Stolen bike, $17k in cash tied to Aspen Mountain shack man | VailDaily.com

Stolen bike, $17k in cash tied to Aspen Mountain shack man

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

Police have recovered stolen recreational equipment from Aspen Mountain they believe is connected to a man who lived there in an illegally built shack for the past year, a detective said Friday.

In addition, police seized nearly $17,000 in cash from James Hogue's 2005 Nissan Xterra as well as nine pricey ski jackets, three pairs of ski pants, a $1,000 cashmere sweater, burglary tools, postal supplies and ledgers detailing what he sold, where he sold it and for how much, said Jeff Fain, detective at the Aspen Police Department.

Finally, Fain said he was able to discover that Hogue is wanted in Boulder County for allegedly stealing expensive eyeglasses and selling them on eBay. Records from the internet auction site indicate Hogue sold about $70,000 worth of items during the past couple years, he said.

"With the combination of the Boulder case and what I've found, it looks to me like he was running a gear-swap operation out of the back of his car," Fain said. "He's a professional thief."

Hogue was living in the illegally built shack on Shadow Mountain, the westernmost peak on Aspen Mountain, for probably the past year based on the search of his car, Fain said. Officers knocked on the door of the fully enclosed, insulated shack in late September, but the man inside jumped out a window and disappeared into the woods.

Police said the same man — who later turned out to be Hogue — attempted to build another cabin about 100 feet west of the previous cabin earlier this month but was confronted by Aspen Skiing Co., employees and told to leave.

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When the employees noticed Hogue was loading duffel bags into a Nissan Xterra, which had a ski patrol parking pass hanging from the rearview mirror, they called police. Fain arrived and asked Hogue through a loudspeaker to come down the mountain and speak to him, but Hogue instead again disappeared.

A Pitkin County Library patron spotted him last week using a computer in the facility's basement and called police, who arrested him on the Boulder County warrant and a criminal impersonation charge because he gave them a fake name.

Hogue also is the same man who posed as a 16-year-old high school student in Palo Alto, California, when he was 26 years old, then in his late 20s and early 30s fraudulently competed for the Princeton track team for two years under a fake name. He's also served time in prison for stealing bike frames in California and numerous items valued at more than $100,000 in the Telluride area.

After Hogue's Aspen arrest earlier this month, Fain said he and other officers discovered a carbon fiber bike frame, four pairs of skis and two snowboards among his belongings that remained near his new shack site on Aspen Mountain.

The bike had been reported stolen, as had one of the snowboards, he said. If anyone recognizes any of the other items pictured along with this story, call Fain at 970-429-1825.

Fain said he expects to file more charges against Hogue in the near future.

jauslander@aspentimes.com