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Crime briefs: Rear seat full of meth, fentanyl leads to arrests near Silt

At approximately 12:37 p.m. April 14, a Colorado State Patrol trooper initiated a traffic stop along Interstate 70 near Silt.

According to the affidavit in support of a warrantless arrest, the silver BMW was traveling 83 mph in a posted 75-mph zone.

Upon being pulled over, the 25-year-old female driver and 34-year-old female passenger told the trooper that they were traveling from California to Minnesota for a wedding.

The affidavit stated that, “both the driver and passenger appeared nervous and were somewhat frantically looking for the documentation for the vehicle.”

After speaking with both the driver and passenger, separately, while their stories sounded “similar,” there were “some inconsistencies,” according to the affidavit.

Additionally, as the trooper spoke with the passenger he noticed that, “she was breathing very heavy,” the affidavit stated.

After running both females’ licenses through dispatch, however, the two were cleared and the trooper ultimately gave the driver a verbal warning before saying that the two were free to go.

“As the [driver] reached the driver’s side of the car, I asked her if she would mind talking to me some more,” the trooper stated in the affidavit. “I asked the [driver] if I could look in or search her car. She immediately agreed.”

Subsequently, the BMW’s driver and passenger waited outside of the vehicle as the trooper searched its interior.

“I searched the car for approximately one hour,” the trooper stated in the affidavit.

Over the course of the hour-long search, the trooper said he observed that the BMW’s rear seat was loose and noticed that portions of it were also misaligned.

“I found two aftermarket metal compartments behind the padding on both sides of the rear seat,” the trooper stated.

According to the affidavit, the trooper was able to tear a portion along both sides of the rear seat and inside each compartment found “two bundles” that appeared consistent with drugs.

At this point, with the help of an assisting state trooper, the law enforcement officers detained both females.

Later, field tests indicated that the four bundles tested positive for methamphetamine and fentanyl.

Additionally, the total weight of all four bundles amounted to 3,331 grams.

The 25-year-old driver was booked into the Garfield County Jail on charges of  possession with intent to distribute more than 225 grams of schedule I or II drugs, as well as speeding 5-9mph over the maximum 75 mph limit.

The 34-year-old passenger was also booked and charged with possession with intent to distribute more than 225 grams of schedule I or II drugs.

mabennett@postindependent.com

Bond reduced for alleged Glenwood child trafficker

A 9th District judge on Thursday significantly reduced bond for Damara Hester, accused of trafficking juveniles for sex from a Glenwood Springs hotel in 2017.

Along with Hester, 26, a grand jury indictment in October accused Dasjuan Goode, 31, of operating the prostitution ring, and accused Ronald Braden, 53, of allegedly paying for sex with one or more of the juveniles the other two allegedly trafficked.

District Judge Denise Lynch reduced Hester’s bond from $50,000 to $10,000 cash surety, after hearing arguments about Hester’s minor criminal record and her desire to reunite with her son.

“Damara has a place to stay, [and] she has family willing to take her in and care for her,”  public defender Elise Myer, Hester’s attorney, said in court.

Hester was most concerned for the son she had with Goode, Myer said. The child, who is 8 months old, had been in Hester’s mother’s care, but now is with Goode’s mother, who is unresponsive. Hester has been in custody in Garfield County for more than five months.

Goode was not in court Thursday as he is in custody facing charges in Arapahoe County. He also pleaded guilty recently to weapons charges in Adams County and sentenced to 18 months in Colorado Department of Corrections.

Goode’s mother has refused to give the child back to Hester’s mother, Myer said, and there’s concern about the child’s welfare. Goode himself will apparently be unable to take care of the child, Myer said.

Myer also indicated that Hester was coerced and manipulated by Goode in his relationship with her, as well as in the alleged charges of setting up a juvenile prostitution ring.

Hester is committed to seeing the case to its conclusion, Myer said.

Janet Drake of the Colorado Attorney General’s office said the alleged victims in the case objected to reduction in bond for Hester, and said Hester’s family was clearly “ensconced in gang activity,” particularly through her father.

Myer countered that Hester’s mother is a business owner in Denver, and in a stable position to care for Hester and ensure she returns to Glenwood Springs for court, if she is able to make bond.

“I do think this bond was set so high due to the nature of the charges,” Lynch said. Hester’s record included only traffic and misdemeanor infractions, Lynch said.

