Aspen judge lowers bond for man accused of sexual assault | AspenTimes.com

Aspen judge lowers bond for man accused of sexual assault

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

A Pitkin County District Judge reduced local bartender Peter Nardi's bond from a total of $108,500 to $32,500 on Monday morning, but set another condition should he be released from jail: mandatory counseling through the Aspen Counseling Center.

Deputy District Attorney Andrea Bryan unsuccessfully argued that the bond amount that had been in place since last week, related to several charges against Nardi dating back to April, should remain high. She noted that Nardi is a high flight-risk, having skipped out on his Sept. 16 arraignment on a sexual-assault charge stemming from an alleged April incident as well as a bond-violation charge that came about in June when police accused him of drinking at the J-Bar in May. Defense attorney John Van Ness disagreed.

"Simply, $108,500 is too much," Van Ness said.

Nardi, 51, was booked into the Pitkin County Jail during the early morning hours of Aug. 17, jail records show. Officers from the Aspen Police Department and Pitkin County Sheriff's Office searched for him for more than three hours after midnight Aug. 17 following a tip from a concerned friend who called 911 and expressed concern about that he might be suicidal, according to a police records.

Van Ness said that he believes such concerns have been overblown, unfairly giving police legal cause to search Nardi's vehicle and houses where he might have been visiting following his missed court appearance.

"He was just at his wit's end; I don't know what's you'd call it," Van Ness said of his reason for skipping last week's proceeding for which he was to enter separate pleas on the sexual-assault and bond-violation charges.

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The sexual-assault count is a felony that carries a minimum prison term of eight years and maximum term of life.

Nardi, who has always maintained his innocence, was arrested April 6 by Aspen police after a woman, his girlfriend, told them that her took her captive in her apartment, forced water down her throat, beat her, covered her with a pillow, shoved his underwear down her throat, sexually assaulted her and threatened to kill her if she called the police.

In an affidavit for a warrantless arrest, police officer Terry Leitch said he noticed a bruising on the accuser's jaw, forearms, wrist, right elbow and upper right arm, in addition to a small cut on one of her middle fingers.

On Sept. 11, Nichols issued an arrest warrant after police investigated another alleged bond violation. Police officer Jeff Fain, in a statement of facts to support the warrant, wrote that he interviewed a patron of Justice Snow's who said Nardi consumed alcohol there before receiving a phone call and leaving on the same day the warrant was issued. A bartender confirmed that Nardi consumed a shot of Irish whiskey and half of a beer, according to the warrant.

Since bartending is his livelihood, Nardi was allowed to possess alcohol but not consume it, court records show.

In an affidavit for a warrantless arrest, police officer Terry Leitch said he noticed a bruising on the accuser's jaw, forearms, wrist, right elbow and upper right arm, in addition to a small cut on one of her middle fingers.

Nardi's history of brushes with local law enforcement date back to April 2000, when he was charged with larceny and vehicle theft in Pitkin County. He ended up serving jail time and receiving a two-year probation on an embezzlement conviction.

In April 2009, his restaurant and nightclub were seized by the Colorado Department of Revenue for failure to pay taxes.

Nichols set a court date of Oct. 7 for Nardi's arraignment on three separate cases: the April sexual-assault charge and the May bond-violation; the second bond-violation for which the Sept. 11 warrant was issued; and the two failure-to-appear warrants that resulted from skipping court Sept. 16.

The 2013 Nardi File

• April 6: Peter Nardi is arrested by Aspen police after his girlfriend claims sexual assault and assault. Bond is set at $400,000. He later denies the charges during interviews with local newspapers, saying he was the victim and was defending himself against an assault by the woman who accused him.

• April 9: District Judge Gail Nichols reduces Nardi’s bond amount to $2,500 based on the District Attorney’s Office revelation of “incomplete information” in the case; however, the sexual-assault charge and other charges remain pending.

• May 6: Nardi is officially charged in Pitkin County District Court with sexual assault, a felony that carries a sentence of eight years to life in prison. Nardi also is charged with felony attempted assault and misdemeanor counts of false imprisonment and third-degree assault.

• June 12: Nardi is arrested on his birthday after a police investigate allegations that he was drinking on May 31 at the J-Bar, a bond violation. He also is charged with a violation of a protection order stemming from the April 6 incident. A bartender, Nardi is allowed to possess alcohol but not consume it as a condition of his bond agreement.

• Sept. 11: Police investigate accusations that Nardi was drinking at Justice Snow’s, another bond violation. Nichols signs an arrest warrant on that charge on the same day.

• Sept. 16: Nardi fails to show up in Pitkin County District Court for arraignment on the sexual-assault charge and the first bond violation charge. His attorney, John Van Ness, files court motions asking to withdraw as Nardi’s private attorney.

• Sept. 17: Just after midnight, Aspen police and Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies search for Nardi after a friend, said to be concerned for his safety, phones in a tip. He is found at a residence on King Street and booked into the Pitkin County Jail at around 4 a.m. He appears in court at 11 a.m., but the discussion of his bond is postponed.

• Monday: A bond hearing is held in district court. Nichols agrees to lower Nardi’s bond on the Sept. 16 charges (failure to appear and bond violation) from $100,000 to $25,000, and sets mandatory counseling through the Aspen Counseling Center as a condition of Nardi’s release.

Sources: Aspen Police Department, Pitkin County District Court

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