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Aspen club Bootsy Bellows ‘was clearly open’ Saturday at 1 a.m., according to police report

A downtown Aspen bar was clearly open and serving alcohol at nearly 1 a.m. Saturday, with a full staff, loud music and a crowd of up to 75 people drinking, according to police reports.

Further, neither the Bootsy Bellows staff who appeared to be working, including cocktail servers, bartenders and a bouncer, nor the patrons at tables, the bar or on the dance floor were wearing masks, the reports state.

“Andrew Sandler, the owner, was standing at the bottom of the stairs next to the door, and when he saw us, his face dropped,” according to a report by Aspen Police Officer Lauren Sumner. “I walked in and noticed at least three servers/bartenders as well as one bouncer working.

“The bar was clearly open.”

Both Sumner and Officer Jeremy Johnson were on routine foot patrol downtown at 12:55 a.m. Saturday when they noticed the basement door to Bootsy Bellows was ajar and could hear loud music and people talking, according to their reports.

Once inside, Sumner and Johnson also noted further evidence of alcohol being sold at the bar — which is not allowed to be open at all under state and county public health orders — nearly three hours after the statewide 10 p.m. last call for alcohol to be served at restaurants.

“At one point a customer (who put a mask on) came up to me and asked me the following: ‘So a bunch of people just bought bottle service only five minutes ago and the bottles were about $150 or so; can we re-cap them and take them with us?’” Johnson wrote in his report. “I later observed a female cocktail waitress present a receipt to a patron for payment.”

The officers also saw the club’s booths “full of patrons sitting and surrounded by people standing,” while others stood at the bar and on the dance floor with the bartender “tending alcoholic drinks,” the reports state.

“There were approximately 50 to 75 people in the club,” according to Sumner’s report. Johnson estimated there were 60-plus people inside.

Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn on Monday called the situation a “blatant violation of the public health orders.”

“The bar was open for business,” he said. “This is just an egregious violation on the face of it.”

Sandler told officers “he would ‘take his lashings’ and he is going to take responsibility for screwing up,” according to Officer Sumner’s report. He told Officer Johnson, “I screwed up, cite me. This is on me.”

Sandler told the Times on Sunday, however, that the club was not open or staffed and that people “descended on the place” early Saturday through an unlocked back door with their own alcohol.

Sandler, however, did not file a police report alleging trespassing or burglary at the club, and did not ask that police investigate the alleged break-in, Linn said Monday.

Sandler did further explain the situation to Aspen police in text messages about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, according to Johnson’s report.

He said a member of the electronic music group Thievery Corporation had been upstairs at Scarlett’s restaurant Friday evening and that “people were harassing him,” the report states.

“I told the staff to move them downstairs so they could pay their bill without being harassed,” Sandler wrote, according to the police report. “All their bottles were ordered before 10, obviously.”

The staff left the Thievery crew downstairs for 20 minutes while kicking people out of Scarlett’s, when 40 people entered Bootsy’s through an open back door and “one of them jumped in the DJ booth and (turned) everything on,” he said. A Scarlett’s staff member kicked some people out but left three parties of 20 people to continue drinking, Sandler said.

The “celebs and people downstairs were drinking bottles,” and were neglected by the Scarlett’s staff “as we were busy upstairs,” Sandler said, according to the police report.

“The worst part is some of the people downstairs were locals who came right in and did what they wanted,” Sandler said in the police report. “This was a total lack of follow through from the staff and I was unaware of it. It’s my fault.”

Sandler did not return a phone message Monday seeking further comment.

Sandler’s version of events is tough to swallow, Linn said.

“It’s hard to accept to his story at face value,” he said.

It was unclear Monday what will happen to Sandler and Bootsy Bellows in the near future.

Ry Neiley, assistant Pitkin County attorney, said normally a business that has been shut down for violating the public health order can request a hearing with the public health director within 30 days. However, since bars aren’t allowed to be open at all, that can’t happen, he said.

“This is not a gray area,” Neiley said. “Bars are to remain closed.”

Not only that, but Sandler was forced to shut down Scarlett’s — on the second floor above Bootsy’s basement location — for a weekend in June over similar allegations of serving alcohol and not enforcing social distancing.

“We’re clearly dealing with a business owner who’s been made acutely aware of the requirements of the public health order,” Neiley said. “To the extent that he blew that off … I will say that the standard provided in the statute is a willful violation.”

