Gamble to collect hoops bet debt proves costly for Basalt man
October 22, 2009
BASALT – A Basalt man won a sports bet but all he collected were two felonies, according to police.
Uriah Messrah, 35, was arrested for two felony charges earlier this month after he allegedly entered a friend’s unlocked residence while it was unoccupied to try to collect on the $100 bet, according to the police report.
Messrah told police that he and his friend bet $100 on a basketball game some time ago, according to Basalt Police Chief Keith Ikeda. Messrah told authorities his friend was out of town for several weeks so he was unable to collect on the bet. He learned that his friend was back in town and went to his Valley Pines residence Oct. 4 to try to get his winnings.
Messrah texted his friend that he was in his dwelling and looking for something worth $100 to confiscate to cover the bet. Ikeda said he believed the friend was at work in Aspen at the time. He contacted a police dispatcher. Officers from Basalt and Eagle County responded to the call of a burglary in progress at 3:27 p.m. They didn’t find anyone in the residence when they arrived, but got information about Messrah from the reporting party. A Basalt officer contacted Messrah the next day. He allegedly confessed that he was in the residence but that he didn’t steal anything.
“He said he knew what he did wasn’t the smartest thing to do and he didn’t take anything,” the police report said. Messrah also allegedly told officers he knew his friend left his door open. Police didn’t find signs of forcible entry.
The police report didn’t disclose the specific bet. If it was on basketball, it was apparently an old wager since the college season ended in March and the pros ended in June.
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Ikeda said the police department consulted with the Eagle County district attorney’s office on how to handle the case. Officers were advised to pursue an arrest warrant for first-degree criminal trespass and second-degree burglary. A judge signed the warrant Oct. 9 and Messrah was arrested and booked into the Eagle County jail the next day. He posted a $15,000 bond and was released Oct. 10. He is scheduled to appear in Eagle County District Court on Nov. 17.
When asked about the reasoning for the two felony charges, Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said entering a residence without permission is clearly an unlawful act. “On its face, it’s a first-degree criminal trespass,” he said.
And entering a residence and committing a crime can constitute second-degree burglary, he said. For example, if someone enters a house uninvited and assaults the occupant, they can also be charged with burglary, Hurlbert said. He said his office will review the police report before making a formal decision on filing the second-degree burglary charge.
Messrah couldn’t be reached for comment. A representative for the jail said no telephone was listed in Messrah’s booking information. No attorney has entered an appearance on his behalf yet, according to court records. The Basalt police department’s incident report had an invalid number for Messrah.