Aspen plea deal yanked following woman’s California arrest | AspenTimes.com

Aspen plea deal yanked following woman’s California arrest

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

An Arizona woman who admitted last month that she stole thousands of dollars in items from Aspen sporting-goods stores in September was scheduled Monday to receive a sentence involving probation.

But it didn’t turn out that way for Kimberly Ann Gardner, 27, whose plea agreement was rescinded after local authorities learned she was arrested twice on the same December day in California on suspicion of stealing items from REI, a sporting-goods chain.

Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols granted local prosecutor Andrea Bryan’s motion to withdraw the plea agreement and ordered sheriff’s deputies to take Gardner into custody. Bond was set at $1,000 on the felony charge of violating previous bond conditions.

Nichols suggested that Gardner’s big mistake, at least with regard to the Pitkin County case, was failing to come forward with news about the two California arrests Dec. 7 in Arcadia and Manhattan Beach. Prior to her felony arrest by Aspen police Sept. 21, Gardner had no criminal history, according to court records.

Her defense attorney, Mark Rubinstein, unsuccessfully asked Nichols to allow Gardner to be released on her own recognizance for numerous reasons — one being that Gardner lost her debit card Monday morning, he said.

Rubinstein also portrayed Gardner, formerly of California, as a victim of a man whom she recently married. Unknown to Gardner, he said, the man had four prior felony convictions. The husband also was charged in connection with the California theft cases, Rubinstein said.

Gardner left him and moved to Arizona, where she is now seeking an annulment, the defense attorney said. She holds a degree in physical therapy and is working in Arizona, Rubinstein said while asking the judge to allow Gardner to leave Colorado once she is released from jail.

“She’s a young lady who’s scared to death that she got involved with such a horrific individual,” he said.

While Nichols denied the request for a personal-recognizance bond, she did agree to allow Gardner to leave the state, despite Bryan’s objections.

The rescinded plea agreement involved a recommendation for a two-year deferred judgment on a felony theft charge. Gardner was accused of stealing more than $3,000 in items from four Aspen sporting-goods stores that also sell clothing.

Her next court appearance in Aspen is scheduled for April 20.

andre@aspentimes.com


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