A willful violation of the public health order, which can be addressed by a judge in Pitkin County District Court, is classified as the highest level misdemeanor under Colorado law and is punishable by up to 18 months in jail, a $5,000 fine or both, he said.

It is up to Public Health Director Karen Koenemann to determine whether to file a criminal case, Neiley said.

On Monday, Koenemann told the Times she needed to speak further with the county attorney’s office before making a decision as to how to move forward. However, she pointed out one crucial difference between the situation in June with Scarlett’s and the one Saturday with Bootsy’s.

“What was unique to this scenario is that (Bootsy’s) was not allowed to be open whereas Scarlett’s was allowed to be open,” she said. “It was a pretty blatant violation of not just (Pitkin County’s) public health order, but potentially the governor’s health order (and) a city ordinance.”

Gov. Jared Polis shut down bars statewide at the end of June and called July 21 for a statewide last call for alcohol at 10 p.m. As of late June, Aspen’s City Council required people to wear masks inside public buildings and businesses as well as outside.

As for Sandler’s version of events, Koenemann dropped a hint as to what might happen in the near future.

“I think if that’s the case, then the owner should bring that to court if he wants to share that story,” she said.

Saturday’s incident could affect Sandler’s liquor license, as well.

Aspen’s Local Licensing Authority board meets Tuesday, at which time City Attorney Jim True will present an affidavit outlining what happened Saturday, Aspen City Clerk Nicole Henning said. If the board accepts the affidavit, it will set a hearing for Sept. 1, when Sandler can come in and present his side of what happened, she said.

The board would then decide what to do next.

The case also is under investigation by the state of Colorado’s Liquor Enforcement Division, said Suzi Karrer, division spokeswoman. She declined to comment further Monday.

On a broader note, Koenemann, Linn and Neiley all noted the selfish gall of allegedly opening a bar in the middle of a pandemic, which goes against nearly every public health warning across the country, when so many are suffering.

“It certainly doesn’t help the business community that this type of thing is going on,” Linn said. “For him to be doing this kind of thing is really a slap in the face … to the entire community.”

That includes the business community, which is trying to do all it can to cooperate with public health orders and still make money, as well as the police and public health officials, he said.

Koenemann said most restaurants in town are doing all they can to cooperate with the constantly changing health orders, while public health officials are trying to focus on larger problems like how to get kids back in school and prevent community transmission of COVID-19.

“It feels frustrating when so many people are sacrificing so much,” Koenemann said. “That’s the part that gets to me. You could be putting people at risk for getting sick.”

jauslander@aspentimes.com


Eagle County Sheriff’s Office has tips to prevent car break-ins

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office is reminding residents and guests to keep their vehicles locked and secured at all times as car break-ins and car thefts are easily preventable. There is a concern as a growing number of prowlers are gaining access to valuables in unlocked and unsecured vehicles. 

There has been a growing number of reports of stolen items out of vehicles that are left unlocked or unsecured in the town of Gypsum in the past few weeks. This continues to be an issue that county-wide law enforcement agencies see regularly. These types of thefts often cannot be reported as a break-in if nothing was broken into.  

Don’t give thieves an opportunity. Thieves typically don’t craft clever schemes to swipe your stuff. Most just see something they like sitting in plain sight, break in, or just open the door and take it. Lock your doors, take your keys with you and place valuables out of sight every time.

Theft prevention starts before you even leave your vehicle. It only takes a few minutes to take the necessary steps to prevent your car from being stolen or broken into. Here are a few reminders:

  • Keep your valuables out of sight or locked in the trunk.
  • Roll up the windows and lock your car when you park.
  • Park your car in a busy and well-lit area.
  • Use alarms or anti-theft devices whenever possible.
  • Don’t store valuables in the obvious places such as a console or glove box.
  • Don’t leave your keys in the car.

If you see someone or something suspicious, report it to local law enforcement. 

If you think you may have information, call the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, 970-328-8500 or remain anonymous and contact Eagle County Crime Stoppers, 970-328-7007 or 1-800-972-TIPS. You can also submit tips online at www.p3tips.com or send a tip using the FREE ‘P3 Tips’ mobile app. If your tip leads to the arrest and indictment of any suspect involved, you could earn a cash reward from the Eagle County Crime Stoppers.

Arrests made after another police chase, manhunt near Parachute; possible auto theft ring

After another vehicle chase and ensuing manhunt on foot in the hills east of Parachute, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office reports it now has two people in custody.

Sheriff Lou Vallario said the suspects are possibly connected with earlier vehicle thefts and a chase that ended with an abandoned vehicle and reported break-in and theft at a cabin at Sweetwater Lake late last week.

