Aspen thief has tough road ahead, judge says
September 17, 2018
A 19-year-old local man who racked up three felony convictions in two jurisdictions in about a year deserved more than just a probationary sentence, a district judge said Monday.
"You know the cliché, 'Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me?'" Judge Chris Seldin asked Kaden Gustin.
Seldin pointed out that when Gustin was first arrested for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars in merchandise while working at an Aspen retail store, he let him out of jail on bond only to have Gustin go out and allegedly commit more felonies in Pitkin and Eagle counties. And that was despite the fact that he'd been in trouble as a juvenile and should have known what was in store if he kept committing crimes, Seldin said.
"Evidently those efforts made in the juvenile system were not enough to keep you out of the adult system," Seldin said. "You have entered the adult system in a fairly spectacular way … kind of like a cannonball landing in a pool. You made quite a splash."
After the first arrest, Gustin was later picked up and charged with stealing cash from a friend's mother, who let him borrow her car. He also was charged in Eagle County with unspecified charges that led to a recent felony conviction in that jurisdiction, prosecutor Don Nottingham said.
Gustin pleaded guilty in early August to two felony counts of theft in Pitkin County.
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On Monday, Seldin gave Gustin the same sentence he received in Eagle County — four years of probation — though with one significant difference: Gustin must spend nine months in a rigorous halfway house-type environment called Garfield County Community Corrections. That program — which is notoriously difficult to complete — will teach valuable life skills Gustin doesn't appear to possess, Seldin said.
The three felony convictions on his record are going to make the rest of his life — in particular getting a job — difficult, Seldin said.
"Man, that's tough," the judge said.
The two four-year probation sentences will run concurrently, Nottingham said.
Gustin apologized to the court for his actions and said he began making poor decisions when he moved to Aspen from Vail, where he's from.
"I was raised by my parents to have a better set of morals than I have shown," Gustin said. "I want to be somebody my little brother can look up to."
In other court news Monday:
• A California man pleaded guilty Monday to felony failure to register as a sex offender and public indecency, a petty offense, in connection to a bizarre incident May 2017 in Aspen.
At that time, Michael Webber, 55, was found walking naked down the street in downtown Aspen with white powder caked in his nose and complaining of seeing snakes. He was later found to be a registered sex offender in California and had been required to register in Colorado because he'd been living in the state for 14 consecutive days out of 30.
Webber attempted to fight the charges until earlier this summer when District Judge Chris Seldin ruled that the arrest by Aspen police did not cause him cruel and unusual punishment or a lack of due process.
As part of a plea deal, Webber is expected to receive a one-year deferred judgment and sentence when he is sentenced in November. That means the felony offense will be wiped from his record if he successfully completes a year of probation.
• Two Carbondale residents are facing significant prison time for allegedly assaulting and stabbing another man who may have stolen marijuana from them.
Lily Snyder, 19, and Israel Carreno, 23, have each been charged with two counts of first-degree felony burglary, one count of second degree burglary and felony assault. They also face violent sentence enhancements because they allegedly used a weapon, Nottingham said.
That means they each face between 29 years and 82 years in prison if convicted of all charges.
The couple and another unidentified man allegedly assaulted another man in front of his home in July, then followed him inside when he fled and beat him up with brass knuckles or another weapon. Carreno allegedly stabbed the man with a screwdriver.