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Aspen police: State agency assisting in investigation of former Aspen Skiing Co. director

Aspen police have asked the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to help oversee their investigation into allegations that a former Aspen Skiing Co. director sold company goods online for personal profit.

"We know the level of public interest is high," Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said late last week. "We are trying to be transparent because the allegations involve a former City Council member and one of the valley's biggest employers."

The CBI investigator's assistance with the investigation will "make sure it's done correctly," Linn said.

Aspen Skiing Co. and Derek Johnson, the managing director of the company's retail division, parted ways in early December. In a statement issued at the time, the company called the situation with Johnson "a personnel matter" that while "very painful and personal" and "tragic," it was not something company officials would comment on further.

Johnson, who also served on the Aspen City Council from 2009 to 2013, called it "a private employment matter" and confirmed to The Aspen Times in December that he no longer worked at Skico after 17 years, but declined to comment further.

Johnson, 51, headed Four Mountain Sports and D&E Ski and Snowboard Shops as managing director of the company's retail-rental division.

Multiple individuals with knowledge of the situation told the Times in December that Johnson sold skis, snowboards and other merchandise that belonged to Skico on the auction website eBay. Johnson was allegedly tied to an eBay seller that recorded 7,983 transactions since it began selling in May 2001, those sources said.

Skico officials first reported the allegations about Johnson to Aspen police, Detective Adriano Minniti said Friday. Linn said police had been investigating the case for about two months before it was reported in Aspen newspapers last month.

Police have executed several search warrants in connection with the case, including one at a storage facility in the Aspen area, Linn said. Neither Linn nor Minniti would comment on what was found or seized under the search warrants, which are not publicly available in court records.

"We have requests for information from big tech companies, and computer hardware to examine," Linnn said. "We have, by no means, reached a conclusion."

No charges have been filed against Johnson, who did not return a phone message Friday seeking comment. Aspen-based Deputy District Attorney Don Nottingham declined to comment on the case late last week.

Linn cautioned that the police investigation into the case is likely to take months. Police must ask for and receive information — possibly from eBay for example — through the search warrant process, then must digest that information and decide if more is needed, he said. If more is necessary, then more search warrants must be written, approved by a judge and sent to other entities, like banks or credit card companies.

The investigation is similar to recent Aspen police efforts to investigate alleged embezzlement from the Red Brick Center for the Arts by the nonprofit's former director, Linn and Minniti said. In that case, former executive director Angie Callen was charged with embezzlement more than a year after she was fired by the Red Brick Council for the Arts.

Two other Skico employees who worked with Johnson also were fired, according to an Aspen lawyer who represents one of them. Alan Feldman has said his client had nothing to do with the allegations against Johnson and that Skico told the employee the dismissal was part of "restructuring."

Feldman declined to comment on the case Friday.

However, Linn said the police investigation has remained focused on Johnson.

"At the moment, we're investigating a single subject," he said.

After serving on the City Council, Johnson ran for mayor on a pro-business platform, but lost to current Mayor Steve Skadron. Johnson, who moved to Aspen in 1991, and a partner founded D&E and later sold it to Skico in 2001.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Angie Callen was fired by the Red Brick Council for the Arts.

Aspen Skiing Co. applies to build 148-bedroom workforce housing project at Willits in Basalt

Aspen Skiing Co. hopes to take a bite out of its affordable-housing needs by spending $15 million to build a 148-bedroom project in Willits Town Center.

Skico submitted an application to the town of Basalt at 4:30 p.m. Thursday for what it calls the Willits Workforce Housing Project.

"It's 100 percent workforce housing," said Philip Jeffreys, Skico project manager. "It's on a site that otherwise wouldn't have had (affordable housing)."

The company has a contract to purchase vacant land known as Block 9 at Willits. That property is along Willits Lane and flanked by a vacant lot purchased by the Steadman Clinic to the east and the future home of The Arts Center at Willits to the west.

Platform Ventures, the landowner and developer of much of Willits, has taken care of its affordable-housing obligations elsewhere in the project, so Block 9 was earmarked for a combination of commercial space on the ground floor and free-market residential housing above.