It’s unclear what sort of conditions could be placed on Hester in the event she is released on bond, but Drake suggested an ankle monitor. Myer said they would accept any conditions of release.

Through his attorney, Braden requested a continuance in his case to June. The attorney said they are working with prosecutors on a possible plea deal, but if it doesn’t come by the next court date, Braden intends to plead not guilty.

tphippen@postindependent.com

Cops: Former city councilman stole $2.4 million from Aspen Skiing Co.

A former Aspen city councilman and mayoral candidate allegedly stole and sold more than $2.4 million worth of skis, snowboards and other goods while working as an Aspen Skiing Co. executive for 17 years, according to court documents.

Derek Johnson, 51, and his wife, Kerri Johnson, 48, were charged Monday with theft of more than $1 million, a felony on par with attempted murder. The couple also were charged with burglary, cybercrime and conspiracy, which are all felonies.

Derek Johnson, who was fired by Skico in the wake of the theft allegations in December, is currently working as a delivery driver for an Aspen restaurant, while he and his wife and three children are surviving mostly on savings, Kenneth Citron, his lawyer, said Monday morning in Pitkin County District Court.

Citron asked District Judge Chris Seldin to grant the Johnsons personal recognizance bonds — which would have meant they could be let out of jail without posting any money — because the couple have “really limited financial resources.”

“This is a man who has dedicated his entire life — other than to his profession and family — to this community,” Citron said, noting that Johnson has sat on numerous boards including the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, the Snowmass Village Resort Association and the Red Brick Center for the Arts.

Prosecutor Don Nottingham, however, said that Johnson was filling those community roles — which also included coaching kids’ hockey and football — while he was allegedly stealing more than $2 million “over a lengthy amount of time.” In addition, the Johnsons are each facing as many as 24 years in prison if convicted, which could provide a compelling reason for them to flee, Nottingham said.

Seldin noted that he initially set the bond lower than the prescribed amount, and decided Monday to keep the Johnsons’ bonds at $10,000 cash or surety. As of Monday afternoon, neither Johnson was listed as an inmate on the Pitkin County Jail’s online roster.

Neither Johnson spoke in court Monday.

Johnson helped found the D&E Snowboard Shop and sold it to Skico in 2001, when he was kept on as managing director of the company’s retail-rental division. He also served on the Aspen City Council between 2009 and 2013 and ran for mayor in 2013.

Skico fired Johnson in December, calling the situation “tragic” and “very painful and personal,” though company officials declined to comment further. Johnson, at the time, said his firing was “a private employment matter” and also refused to comment further.

Court documents unsealed Monday indicate that Skico’s security manager told Aspen police Nov. 9 about an anonymous tip the company’s human resources department had received about Johnson stealing demo skis and selling them through an eBay account called “sportandski.”

Spreadsheets found on Johnson’s computer at his home showed that between 2010 and 2018, he and his wife listed $2.15 million in total sales from the eBay account, according to the court documents.

In addition, police found more than $224,000 worth of skis and snowboards in a storage unit rented by the Johnsons. That gear was turned back over to Skico officials, the documents state. Finally, the couple also billed Skico nearly $42,000 since November 2015 for ski boxes they used to send the allegedly stolen Skico skis to their eBay customers.

That is a total of $2.41 million in alleged theft, according to the Johnsons’ arrest warrant affidavits.

“I did not find any receipts or documentation relating to the procurement of ski equipment,” Aspen police Det. Adriano Minniti wrote in an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court.

Skico hired an Aspen law firm to investigate the situation, and provided Aspen police with a copy of the report.

The investigation led to an employee hired in 2017 to better track company inventory. During the 2017 inventory, the employee discovered 150 pairs of skis missing and informed his supervisor, according to the documents. The supervisor asked Johnson about it, who told him not to worry about it, so the situation was forgotten.

The next year, the same employee organized the inventory of skis into categories, then noticed that 80 pairs of high-end demo skis later went missing, the documents state. Security camera footage then showed Johnson taking the skis from racks the employee organized and putting them into a Skico box truck.

The box truck was equipped with GPS, and was tracked to Johnson’s home and then to his storage unit, the documents state.

