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Feds end criminal investigation of fraud allegations at Grand Junction airport with no arrests


GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado — Officials at the Grand Junction airport say the end of a federal criminal investigation into fraud allegations will allow them to move ahead on issues that had been put on hold because of the investigation, even though a federal civil investigation is still underway.

Pending issues include a lawsuit over an unfinished building and problems with a fence around the airport perimeter.

Grand Junction airport administrators said they were ordered to turn over financial records as part of a Department of Justice investigation. The FBI conducted a search of the airport's offices as part of what the agency said was an investigation into alleged fraud, but details were not disclosed.

"Now that we are out from under DOJ's watchful eye, we are going to become more aggressive," airport authority Chairman Rick Wagner said Tuesday during the first board meeting since prosecutors abandoned the criminal case.

Once the airport receives documents seized in the criminal investigation, it can act on several matters on which it has been paralyzed, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported (http://tinyurl.com/omnvwmn).

The Federal Aviation Administration has told the airport it wants $500,000 it contributed toward construction of a fence returned, Wagner said.

Officials are hopeful they can win TSA support for a new security system, said Steve Wood, who heads the airport's security solutions committee.

The U.S. Department of Justice said the airport made strides to correct problems after a new board made several changes, including accounting and oversight, new personnel and a hotline for whistleblowers.

Information from: The Daily Sentinel, http://www.gjsentinel.com

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