‘Con man’ sentenced to three years in prison
A Basalt man a prosecutor described as a “quintessential con man” was sentenced to three years in prison Monday for stealing hospital patients’ credit card information.Andre Jesus Lozano, 41, grew emotional as he told Judge James Boyd that what he did was because of emotional instability.”I know in my heart I have a problem,” he said.Lozano, who has six prior convictions for similar thefts, pleaded guilty in January to a felony theft charge of between $500 and $15,000. He told Boyd that he has consulted with a psychologist and has begun taking Prozac, which he said has helped tremendously.His attorney, Arnie Mordkin, asked Boyd to sentence Lozano to four years of probation. He said his client’s problems were akin to a drug or alcohol addiction.”This is someone who needs help and can function in society if he gets that help,” Mordkin said.He also said Lozano is HIV-positive and terrified of going to prison because he doesn’t know what services exist there. Brad Osborne, of the drug-treatment center The Right Door, agreed that Lozano has compulsive behavior. He said a psychiatrist Lozano consulted agreed that his criminal behavior was similar to an addiction.Deputy District Attorney Gail Nichols, however, cited the defendant’s criminal history and said he simply can’t “get money legally.” She said he has a partner who supports him and also gets an inheritance.”He has more than most people in life but continues to try to get money for free,” Nichols said. She asked for four years of prison.With a picture of his son on the table before him, Lozano said that his past is true and he’s served time for it. But he said he stayed out of trouble for four years while raising his son.Being around credit card numbers while working for the Aspen Valley Hospital billing office in Carbondale triggered his compulsion, Lozano said.Because of Lozano’s recent troubles, his son has returned to his mother.”I failed,” Lozano said tearfully. “I deserve what I get.”Boyd told Lozano that help with his compulsive behavior is available in prison.The judge said Lozano’s behavior is not under control and the judicial system has had “a hard time getting your attention.” Lozano served 48 months in prison for prior offenses.Boyd sentenced him to three years in state prison, with credit for 213 days served.He was placed in handcuffs and led out of the courtroom.In other court news, Sean Gooding, 34, of Aspen pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor menacing charge and received a deferred prosecution on a related charge of possession of a controlled substance.He allegedly pulled out a 9mm handgun and threatened two people with whom he’d been drinking on Halloween. Police said he waved the gun around, loaded it and pointed it at the victims’ heads.
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The Basalt Town Council decided the planned renovation of Arbaney Pool was important enough to the community that it approved a construction bid that was more than double the initial budget.