“Based on existing evidence, Johnson would take skis from ASC’s inventory and he or his wife would deliver them to a small warehouse in Aspen that they rented,” according to the report’s summary quoted in the court documents. “It appears that their practice was to remove any stickers identifying the skis as ASC property, photograph them and post them on eBay for sale by auction.

“To facilitate delivery of skis to purchasers, the Johnsons used ski boxes that were purchased and paid for by ASC.”

The Johnsons billed Skico more than $6,000 for the ski boxes in August 2018 alone, according to the documents. In 2018, the couple allegedly sold 580 pairs of skis to the tune of nearly $140,000. Tax documents found on ASC servers indicated the couple reported $495,000 in sales in 2017.

In addition, a forensic audit found that more than $1 million in inventory was missing since 2008, and that “the ski sales increased in the last couple of years and … that the loss incurred last year was approximately $500,000,” according to the documents.

In its report, the law firm said it didn’t know if Johnson procured ski equipment from other sources besides Skico. Johnson allegedly told the firm he had other sources prior to 2012, though the only source he named later denied selling him anything, according to the court documents.

In a file found on his computer titled “timeline,” Johnson said the eBay situation started as a way for D&E to reduce used inventory and was run, at first, with Skico’s knowledge, according to the documents.

The operation wound down when his children were young and when he was on City Council, then was brought back and “intended to (be) run above board,” the documents state. It eventually “spiraled out of control,” Johnson wrote in the file, according to the documents.

“I was miserable with role at ASC (we were trapped),” he wrote, the documents state. “Kerri was not happy with her work.”

Johnson told Aspen police that senior Skico executives did not know he had restarted the eBay business and that his wife was the only other person involved, though he was solely responsible for obtaining the skis, according to the documents.

“Several times he volunteered that ‘Kerri didn’t know where I got the inventory,’” the documents state. She did know the source of the ski boxes, however, according to the documents.

According to documents found on Derek Johnson’s computer, the Johnsons have nearly $102,000 in credit card debt and owe more than $294,000 in other debts.

On Monday, Johnson’s lawyer said the couple own only their employee-housing unit in Aspen and no other property.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

Utah man charged with felony menacing after pointing gun at traffic in Breckenridge

The suspect arrested after allegedly making threats and pointing his rifle at traffic along Highway 9 in Breckenridge last week has been identified as 37-year-old Bryan Allan Hunt of Utah.

On the morning of April 4, the Colorado State Patrol received several calls reporting a man sitting in a parked SUV on the northbound shoulder of Highway 9, near Tiger Run Resort, and pointing a long-barreled rifle at traffic moving by.

A CSP trooper responded to the scene at about 9:50 a.m. and saw a man, later identified as Hunt, standing near the rear bumper of the car and smoking a cigarette. The trooper — who arrived in full uniform in a marked patrol vehicle — approached Hunt, at which point Hunt turned away and walked toward his open car door, and put his hand into his coat pocket, according to court records.

In his report, the trooper noted that Hunt was unsteady on his feet and appeared very agitated. The trooper said Hunt got to the driver’s door, and stopped to face the traffic, ignoring his instructions to move away from the vehicle. The trooper moved around to the passenger side of the car to look for other people or weapons, spotting a scoped rifle on the floorboard of the front passenger’s seat with the bolt in the locked position.

At that point the trooper drew his weapon and pointed it at Hunt, giving loud verbal commands to contend with the music blaring out of the car’s radio. According to the report, Hunt then turned around to look at the trooper, pulled his hand out of his pocket and pointed at the trooper. Hunt allegedly then entered the driver’s area of the car and reached toward his rifle.

“I returned my support hand to my duty weapon and thrust forward while giving commands to stop and get away from the rifle,” wrote the trooper in his report. “I did not shoot as there was traffic on the highway and it was behind Hunt.”

Hunt allegedly asked the officer, “What, are you going to shoot me?” before finally moving to the back of the car. Though Hunt was away from his gun, the tense situation continued. The trooper moved around the car to place himself in between Hunt and the traffic on the roadway, noting that Hunt continued to yell at him instead of complying with his instructions.

Officers with the Breckenridge Police Department arrived on scene, at which point Hunt put his hands on his head and dropped to his knees. While on his knees, Hunt allegedly pulled a knife from a sheath on his hip, pointed it and stabbed it into the ground in front of him. According to the report, Hunt then got up, returned to his knees, grabbed the knife and threw it away. A Breckenridge officer deployed a Taser to subdue Hunt, and the CSP trooper placed him into handcuffs. The trooper said that Hunt continued to struggle while being placed under arrest, and while waiting for paramedics to arrive on scene. Hunt also allegedly told the trooper that he was here in Summit County to “drive fast, shoot people and blow (stuff) up,” according to the report.

