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Disbarred Denver attorney Steven Bachar dies after “medical event” at Rifle prison

Disbarred Denver attorney Steven Bachar died Friday at the Rifle Correctional Center, where he was serving a three-year sentence for defrauding an investor of $125,000.

Bachar, 58, apparently had a medical event and became unresponsive, according to the Garfield County Coroner’s Office.

First aid and CPR were given and emergency medical responders arrived at the scene, but Bachar died at the prison. The coroner’s office was called to the prison Friday morning.

Bachar’s cause and manner of death are still pending, but it appears to be “most consistent with a natural death,” Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire said in a statement.

The Department of Corrections confirmed Bachar’s death on Friday but declined to release further information, stating his death was under investigation, “as is the normal course of action,” spokesperson Alondra Gonzalez said in an email.

Bachar had ongoing health problems, he told a Denver District Court judge during his sentencing hearing in November.

“As your honor knows, I have some significant health issues that focus me on the need to live a good honest life going forward,” Bachar said during the November hearing.

Before moving to Colorado in 2015, Bachar was an Army reservist, graduated from Georgetown University Law Center and worked in the U.S. Treasury Department and the White House under President Bill Clinton, according to his LinkedIn and previous reporting.

He also worked with Sen. John Hickenlooper, serving as counsel for Hickenlooper’s campaign for Denver mayor and on his transition team before moving to Denver to join the law firm Moye White’s business section.

He left the firm in August 2017, according to previous reporting.

Bachar was sued by two companies in 2020 for mishandling nearly $2 million earmarked for personal protective equipment purchases during the pandemic. He was later ordered to pay $4.5 million in the civil cases.

Bachar was then charged with three counts of theft and one count of fraud in June 2022 for defrauding an investor of $125,000 in December 2017, according to court records. He was also disbarred in June 2022.

According to the Denver District Attorney’s Office, Bachar misrepresented and omitted information in order to secure $125,000 in funding from an investor for his firm, Empowerment Capital. Bachar never invested or repaid the money, instead spending most of it for personal use.

Bachar pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft in a plea agreement with the district attorney’s office in September, six months after Denver District Court Judge Eric Johnson rejected a previous plea deal for being too lenient.

While prosecutors asked for two years of prison during Bachar’s November sentencing, Johnson sentenced him to 3 years in prison, stating during the hearing that he wanted to push back on the criminal justice system’s tendency to be more lenient on wealthy, well-connected and well-educated defendants.

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