Alleged Aspen burglar’s bond lowered |

Alleged Aspen burglar’s bond lowered

ASPEN – A judge Monday lowered bond from $5,000 to $1,000 for an Aspen man accused of stealing more than $2,000 from a downtown restaurant.

Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols noted that the evidence against suspect Joseph Edward Kern is “very strong if the affidavit is to be believed and the evidence is admissible.”

Nichols did not go into specifics regarding her reservations about the evidence but said, “I’m concerned with suppression issues.”

Aspen police arrested Kern, 35, on Oct. 3 after his employers at the time, Aspen restaurant owners Craig and Samantha Cordts Pierce, called authorities to report that he had entered the upstairs office of their CP Burger restaurant. The two said they were in the process of firing Kern, but he did not respond to their texts and messages indicating his pending termination, they said.

When police arrived at the office, they found the safe open, according to an affidavit. And when they tracked down Kern at the Rubey Park Transit Center, located less than a block away from CP Burger across Durant Avenue, they discovered “a large amount of cash in Kern’s left front pants pocket. The cash appeared to be folded in half and had paper clips dividing the funds,” wrote Aspen police Detective Walter Chi.

All told, officers confiscated $2,113.40 in cash from Kern, the affidavit says. And Craig Cordts Pierce said that a quick accounting showed that $2,609 went missing from the office, Chi wrote.

Kern appeared in court Monday with his public defender, Laura Koenig, who asked that he be released on a personal-recognizance bond.

Nichols denied that request but, noting that he made all of his court appearances in a drinking-and-driving case in Pitkin County about two years ago, lowered the amount by $4,000.

Kern is “very serious about pursuing the allegations in this case,” Koenig said.

A valley resident for three years, Kern has secured work and housing once he is released from jail, Koenig said. But he and his fiancee, noted prosecutor Arnold Mordkin, are no longer together.

The two had signed a lease, effective Oct. 1, to live in a unit at the Hunter Creek Condominiums. That same day, a fire broke out in the unit’s bedroom. Fire officials have deemed the unit uninhabitable for the time being.

The matter remains under investigation. But Mordkin, outside of court, said authorities did not find any accelerants in the unit. Ed Van Walraven, Aspen fire marshal, was out of town Monday and could not be reached.

Kern has been charged with three felony offenses in the alleged CP Burger caper – theft, second-degree burglary and third-degree burglary – along with a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a peace officer.

Also on Monday, Nichols denied Mordkin’s request for a protection order that would prohibit Kern from contacting anyone who works at the restaurants owned and operated by the husband and wife. Mordkin told the judge that Kern has called at least one of the couple’s restaurants from jail.

Nichols, however, said the onus is on the restaurants’ owners to file a request for a civil protection order – not a criminal version like the one Mordkin sought – and identify by name who the protected parties would be.

Kern, who remained in Pitkin County Jail as of 4:55 p.m. Monday, is due back in court Nov. 5 for further proceedings.

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