After Hunt’s arrest officers searched his car, recovering the Mauser 25-06 rifle with a scope, along with a second bolt-action rifle and an ammunition can.

Hunt was taken to the emergency room at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, and subsequently booked into the Summit County Jail.

Hunt has been charged with felony menacing, along with misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct, obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest. He’s scheduled to appear in county court on April 23.



Crime Briefs: “warning shot” leads to attempted murder charge

On April 9, at around 4:30 a.m., police received reports of a shots fired call in Parachute. The reporting party told dispatch that another man, 24, “took a shot at him”, according to the arrest affidavit.

When officers were en route, dispatch received a call from the suspect stating that he was willing to speak and told them his location, according to the arrest affidavit.

Officers arrived on scene and conducted a high risk stop.

After searching the suspect, a female in the passenger seat reportedly said the suspect’s gun was in the glove box of the vehicle.

Officers retrieved the pistol and noted there was a loaded magazine and a round in the chamber, states the affidavit. There were also two small children in the backseat.

The suspect reportedly said he was picking up his girlfriend and her two small children from an individual’s house in Parachute (later identified as the caller into dispatch).

He also said the man began to aggressively work toward the car once his girlfriend and her kids were inside. That’s when the suspect pulled out his handgun and fired a “warning shot” he told police,  according to the arrest affidavit.

Police began to try to piece together exactly what happened between the three witnesses from the scene and learned that the suspect fired the shot at the other individual as he was nearing his vehicle.

Officers found a gunshot hole in the other man’s vehicle. Police noted that the bullet did not have an exit hole and “it could have easily ricocheted and hit,” one of the children present, according to the affidavit.  

Through the course of the investigation the suspect said the first shot “was a warning shot and the next one would be fatal.”

The arresting officer noted that the suspect changed the details of his story several times and never gave a reason he shot at the other man.

He was arrested for criminal attempted second degree murder, child abuse, among other charges.

Early morning troubles at Glenwood Hostel

On April 10 at around 4:30 a.m., Glenwood Springs police received reports of a suspect breaking windows at the Glenwood Hostel.

Officers arrived to find one of the suspects in the alley and when they asked him his name he gave a false first name, according to the arrest affidavit.

Officers walked to one of the sides of the building and saw one of the windows was broken.

The suspect in the alley, 30, was detained and witnesses said they saw him in the bathroom with a baseball bat breaking windows and damaging the shower curtain, states the affidavit.

A woman in the residence at the time reportedly took the baseball bat from him and told him to leave.

Another witness said he was asleep and heard loud noises from the kitchen area. He identified the suspect and said he had a black tire iron in his hand, states the affidavit.

Officers found another witness that positively identified the suspect and he was placed under arrest. Narcotics were found on the suspect’s person and he was charged with second degree burglary, criminal mischief, possession a controlled substance among other charges.

Drug use, trespassing at Parachute hotel

On March 29 and just before 7:30 a.m. Parachute police were dispatched to a reported trespassing a the Grand Vista Hotel.

When the officers arrived the manager and an employee said that a former employee, 28, came to the hotel and trespassed. The employee said the suspect came and got a room. When the employee told the manager, the manager went to the hotel room and overhead the suspect discussing drug use and called the police, states the arrest affidavit.

Deputies with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office approached the hotel room, knocked, and told the occupants they were police.

After several minutes of no one coming to the door, police could hear movement thru the door and the moving of objects inside the room , according to the affidavit.

The three occupants eventually opened the door and police reportedly asked the whereabouts of the suspect and none of them would admit to knowing her or her even being there. One of the occupants later said she had left.

The three were asked to leave the hotel.

Police then searched the hotel room and found drug residue and drug paraphernalia, states the affidavit.

The three individuals were then pulled over on CR 215 a short time later and narcotics and drug paraphernalia was found inside the vehicle.

A short time later, the suspect called dispatch and was advised to come to the Parachute Police Department, according to the affidavit.

Police found a black bag outside the hotel, which contained methamphetamine , drugs and a prescription bottle made out to the suspect.

