Pitkin County Senior District Judge Thomas Ossola sentenced Aspen jeweler Bill Evans to 90 days in the Pitkin County Jail and two years’ supervised probation following his conviction last month for the theft of a gold-and-diamond bracelet.
On Aug. 15, Evans, 78, was found guilty of felony theft on accusations of of stealing Aspen hotelier Terry Butler’s Hammerman bracelet, which she asked Evans to sell for her in late 2011. Evans, who was arrested on suspicion of the crime in April 2012, also was found guilty of a misdemeanor count of false reporting to authorities.
Before the sentencing discussion took place, Evans’ attorney, Lawson Wills, motioned for a retrial, citing new evidence. His motion contained a statement from Butler’s former personal assistant, who wrote that Butler once accused another employee of stealing a ring, only to be found wearing it later. However, in arguing against the motion, Aspen prosecutor Andrea Bryan questioned the personal assistant’s credibility, noting that Butler had terminated the woman.
Ossola denied the motion and proceeded with the sentencing hearing. Butler, who was in Texas to attend to a family matter, shared her comments over the phone.
“I trusted him,” she said. “He gave me false hope. This theft has affected my mind and health. This has definitely taken a toll on me.”
Bryan said that Evans caused “the victim a horrible sense of violation.” She also said Evans “has taken no accountability” for his actions “and isn’t sorry at all.”
She said that Evans should serve 90 days in jail with no work release, along with two years supervised probation.
“It’s not just a slap on the wrist,” she said in arguing that a prison sentence is warranted.
A pre-sentencing report recommended that Evans be sentenced to only two years of supervised probation with conditions but no jail time. The conditions included completing 48 hours of public service and writing a letter of apology to the victim.
Wills asked that Evans be sentenced only to two years’ probation. Evans was provided an opportunity to speak on his own behalf.
“I will just say I’m extremely sorry this event took place,” he said.
When sentencing Evans, Ossola pointed out that Evans had “chosen to say very little about the case.” Evans did not testify on his own behalf during the three-day trial.
“If (Evans) had said something showing a sense of remorse, the court would have given him credit of that,” Ossola said. “What does strike the court is his violation of trust. There has to be accountability for the defendant. If there were no jail sentence the defendant would go on living his life as he lived before. That is not sufficient.”
Ossola also determined the value of restitution Evans must provide Butler.
During the trial, a witness for the prosecution put the “retail replacement value” of the bracelet at $65,000 while an expert for the defense said the “meltdown” value was less than $10,000. The jury, however, was asked to decide if the theft involved a value greater or less than $20,000. In their verdict, jurors convicted Evans of felony theft between $1,000 and $20,000.
Ossola, citing defense testimony, settled on restitution of $14,000. He also ordered Evans to pay $4,300 in miscellaneous fees and costs.
Evans must surrender to the jail by 5 p.m. Friday to begin his 90-day term.
Abby Margulis is an editorial intern working at The Aspen Times. She is a junior at DePauw University in Indiana.