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Steve Bachar, disbarred Denver attorney, pleads guilty to theft

A disbarred Denver attorney pleaded guilty Monday to felony theft and admitted to defrauding an investor in his business of $125,000.

Steve Bachar, 57, pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft and a second count of misdemeanor theft as part of a plea agreement in which he will receive a deferred judgment on the felony charge, which means it will be wiped from his record if he meets court-set conditions for the next two years.

He also will receive probation on the misdemeanor count as part of the plea deal, District Court Judge Eric Johnson said Monday. Johnson advised Bachar that he will face between two and 12 years in prison on the felony charge if he violates the terms of the deferred judgment.

“I understand there is a stipulation to a deferred judgment and sentence, and I will not stand in the way of that,” Johnson said. “But I have to tell you what the maximum penalties are because if you violate the terms of the deferred judgment then you are coming back here for re-sentencing, if it’s proven, and you are looking at that potential (Department of Corrections) sentence.”

Bachar agreed Monday to pay almost $175,000 in restitution; that money will be due at his Jan. 27 sentencing in Denver District Court. He admitted in court that he took $125,000 from a man who believed he was investing in Bachar’s business, Empowerment Capital. Bachar promised to give the man more than a 10% share of profits in the company in exchange for the investment, but he misrepresented the risks of the investment and misrepresented his business partners’ agreement to the deal, he admitted in court.

Bachar also admitted he intended to use the man’s funds primarily for his personal use. He spoke little except to answer Johnson’s direct questions during Monday’s brief hearing.

“Do you plead guilty or not guilty?” the judge asked.

“Guilty, your honor,” Bachar responded.

Bachar, who served in the White House under President Bill Clinton and in the Treasury Department before he moved to Denver, was criminally charged a year after he was sued in two separate lawsuits and accused of mishandling nearly $2 million in funds intended for personal protective equipment during the pandemic.

He was ordered to pay $4.5 million in those civil cases, which are not connected to the criminal case against him. He was disbarred in June, at which time authorities noted he had not paid any of the civil damages.

Bachar did not return a request for comment Monday.

He previously worked with Sen.-elect John Hickenlooper, serving as counsel on Hickenlooper’s campaign for Denver mayor and on his transition team, according to a news release that detailed his career when he joined the Denver law firm Moye White in 2015. The firm said Bachar was a member of its business section before leaving in August 2017.

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