She was later charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, among other charges.

Craig Miller, father of Lake Christine Fire suspect, found not guilty in menacing trial

EAGLE — A jury found Craig Miller not guilty Wednesday of menacing his neighbors after he felt they interfered with his son’s arrest in July for allegedly starting the Lake Christine Fire.

The jury deliberated for about 80 minutes in the Eagle County Courthouse before reaching the verdict. Miller was charged with intent to commit second-degree burglary, two charges of menacing and criminal trespass. The burglary charge was a felony. If he had been found guilty, Miller could have been sentenced to one to three years in prison. The other charges were misdemeanors.

Michael Fox, Miller’s attorney, characterized the case in closing arguments as one of “miscommunication, misinformation and missing evidence.”

“This case is missing evidence and it’s missing evidence because the police didn’t see it,” Fox said. “It didn’t exist.”

In a statement issued after the verdict, Fox built off that theme.

“Craig Miller always maintained his innocence. We appreciate the time and thoughtfulness from these twelve Eagle County jurors to vindicate our client,” the statement said.

“This case was about the police jumping to conclusions and an incompetent investigation,” the statement continued. “For a variety of reasons, those issues were not detailed in previous news articles. If a sufficient investigation had actually been done in this case, Craig should have never been charged.”

Miller’s defense relied almost entirely on his own testimony. He took the stand for about two hours Wednesday explaining why the events of Saturday, July 14, at the home he then rented in Missouri Heights upset him so much.

Miller’s son, Richard Miller, and Richard’s girlfriend, Allison Marcus, had warrants issued for their arrests earlier in July for charges related to the Lake Christine Fire. They allegedly shot tracer rounds at the Basalt State Wildlife Area shooting range late in the afternoon of July 3 and ignited dry grasses and brush.

The fire charred about 12,500 acres of land, destroyed three houses and forced the temporary evacuations of thousands of residents. The firefighting cost was estimated at $17.1 million.

Richard Miller’s trial is scheduled for May 28-June 7; Marcus for June 17-28.

An attorney for Richard Miller and Marcus arranged with the district attorney’s office for the suspects to turn themselves in for arrest at Eagle County Jail on Monday, July 16, according to testimony in the two-day trial.

Craig Miller testified that he was looking forward to a family gathering at his home on the weekend before Richard and Allison had to “deal” with the charges. Those three along with Craig’s other son and his girlfriend as well as Craig’s 74-year-old mother prepared a late dinner together that Saturday night. Craig went to bed at about 9:45 p.m. and was awakened later by voices. After showering, he investigated and found out two Eagle County deputies had sought entry to the house to search for Richard and Marcus after getting a tip they were at the home.

The deputies were gone by the time Craig Miller got out of bed and showered. Richard Miller and Marcus had hidden from the deputies and were still at the home as events unfolded that night.

Craig testified that he was particularly upset because he had spoken to a detective from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office earlier in the week and explained the surrender agreement. Miller felt he got a commitment that the sheriff’s office would honor the surrender agreement.

When the deputies were at his house that Saturday night, Miller’s first action was to call the detective shortly after 11 p.m. to ask him to call the deputies and “get the people to stop harassing us,” he testified.

He got the detective’s voicemail and left a message that said he didn’t trust him anymore.

Next, Miller headed out from his house to try to find the deputies who had been at his house. He found them a short distance away and approached two police vehicles. He admitted feeling “frustrated, exhausted and stressed out” when he talked to the deputies. A big part of the stress was from protectiveness for his son and his son’s girlfriend.

“The children did nothing wrong,” Miller contended Wednesday at the trial. “They don’t deserve any of this.”

He engaged the deputies in conversation about their efforts to enter his house.

“I’m saying, ‘Are you aware of the arranged surrender agreement and if you are, why are you here?’ ” Miller testified.

He said the deputies told him they had an obligation to act on a tip. Miller remained frustrated and called 911 in an effort to get the name of the deputies’ supervisor so he could complain about their conduct and get them to stop pursuing his son and Marcus that weekend.

“They’ve gone rogue. They’ve gone rogue. They’ve gone rogue trying to help their reputations,” Miller told the dispatcher.

While talking to their supervisor a short time later, he concluded the tip came from a neighbor.