Authorities in Garfield County are looking into a possible auto theft ring operating out of the Parachute area, which led to a second police chase in less than a week Monday morning.

“We had a couple more vehicles reported stolen out of Parachute today, and we think maybe what we’re dealing with is a theft ring,” Sheriff Lou Vallario said Monday afternoon.

The latest chase involved a truck stolen from a fleet yard. That led to a chase in which the suspect ended up driving through fences and fields before authorities ended the pursuit for safety reasons, Vallario said.

In the process, though, some evidence from a reported burglary and theft of firearms and ammunition at an unoccupied cabin at Sweetwater Lake in remote eastern Garfield County late last week was recovered, the sheriff said. Authorities now think the incidences could be related, he said.

One Sweetwater resident, Michael Davis, said residents of the area were on edge all weekend, not knowing if the suspect in that case was still on the loose.

The morning of July 23, a high-speed chase also involving a stolen vehicle that began in the Parachute area reached speeds of 100 mph along eastbound Interstate 70 all the way into Eagle County.

Law enforcement officials in Eagle County moved into position to intercept the white Ford F-350 truck, but backed off when the suspect was weaving in and out of traffic and reversing directions at interchanges.  

The chase eventually ended up on the Colorado River Road, and headed up the Coffee Pot Springs/Sweetwater Lake roads. Several Sweetwater area residents reported sightings, and the truck was eventually found abandoned at a dead-end road near an unoccupied cabin on the Garfield County side.

Davis said the truck at one point drove through a cattle drive and knocked one of the cowboys off his horse.

Residents of the Sweetwater community were notified of the incident and updated through a reverse 911 system. At some point, the suspect is believed to have broken into a cabin and stole several firearms and ammunition.

“No one was on lockdown, but we did ask people to lock their door and cars to be safe,” Vallario said. “We have no reason to believe anybody involved is still hanging around Sweetwater.”

Police did conduct search efforts in the area using K9 teams on Thursday, and were back over the weekend talking to residents to gather more evidence, he said.

At this time, the suspect remains at large and no identification has been made. Some witnesses who saw the stolen truck described the suspect as possibly a skinny white or Hispanic male, but Vallario said they do not have a solid description.

Davis expressed concerns that not enough was done to locate the suspect that night, and that the area is lacking in the way of police protection.

“Most of the community up there feels very neglected,” he said, noting that the remote location and split jurisdiction between Garfield and Eagle counties poses some challenges. Davis said the neighborhood plans to arrange a meeting with the two sheriff’s offices to discuss protocol for future incidents.

Vail alters policies following former IT director’s arrest

It took years for Town of Vail officials to understand the scope of an alleged plot to defraud the taxpayers of more than $800,000. In the wake of an 18-month investigation, the town has changed some of its contracting practices.

Ron Braden, the town’s former information technology department director, was arrested July 4 in Minturn. He faces charges including violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, theft, conspiracy to commit theft, forgery, money laundering and cybercrime. He also faces charges related to his arrest.

Braden, who had worked for the town for nearly 25 years, was dismissed following his 2018 arrest for having sex in Glenwood Springs with an underage woman. He was on probation for that offense at the time of his July 4 arrest.

Accounting discrepancies

When Braden left his job at the town, the town’s finance department started noticing discrepancies in his department’s finances. The Vail Police Department began an investigation, which eventually involved the FBI. The investigation examined alleged wrongdoing going back six years.

Vail Town Manager Scott Robson said the alleged scheme between Braden and Eric E. Nastri, who is also charged and under arrest, was sophisticated enough to avoid detection for several years.

In fact, the town passed several independent audits during that time.

The fact the town passed its independent audits shows “how difficult embezzlement is to unearth when a vendor is part of that collusion,” Robson said. That’s especially true regarding information technology.

Robson said information technology is a “very unique language,” and contracts are sometimes quite different from construction and other industries.

Changing processes

In the wake of that investigation, Robson said the town has changed parts of its procurement processes.

Robson said Braden kept bidding internal to his department, and there were a number of no-bid contracts with the same vendor.

Now, all contracts valued at more than $50,000 must be approved by the Vail Town Council. Contract change orders over $25,000 must be approved by the town manager.

Robson said significant changes to project contracts may in the future require separate contracts, all subject to approval by other town officials.

“We feel like we’ve stopped those gaps that existed even 18 months ago,” Robson said, adding that the town’s finance team has established deeper internal audits in all departments as deemed necessary.

