Former Pitkin County deputy sentenced to 18 months deferred judgment
January 18, 2018
A former Pitkin County deputy, charged and terminated last year after being found intoxicated on duty, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor prohibited use of a weapon and received an 18-month deferred judgment on Thursday.
Through his attorney, 62-year-old George Kremer pleaded guilty to prohibited use of a weapon, with a stipulated deferred judgment.
The 19-year veteran of the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office was not in court Thursday, as he was wheelchair-bound after breaking several ribs and his pelvis in a recent mountain biking accident, according to his defense attorney. Prior to working for the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office he also worked for the Aspen Police Department for six years.
Judge Paul Metzger opted for the lower end of a possible 18- to 24-month range for the deferred judgment and probation. The judge reasoned that the 10 months that have passed since the initial charges, over which time Kremer has essentially been serving a probation, made 18 months an appropriate sentence.
The deferred sentence bars him from possessing firearms or consuming alcohol, and it requires him to continue counseling, which should address alcohol issues.
Kremer was put on paid administrative leave in March after he was found to be over the legal limit while on duty and working a vehicle wreck. Within a couple of weeks the sheriff terminated him.
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After being dispatched to a wreck, another deputy smelled alcohol on Kremer. After he was informed, the Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo called in the Colorado State Patrol to investigate. DiSalvo reported Kremer's breath-alcohol content to be between 0.08 and 0.16.
No alcohol was found in the vehicle, and he did not appear to be intoxicated, apart from the smell of alcohol.
He was not charged with DUI as the Colorado State Patrol trooper who issued the charges did not see Kremer driving, though DiSalvo said Kremer did drive a marked sheriff's vehicle while on duty that day. Instead, Kremer was charged on misdemeanor prohibited used of a weapon — drunk with a gun, because the deputy had his service weapon with him — as well as two petty offenses for official misconduct.
Kremer told The Aspen Times in March that he did not drink immediately before his shift that morning, but that the alcohol in his system was residual from the previous night. Kremer said he stayed up late drinking after a long shift that night and was back at work by 7 a.m. the next morning.
Defense attorney Richard Nedlin said after sentencing that the case had been very hard on Kremer, who ultimately wanted to put it behind him with assurances that the charges eventually would be dismissed.
Despite his client's plea, Nedlin believed this was a very defensible case, with witness testimony that Kremer did not appear intoxicated at the time, and the easily discredited results of a portable breath test. Nedlin said that portable breath tests are "a wholly unreliable instrument that is not even admissible in a DUI case." However, Kremer decided to go for the sure thing, and that the deferred judgment was the best way to achieve his goals, the defense attorney said.
Metzger is also reviewing a request to force Kremer to pay prosecution costs of about $200, stemming from an Aspen hotel room that the DA's office booked for the night before trial, because prosecutors were unable to recoup their money when the trial was vacated.