What happened next was at the center of the dispute during the two-day trial. Neighbors Joseph Lewis and Jocelyn Terry testified Tuesday that Miller banged on their door, shined a flashlight in their windows and entered their gated backyard.

In a 911 call played at least twice during the trial, Terry sounded terrified about a man trying to enter their house.

But Miller testified he simply wanted to explain to his neighbors that his family had made a deal that would allow his son and Marcus to turn themselves in on Monday and that his family just wanted to be left alone that weekend.

He insisted that he never banged on the door at the house of Lewis and Terry, never attempted to enter the house and didn’t enter the yard.

Deputies responded to Terry’s 911 call. Craig Miller was arrested. Richard Miller and Marcus surrendered a short time later.

In closing arguments Wednesday, Chief Deputy Joe Kirwan of the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s office portrayed Miller as angry and vindictive when he went to his neighbors’ house.

“We all know, we heard the phone calls, he was peeved,” Kirwan said.

He contended that the trial proved Miller was guilty of all four charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

“I’m going to suggest there isn’t any doubt in this case,” Kirwan told the jurors. The testimony was 180 degrees different. If the jurors believed Miller’s testimony, they should find him not guilty. If they found the neighbors more credible, they should find Miller not guilty.

Fox countered Miller was stuck in a bad position because the surrender agreement wasn’t shared throughout the sheriff’s office, the neighbors were unaware of the agreement and, because of a lack of information, the neighbors’ concerns might have been exaggerated.

“This case is riddled with reasonable doubt because Craig Miller is innocent,” Fox said.

‘Joke’ sends police to possible Parachute bank robbery; felony charges result

A “bizarre” scene unfolded at the Wells Fargo Bank in Parachute last Friday, as Deputy District Attorney Tony Hershey described the case against Silt resident Bannon Lindsay at a court hearing Monday.

Lindsay, 45, now faces felony criminal attempt and robbery charges as a result of his alleged actions that day.

According to an arrest affidavit, Lindsay entered the bank before noon on April 5 and allegedly made statements to bank employees that he was going to rob the bank.

Bank employees reported the incident to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, and Lindsay was ultimately arrested outside the bank.

When deputies arrived, Lindsay had gone back inside the bank’s ATM area, but the doors into the main bank area had been locked as a matter of policy due to the employees’ concerns, according to the report.

According to the employee accounts, Lindsay attempted to open the locked bank doors before officers arrived.

While Lindsay was still inside the ATM area, a sheriff’s deputy waited outside the bank with his rifle, according to the arrest affidavit. When Lindsay exited the ATM he was detained by the deputy.

Lindsay told police he was “just joking,” states the affidavit, and reportedly laughed when he saw police had been called.

Employees at the bank later said they did not think he was going to hurt them and confirmed he said he was joking to them as well, but each said they were “uncomfortable” from him.

Lindsay’s bond was set at $1,000 at the arraignment hearing on Monday.

Colorado man pleads guilty to setting fires that killed animals

GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado man has pleaded guilty to setting a barn fire that killed six horses and a dog.

The Denver Post reports that 38-year-old Earnest Sunday Maynes pleaded guilty Friday in Jefferson County District Court to two counts of arson, eight counts of animal cruelty and one count of criminal mischief.

Prosecutors say Maynes set eight fires at different locations in the Denver suburb of Lakewood in April 2018.

Authorities say a witness told police she observed Maynes setting small fires and saying “gonna blow things up” and “want to watch the world burn” a week before the fire at the barn that held the animals.

Authorities say that because of prior felony convictions, Maynes is not eligible for probation.

Court records say his sentencing is scheduled for May 24.

Undercover operation arrests 10 internet sex predators in Mesa County

MESA COUNTY — A three-day operation in Mesa County has resulted in the arrest of 10 individuals for attempting to have sex with children or engage in prostitution, according to a news release from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. 

Investigators in the large-scale, multi-jurisdictional undercover operation posted ads for sex with children on several websites, social media sites, and applications.

As a result, the following people were arrested and booked into the Mesa County Detention Facility:

• Aaron Kenneth Tydingco Apatang, 22, of Grand Junction for the charges of internet luring of a child (Class 4 felony), internet sexual exploitation of a child (Class 4 felony), enticement of a child (Class 4 felony) and criminal attempt of sexual assault on a child (Class 5 felony).

