Aspen muni court no-show costly for alleged scam artist | AspenTimes.com

Aspen muni court no-show costly for alleged scam artist

Charles LaBoone

ASPEN – Charles LaBoone picked a bad day to blow off court this week – and the wrong street to cross.

LaBoone, 31, missed his hearing Wednesday in Aspen Municipal Court to face a charge of trespassing at a bar. But hours after a city judge issued a warrant for his failure to appear, a court clerk saw him wandering through downtown Aspen with his dog.

The clerk, Reed Patterson, brought LaBoone and his dog back to City Hall, where police arrested him and also learned he had a failure-to-appear warrant out of Georgia for an alleged Internet scam that cheated at least a dozen victims – from Canada to Louisiana to Colorado – out of thousands of dollars.

“I saw him crossing Main Street at Mill [by the Hotel Jerome],” Patterson said. “He was walking his dog. I told him he was supposed to be in court, and there was a warrant.”

Patterson said LaBoone was cooperative and said he didn’t realize he was due in court. Even so, police arrested him and booked him into Pitkin County Jail, and turned his dog over to his wife.

LaBoone made his first court appearance Thursday in Pitkin County District Court in connection to Wednesday’s arrest, and was represented by public defender Tina Fang. He told Judge Gail Nichols he plans to waive extradition to Paulding County, Ga.

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When LaBoone returns to his home state, he’ll have to answer three felony counts of theft by conversion, along with three other charges. Officials in Paulding County say he cheated customers out of more than $25,000 through his companies ChristBilt and Panel Masters Steel Buildings Inc. He did so by accepting funds for metal buildings that he never delivered to the alleged victims, authorities have said in published reports throughout metropolitan Atlanta region.

LaBoone was arrested for the alleged Internet scam on Feb. 2, 2010, and incarcerated in the Paulding County Detention Center until posting $15,000 bond.

LaBoone later moved to the Roaring Fork Valley, his initial brush with local law coming Jan. 22, when he was ticketed for running a traffic signal at the intersection of Monarch and Main. He appeared in municipal court to contest the charge, offering critical remarks about how Aspen police treated him during the stop. Nonetheless, Judge Brooke Peterson found him guilty and ordered him to pay the required fine.

Nearly two weeks later, on Feb. 4, LaBoone was arrested at the Belly Up nightclub in Aspen for allegedly refusing to leave the premises. He pleaded not guilty to the charge on Feb. 23, and was scheduled to appear in Aspen city court Wednesday.

He didn’t, nor did he appear for his May 24 scheduled arraignment for the theft case out of Georgia, according to a court clerk in Paulding County, who said a bench warrant was issued for his arrest the same day of his alleged no-show.

LaBoone is due to appear in Pitkin County District Court again Friday to formalize the extradition process so he can return to Georgia.

His Facebook page says he lives in Aspen and he attended both Seton Hall University and the University of Mississippi.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com