Aspen man arrested in Vegas on felony charges for alleged credit card scam
The Aspen Times
ASPEN — A 31-year-old local man who allegedly stole a credit-card number from a man he met online and ran up nearly $9,000 in charges was returned to Aspen on Wednesday and charged with four felonies, according to police and court documents.
Ronald Mitchem Heffner was arrested May 7 in Las Vegas by U.S. marshals, booked into the Pitkin County Jail on Wednesday and charged with theft, identity theft, computer crime and unauthorized use of a financial device, according Aspen Sgt. Rick Magnuson and an affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court.
Heffner also was arrested last year after declining to return a rental car, the affidavit states.
A Utah man told police in early February he met Heffner on Grindr, an online gay networking application, during a stay at a local hotel and spent the night with him, according to the affidavit. When the man woke up, Heffner was gone.
The Utah man told police Heffner must have copied his American Express card number before he left, the affidavit states. The man didn’t know the number had been compromised until he spoke with police.
Pitkin County Dry Goods, a local clothing store, contacted police Feb. 1 and reported that a man calling himself “Mitchem Heffner” purchased two pairs of shoes and a candle for $937 in December with an American Express number he said belonged to his father, “Ronald Heffner,” according to the affidavit.
The charges were later disputed by the card’s owner, though the Pitkin County Dry Goods employee was able to track down Heffner by email and communicated with him about repayment between Jan. 10 and Jan. 28, the affidavit states.
“The emails from Heffner were a series of excuses for nonpayment,” according to the affidavit written by Aspen police Sgt. Chip Seamans.
The sergeant then spoke with Aspen prosecutor Sarah Oszczakiewicz, who told him she’d been in communication with Heffner regarding an upcoming court hearing on another case in which he’d been charged with stealing a car, the affidavit states.
“Oszczakiewicz advised that Heffner used similar stall tactics with a vehicle rental company that finally had to enlist police to track down their property,” Seamans wrote in the affidavit.
Seamans spoke with Heffner the same day, who admitted he owed money to Pitkin County Dry Goods and then hung up the phone when the sergeant asked him for the name on the credit card he used at the business, the affidavit states.
Other charges made on the Utah man’s credit card — all between Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 — included $329 at the Grog Shop, $475 at Burberry’s, $80 at Sky Hotel, $150 at Matsuhisa, $256 at Justice Snow’s, $1,950 for a bed at a furniture store in New York City and $4,600 at Williams Sonoma, according to the affidavit.
A Williams Sonoma loss-prevention manager later told police the items purchased from that business were shipped to Heffner’s apartment in the 800 block of East Hyman Avenue, the affidavit states.
The total amount of fraudulent charges on the card was $8,795.
The Utah man also later identified Heffner from a photo lineup.
Paul Cuthbertson set out by himself around 3 p.m. Friday from the trailhead that leads up to the Polar Star Inn, according to his father, Mike, but never made it to the popular backcountry hut as a late-spring snowstorm moved in.