Former Aspen councilman’s wife pleads guilty to theft

Kerri Johnson arrives for at Pitkin County District Court last month.

The wife of former Aspen City Councilman Derek Johnson pleaded guilty Monday to felony theft for helping her husband steal and sell millions of dollars’ worth of skis, snowboards and other goods.

Unlike her husband, however, Kerri Johnson, 48, will not face a prison sentence in connection with the theft under the plea deal she accepted Monday. The District Attorney’s Office agreed not to ask for prison — she could have been on the hook for a two- to six-year sentence for the theft plea — though a judge could give her a Pitkin County Jail sentence in addition to probation, prosecutor Don Nottingham said.

Kerri and Derek Johnson will have to pay back $250,000 to Aspen Skiing Co., which owned the skis and other items stolen and sold on eBay during Derek Johnson’s 17-year tenure with the company, according to her plea deal. Police and prosecutors allege that the couple stole more than $2.4 million worth of items — including charging Skico for the boxes they used to send their eBay customers the stolen skis.

Derek Johnson, 52, pleaded guilty last month to one count of stealing between $100,000 and $1 million from Skico between June 2013 and January 2019. He faces between four and 12 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 21 in Pitkin County District Court. Derek Johnson attended his wife’s court hearing Monday with his lawyer.

Kerri Johnson pleaded guilty to stealing between $20,000 and $100,000 worth of goods between January 2010 and June 2013. She is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 18.

Prior to the plea deals, both Johnsons each faced two counts of theft of $1 million or more, two more counts of felony theft and two counts of conspiracy to commit theft.

A Skico spokesperson said in November that the $250,000 in restitution is an amount the Johnsons could realistically pay back and that it “has no other relevance to the substantially higher amount stolen by the Johnsons.”

Derek Johnson served one term on Aspen City Council and ran unsuccessfully for Aspen mayor in 2013. He helped found D&E Snowboard Shop and sold it to Skico in 2001, when he became the company’s retail-rental division managing director. He was fired by Skico a year ago, when his side business came to light.

In November, he said he was looking forward to explaining his actions when he is sentenced.