Robson praised the town’s finance and police departments for their investigation. He also praised the officers who arrested Braden. Body camera footage appears to show Braden resisting arrest, and one officer sustained a cut on his hand breaking the passenger-side window of Braden’s RV to enter the vehicle and grab the keys from the ignition.

Officers searched the RV and discovered a semi-automatic rifle and ammunition. The video also shows at least one box of pistol ammunition, but the search found only one firearm in the RV.

“Their training paid off without severe incident,” Robson said.

The 2018 arrest

Former town of Vail Information Technology Director Ron Braden was arrested in October of 2018 on suspicion of hiring an underage prostitute. His position in town was terminated in early November of that year.

That case was settled in November of 2019 when Braden pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor and engaging in prostitution.

Braden served no jail time, but was sentenced to five years of supervised probation and 100 hours of community service.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com.

Stolen truck suspect gives chase in Eagle County

At approximately 10 a.m. on Thursday morning, law enforcement officials in Eagle County received notification that a suspected stolen truck out of Parachute was eastbound on I-70 and approaching Eagle County at a high rate of speed.  

Deputies with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, town of Eagle Police Department and troopers with the Colorado State Patrol quickly moved into position to intercept the white Ford F-350 truck.  

While attempting to stop the vehicle, speeds started to exceed 100 mph. Law enforcement backed off to avoid placing innocent travelers at potential risk. The suspect continued to maneuver the stolen truck dangerously in and out of traffic and change directions at I-70 interchanges, eventually ending up on the Colorado River Road and the Sweetwater Road community.

Deputies continued to follow the stolen truck up Sweetwater Road with sightings from several community members where the truck was finally located at a dead-end road near an unoccupied cabin in Garfield County.

Deputies began search efforts with two different K9 teams and search teams.  After several hours of searching, K9s lost scent and teams were called off. Officials with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office were able to recover the stolen vehicle. Residents of the Sweetwater Road community were quickly notified of the incident and updated through a reverse 911 system thanks to the Vail Public Safety Communication Center. 

The suspect remains at large and no ID has been made. Residents of the Sweetwater Road and Colorado River Road area have been asked to keep vehicles and homes locked and to contact local law enforcement if they see anything suspicious. Several witnesses who saw the stolen truck yesterday described the suspect as possibly a skinny white or Hispanic male.  

At the current time, a police presence will continue in the Sweetwater Road area but is being scaled back, and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office will continue to assist the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and the Parachute Police department with their ongoing investigation as needed.  

Vail police seeking suspects in bike and vehicle thefts

In the early morning hours of July 9, several high-end bicycles and a vehicle were stolen from the Red Sandstone, West Vail and Vail Village areas.

Security video from several of the incidents show three male parties, who may have information on these crimes, traveling in what is believed to be a gray 2007-2010 Toyota Highlander.

A second related vehicle appears to be an older model black Toyota 4 Runner with a roof rack, bike rack and cargo box. If you recognize the vehicles, pictured individuals or have any information on these crimes, email pd_detectives@vailgov.com or call 970-479-2201 and ask to speak with detectives.

Murder case against Glenwood Springs man in 2018 vagrant incident continued again

A June 2018 murder case involving an alleged drunken confrontation between two men in West Glenwood is still making its way through the Ninth Judicial District court system.

Trevor Torreyson, 43, is accused of beating Keith Wayne to death in a small private park situated off Storm King Road during a night of drinking on June 20, 2018.

Torreyson is now represented by attorney Ashley Marie Petrey after having a falling-out with his original public defender last September.

He was back in court Tuesday afternoon for the first time in months before Chief District Judge James Boyd — via WebEx video from the Garfield County Jail where’s been held on $1 million bond since his arrest the day after the incident.

Petrey requested another lengthy extension, and a plea has yet to be entered by Torreyson in the case. The arraignment hearing was continued yet again until the afternoon of Sept. 8.

“This does not substantially change what’s happening with the case, thus far,” Petrey informed the judge. The District Attorney’s Office did not object to the continuance.

Both Torreyson and Wayne were experiencing homelessness at the time of the incident, and were well-known within the fairly close-knit community of people who often camp on the outskirts of Glenwood Springs.

Wayne, who was 56, was found dead near several car dealerships in West Glenwood off of Storm King Road the night of June 20, 2018, with wounds on his left temple consistent with blunt force trauma.

The first officers on the scene found boot tracks, apparently made on concrete from dried blood, heading west from the scene.

