Judge reduces bond for Basalt man accused of cop impersonation
August 12, 2009
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A Basalt man accused of impersonating a police officer appeared in court Tuesday and was given a $45,000 bond reduction by 9th Judicial District Court Judge Gail Nichols.
Nichols granted a reduction from the original $50,000 bond amount, to $5,000 bond, for John E. Dalessandro, 51, despite Deputy District Attorney Anne Kirkpatrick’s objections.
“I have some serious concerns,” Kirkpatrick said. “This seems to be a significant road rage issue,” she continued, saying that she had concerns for the safety of the victims in the case.
However, defense attorney John VanNess told Nichols that he did not understand why the bond was ever set so high in this case because his client has a relatively clean criminal history, despite a previous DUI charge and being arrested in Florida earlier in June for driving his father’s car with expired license plates and drug and paraphernalia possession, which he later pleaded guilty to.
Kirkpatrick noted that Dalessandro also pleaded guilty in a 1997 public indecency and marijuana possession case, as well.
Garfield County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested Dalessandro at the Hot Springs Pool the morning of July 26, and found in his possession a fake law badge, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.
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Dalessandro is charged with felony impersonation of a peace officer, harassment, false imprisonment, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and driving under revocation.
According to a Sheriff’s Office report, Dalessandro allegedly used his vehicle to run another vehicle, which was reportedly having mechanical issues, off eastbound Highway 82, the morning of July 22.
The report stated that Dalessandro, in a green Subaru wagon, approached the other vehicle near the intersection of Highway 82 and County Road 154 and identified himself as a “cop” and yelled at the driver of the vehicle to pull over.
When the other vehicle refused to pull over, Dalessandro allegedly forced the vehicle off the road and blocked it from leaving. He allegedly exited his vehicle and displayed the black State Patrol T-shirt and the fake badge.
The driver of the other vehicle called police, and after a brief altercation, Dalessandro left, the report stated.
“[Dalessandro’s] version of what happened is completely different from what the alleged victims are saying,” VanNess said.
But VanNess said that his client was not disputing that officers found a fake badge, similar to a law enforcement badge, and a black shirt with the Colorado State Patrol emblem on it. VanNess said that his client told him that he received the shirt about 15 years ago during a State Patrol demonstration on air bag safety.
VanNess argued that the shirt was just lying in the back seat and that Dalessandro had no contact with the victim.
Kirkpatrick argued that according to the victim’s statements, Dalessandro identified himself more than once as a police officer.
VanNess told Judge Nichols that Dalessandro is a 31-year resident of the Roaring Fork Valley, and has worked for a taxi company for at least a decade.
Judge Nichols called the allegations “bizarre but believable” and agreed that his criminal record was minimal. She was more concerned with Dalessandro’s health issues, of which VanNess told Nichols that his client suffers from high blood pressure, among other health issues, which he required medications for.
But Nichols was concerned with the victims’ safety as well. She reduced the bond on stipulations that Dalessandro must not contact the alleged victims, he must also see a doctor to ensure that what medications he is taking are correct, and he cannot drink any alcohol.
Nichols also entered a mandatory protection order on the three alleged victims in the case.
As of Tuesday, Dalessandro remained in custody on the $5,000, bond. However, he told Judge Nichols that he expected that his brother from Florida would be able to post the bond amount. Dalessandro is due back in court in September.