• Steven Bruckner, 35, of Grand Junction, for the charge of soliciting for child prostitution (Class 3 felony).

• Jason Gullion, 40, of Grand Junction, for the charges of two counts of criminal attempt of sexual assault on a child victim less than 15 years old with at least a four-year difference in age (Class 5 felony) and two counts of soliciting for child prostitution.

• Michael Duane Jones, 57, of Grand Junction, for two counts of soliciting for child prostitution; two counts of pandering a child (Class 5 felony); two counts of patronizing a prostituted child (Class 3 felony); two counts of criminal attempt of sexual assault on a child (Class 5 felony); two counts of possession of weapons by previous offenders (Class 6 felony); four counts of distribution, manufacturing, or possession with the intent to distribute between a half-ounce and half-pound of Schedule I/II drug or between a quarter-ounce or quarter-pound of meth, heroin, ketamine or cath or between 10 to 50 milligrams of FLU (Class 2 drug felony); and one count of a special circumstance of use, display, or possession on person or within reach of a deadly weapon during the offense (Class 1 drug felony).

• Terry Royster, 57, of Grand Junction, for the charges of soliciting for child prostitution and criminal attempt of sexual assault on a child.

• Robert Louis Woodruff III, 34, of Gastonia, North Carolina, for the charges of internet luring of a child with intent of sexual contact exploitation (Class 4 felony), and criminal attempt of sexual assault on a child victim less than 15 years old with at least a four-year difference in age.

• Austin James Pierce, 20, was arrested on an active warrant for failure to appear. The warrant was issued related to his recent arrest from a Mesa County Sheriff’s Office case where the victim is 14 years old. Pierce was also charged with violation of a protection order for having communication with the victim in the sex assault case.

Three additional people were issued a summons to appear in court the Class 3 misdemeanor of prostitution: Dustin Kelleher, 40, of Fruita; Jennifer Smith, 49, of Clifton; and Kimberly Anderson, 40.

All arrestees are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

“It’s important to know who you and your loved ones are engaging with online. Talking about the dangers of the internet should be an open dialog between parents and kids of all ages. For resources on internet safety, visit the Resources for Parents section of our website,” stated the release.

Arresting agencies included Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, Grand Junction Police Department, Palisade Police Department, Mesa County District Attorney’s Office, Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, US Marshals Service, and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

MCSO thanked local, state and federal partners for assisting in the operation and helping to protect the youth of Mesa County.

Garfield County crime brief: Household appliance thief gets busted for that, and more

A Carbondale resident is in hot water after being accused of theft at two appliance stores in the Glenwood Springs area.

On March 18, at just after noon, a theft was reported at the Habitat for Humanity Restore after surveillance footage showed a man taking a dishwasher from the store without paying for it.

Police used footage of the theft, along with statements from two of the employees and an interview with the store manager to make their case, according to an arrest affidavit. 

Video showed the suspect allegedly pull a price tag off a dishwasher in the store. He paid the $50 listed on the tag, but then continued walking four aisles away from the purchased dishwasher and took a different dishwasher, listed at $298, and left the store with the more-expensive item, states the affidavit.

Police executed a search warrant at the man’s listed home address in Carbondale on March 23.

During the search, police found methamphetamine as well drug paraphernalia, and arrested several occupants of the house. Three individuals were charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

After conducting the search, police also located the dishwasher. They took photos of the dishwasher and its serial number.

Police contacted Habitat to come out to the address and repossess the dishwasher, according to the affidavit.

At around 1 p.m. April 2, police met with a Glenwood Springs prosecutor to discuss a letter he had received from the same suspect in the stolen washer case.

The letter was regarding a case from September 2018, where the man was a suspect in a theft from Lowe’s in Glenwood Springs.

The letter, signed by a Lowe’s general manager who was later found to not exist, stated that the suspect did not steal the lawn mowers he was accused of stealing that day, states the affidavit.

When police reviewed the letter, they found numerous grammar, spelling and punctuation errors.

The Lowe’s letterhead featured on it was also found to be fake, states the affidavit.

Police later learned from Lowe’s employees that the purported store manager never worked there.

There were also numerous other mistakes that the store employees noticed, including incorrect extension numbers.

Police charged the suspect with attempting to influence a public official, states the affidavit.

The man was also charged in the other case with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, theft of more than $50 and less than $300, among other charges.

azorn@citizentelegram.com