A Denver TV station Sunday denied a report that it had refused an Emmy-winning journalist's request for additional security after she received death threats over one of her stories.
Heidi Hemmat claimed that KDVR Fox 31 had stopped paying for personal security at her home because of concerns over the cost of employing undercover Denver police officers. Her claim was initially made on her website, and then picked up by Mediaite. KDVR General Manager Joan Barrett called Hemmat's accusations "unequivocally false" in a statement to FoxNews.com late Sunday.
"We took Heidi's concerns very seriously and provided her with support, security and an attorney, for which Heidi expressed her appreciation," Barrett said.
On her website Thursday, Hemmat blamed her departure from the station on fallout from a four-part investigative piece on a Denver businessman's alleged dumping of customers' documents that held their personal information and other alleged misdeeds. Consumer fraud charges were filed against the subject of Hemmat's story.
"Shortly after he learned about the charges against him, that were a direct result of me, I got a call from his psychiatrist," Hemmat wrote. "She told me he was 'homicidal' and was planning to kill me. The psychiatrist thought the threat was so credible, she broke HPPA laws (the laws that protect medical records of psychos, such as the theater shooter -- James Holmes) to warn me."
According to Hemmat's KDVR report, Muhammed Murib was charged with fraud after allegedly charging people for unnecessary parts through his business, AAAA TV Electronics Repair and Vacuum.
Murib was ordered to close his repair shop, although the business could still sell new merchandise.
The report also revealed a 1993 case filed by the Denver district attorney in which Murib, who owned American Vacuum, Sewing and Typewriter at the time, was charged with 18 counts of consumer fraud. He pleaded guilty in that case and reopened a new business, according to KDVR.
As the 2015 case against Murib continued, Hemmat says her supervisors expected her to cover every new development regarding the alleged fraud. She says she resisted, was overruled, and continued to fear for her life.
"I knew I couldn't keep ambushing people who did bad things to other people," she said in her web post. "Society has changed. People have changed. My physical and mental health were unraveling. As soon as that ratings period ended I took an unpaid leave of absence, and in August I asked to be let out of my contract."
KDVR officials said they never denied security requests and expressed regret that Hemmat has chosen to blame the station.
"To be clear, we never denied a request for additional security," Barrett said Sunday. "We are disappointed Heidi has chosen to view the circumstances differently and disparage the station. We wish her nothing but the best during what appears to be a continued difficult time."