Cordas’ Xmas stay was in jail |

Cordas’ Xmas stay was in jail

Eben Harrell
Ambulance personel transport homeless man John Cordas from the Pitkin County Jail to Aspen Valley Hospital after he was arrested for allegedly being drunk and disorderly while checking in at the Skiers Chalet Friday afternoon. A friend of Cordas paid for a three-night stay at the chalet. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.

It was all set to be a beautiful Christmas story. After reading a profile of local homeless man John Cordas in The Aspen Times two weeks ago, a longtime friend of Cordas in New Jersey booked Cordas into a hotel for three nights over Christmas.On Christmas Eve, however, Cordas was arrested after turning up at his hotel drunk. He was later taken from the jail to Aspen Valley Hospital to be treated for potential alcohol poisoning. He is now back behind bars.Cordas was arrested on an outstanding “failure to appear” warrant, but Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Benton said he would have been left alone were it not for his drunken behavior.

“He was at the Skiers Chalet being disruptive,” Benton said. “We knew he had an outstanding warrant but we weren’t going to mess with him. But we had to arrest him because the manager of the hotel called us.”Cordas, 56, has been panhandling in Aspen for approximately six weeks. He claims to be a former pastor and Vietnam veteran with a degree from Princeton Seminary Academy.Skiers Chalet manager Christine O’Callaghan said Cordas was drunk when he showed up at the hotel at around 2:30 p.m. on Friday.

“He was totally sloppy, falling over drunk, yelling ‘merry f—ing Christmas’ to everybody,” O’Callaghan said. “We have too many kids and families around here. I had no choice but to call the police.”Cordas was taken to Pitkin County Jail where he fell asleep in his holding cell, according to Benton. Around 3:30 p.m. Friday, he was wheeled from the jail on a stretcher and transported by ambulance to AVH. On the stretcher, Cordas appeared unconscious.”The ambulance was called because he had a blood alcohol content above a 0.3 rating, which is potentially lethal for the average person,” Aspen Police Officer Roderick O’Connor said on Friday. “I suspect he’ll be all right because he’s a heavy drinker. When he leaves the hospital he’ll be brought back to jail.”

Clarke Messec, Cordas’ friend in New Jersey who booked the room at the Skiers Chalet, could not be reached for comment. O’Callaghan said she intends to provide Messec with a full refund.”We’re giving him a full refund even though we don’t have to,” she said. “We feel bad that we couldn’t give him a nice Christmas but I guess people make their own choices. It’s a sad situation that he couldn’t pull it together just to have a little bit of dignity for Christmas.”Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is


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