Aspen restaurant burglar receives 2 years probation | AspenTimes.com

Aspen restaurant burglar receives 2 years probation

A 29-year-old local man pleaded guilty to felony burglary Monday and will spend the next two years on probation after he was caught on video surveillance in December breaking into a downtown restaurant and stealing cash and alcohol.

Scott Gerhart admitted to entering the 520 Grill in December while drunk and told District Judge Chris Seldin he was "an Eagle Scout" with no previous criminal record.

"This falls into the category of dumb, drunk guy commits crime," Seldin said.

"I agree," Gerhart said.

An affidavit filed by Aspen police in December states that Gerhart stole 100 beers, 15 bottles of wine and $955 in cash from the restaurant. Video surveillance showed him entering the building through an alley back door and attempting to also break into the Silverpeak Apothecary marijuana dispensary next door, the affidavit states.

Mark Rubinstein, Gerhart's attorney, said his client was "very, very intoxicated" after a holiday party the night of the incident and doesn't remember much of what happened.

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Gerhart was initially charged with felony burglary and felony theft in the case, though the theft charge was dismissed as part of a plea deal.

That deal with the District Attorney's Office allows the felony burglary charge to be wiped from Gerhart's record if he stays out of trouble during the two-year probation period. Prosecutor Donald Nottingham confirmed that Gerhart — who must pay $2,095 in restitution — has no previous criminal history.

Gerhart must refrain from consuming alcohol or drugs during the probation period, write an apology letter to 520 Grill and serve 20 hours of community service, as well.

In other court news Monday:

A 25-year-old Basalt woman who drove her car into a pond at Aspen Meadows during Aspen Ideas Festival last year will spend 10 days in jail and a year on probation, a judge decided Monday.

If Elizabeth Bergquist successfully completes the year of probation, her guilty pleas to felony aggravated motor vehicle theft and felony possession of LSD will be stricken from her record as part of a plea deal with the District Attorney's Office.

District Judge Chris Seldin told Bergquist he thought she deserved a longer probation sentence but declined to "blow up" the plea deal and impose a lengthier probation term. Seldin also allowed her to postpone serving the jail sentence until July because Bergquist is the sole care provider for her ailing mother, said Georgina Melbye, her attorney.

Bergquist admitted to being behind the wheel when the car entered the pond. Prosecutor Donald Nottingham said she also stole two vehicles belonging to Aspen Meadows after that.

Bergquist must remain alcohol- and drug-free during her probation period and perform 30 hours of community service.

A 36-year-old man who was wearing only boxer shorts when he was pulled over for his second DUI in a month last fall pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of felony drunken driving.

Thomas Sanders faces a mandatory minimum of 60 days in jail for each charge, though prosecutor Donald Nottingham has said he will not object if Sanders receives a probation-only sentence, said Chip McCrory, his lawyer.

McCrory said the DUIs were Sanders' fourth and fifth, though a prosecutor in December said he'd been convicted previously of five drunken-driving-related charges in North Dakota. A fourth or higher DUI is considered a felony in Colorado.

Sanders was charged with DUI on Sept. 19 and Oct. 21. During the second stop, Sanders asked to put on some clothes because it was 33 degrees outside, then grabbed a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor from the backseat and began chugging it in front of a Pitkin County sheriff's deputy, according to the deputy's report.

Sanders had been working in the Aspen area for a brief period of time and had not had a chance to establish a residence yet, McCrory said. He's spent the past six months in the Pitkin County Jail, he said.

The District Attorney's Office dropped a felony theft charge Monday against an El Paso, Texas, woman accused of falsely renting an Aspen apartment to a woman on Craigslist a year ago.

Prosecutor Donald Nottingham said he believed a crime was committed, though the DA's Office wasn't sure that Ruth Tinoco, 37, committed it. District Judge Chris Seldin then dismissed the case.

Tinoco was charged in September with stealing $3,300 from a couple who tried to rent an apartment at a complex in the 600 block of South West End Street. She was extradited from El Paso to Aspen at that time after Aspen police tracked the funds to her bank account.

A Lakewood man pleaded guilty Monday to felony possession of cocaine after being caught up in a handshake drug deal at a downtown bar in February.

Brad Hammond, 27, will spend the next year on probation, though the felony plea will be wiped from his record if he stays out of trouble during that time, according to a plea deal with the District Attorney's Office.

Hammond, who has no criminal history, was visiting Aspen and attending a concert at Belly Up when a bar employee told police she witnessed a 27-year-old Chicago woman pass him something, according to his lawyer and an affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court.

After the employee said she would escort both to police, Hammond dropped a small piece of paper police later suspected was LSD. The Chicago woman was later found with a sheet of blotter acid, the affidavit states.

Hammond was charged with cocaine possession when police found the drug in his pocket after he was arrested.

jauslander@aspentimes.com