Felony theft charges for Aspen Mountain shack man
A man with a history of theft and deception who police believe was stealing items from Aspen stores and selling them online was charged with two felonies and several other charges Monday.
James Hogue, who police discovered living in an illegally built shack on Aspen Mountain in September, was charged with felony theft and felony possession of burglary tools. He also faces four counts of misdemeanor theft, a charge related to removing magnetic theft-control devices from stolen merchandise, as well as felony criminal impersonation and attempt to influence a public servant.
Prosecutor Sarah Oszczakiewicz cited Hogue’s lack of a local address and the fact that he’s wanted on theft charges in Boulder County in asking Monday for a high bond because Hogue might flee if he’s let out of jail.
District Judge John Neiley agreed that Hogue, 57, is a flight risk and ordered him held in lieu of a $15,000 cash-only bond.
Hogue has been in the Pitkin County Jail since Nov. 3, when a Pitkin County Library patron spotted him using a computer in the facility’s basement and called police. He initially denied he was Hogue and gave the officer who contacted him a false name.
Hogue later admitted his identity and agreed to allow police to search his 2005 Nissan Xterra, which yielded several expensive ski jackets, ski pants and other items with price tags still attached, police have said. Officers also seized more than $16,700 in cash from the SUV as well as bolt cutters and packaging materials indicating he was selling items online and sending them out, according to police.
Police later found a stolen bike frame near the spot on Shadow Mountain where Hogue was living, as well as a stolen snowboard and several pairs of skis and poles they believe might be stolen.
Hogue was named as one of Time magazine’s “Top 10 imposters” in the country for posing as a high school student in California when he was in his 20s and a college student at Princeton in his late 20s and early 30s.
Hogue was initially contacted in September by police at the fully enclosed, insulated shack he is believed to have built above the Shadow Mountain Condominiums at the top of Aspen Street. However, he jumped out of a window when police knocked on the door and disappeared.
He reappeared in late October, when Aspen Skiing Co. employees saw him digging a large hole not far from the location of the shack. He’d begun lining the hole with plywood in what police believe was preparation for building another illegal home.
The Skico employees told Hogue to leave and watched him load his belongings into the Xterra, which had a ski patrol parking pass hanging from the rearview mirror. The pass had been stolen last winter, according to court documents, and the Skico employees called police.
Hogue, however, disappeared again, though he was caught the next day at the library.
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