The site is perfect for high-density housing, Jeffreys said, because residents can walk two blocks to a major bus stop on the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority system and they are surrounded by services ranging from grocery stores to numerous bars and restaurants.

"I've been trying to do something at Willits since the day I was hired," Jeffreys said.

Skico enlisted him in fall 2016 specifically to work on housing issues.

If this project advances through the Basalt review process, it would be a $15 million investment by Skico, from property acquisition to infrastructure work and construction of the housing, Jeffreys said. Harry Teague Architects has been hired for the design. Skico hopes to build in 2019-20.

The project would have 36 units, including eight that are being offered as deed-restricted housing for workers in Basalt. The first priority would be child care professionals working at a day care center being contemplated nearby in Willits on property owned by the town government.

Jeffreys said Skico's offer to provide housing for child care workers could help make the day care facility more economically feasible.

The remaining 26 units at Willits Workforce Housing would go to Skico employees. Residences on the second floor of the three-story building would have a unique modern dormitory-style design, with four bedrooms clustered around a kitchen-dining area and small living room, with two additional bedrooms in lofts. The complex also would have one- two- and four-bedroom units.

"These units are admittedly and unapologetically small," said Jeffreys.

Skico needs to reap a large number of bedrooms in the project to make the investment pay off, he said. Parts of the units can be locked off from the remainder to make them compatible for families. However, it is anticipated that seasonal workers will live in the majority of the units in winters. They would be potentially available for rent to other workers during summers, which is Basalt's busiest tourist season.

"ASC's workforce units will take pressure off of the existing housing pool and provide additional capacity to area businesses in the summer season, thereby serving the community as a whole," Skico's application said.

Jeffreys said Skico's affordable housing shortage is going to intensify in the next few years. The company has 470 employees aged 60 years and older. Many of them live in free-market housing they acquired years ago.

"Due to current economic forces, replacement employees will not be able to move into free-market housing," Skico's application said.

Jeffreys said, "How do we replace them and where do we put them?"

Skico estimates it has 700 beds in its housing inventory, in Aspen and downvalley. Land costs in the upper valley are forcing it to focus on options in the midvalley. Skico has already developed a tiny home project in unincorporated Eagle County, adjacent to Basalt.

The application included a Frequently Asked Questions section that includes the entry: "Why should Basalt house Aspen Skiing Company's employees?"

Skico's own reply was it is one of the largest employers in Basalt, with roughly 80 employees in an office and warehouse. Skico purchased downtown offices for its finance, legal, planning, reservations and accounting departments.

A different section of the application estimated that the Willits Workforce Housing project would house at least 148 employees making an average of $35,000 annually. That adds more than $5 million in income annual to Basalt and an estimated $750,000 in annual spending at midvalley shops, restaurants and service providers.

Basalt Planning Director Susan Philp said Friday her department hasn't been able to check the application for completeness yet since it was just submitted. Once deemed complete, it will be scheduled for review by the planning and zoning commission. After an advisory vote, it will advance to Basalt Town Council. Councilman Auden Schendler, a Skico executive, will recuse himself, he confirmed previously.

The good news for Skico is Willits Town Center already has approvals. Skico must seek two amendments to make its project work, Jeffreys said. It must get permission to convert commercial square footage into deed-restricted community housing on the building's ground floor. The Block 9 building was pegged for between 7,200 and 7,600 square feet of commercial space, he said.

Second, it must ask the town to remove a "roommate cap" on the site. Basalt's municipal code prevents more than three unrelated parties from living in the same unit, regardless of unit size or bedroom count, according to Jeffreys.

scondon@aspentimes.com

Colorado’s Alpine Bank provides no-interest loans to furloughed federal workers

EAGLE COUNTY — Alpine Bank is helping furloughed federal workers pay their rent and mortgages, and has set aside $5 million to do it.

Furloughed federal workers missed their first paychecks Friday, the result of a continuing partial federal government shutdown. That shutdown has affected the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies.

Continuing a program first used during the mid-1990s, Alpine Banks throughout Colorado will provide interest-free loans to furloughed federal workers. Those employees need to go to an Alpine Bank office, present a state ID, a federal ID and a copy of a federal pay statement or bank statement. Employees can receive money the day they apply and have six months to repay the loans.

