Aspen developer jailed after drug-fueled incident with gun
Nikos Hecht arrested on charges including harassment, prohibited use of a weapon, DUI, domestic violence
Clad only in his underwear and high on drugs, a local developer and hedge fund manager held a gun to his head Thursday night outside a relative’s home near Aspen and threatened to kill himself, according to police reports.
Nikos Hecht, 50, admitted to police he’d consumed alcohol, marijuana and cocaine half-an-hour before driving his Range Rover to the home and crashing it into another car parked in the driveway. He then allegedly began banging on a front window with a bloody hand while holding the black Beretta handgun to his head and demanding to speak to a person inside, the reports state.
When Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies arrived at the home in a neighborhood off Castle Creek Road, they found Hecht sitting on the ground next to the front door nearly naked with a long-sleeve shirt in his lap.
“It was approximately 25 degrees outside and Nikos did not appear as if he was cold, even though he was only wearing underwear,” according to the sheriff’s office report. “Nikos appeared to be under the influence of drugs, as he was moving his body parts in very jerky motions, and speaking very quickly.”
The deputy also observed that Hecht had bloodshot, watery eyes and “white crusty residue under his nose,” the report states.
“Nikos said he was ‘trying to escape,’” the deputy wrote in the report. “I called for an ambulance to respond to the scene at this point.”
One of the residents of the home told deputies she was able to get the gun away from Hecht and put it inside the car that was hit, where deputies found it later, according to reports.
Hecht was first transported to Aspen Valley Hospital to treat a cut he suffered in the crash and assess his mental state before being medically cleared and taken to the Pitkin County Jail. He was charged with harassment, prohibited use of a weapon, reckless driving, DUI, violating a protection order and domestic violence, all misdemeanors.
Hecht appeared Friday morning before Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely in a virtual hearing.
“I inadvertently went there,” Hecht told the judge. “I forgot I was violating a protection order.”
Under terms of the active civil protection order, Hecht was required to stay away from the residence and prohibited from possessing or purchasing firearms, according to the sheriff’s office report.
Assistant District Attorney Luisa Berne told the judge Friday she was “extremely concerned” about the victims’ safety.
“He was so intoxicated he was only wearing his underwear,” Berne said. “It was a very scary situation. The people would be shocked if this didn’t turn into a felony case.”
Fernandez-Ely, who pointed out that she knew Hecht from a previous domestic violence case in 2015, agreed the situation was serious and ordered Hecht to post a $25,000 cash-only bond before being released from jail. She also issued a criminal protection order requiring Hecht to stay away from two of the females at the residence, put him on a monitored sobriety program and required that he get rid of any other weapons and ammunition he owns.
Deputy District Attorney Don Nottingham, who prosecutes felonies in Pitkin County, declined Friday to say whether felony charges will be filed against Hecht. That decision will be made once the case is thoroughly investigated, he said.
Hecht has walked this road before.
He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment in February 2016 in connection to a domestic violence incident in July 2015 involving his then-girlfriend. At the time of his sentencing, Fernandez-Ely said, based on evidence she heard, she thought the girlfriend had endured “a night of terror” at Hecht’s hands. She also said she believed he used drugs frequently.
“I think drugs are a problem for Mr. Hecht,” the judge said in February 2016. “He, more than anybody, should recognize the problem and handle it.”
In a May 2017 civil trial, a federal jury took just 45 minutes to acquit Hecht of rape and assault charges brought by a Florida woman who claimed Hecht assaulted her at a restaurant in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in 2014.
And Hecht was in the news in August after two people were arrested for breaking in to his Owl Creek Road home and stealing more than $5 million worth of jewelry and Rolex watches while he was on vacation in the Bahamas. Hecht apparently knew one of the two people and had been bargaining with her to pay between $5,000 and $25,000 to get the property back, according to court documents quoting text messages between the two.
Hecht and his father, Andy Hecht, who is a partner in the Garfield and Hecht law firm in downtown Aspen, are being sued by a descendent of the family that helped develop Buttermilk Ski Area and the Maroon Creek Club. Juliana Pfister — granddaughter of Art and Betty Pfister — alleges that Andy Hecht, his law partner Ron Garfield and Nikos Hecht cheated the Pfisters out of millions of dollars in cash and real estate holdings through a serious of property deals.
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