Michael Wolff is on the lam
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Michael Wolff, the Texas man convicted of getting drunk and crashing his snowboard into a youngster’s ski class at Sunlight Mountain Resort in 2003, has allegedly violated his probation.
Authorities think it’s likely Wolff has fled the state.
Meanwhile, a federal magistrate in Denver entered a default judgement against Wolff on Wednesday after Wolff missed court hearings related to a federal lawsuit filed against him.
By not showing up to defend himself, Wolff has lost the case and is likely to be held responsible for a $100,000 claim.
Ninth District Judge T. Peter Craven signed a warrant for Wolff’s arrest on Feb. 18. If he’s found, he’ll be arrested and held on $2,500 bail.
Wolff, 21, of Killeen, Texas, pleaded guilty last summer to one count of felony negligent child abuse causing serious injury, misdemeanor child abuse causing injury and three counts of reckless endangerment. The incident happened on March 15, 2003, at Sunlight Mountain Resort.
He was sentenced in August to an alcohol treatment program and three years of probation.
Three children were injured in the crash. One girl, Reilly Malone of Lawrence, Kan., suffered a broken arm.
According to a notice written to the Malone family by Chris Cook of the 9th Judicial District Victim/Witness Assistance Program, Wolff “was discharged unsuccessfully from the halfway house treatment program he was enrolled in.”
The notice said Wolff also failed to show up for three mandatory probation meetings in January and early February.
“The defendant’s current whereabouts are unknown, and he is no longer residing at his last known address,” the notice said.
The notice also states that Wolff failed to enroll in a mandatory counseling program.
Glenwood Springs police Lt. Bill Kimminau said he wasn’t aware of the warrant, but explained that the police department is rarely notified when a warrant is filed.
“A lot of times the probation department will have a warrant and normally they won’t let us know unless it’s someone local,” he said.
Kimminau said he suspects that Wolff has left Colorado because his home is in Texas and because nobody has seen him here since January.
Kimminau said Wolff would most likely be caught if he’s pulled over or otherwise contacted by police and they see that he has a warrant for his arrest.
Jim Chalat, the Denver attorney who has been representing the Malone family in their lawsuit against Wolff, said he’ll ask for a default judgement of $100,000 by March 16. The money would cover $16,000 in medical bills, pain and suffering and punitive damages.
“The Malone family recognizes that it’s likely they’ll never get paid for that judgement,” he said.
Chalat said his office doesn’t plan to search for Wolff and figures it’s unlikely Wolff will turn himself in.
“I don’t have any realistic expectations that he’s going to come in and say, ‘Gee, I’m sorry,'” Chalat said.
Chalat said the situation is disappointing because the Malones and federal Magistrate Craig Shaffer gave Wolff ” who admitted in court that he has a serious alcohol problem ” “every opportunity” to straighten up and turn his life around.
“We even contemplated working something out with him that would let him finish school, go to treatment and set up incentives for him,” Chalat said.
He said the Malones viewed Wolff not only as the person who hurt their daughter, but also as a victim of sorts because of his alcohol and family problems.
But Wolff’s latest slips have shut the door on those opportunities.
“He’s made a decision to live a life of crime rather than trying to redeem himself. It’s pretty stupid,” Chalat said. “Believe me, he was given every opportunity ” I’ve never seen a federal magistrate give a guy so much slack.”
Chalat said the $100,000 default judgment is “non-dischargeable,” which means that even if Wolff files for bankruptcy, the judgement will stand until it’s paid in full.
“It’s going to stick for the rest of his life,” Chalat said. “Dumb move on his part.”
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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