Houston man turns himself in to Aspen authorities for alleged money laundering, other charges
The Aspen Times
A Houston man wanted by authorities for allegedly stealing more than $81,000 from an Aspen resident by intercepting email messages and hacking email accounts turned himself in to authorities Wednesday morning.
At a virtual Pitkin County District Court hearing in the afternoon, Chandler Bodtmann, 21, waived advisement that he faces felony charges of money laundering, theft and conspiracy.
Magistrate Judge Jonathan Shamis set a $250,000 personal recognizance bond for Bodtmann, who attended the hearing while sitting in the custody of Pitkin County Jail on what at the time was a $100,000 cash-only bond.
“I am inclined to give the $250,000 personal recognizance bond, which recognizes the seriousness of the offense but also recognizes he is presumed innocent,” Shamis said.
Under a personal recognizance bond, a defendant does not have to pay bail unless they violate terms of their bond conditions or don’t appear in court.
Details of the Aspen Police Department’s investigation into Bodtmann are presented in an arrest warrant affidavit filed June 8 by detective Jeremy Johnson.
Johnson inherited the investigation from outgoing officer Mark Anderson on July 30, 2021, when the case wasn’t two months old.
Anderson had been investigating Bodtmann since June 10 that year after he learned from a property manager that an $81,808 wire deposit for a new roof on an Aspen Highlands home was not received by the intended recipient. The transfer was for a 50% deposit to the company hired to replace the roof.
The property manager didn’t catch on to the scheme until earlier that morning, when someone posing as a roofing company manager through an email message asked for an additional 25% toward the overall $163,116 cost. Turning suspicious, the property manager called the company manager, who said he did not send the email. The property manager then went to police, according to the affidavit, which was based on Anderson’s investigation findings.
Anderson’s investigation led him to the executive at the roofing company, who said the staff’s email accounts had been compromised and emails were being intercepted. The wire transfer had gone to a different bank than the one used by the company, the executive said.
Deeper into the probe, Anderson was able to connect the IP address that had been used to log into the roofing company’s internet server to Bodtmann, who set up an bank account for the stolen funds under the name of a limited liability company he controlled, the affidavit alleged.
Anderson was able to obtain the LLC’s bank records through a court order signed by Judge Chris Seldin on Nov. 10, the affidavit said. During his review of the records, Anderson learned that Bodtmann’s LLC had received $81,808 from the alleged victim on June 3.
While the LLC account was open from March 22, 2021, through June 22, 2021, total deposits of $408,844 were made. The same amount was withdrawn during that period, the affidavit said. Most of the withdraws were made in Houston, affidavit said.
Other companies that were scammed by Bodtmann included a Georgia tile company and a commercial glass company in Miami, the affidavit said.
Anderson called Bodtmann on Nov. 23 about what he discovered, and Bodtmann said he himself had been hacked and referred the investigator to his lawyer.
While corresponding with Anderson, the lawyer said Bodtmann and one of his friends were recruited and threatened by a Nigerian scam artist named “Flex O.”
Yet the information provided by the lawyer had no “evidentiary value,” the affidavit said.
“The background to this case does suggest that some duress was involved,” said Denver defense lawyer Douglas Richards on behalf of Bodtmann.
The Aspen resident allegedly cheated out of the money by Bodtmann paid $16.9 million for the home in March 2021, according to property records.
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