Homeless man to go to work to pay off debts | AspenTimes.com

Homeless man to go to work to pay off debts

John Colson

A local homeless man was jailed for up to three months Wednesday to give him time to work off more than $800 in fines and fees from dozens of trespassing arrests.

Alan Wilcox, 46, who has lived in the Aspen area for at least five years, was told he can take a job at the Aspen/Pitkin County Landfill to work off his debt to the city and the county.

And, ruled Municipal Judge Brook Peterson, Wilcox won’t be released from jail until he also has saved up some money to take with him when he hits the streets again.

Wilcox has been arrested 36 times since 1996 and been contacted by police at least twice that number, according to testimony from Aspen Police Sgt. Richard Pryor. The arrests have been mostly at the request of local property owners who have caught him sleeping in stairwells, hallways or other parts of their property.

On March 7, he was ordered by Judge Peterson to pay off $865 in fines and fees, including a $240 work release monitoring fee assessed by the Pitkin County Jail earlier. And he was ordered to stay out of trouble or face serious consequences.

Two days later, however, he was arrested again for sleeping in a stairwell, and on March 14, he failed to appear in court on that charge, which led to his arrest later that same day.

“It was a bad decision, I guess,” Wilcox told the judge this week about his deliberate no-show in court.

He said he was hoping to work for a couple of days at his job for a local temporary work agency and then pay off some of his debt before appearing in court again.

“It seems kind of odd to me that someone gets fined when they’re homeless,” he said at one point in the hearing, to which the judge responded testily, “People get fined when they break the law. There’s a distinct difference.”

The judge ruled that the eight days Wilcox has spent in jail awaiting Wednesday’s hearing is sufficient punishment for the latest two arrests. The judge added a work-release sentence that will last up to 90 days, depending on when he pays off his debts and saves $250 for pocket cash.

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