. She has a daughter with her and I hate to see her get into an accident. I’m just worried she’s intoxicated with her daughter.”
Per the affidavit, Peck reported that the female suspect had approached the two recall petition circulators, kept repeating questions and seemed impaired.
“We had multiple circulators at different places being harassed with people shouting obscenities,” O’Connell said in an interview with The Courier Aug. 5. “We were concerned for the safety of our circulators. The police had told us to call them if we felt there were any issues.”
Officer Humphrey arrived six minutes after the call and located the vehicle that had been identified by Peck, “matching the description of the suspected DUI driver,” he writes in the affidavit.
Humphrey said he observed groceries in the rear of the vehicle but no child. “I also could not smell the odor of an unknown alcoholic beverage coming from the vehicle or her person,” he states of his interview of the suspected drunk driver. “I observed and listened to her speech and could not detect any words being slurred.”
According to the affidavit, the woman in the vehicle stated: “These ladies over there (pointing to the front of the Safeway store) are trying to recall my husband from the school board and I saw a women in there who really doesn’t like us.”
Humphrey asked the woman if she had anything to drink and she replied, “I’m chewing gum. I don’t drink. I’m getting groceries for my kids,” the document states.
Humphrey states in the affidavit that he apologized to the woman for wasting her time. He did not interview Peck on scene July 24 as she had driven home but had agreed to come in to the police station to make a witness statement two days later.
When she didn’t show, Humphrey called her. In the phone conversation, Peck stated that if she had known who the "drunk lady" was, she would never have called the police, states the affadavit.
Peck also stated that she observed the same woman having difficulties while at the self-checkout counter, falling into the checkout stand.
Subsequently, Humphrey interviewed Safeway night manager, Kelsey Torres, who refuted Peck’s statement, stating that “she (Katie Illingworth) was a well put together lady who definitely did not fall into the self checkout lane,” according to the affidavit, which also states store video was reviewed and didn't show her falling.
According to the affidavit, Peck went to the Woodland Park police station July 27 to fill out a witness statement. In the statement she repeated that the woman she called about had "stopped to talk to the two volunteers, seemed drunk and had a little girl.”
Peck declined to be interviewed last week, but provided a statement to The Courier: "At this time I can not make an official comment. However, I look forward to clearing my name and sharing the whole truth with our community.”
According to Howard Black, spokesman for Michael Allen, 4th Judicial District Attorney, Peck’s case is under review on charging decisions.
Peck, who is represented by Denver attorney David Lane, is scheduled to appear in court in Cripple Creek at 9 a.m. Aug. 22.