After the city of Fort Collins, Colorado and Larimer County paid $10 million dollars to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit out of court with Timothy Masters in 2010, for wrongfully convicting him of the grisly 1987 murder of Peggy Hettrick, another Fort Collins case has emerged that is eerily similar.

‘Burning the Beekeeper: The Benjamin David Gilmore Story,’ was created to show evidence, from two separate trials, that proves Gilmore’s innocence in the $10 million dollar fire at the Mason Flats Apartments in Fort Collins on October 24, 2011.  The documentary points to two other individuals, transients Gerardo ‘Clutter’ Salazar and Gerald Carter, who were the first suspects questioned, and for unknown reasons were dismissed by the Fort Collins Police Department.

Not only did witnesses testify under oath that Salazar admitted to setting the fire but his clothes were alerted to by the accelerant-sniffing arson dog.  Unfathomably, investigators had his clothes sent to experts in California, where they were specifically told NOT to investigate and to return the clothes untested.

It gets worse.

As the fire raged, the first witness on the scene was Gerald Carter, who was told to leave his property and immediately leave the scene.   Investigators cleared him as a suspect without any interviews and went as far as deleting him from their criminal database.

Although the police report shows Salazar admitted he joked to others about throwing Molotov cocktails at the building, the Fort Collins Police let him go without any other interviews or surveillance.

Lt. James Broderick, the lead investigator on the Tim Masters’ case was indicted by a grand jury on federal perjury charges for his involvement in the case.  After surviving the lengthy and expensive court battle, he resigned with his pension, but admitted mistakes investigating Masters, including “tunnel vision” on the part of investigators who focused only on Masters as a suspect in their zeal to get a conviction.

The similarities between the two cases include Fort Collins’ investigators reliance on a few pieces of evidence and the exclusion of many significant items of direct evidence.  For example, Gilmore’s Rolex watch was found at the scene and burns on his hands dictated their whole investigation.  Gilmore, who doesn’t have his left hand, burned his hands while he was practicing the art of fire poi spinning.

Why would Gilmore leave an expensive Rolex watch, with his name on it, at the scene of an arson fire? 

Prosecutors claimed it was either caught on a nail or it became too hot and he had to remove it.  They failed to address that Gerardo ‘Clutter Salazar worked for Gilmore at the family’s successful local business, Copoco’s Honey and that he also had access to Gilmore’s house.  Prosecutors also failed to address the fact that homeless people were staying on the third floor of the apartment building that was under construction; those homeless men were reportedly using Sterno cans as a heat source.

Why would Police want to prosecute Benjamin Gilmore?

Gilmore was looked up to by the community for his beekeeping skills.  He was also a vocal and inspiring member of the beginning stages of Fort Collins’ Occupy Wall Street movement.  He was a non-violent unappointed leader of Occupy who threatened the establishment by being a well-liked and outspoken critic of the United States’ endless wars of occupation and of the privately owned Federal Reserve funding them.

The fires at the Mason Flats/Penny Flats Apartments were one block away from the Occupy Fort Collins encampment and the media immediately hyped Gilmore as a suspect.

When ‘Burning the Beekeper’ debuted at the Lyric Cinema Café on December 3, the Fort Collins newspaper, The Coloradoan, shed light on the prime suspect Gerardo “Clutter” Salazar, who mysteriously died in a train accident.

Benjamin Gilmore needs our help immediately because this Thursday he appears in front of Judge Odell (970-494-3800 – Case #11CR1575) at 1:30pm, to face a maximum 30-year prison sentence.

What can we do about it?

Most importantly, share this film.

Please politely call the Judge’s office and any media outlets, before Thursday, so we can create needed awareness to save Ben from being separated from his wife and 9-month old son.

Bruce Baumann

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