Aspen Village manager will spend 90 days in jail |

Aspen Village manager will spend 90 days in jail

Tim Mutrie

Thomas Bruening, the former Aspen Village manager convicted of criminal trespassing April 2, was sentenced to 90 days in jail Monday in Ninth Judicial District Court.

“I don’t think you’re an honest man,” Judge J.E. DeVilbiss said to Bruening, 37, before agreeing to the sentence recommended by probation officer Kyle Miller and endorsed by Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills.

In addition, DeVilbiss said Bruening must serve four years of probation, abstain from alcohol and drugs, take random urinalysis tests, and complete 100 hours of public service. Upon his release from jail, Bruening must maintain full-time employment, pay court costs and fees and pay the costs of prosecution.

Bruening must also “not enter Aspen Village or approach or contact the Lindahl family or any of the other families who lodged complaints against you,” DeVilbiss ruled.

Wills called three witnesses prior to sentencing, all of whom testified that they’d been close and friendly with Bruening for many years. In recent years, however, they’d seen his alcohol and drug use rise as his integrity declined, they said.

“I don’t trust Tom,” said witness Ellen Anderson, a longtime Aspen Village resident and Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy. “I’ve had too many credible people tell me that they’d bumped into Tom in their homes unexpectedly. Either they’re making it up or Tom is.”

“Tom Bruening has violated my community, my home and my daughter,” Lori Lindahl said before the court. “He didn’t just rob money or pills, he took [my daughter’s] soul.”

Lori and Barry Lindahl own the Aspen Village home that Bruening entered in November 1998. The couple’s 7-year-old daughter witnessed the incident, and has been traumatized by the experience, Lori said.

John Van Ness, Bruening’s lawyer, referred to several letters in the court file written on Bruening’s behalf that contradict the opinions of the witnesses at Monday’s hearing.

“I would ask that you sentence Tom Bruening for what he did and not what everybody’s opinion is of him,” Van Ness said.

“Mr. Bruening,” DeVilbiss said, “you are capable of arousing fairly intense emotions from people, both for you and against you. I’ve thought about your case a lot, and I’ve reached the same conclusion that some of the witnesses did – there are too many circumstances when these similar things occurred for me to brush them off as coincidence.”

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