AURORA | A write-in candidate for Aurora mayor who was four petition signatures short of making the ballot believes her lengthy criminal record — which includes charges of theft, impersonation and DUI — gives her the advantage in tackling inequality and criminal justice reform.
Tiffany Grays, who has sued the city to challenge the conclusion she only achieved 96 of the 100 signatures required to make the municipal ballot, spent seven days in jail in May on a contempt of court charge, according to court documents.
Grays, 36, said she was “erroneously” sentenced to seven days in Arapahoe County jail after being “denied (her) right to participate in (her) own defense” and “denied (her) right to free speech.” She told the Sentinel she plans to sue the city for that case.
In 2011, Grays was arrested by the Westminster Police Department after officers were dispatched to a Sports Authority store on reports of a theft. A description led police to Grays, who allowed an officer to search her car.
“During our on-scene investigation, Tiffany stated that there were items in her car stolen from Kohl’s in Aurora a few days ago,” according to an arrest affidavit filed against Grays.
Officers also found a black bag full of clothing with price tags still attached in Grays’ car. One item still had a red security device attached, according to the arrest document. Officers also discovered a brad nail remover, which is “commonly used as a security device removal tool.”
She was found guilty of misdemeanor theft and sentenced to one year of probation for that crime, according to court documents. A felony “possession of burglary tools” charge and a misdemeanor “receiving stolen property” charge were both dropped, according to court documents.
“I will say that I have not always made good choices, but that has nothing to do with where I’m at today,” Grays said, talking about the shoplifting case.
In a separate incident that ranged from 2010 to 2012, Grays was sentenced to five days in jail after she was found guilty of forgery and DUI. A litany of other felony charges in the case were dismissed.
A Colorado State Patrol trooper said he stopped Grays on December 18, 2010 near Highway 83 and South Peoria Street in Arapahoe County, according to court documents. The trooper suspected Grays of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Authorities said Grays used her roommate driver’s license when she was taken to a detox center. Upon discovering months later that there had been a warrant issued for her arrest, her roommate told the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s office that it was Grays who was actually driving under the influence that night and charged with DUI. Officials later determined the car in the case, a silver Ford Taurus, was registered to Grays.
“The Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office also asked if I would be able to identify the driver,” the trooper who stopped the Taurus wrote in an affidavit. “I told them that I was unsure, but considering the time frame, I may not be able to.”
On April 5, 2012, the trooper said he found Grays at an apartment in Aurora where she was living under her sister’s name.
“I went to the apartment and knocked on the door once again,” the trooper wrote. “Ms. Tiffany Grays opened the door. I immediately recognized her as the person I had arrested on Dec. 18, 2010. I asked her if she was Tiffany and she stated that she was. I asked her if she remembered me. She stated she did not. I told her that I placed her under arrest at the French Quarter parking lot in December 2010 … I asked her if she recalled giving me her roommate’s driver’s license and she stated she has never had a roommate and didn’t know what I was talking about.”
Grays was found guilty of misdemeanor forgery for presenting false insurance and misdemeanor driving under the influence. A felony “attempt to influence a public servant” charge was dismissed by the DA along with a felony fraud charge and a misdemeanor traffic offense.
In that case, Grays told the Sentinel there was “no evidence I committed any (traffic) infractions and no other evidence that it was me.”
In addition to receiving a short jail sentence for the DUI charge, she was sentenced to two years of probation on the forgery charge, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records,
Grays has also been found guilty of multiple municipal offenses, including trespassing and driving without insurance, in Aurora dating back to the late 1990s, according to local court records.
Grays announced her candidacy for mayor in August on a platform of equality and economic responsibility. “I saw the option was available, and I just believe that Aurora deserves better, a leader that is about the people, that’s willing to stand up for the people,” she said.
Her record, clear of any felonies, does not preclude Grays from running for mayor. She said it does inform her of injustices and work that needs to be done within the justice system.
“They exert this power upon primarily minorities, those in lower economic statuses, because they know we are most often unable to fight back, to defend ourselves, and that’s why the population in prisons and jails are primarily composed of minority persons. I’ve lived it,” she said. “I’ve experienced it. I’ve been on both sides of the line and I believe that until we have a fair judicial system there’s no real way for our people to get ahead because we’re always going to constantly fighting.”
— Sentinel Colorado staff writer Quincy Snowdon contributed to this story