Cabinetmaker faces charges of undoing his work at condo
A local construction worker is facing trial on charges that he went into a client’s home and ripped out work he had just completed after the client did not immediately square her account.John B. Salm, 47, of Snowmass Village, is also accused of violating the conditions of his bond by allegedly approaching both the alleged victim and a witness in the case and allegedly threatening the witness.If convicted on one or both felonies – burglary and intimidating a witness – he could go to prison for 12 years or longer.According to testimony at a preliminary hearing this week, local masseuse Renee West, 27, hired Salm in October 2004 to perform some remodeling work on a condo she had recently purchased at the Hunter Creek complex.In the initial discussions about the job, West told Judge James Boyd, Salm offered to do the work for $500. The project included installing cabinets, building a new wall within the condo, installing a marble slab countertop and other work, she told the judge. She said Salm had been to the condo and had seen what needed to be done when he agreed to the price.But he had not begun work as of Nov. 11, she testified, and on that date she said he agreed to get to work but told her the price would now be $1,000, because he had decided it was “a real job.”She agreed, gave him a check for $500 and promised the balance at a later date that, according to her, was unspecified. West testified that she had done considerable work on her own at the condo before hiring Salm. She said she had bought most of the materials he would need, including the cabinets, which she assembled before he got started.She said she left a key under a mat for Salm and other workmen to use.She said Salm did not begin the work until Dec. 5 and that he finished it Dec. 18 and demanded she pay the balance immediately. But she told him she could not pay him until Jan. 1, West testified, because she was awaiting a check from a friend who was bankrolling the work on the condo.Salm got “really upset,” she said, and left the condo after agreeing that she could use some of his tools and equipment he left there. She testified that he came back and picked up his gear on Dec. 19, having called her numerous times to demand payment. She said she talked to him during only one of those calls and did not answer after that, “under my assumption he was calling me to yell at me, to harass me, to give me shit.”West also testified that at that time she took the key from beneath the mat and started locking the door when she was not there.It was on Dec. 23, she testified, that she went to the condo and found the door damaged and open, and the place in shambles inside. The work Salm had done, she testified, had been undone – the cabinets were off the wall, the drywall had been pulled down and broken, the marble slab broken and a sink he had installed was taken out.She called police, and Salm ultimately was arrested. As part of the case, West is asking the court to order Salm to pay her more than $2,300, which she said was the cost of repairing the damage to her condo.Under persistent questioning by defense attorney Chip McCrory, West conceded that reports by two police officers were at odds with her own recollection of certain details, such as when she promised to pay Salm for the work and exactly what reason she gave police for not paying him when the work was done.But, she said, she was “so emotionally upset” that she might have used “overgeneralized words,” when relating the story first to officer Brad Onsgard and later to officer Rob Fabrocini.”I believe some of the meaning of what I said got lost,” she said.At the end of the preliminary hearing, Boyd ruled there was sufficient evidence to proceed with a trial.Boyd also ordered prosecutor Andrew Heyl to provide more details about the alleged bond violation and harassment before a preliminary hearing on those charges can take place.According to court documents, Salm was released from jail after paying a bond of more than $10,000, and must stay away from West and Kevin Herzing, a witness in the trial on the burglary charge.But Salm allegedly approached each of them on different occasions last spring and summer. According to police, he went to Herzing’s workplace and said to Herzing, “You better watch your back, asshole,” and, “I’ll be coming after you.” He also is accused of approaching West at the Belly Up nightclub, where she was working as a waitress. According to court documents, he appeared in front of her, made eye contact and said, “Whatever, Renee” before leaving the bar.John Colson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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