Check case won’t affect housing suit |

Check case won’t affect housing suit

Sarah S. Chung

A local woman arrested this week for allegedly writing some $10,000 worth of bad checks said Thursday her latest troubles won’t affect her lawsuit against the Housing Authority.

Susan Thomas said her discrimination suit against the Housing Authority is “completely unrelated and unaffected” by her arrest Tuesday for check fraud.

“It was a bookkeeping error and my attorney’s fully confident that the matter will be resolved in a positive manner,” said Thomas, who was released on $25,000 bond.

Since the arrest was made on criminal charges and the $1 million lawsuit was filed in civil court, one case doesn’t automatically impact the other, said Dave Tolen, executive director of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority.

“But we have always believed our position was very strong and this certainly doesn’t hurt it,” Tolen added.

Thomas’ grievance against the Housing Authority stems from her contention that the housing office unfairly issued an eviction notice on her employee housing unit at W/J Ranch in Woody Creek.

A two-year contract was drawn up by the Housing Authority for Thomas and other tenants so they could assemble the necessary financing in order to purchase the deed-restricted units that they were currently leasing.

Thomas alleges that on at least five occasions she was singled out from the other, male tenants who were in comparable financial situations.

“The [Housing Authority] sent no eviction notice to three similarly situated tenants who also had yet to obtain financing … The three exempted individuals all are men,” reads Thomas’ lawsuit.

In response, Tolen maintains that the key difference between Thomas and the other tenants was not her gender, but that she had declared bankruptcy.

“That declaration basically eliminated her ability to finance her unit,” Tolen said. “Nobody else was in that situation. All the others were working on improving their credit.”

Thomas would neither confirm nor deny the bankruptcy, but claims she was “ready, willing, and available on several occasions” to buy her unit. She was “in as good if not a better financial situation” than any other W/J tenant, she said.

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