The difference in this shutdown is the number of people who may use the program. Alpine Bank has long had a presence throughout the Western Slope. There are Forest Service employees in Eagle, Garfield, and Pitkin counties, along with employees from the Bureau of Land Management, the Transportation Security Agency and air traffic controllers.

There are many more federal employees in the Grand Junction area. Michael Brown, Alpine Bank's Regional President for the Vail Valley and Steamboat Springs, said the last shutdown saw a number of people in Grand Junction take advantage of the bank's previous programs for furloughed federal workers.

The bank in the past few years also has opened three branches in Denver and one in Boulder. That means the program may be used by many more people.

No matter where federal workers live in the bank's service area, the program will be welcomed.

Local impact of the shutdown

Eagle and Holy Cross District Ranger Aaron Mayville has been the only person at the U.S. Forest Service office in Minturn for the past few weeks. Even then, Mayville only goes to the office to shovel snow, water the plants and feed the fish.

Reached Friday by phone, Mayville was taking a break from a part-time interior painting job he'd picked up at the Sandstone Creek Club in Vail. Mayville also has been in training to pick up a few server shifts at Benderz South restaurant in Avon.

"I've got to put food on the table," Mayville said.

Mayville praised the bank program and said he's already heard interest in it from some of the district's employees. Mayville is in regular contact with most of those people. He said some are skiing — at their own expense. Another went to visit family. Others also have picked up part-time jobs in the valley.

"If (the shutdown) goes much longer, people will have to take advantage of (the program)," Mayville said.

"These things force our folks to live off credit or savings," Mayville added. The Alpine program will help people get through the shutdown without tapping those resources too much, he added.

There's another local aid available to furloughed federal workers.

Tsu Wolin Brown, director of the Salvation Army Vail Valley, said the group's food pantries are open to anyone in need. There's also some cash assistance available for help with rent or utility bills.

There also are community meals in the valley.

Eagle River Presbyterian Church in Avon hosts a free community dinner every Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m. In the western part of the valley, the United Methodist Church Eagle Valley in Eagle every Monday hosts a "simple supper" at 6 p.m.

Brown said that, like the community dinners, all are welcome for the loan program.

"We welcome those affected federal workers, whether they're customers of Alpine or not," Brown said. "We'll loan them their next paycheck, and no collateral is required."

In the past, people who have used the program have ranged from existing Alpine Bank customers to those who walk into the branches for the first time.

While the current loan program may bring a few new customers to the bank, Brown said that's a secondary consideration.

"We're responding to the needs of communities," Brown said, and federal workers are part of those communities.

"It's time to cut through the party politics, and help regardless," he said.

AP source: Denver Broncos pick Bears’ Vic Fangio as new head coach

ENGLEWOOD — Forget RPOs. John Elway is going with AARP.

The Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, 60, has accepted Elway’s offer to become the Denver Broncos’ next head coach, a person with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Broncos didn’t announce the hiring, something the team won’t do until Fangio signs his contract. He’s expected to be introduced as the club’s 17th head coach on Thursday.

Fangio replaces Vance Joseph , who was fired on New Year’s Eve after posting the franchise’s first back-to-back losing seasons since the early 1970s.

Fangio and Elway, who turns 59 this summer, will make up one of the oldest coach-GM duos in the NFL in 2019.

Although Fangio, who turns 61 in August, has no NFL head coaching experience, he has been an assistant for 32 years in the NFL and 34 seasons overall, beginning with the Philadelphia Stars of the old USFL in 1984.

Just like former Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, Fangio relates to players less than half his age and commands a deep respect in the locker room.

“You’re talking about one of the best coaches in football,” Bears star edge rusher Khalil Mack said recently, dubbing Fangio “the evil genius himself.”

Elway said when he began his search for his fourth head coach in six seasons that he values experience but also recognizes the need to modernize the Broncos’ offensive and defensive schemes to keep up with the run-pass option craze that has swept through the NFL and rendered traditional systems antiquated.

Elway didn’t believe that innovation necessitated a young, up-and-coming head coach, however. So, instead of going with a fresh-faced offensive-minded novice in the mold of the Rams’ Sean McVay, he zeroed in on the grizzled gridiron lifer who’s more like his first head coaching hire, John Fox, or even the Chiefs’ Andy Reid.

