Bench warrants issued for Ron Braden after failure to appear in court
Ron Braden, the town of Vail’s former IT director, was a no-show in district court Thursday morning for preliminary hearings and first appearances in multiple criminal cases against him.
After Braden failed to appear, Judge Paul R. Dunkelman issued extraditable bench warrants for each of Braden’s four criminal cases, according to Assistant District Attorney Heidi McCollum.
Braden remained at large and a fugitive from justice Friday, exactly one week after he removed his court-ordered GPS monitoring device and disappeared.
Braden faces more than 100 felony charges for allegedly planning to defraud taxpayers of hundreds of thousands of dollars over six years and then resisting arrest and assaulting police when he was arrested July 4 for the charges of racketeering, theft of $100,000 to $1 million, money laundering, computer crime, embezzlement and forgery.
The charges against Braden, which include alleged violations of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, followed an 18-month investigation by Vail Police and the FBI.
District court records show Braden was released from custody after posting $250,000 bond on Aug. 27. They also show prosecutors attempted to modify and revoke Braden’s bond, and that Braden struggled to meet the conditions of his release.
McCollum has not responded to requests for comment about Braden’s compliance with his bond conditions. Neither has Braden’s attorney.
On Sept. 16, an arrest warrant was issued for Braden, charging him with misdemeanor violations of protection orders and felony bail bond violations. Court records indicate Braden was then ordered to home detention and electronic home monitoring, and only allowed to leave his home to meet medical needs, work, appear in court, meet with his attorney, or for living necessities such as trips to the grocery store.
Prosecutors asked the court to revoke Braden’s bond Sept. 21, after Braden indicated to Geo Reentry — the firm monitoring his whereabouts by GPS — he would be going out for daily bicycle rides in Eagle and Frisco and other locations.
“The defendant asked the court if he could ride his bicycle. The court said no,” prosecutors wrote in their Sept. 21 motion to revoke Braden’s bond, referencing an earlier hearing about his bond conditions. “Today the GPS unit showed he was riding his bicycle at the Minturn Bike Park. The defendant obviously is unwilling to comply with his bond conditions based upon his activities since Sept. 17.”
On Sept. 22, Braden apparently indicated to Geo Reentry that he would be traveling to shop at Safeway and Whole Foods in Frisco, and provided general statements of locations he would be traveling to for work. That same day, Judge Dunkelman entered a court order clarifying Braden was not authorized to leave home to ride his bicycle or exercise, and that travel for necessities required Braden to go to the closest possible facility.
Judge Dunkelman did not revoke Braden’s bond, but took prosecutors’ motion under advisement in a Sept. 23 order.
“The court finds it somewhat incredible that the defendant and counsel believe the court authorized leaving home for bike riding or other exercise. The court did not … The court order included nothing about leaving home for bike rides. The request was made by the defendant. The request was specifically and clearly denied,” Judge Dunkelman wrote in the order.
“The bond conditions were to limit and monitor the defendant’s location. It was not to permit the defendant to travel wherever he wanted as long as he gave general information in advance to Geo. It is apparent that the defendant has at best loosely interpreted the court orders. The court does not find this to be a misunderstanding or misinterpretation on the part of the defendant,” Dunkelman continued. “Lack of compliance or further attempts to creatively skirt this order will result in bond being revoked.”
On Sept. 24, Geo Reentry submitted a suspected violation of Braden’s bond conditions to the court after Braden indicated he would be leaving his home to walk his dog, and GPS showed he did. “As this is not a court approved activity, this is in violation of his bond conditions,” the Geo Reentry report states.
Braden’s bond was not revoked for the dog walk. An Oct. 7 court order stated Braden had never informed the court that he had a dog that would require him to leave his home for walks.
“Given the lack of information, the court did not authorize said activity. If defendant believes this to be a necessity, he needs to seek court approval in advance for this to be deemed a necessity,” Dunkelman wrote in the court order.
Braden remained on bond until mid-October, when he was permitted to travel to Grand Junction on Oct. 16 to help someone move personal property and go to the VA Hospital.
According to the town of Vail, Braden’s GPS monitoring device sent a tamper alert at 12:45 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13, and then stopped tracking. Authorities said that two of Braden’s vehicles were found in separate locations — one at the Walmart in Avon where Braden was reportedly seen on security camera footage being picked up by someone in a silver Toyota 4Runner.
Vail Police Commander Ryan Kenney said the department is continuing to try to locate Braden using numerous state, federal and local resources.
According court records, Braden’s passport has already been surrendered.
Tom Lotshaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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