Vail Daily column: Theft by deceit
January 15, 2013
I’ve been holding my tongue since Jan. 2, but now I’ve got to say “Oh, come on!”
On the 2nd, Dallas Stoller, who is apparently new to our community, penned a letter to the editor wherein, rather than falling contritely on his sword for what he termed “pass lending,” instead postured his crime as his “attempt at a kind gesture.”
Really? Oh, c’mon!
The facts, apparently, are these.
The aforesaid Mr. Stoller, new to Happy Valley, had a friend in town. Apparently, they enjoyed days of “thick powder” when the rest of us were riding hard-pack. Out of pure benevolence, Stoller gave his chum his pass. Dreaming of first tracks, Mr. Stoller slept through his alarm to his apparent “horror.”
Not wanting his bestie to miss first tracks by something as pedestrian as buying a lift pass, and there not being even five minutes to spare to do so (after all, who the heck could suffer “second tracks”?), Mr. Stoller, instead, in act of saintliness gave his BFF his pass to use in his stead while he faithfully labored for some unnamed employer.
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The kindness is overwhelming.
But the tale of sacrifice is not yet done.
His friend refused. That’s right, refused. At least in my mind, I see it as a Scarlet O’Hara moment, limp wrist to brow, a pained deep sigh, a poignant moment of memorable drama. But Mr. Stoller overcame her, not wanting his friend to “shell out extra money on a full price pass.” What’s more, he assured her resolute companion, “the scanners don’t actually check the passes.”
Right. They’re there in droves with scanners in their mitts for the ambiance and good cheer. What they’re really checking is the box scores. And anyway, even if “they don’t really check” does that make scamming the resort company OK?
Mr. Stoller goes on to characterize his particular species of larceny as an “un-heinous crime.” By his lights anyway. He was, she claims, simply giving his pal a “gift.” He mentions not at all the “gift”she intended to give was stolen, but what the hey; why get bogged down in messy details?
And at last, towards his utterly remorseless narrative, reality bites. Apparently, his bud got her keester hauled off to jail and then was levied a “hefty fine.” And the local constabulary simply couldn’t divine the philanthropy in Mr. Stoller’s act of selflessness and kindness. Rather than rewarding him for his charity he was instead banned from the mountain. The indignity!
He goes on … “I never realized my kind gesture would become a heavy burden for both me and my friend.”
Ok, Dallas, “Wah.” And now some law.
What it is, my friends, is theft by deceit. Dressed up for a day on the ski hill, you can call it “deceptive use of a ski facility.”
Theft by deception is, essentially, where a person obtains property or services of another by deception with intent to deprive the person thereof.
I’ll spell it out, employing the convenient example of Mr. Stoller and her friend.
I, the friend, pretend (spell that, “attempt to deceive”) Vail Resorts into believing that I am the divine Mr. Stoller. But I am, alas, his mate, not he. In so deceiving the resort company, I intend not to pay for the services it offers, vis-à-vis the relative ease of getting to the top of the ski hill it maintains at what I am sure is considerable financial risk and cost. Simply, I intend to steal the services of the resort company by pretending I am someone else.
Let me point out something else. Theft by deceit is, uh … theft. As in stealing.
Didn’t your momma teach you nothin’?
As an opportunity to teach Mr. Stoller what he apparently did not learn at home, let’s try to get at this another way.
Deceptive use of a ski facility is a misdemeanor in the state of Colorado. By the way, that it is a misdemeanor suggests it is illegal. Deceptive use of a ski facility can result is punishable by fines of as much as $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail.
Hey, Dal, maybe next time roll on out of bed. Or else your friend can suck it up and get second tracks instead of first.
Hey, one last thing; stealing is stealing. Most religions and most moral codes I know of don’t make a fine distinction between stealing small or stealing big or give you a Mulligan when you steal from a big guy rather than a little one.
Mr. Stoller, it’s illegal and it’s wrong. And by the way, except in your own mind, perhaps, you’re not the heroine of this story. You’re plain and simple dishonest. And attempting to call it something else just doesn’t float.
Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley with the law firm of Stevens, Littman, Biddision, Tharp and Weinberg LLC. His practice areas include business and commercial transactions, real estate and development, family law, custody, divorce and civil litigation. He may be heard on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on KZYR radio (97.7 FM) and seen on ECOTV 18 as host of “Community Focus.” Robbins may be reached at 970-926-4461 or at either of his e-mail addresses, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.