Joseph was also a first-time head coach with deep defensive roots, but he lacked the lengthy resume Fangio brings. Whereas Joseph had just one year of experience as a coordinator, Fangio brings 19 years of coordinating experience for the Panthers, Colts, Texans, 49ers and Bears.

He’s built dominant defenses in different eras, successfully adapting to changes in personnel, philosophies and style.

The 2018 season was his best as Fangio guided a Bears defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL, allowed a league-low 17.7 points per game and led the Bears into the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

In addition to Mack, who joined the Bears in a trade from Oakland, three other Bears defenders were selected to the Pro Bowl under Fangio’s watch in 2018: safety Eddie Jackson, lineman Akiem Hicks and cornerback Kyle Fuller.

Fangio was available to take over in Denver sooner than expected because of the Bears’ stunning 16-15 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the wild-card round last weekend. Eagles defensive lineman Treyvon Hester tipped Cody Parkey’s last-second field-goal attempt that clanked off the left upright and the crossbar.

Several Bears players were hoping the Broncos would choose one of Elway’s other candidates — Steelers O-line coach Mike Munchak, ex-Colts coach Chuck Pagano, Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores or Rams QBs coach Zac Taylor.

When word got out that Elway had chosen Fangio, Bears cornerback Prince Amukamar a tweeted the hashtag “curse words” and Chicago wide receiver Allen Robinson II tweeted the broken heart emoji.

Fangio inherits a Broncos team that’s coming off back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1971-72, a hard fall for a franchise that was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy just three years ago thanks to Von Miller’s MVP performance in Super Bowl 50.

Peyton Manning retired a month later and the Broncos have cycled through four starting quarterbacks since, including free agent Case Keenum, who was underwhelming during Denver’s 6-10 season that included two four-game skids.

Elway said last week that personnel assistant and former Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak will move back into an offensive assistant coaching role in Denver in 2019. Kubiak stepped aside over health concerns a year after guiding Denver to its third Super Bowl victory.

Last month, Miller suggested that a defense can still lead a team to a title like Denver’s did three years ago even in this age of potent offenses incorporating college concepts and running up scores.

“The Bears have been doing it right. They get takeaways, they play tight coverage and they got a great run defense,” Miller said. “I feel like the Bears definitely got a defense that can go all the way.”

Instead, the Bears’ season ended earlier than expected, and now the man Mack dubbed an “evil genius” will join Miller in Denver.

71-year-old skier dies after found unconscious on Breckenridge resort trail

A 71-year-old man died at Breckenridge Ski Resort on Monday, according to the Summit County Sheriff's Office.

At about 1:04 p.m. the Summit County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a male skier who was found unconscious on a ski run at the resort. There was no indication that the skier collided with any object, according to the report.

The man was transported to Peak 9 Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead.

The identity of the skier is being withheld until the Summit County coroner notifies the next of kin. The coroner's office has taken over the investigation into the cause of death.

Aspen City Manager Steve Barwick resigns after 19 years at job

Aspen City Manager Steve Barwick is resigning from his post that he has held since 1999.

Mayor Steve Skadron said Monday that a majority of City Council asked for Barwick's resignation, which he agreed to in an executive session.

Barwick, 63, has worked for 25 years with the city, first as the finance director and assistant city manager, and then as city manager for 19 years. His annual salary is $195,228.

When asked Monday night if he thought council's move was political, he replied, "Everything is political."

He said he's already been contacted for other city management positions from headhunters outside of Aspen, and acknowledged that he will likely have to move out of the community.

When asked how he feels about his forced departure, Barwick answered in his usual calm way.

"I feel great," he said. "It's been a great 25-year run. I love this community."

According to his employment agreement signed in 2010, Barwick is eligible for a severance package of a year's salary and accrued vacation and sick time. The agreement stipulates that the severance has to be paid within 20 days of his departure.

He likely will have to sell the home on Cemetery Lane he bought from the city for $210,500 in 1995.

The terms of a separation agreement will be finalized at a later date, as will the details of when he will leave the position permanently.

Those details will be discussed in a future public hearing, Skadron said.