When cops arrested Torreyson later that day, he was discovered in his campsite with blood on his boots, pants, shirt and arms, which has been introduced as evidence in the case.

Police identified Torreyson as a suspect because of a bandana officers found at the scene under Wayne’s body, which officers recognized from previous contacts with Torreyson.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Former Basalt teacher pleads guilty to 1 count of sexual assault on a child after relationship with student

Former Basalt schools music teacher Brittany von Stein on Tuesday pleaded guilty to having a sexual relationship with a student who was a minor and potentially faces a lengthy prison sentence.

Brittany von Stein
Garfield County Jail

In return for the guilty plea to sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, four similar charges were dismissed in the plea disposition, attorneys told Garfield County District Judge James Boyd.

“I want to take responsibility for my actions and spare everyone the damage of a trial,” von Stein said Tuesday in court.

Judge Boyd asked her a series of questions about her understanding of the offenses and the potential penalties. Von Stein, who was able to call into the hearing because of new procedures during the coronavirus, sounded composed during the questioning and her voice never wavered.

Zac Parsons, an assistant attorney with the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, said von Stein developed a relationship with a male high school student who was a minor at the time of the encounter.

“While being a music student she began to give some lessons to one student in particular who was under the age of 18,” Parsons said. “They developed a relationship. Ultimately Ms. von Stein invited him over to her house where they engaged in sexual intercourse on multiple occasions in the January to June timeframe in 2019.”

Sentencing is set for Sept. 16. The charge von Stein pleaded guilty to is a Class IV felony.

“There are no sentencing concessions,” Parsons said.

Boyd informed von Stein that if she is sentenced to prison, she could be sentenced for two to 12 years on the low end.

“The maximum amount of time in prison would be the rest of your life,” he said.

He ordered pre-sentence evaluations and investigations prior to the sentencing.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

Frisco man sentenced to 10 years in prison for assaulting multiple police officers

FRISCO — Robert Patton of Frisco was sentenced Monday, July 13, to 10 years in prison for assaulting police officers during an altercation with his roommate in November 2019.

At about 11 p.m. Nov. 11, officers with the Frisco Police Department were dispatched to a residence off Little Chief Way to deal with a fight. After officers arrived, Patton tried to leave the house despite orders from officers to stay.

When officers tried to detain Patton, 47, he punched one of the officers in the ear and another in the nose, breaking it, according to a news release from the Fifth Judicial District.

According to the police report, officers from the Silverthorne, Breckenridge and Dillon police departments arrived to assist, and deputies from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office took Patton into custody.

On May 18, Patton pleaded guilty to second-degree assault on a police officer, a class 4 felony.

During sentencing Monday, the judge took into account Patton’s criminal history, which included a previous sentence for assaulting a peace officer in 2018, a robbery in 1994 and numerous other incidences of assault, according to the release.

“Mr. Patton has a long history of confrontations and conflict with others — including law enforcement,” Fifth Judicial Deputy District Attorney Kylie Whitaker said in the release. “His blatant disregard for our community and law enforcement officers has not only been dangerous but would have continued to endanger the people of Summit unless he was removed for this lengthy period of time.”

Eagle County Sheriff’s Office reports stolen packages in Sweetwater Road, Dotsero area

Deputies with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office are alerting residents in the Sweetwater Road area to packages and mail being stolen from resident mailboxes around the Fourth of July weekend. Several residents have specifically reported missing items that were expected on July 2. Deputies want to encourage residents to call in to report if anyone else may be missing mail or packages from your residence mailbox.  

Several packages in question showed they were delivered on July 2 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. One resident waited to report until after mail was delivered on Friday and another resident stated their family was home all weekend but thought a package might have been misplaced when they never received it. The United States Post Office shows items were scanned as “delivered” at each of these locations. 

Deputies are asking residents in that area to notify authorities if anyone has any additional information or camera footage of suspects or a vehicle because there may be other unknown victims of the package or mail thefts.

To learn more about mail theft prevention, visit https://www.uspis.gov/tips-prevention/mail-theft/.

If you think you may have any information about a suspect(s) or this crime, please call the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 328-8500 or Eagle County Crime Stoppers at 970-328-7007, 1-800-972-TIPS.  You may also submit your tip online at www.p3tips.com or send a mobile tip using the free P3 Tips mobile app. If your tip leads to the arrest and indictment of any suspect involved, you could earn a cash reward from the Eagle County Crime Stoppers.

Those charged with crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.