Aspen cops stumble on to ID theft scheme
Aspen police apparently uncovered an intricate identity theft scheme late this summer after arresting a 44-year-old man for behaving belligerently at two downtown Aspen bars, according to court records.
Jeffrey Sanzari, of Denver and Florida, initially gave police several fake names after they contacted him in August that eventually led the District Attorney’s Office to charge him with 23 counts of felony identity theft after a police investigation.
The evidence seized appears to indicate that Aspen police stumbled onto a well-organized identity theft scam after arresting Sanzari. He had personal information from 15 different people organized into separate profile pages in a three-ring binder found by police, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court.
Police also found six different pre-paid phones labeled with names and phone numbers, some of which corresponded to the names in the binder, the affidavit states.
“The binder is organized so that each sheet protector was a person’s profile,” according to the affidavit written by Aspen Police Detective Ritchie Zah. “A number of credit cards were recovered from some of the sheet protectors specific to a person’s profile demonstrating successful lines of credit being opened.”
In addition, each profile contained “background information such as news articles, Facebook posts and usernames and passwords for various financial institutions specific to each person,” the affidavit says. Some profiles contained credit card rejection letters.
In addition, Aspen police found 13 credit cards tucked into the binder for eight different people that were each labeled with the date the card was last used, PIN numbers, credit limits and cash advance limits.
All the items were found in the trunk of a 2015 Toyota Corolla belonging to a woman who allegedly drove Sanzari to Aspen. The woman has not been charged in connection with the case, though it remains under investigation, said Aspen prosecutor Don Nottingham.
Police are currently in the process of searching each of the pre-paid phones and analyzing the communications recorded on them, according to the affidavit.
Sanzari first came to the attention of police Aug. 31 about 8:15 p.m., when they responded to a report of a man who wouldn’t leave Aspen Public House in the downtown core, according to a police report. Sanzari fled the scene before officers arrived, but two hours later officers were called to Mr. Grey, across the street from Aspen Public House, for another disturbance he allegedly caused.
“Dispatch noted that a drunk male was fighting persons at the bar,” the affidavit states.
Officers contacted an extremely intoxicated Sanzari nearby, who first told them his name was “William Chem.” He also identified himself as “Terry Chen” and “William Chen” and handed the officer credit cards with the name “Baoku Chen” on them, according to the document. Later he identified himself as a “Marine Corps veteran” and said his name was “William John Jenson.” He also had a phone on him with the name “Sung Won” and a 720 area code phone number labeled on it, according to a police report.
Sanzari said he was staying at the Molly Gibson Lodge, though when officers gave him a ride to the hotel, the woman staying with him who owned the Toyota wouldn’t let police into the room, according to the affidavit. The woman, who said she was from Denver, told them his name was “William Jansen” and that he was from Florida.
Officers later searched the room but seized only a Sinclair gas card with the name “Baoku Chen” on it, according to the affidavit.
Sanzari was not positively identified until after he was arrested for disorderly conduct and fingerprinted at the Pitkin County Jail, where officials discovered an Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office warrant charging him with forgery and criminal impersonation, according to a police report. In Arapahoe County, he’d been arrested under the name “David Hepsher,” one of 13 different aliases Sanzari is known to use, according to police reports and the affidavit.
He’s also previously been charged with burglary and using forged “instruments” in Nevada.
Sanzari posted a $2,500 bond after he was arrested Aug. 31 and was released from the Pitkin County Jail soon after. A higher bond was not set for him at the time because police and prosecutors had not yet found the three-ring binder in the Toyota, Nottingham said.
Sanzari didn’t show up for his first scheduled court date Monday.