Barwick said he will likely be gone before the March 5 election when voters will elect a new mayor and two council members. He said he would give council a three-week notice.

In the coming weeks, council will meet to discuss the interim and long-term plan for handling the vacancy.

Council is expected to meet with Assistant City Manager Sara Ott on Jan. 14 in executive session to discuss her interest in becoming interim city manager.

After council's executive session on Monday night, Barwick went to his office but returned about a half hour later to the regular council meeting.

Council asked for Barwick's resignation in the wake of controversy and public criticism centered around a handful of initiatives that came out of City Hall in the past year.

One of them is a public-private partnership to build 45 affordable apartments, which led to the resignation of Assistant City Manager Barry Crook. His last day of employment is today.

Barwick, who was on vacation for two weeks over the holidays, said he didn't know about his pending future until a few days ago.

He surmised that Crook's outburst and name-calling of the all-citizen Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority board on Dec. 11 was the trigger for council's request for his resignation.

With Crook and Barwick out, that leaves Ott as the sole manager in the city manager's office.

Barwick said even if council moves quickly in a search for a new city manager, finding one will be at least a four-month process.

"It's going to be for the next council," he said of a newly elected board this spring.

Just after Skadron's announcement in Monday night's regular meeting, Barwick submitted an opinion piece that appears in Tuesday's Aspen Times.

He explains the pitfalls of the position in a unique community with plenty of controversy, as well as another challenge for elected officials.

He quoted a fellow colleague in city government who had written a piece in the Colorado Municipal League magazine this past fall explaining the personal cost of serving in an elected position.

That individual had referenced a council member "modeling the worst behaviors of divisiveness to try to get his or her way."

Barwick clarified that he was not singling out any past or current Aspen council member but was just trying to reiterate how difficult it is to serve as an elected official.

In a news release issued Monday night, Skadron praised Barwick for his work as a public servant.

"I feel fortunate to have been a mayor during Steve Barwick's tenure and his experience is something I've relied upon," Skadron said in the release. "I've always respected his calm, thoughtful and insightful guidance, particularly in emotionally and politically charged times.

"Steve Barwick's work in many areas including environmental stewardship, housing, transportation and creating financial stability have made Aspen a city that others turn to for exemplary leadership," Skadron continued. "His commitment over 25 years and the people he's hired, the services and values they embody are a large reason why so many people are drawn to this exceptional city as a community and a resort."

csackariason@aspentimes.com

Ice jams cause concerns for Roaring Fork, Frying Pan rivers; flood advisory remains through Monday

After reports of ice jams along the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan rivers on Saturday, the National Weather Service issued a flood advisory update reminding people to stay away from area rivers.

Emergency management officials sent out an alert Saturday evening after jams were spotted and raised concerns about potentially dangerous situations for a second consecutive day.

Saturday night's alert said "debris along with large chunks of ice will result in sudden rises in water flows" and warned people to stay “out of and clear of local rivers.”

A Pitkin County Sheriff's Office deputy said Saturday night there were reports from Basalt police officials that they saw a lot of debris and dams on the rivers, but as of 9:30 p.m. there were no reports of flooding or damage.

The alert was issued for Basalt, El Jebel and Woody Creek and the Fryingpan Valley.

The weather service previously issued a flood advisory for parts of the Roaring Fork Valley, and it remains in effect through 4:45 p.m. Monday for northwestern Pitkin, southwestern Eagle and southeastern Garfield counties.

On Friday afternoon, two ice floes went down the Roaring Fork River through Basalt. The swift-moving floes had large blocks of ice as well has tree trunks and branches. No damage or injuries were reported Friday.


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Videos: Two ice floes on Friday thrill midvalley observers; no harm reported

People in the midvalley were treated to a rare doubleheader of ice floes Friday afternoon when rising temperatures unleashed a torrent of ice, water, logs and debris down the Roaring Fork River.

About two hours after the Roaring Fork Conservancy issued a warning about the possibility of an ice floe, the water came barreling through. The first blast rolled past the 7-Eleven Bridge in Basalt at 2:01 p.m., according to time-stamped video by an observer. A second wave rolled by at 3:55 p.m.

