Trio sentenced in stolen lift ticket scheme at Vail Resorts’ Heavenly and Northstar ski resorts
Three Lake Tahoe men who used Craigslist to sell stolen ski passes for Vail Resorts-owned Heavenly and Northstar ski resorts last year were sentenced in court Monday.
Angelo R. Bosen, 25, of South Lake Tahoe; Tim E. Jacobsen, 22, of Minden; and Mark Graham, 21, of Gardnerville, were arrested after authorities discovered they were stealing and selling day passes for Heavenly and Northstar.
Per policy, the ski resorts have a compensation pass for guests if a lift breaks down for more than 20 minutes, and resort officials noticed an unusually large amount of those passes being redeemed. Only 23 vouchers had been handed out between January and March 2016, but 312 had been used in that same time period. It was eventually determined that 971 passes were taken from the facility. Officials estimate the value of the stolen passes at about $116,000.
It was discovered that Jacobsen had been taking the ski passes from the tops of the lifts, where he worked as an operator, and giving the tickets to Graham and Bosen for the three to sell on Craigslist. Jacobsen and Graham gave the stolen passes to at least four other people to sell. The District Attorney said at one point all of the men had a total of 12 fake accounts to sell the tickets.
Bosen and Graham were originally charged with embezzlement, theft, conspiracy to cheat/defraud and possession of stolen property; and Jacobsen was originally charged with conspiracy to defraud/cheat, two counts of embezzlement, two counts of theft and possession of stolen property.
The prosecution argued that jail time was necessary because of the nature and repetition of the crime.
“These acts were premeditated, repeated and driven by greed and driven by selfishness,” District Attorney Tina Russom said. “… their actions rippled through the corporation.”
Because of the thefts, Vail Resorts, which owns Heavenly and Northstar, changed the policy for all of its resorts across the country.
“This whole process and outcome has changed the policy nationwide, because now it is how can we safeguard against our own employees?” Vincent Arthur, a representative from Heavenly, said in a victim impact statement to the court.
Heavenly decided to honor the stolen tickets patrons had bought online, and Arthur said the resort will feel the financial loss for several seasons until the cycle of stolen tickets passes through.
The three were sentenced individually, with Jacobsen and Graham asking for diversion due to an alcohol and substance abuse evaluation. However, Judge Thomas Gregory determined that neither qualified for a diversion program due to the nature of this case.
During their chance to talk, all three defendants told the court that they were sorry about what they had done and claimed they didn’t think about the impact to the business.
“I wanted to apologize to you and the court and also Mr. Arthur,” Jacobsen said. “At the time I didn’t realize the impact I would have, it is very eye-opening.”
“I wanted to start by saying how deeply sorry I am, my behavior was unacceptable,” added Graham. According to the court, Graham was the only one who expressed regret before the plea dealings, by emailing the company.
Bosen and Graham were sentenced to 48 months with parole at 12 months suspended sentence for principle to commit embezzlement, and Jacobsen was sentenced to 60 months with parole eligibility after 18 months suspended sentence to embezzlement. All three sentencings were for a probation period of five years, and each was ordered to pay more than $32,000 in restitution.