Alleged Hecht victim: DA favors rich family
The Aspen Times
District Attorney Sherry Caloia is biased in favor of a wealthy Aspen developer in a domestic-violence case and is refusing to properly prosecute him, according to the alleged victim in the case.
“(Nikos) Hecht is not entitled to favorable treatment because he is rich or because his father is a well-connected attorney in town,” according to a petition filed Wednesday in Pitkin County District Court. “The District Attorney’s bias has permeated everything she has done in this case.”
Caloia denied the allegations again Wednesday.
“I’m treating him exactly the same as any other defendant who gets charged like that,” she said. “How am I treating him differently?”
Hecht, a wealthy Aspen landlord and developer, is charged with assault, harassment and menacing — all misdemeanors — in connection with an incident that occurred at his home in late July between him and his former girlfriend.
The alleged victim initially filed a motion last month asking Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely to appoint a special prosecutor in the case because of the perceived bias. However, Fernandez-Ely denied the motion earlier this week because she said it was improperly filed.
So lawyers for the victim took her advice and, late Tuesday, re-filed their wishes in the form of two petitions — one filed for the District Court and one filed for the County Court.
The District Court petition again asks for a special prosecutor to be appointed because the DA’s office is allegedly ignoring evidence and has refused to file felony charges in the case. Hecht, 45, should be charged with false imprisonment, intimidating a witness and criminal mischief, according to the new petition.
“Preferential treatment of the powerful Hecht family simply has no place in the DA’s Office and should not be tolerated by the judiciary,” the petition states.
Caloia said she’s seen no evidence to merit charging Hecht with felonies.
The petition states that Caloia’s bias is further represented by the fact that her office offered Hecht a plea deal in November but didn’t inform the alleged victim of the terms or tell her it was going to be offered beforehand. The alleged victim became upset, and the office withdrew the plea.
But now, just hours after Fernandez-Ely denied the victim’s motions Monday, the DA’s Office told the victim it would again offer the same deal, despite the fact that the victim doesn’t support it, the petition states.
Caloia said Wednesday she believes the victim was informed of the specifics the first time. She also confirmed a plea deal has been offered that is similar to others offered to defendants facing the same charges.
“They’re not happy with it,” Caloia said. “That happens sometimes. It’s part of the job.
“I believe (the petition) is without merit.”
The second petition says Caloia has “unjustifiably refused to arrest and prosecute Hecht for violating the protection order issued to protect the victim.”
That claim is based on three Apple “Facetime” calls made the to the alleged victim’s cellphone in October from Hecht’s phone. Caloia said she made the decision that she couldn’t prove Nikos Hecht made the calls after his father, Andrew Hecht, told her his son’s children made the calls.
“That played into the decision (not to charge Nikos Hecht with a protection order violation),” Caloia said. “We don’t get a defendant coming forward with evidence before a charge very often. But that’s what Andy Hecht said.
“We can’t prove (a violation).”
The alleged victim’s petition casts doubt on that, however. It says the calls were made to the former girlfriend’s new cellphone that hadn’t been given to Hecht, that no one spoke to the children’s mother to see if they were with their father at the time, and that the Sheriff’s Office has relied on similar evidence to prove other bond violations.
Finally, “it is shocking that the DA would rely upon the unsworn word of the defendant’s influential father,” the petition states.
Caloia said there could be other reasons behind the petition.
“There’s not a civil suit filed yet but there’s talk of it,” she said. “There’s no evidence that’s what’s behind it, but what do you think?”
The Aspen City Council directed staff to move forward with the Burlingame early childhood education center, but decided it needs more information on the affordable housing units that are part of the schematic design at a work session Monday.