Basalt Police Chief Gregg Knott said officers patrolled the length of the river in Basalt from upper Two Rivers Road to Hooks Lane to warn any anglers or other people about the danger. No one was spotted in the river and no problems were reported from flooding or debris, he said.

Video of both incidents show increased water flow, ice chunks of various size and numerous tree trunks getting swept downstream. The water level wasn't high enough to flood outside the banks.

Roaring Fork Conservancy officials said Friday's ice floes were of similar size to those in years past, but what made it unusual was having two in one day.

Pitkin and Eagle counties issued alerts about 20 minutes after the second floe passed through Basalt.

The conservancy had accurately forewarned at 11:55 a.m. that ice floes were possible downstream from Snowmass Canyon on the Roaring Fork River and on the lower Fryingpan River.

"Following the recent bitter cold snap, temperatures forecast in the 30s and 40s for the next week will melt and loosen ice in local rivers, increasing the potential for ice flows," the conservancy said in its warning. "Anglers and anyone near or in the rivers this weekend should use extreme caution and be on the lookout for ice flows. Move away from the river and seek high ground in the event of an ice flow."

Late Friday afternoon the National Weather Service in Grand Junction issued a flood advisory through Monday afternoon for the Roaring Fork and Fryingpan rivers.

The breaking of an ice dam on the Roaring Fork River in a mid-January thaw in 2013 killed numerous fish, swept an angler off his feet and took a beaver on a wild ride. During that event, an ice dam broke up near Lazy Glen subdivision, 2 miles east of Basalt. Ice broke up on the river and piled up in a dam. Additional ice and water created so much pressure that the dam broke.

The angler was caught below the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Fryingpan in 2013. He told an officer he was 10 feet off the bank and couldn't make it to shore before the water and ice surged knocked him off his feet. He pulled himself out and suffered only cuts and bruises, authorities said at the time. He credited use of a wader belt for keeping him mobile.

A Basalt police officer said during the January 2013 incident that she witnessed ice chunks "the size of Volkswagens" rushing downstream.

Photographer Lynn Goldsmith captured a photo of a beaver riding an ice chunk in the January 2013 event.

The aftermath of ice floes is always interesting. Because there is a surge of water, ice is deposited on the riverbanks, then left high and dry.

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Two people dead after truck goes off cliff in Grand County, police say

Law enforcement officials in Grand County on Friday were investigating an incident where a truck appears to have driven over a cliff on Trough Road and two people died.

The driver, a 37-year-old male, was found dead on the scene after being ejected about 300 feet from the vehicle and the passenger, according to Colorado State Trooper Gary Cutler. A 26-year-old female was found dead still in her seat with the buckle fastened.

Toby J. Hargadine of Kremmling was identified as the driver, and Crysta L. Berntsen of Minturn was identified as the passenger.

According to a state patrol press release, the truck was headed eastbound on Trough Road when it lost control and rotated counterclockwise, skidding off the left side of the road. It rolled numerous times down the cliff.

The Colorado State Patrol continued to work on recovering the vehicle Friday afternoon, a Toyota Tundra, from where it landed about 705 feet from the road near mile post 9, according to Lt. Dan Mayer, a spokesperson for the Grand County Sheriff's Office. Mayer estimated that the drop was around 70 or 80 degrees steep.

The truck was discovered Friday morning around 7:44 a.m. by a road and bridge worker.

This story is developing and will be updated. 

Chilean suspects identified in Aspen jewelry robbery

Aspen police have identified three Chilean men as suspects in the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollar's worth of jewelry from the lobby of The Little Nell hotel last month.

Three arrest warrant affidavits were filed Friday and Wednesday in Pitkin County District Court, naming the men and how they were eventually identified by Aspen police with the help of other law enforcement agencies. The men have not yet been arrested and may have fled the country, an Aspen police detective said Wednesday.

The man who allegedly broke the lock on the hotel lobby glass display case rented by an Aspen jewelry store was identified as Richard Esteban Delgado Escobar, 28. The other two men with him were identified in the court documents as Diego Miqueles, 37, a Chilean living in Reseda, California, and Guiliano Maurizio Donoso Jofre, 40.

