Rifle man apologizes for stealing items in Snowmass Village
July 9, 2014
A Rifle man who pleaded guilty to stealing from his employer in Snowmass Village received a sentence of 30 days in jail and four years of supervised probation during a hearing in Pitkin County District Court on Monday.
Matthew D. Long admitted in May that he took thousands of dollars worth of jackets and other goods that belonged to Performance Ski between March 2013 and November 2013 while working for Snowmass Hospitality, and he attempted to sell the items over the Internet. He pleaded guilty to a single charge of felony theft between $5,000 and $20,000. Long was a longtime employee for various operations in Base Village.
During the sentencing hearing on Monday, Long apologized for his actions in front of District Judge Gail Nichols. Long said his actions stemmed from an addiction to painkillers that were prescribed to him because of multiple sclerosis — an extremely debilitating disease in which insulating covers of brain and spinal-cord cells are damaged.
However, Long said he was not trying to blame the crime on his disease or the addiction.
"I was in a position of extreme trust, and I violated that trust," Long said. "I lost control."
His wife spoke on his behalf and described him as "a good person" who became depressed over the disease and increasingly erratic as he became addicted to painkillers. She asked Nichols to approve a "sober house" treatment program in Colorado Springs for Long's addiction, in lieu of jail time. Long already is enrolled in the program.
"I hope you give him a chance to get back there again," she said with regard to her husband's personality and behavior before he became addicted to painkillers.
Public defender Sara Steele noted that Long had at least 20 lesions on his brain from the disease. She asked the judge to recognize the extreme mitigating factors in the case.
"He needs help with his addiction," Steele said.
Nichols agreed that the Horizon House program in Colorado Springs was a good idea, but said that his crime was serious and could not go unpunished. In imposing the 30-day jail sentence, she told Long he had up to six months to begin the term.
"You've obviously recognized what you did," she said.