GREEN RIVER – The Sweetwater County Attorney’s Office appointed a special prosecutor to investigate Deputy County Attorney John DeLeon, who was censured by the Wyoming Supreme Court for making deceptive comments to law enforcement. The investigation concluded that DeLeon’s actions were noncriminal, according to Sweetwater County Attorney Daniel Erramouspe.
The Wyoming State Bar announced the censure on Nov. 14. According to court documents, when DeLeon worked as a public defender in Rawlins in 2018, he had a relationship with Candice Nichole Cortez. She told law enforcement that while they never had a client-attorney relationship, “their relationship got him fired from a job in Rawlins.” Cortez pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual abuse of a minor in 2016 after admitting to abusing a 5-year-old boy she was babysitting. An additional charge of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor was dropped as part of a plea agreement, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. She was given a suspended probation and ordered to register as a sexual offender.
After DeLeon took a job as a civil attorney with the Sweetwater County Attorney’s Office in late 2018, Cortez moved to Green River and briefly stayed with DeLeon in March 2019. Though she is not allowed to reside within 1,000 feet of a school, she stayed with DeLeon when he lived in Monroe Apartments, which are less than 200 feet away from Monroe Elementary School. She also did not list the apartment when reporting the places she has lived.
When Sweetwater County Probation and Parole performed a compliance check, DeLeon denied Cortez ever spent the night at his apartment. After a forensic search of her phone proved otherwise and Cortez faced charges for allegedly violating the Wyoming Sex Offender Registration Act, DeLeon reported his conduct to the state bar. DeLeon expressed shame for his actions, apologized to the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant he attempted to deceive, and clarified things with his bosses after the report was written, according to court documents. Following the recommendation of the Review Panel of the Board of Professional Responsibility, the State Supreme Court censured DeLeon and ordered him to pay $800.
Erramouspe told the Casper Star Tribune that his office appointed Sublette County Attorney Mike Crosson to serve as a special prosecutor to conduct a criminal investigation of DeLeon. Special prosecutors may be appointed when a prosecutor’s office conducts a criminal investigation that poses a conflict of interest. Erramouspe said Crosson determined DeLeon’s actions were noncriminal. Attempts were made to reach Crosson, who was not in the office Friday due to an emergency.
Erramouspe told the Star Tribune that DeLeon would remain in the office but be disciplined.
Erramouspe was out of town dealing with a family medical issue Friday, but he directed Chief Deputy County Attorney Teresa Thybo to relay a statement regarding DeLeon.
“John DeLeon is the civil deputy for the Sweetwater County Attorney’s Office. He provides civil representation and counsel to Sweetwater County government entities and departments; he is not a prosecutor. When the investigation regarding Ms. Cortez was completed, the matter was referred to special counsel for review and charging determination. Mr. DeLeon, on his own, reported his actions to bar counsel for disciplinary action. Apart from the public censure, the Sweetwater County Attorney’s Office has taken additional disciplinary action on Mr. DeLeon,” Erramouspe said.