The three each have been charged with theft, burglary and conspiracy, all felonies. Miqueles and Donoso Jofre have criminal histories in California, including arrests Dec. 13 in Brea, California, according to the affidavits.

The theft in Aspen occurred Dec. 21 just after 1 p.m. Video surveillance showed the men parking a Ford Expedition rented in California on Spring Street at 12:11 p.m. that day, then entering The Little Nell and milling around the jewelry case before leaving at 12:40 p.m. The three men returned not long after and clustered around the display case.

Video surveillance showed the man identified as Delgado Escobar using something to help him pry open the case, then bend down and interact with a black backpack being held by one of the other men.

Just before parking the Expedition, video surveillance discovered by Aspen police showed the man later identified as Donoso Jofre paying cash for a folding knife at Ute Mountaineer at 12:05 p.m., according to the court documents.

The men were able to steal eight pieces of jewelry from the case — including diamond and gold rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces — valued at $419,300, the affidavits state. Previous reports indicated the value of the stolen jewelry at $800,000.

Aspen police initially searched for the wrong vehicle following the theft, the documents state. When they reviewed surveillance video, they identified the Expedition and discovered it was rented Dec. 18 in Panorama City, California, by a man named "Marco Sanchez" who used a Puerto Rico driver's license.

That driver's license number later came back to an 85-year-old man who clearly didn't fit the description of any of the thieves, according to the affidavits.

The rented Expedition was found Dec. 23 in a parking garage at Denver International Airport.

DIA surveillance video later allowed Aspen police to track the three men through the airport to a Los Angeles-bound American Airlines flight that left Denver the early afternoon of Dec. 22, the affidavits state.

Delgado Escobar flew under the name "Marco Sanchez," while the other two men presented boarding passes featuring their real names. Video footage from the L.A. airport shows the men leaving the terminal separately but all getting into the same shuttle van, according to the affidavits.

A Department of Homeland Security agent later contacted Aspen police and reported that he had used facial recognition software to substantially match a picture submitted with Delgado Escobar's Chilean passport and U.S. visa application in 2014 to Sanchez's Puerto Rican driver's license photo.

Further, the agent discovered that a Chilean man who entered the U.S. on Oct. 6 under the name Raul Alejandro Escobar Bravo had the same fingerprints as Delgado Escobar, who was fingerprinted as part of his previous visa application, according to the court documents.

The other two men proved a bit easier to identify.

Miqueles' criminal history indicated he'd been arrested in January 2017 for burglary, grand theft and conspiracy in Costa Mesa, California, and for battery of a spouse in December 2017 in Fresno, California. He also was arrested Dec. 13 for burglary, theft of an elder or dependent adult and grand theft in Brea. Records also indicate he was arrested in Santa Ana, California, on Dec. 13 for the same charges as the Brea arrest.

A Brea police detective told Aspen police that Miqueles and two other men followed a woman Nov. 26 after she withdrew cash from an ATM in Brea, then "conducted a ruse where one suspect placed money underneath her vehicle and the other approached her and suggested she dropped the cash," according to Miqueles' affidavit.

"Suspects took cash from the victim's purse while she was distracted," the affidavit states.

Miqueles and his girlfriend were arrested for a similar crime in Brea in 2017, the affidavit notes.

An Aspen police detective later found a 2012 Chilean newspaper article about a man with Miqueles' similar name and age that said he was arrested at the time for his role in a $74 million robbery, though it was not clear if that was pesos or dollars, the affidavit states.

Donoso Jofre was in Miqueles' car when he was arrested Dec. 13 for the alleged Brea crimes. In addition, he matched the description of a man seen in surveillance videos "related to dozens of distraction purse/wallet thefts that the Brea Police Department had been investigating," according to the affidavits.

A Google search of Donoso Jofre's name turned up a news item from 2012, which said a 33-year-old man with the same name had been arrested "for his role as a gang member in the theft of $44 million pesos, the equivalent of $2.2 million U.S. dollars," according to his affidavit.

Pictures and video of the three men allowed Aspen police to identify them.

Donoso Jofre and Delgado Escobar have likely fled the country, Aspen Police Detective Ritchie Zah said Wednesday. Miqueles also may have fled, he said.

jauslander@aspentimes.com