Jewel thief back in county jail |

Jewel thief back in county jail

John Colson

A man convicted three years ago of shoplifting more than $50,000 in jewelry in Aspen is back in the Pitkin County Jail and may be sent to prison for a long time.

Alvino Bennett, 23, turned himself in to Southern Ute Indian Reservation authorities in late September for arrest on charges he failed to comply with the conditions of his probation in the shoplifting case.

He reportedly is a member of the Navajo Nation, having grown up in Tuba City, Ariz., and agreed not to fight extradition off the reservation when he turned himself in.

He was brought back to Aspen last weekend by the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and is being held in lieu of $10,000 bond while awaiting a hearing before Judge J.E. DeVilbiss. A jail officer said Bennett indicated he was “tired of running” from the law and decided to turn himself in and face his punishment.

He faces a possible sentence of 12 years in prison.

Bennett was convicted in 1997 of stealing jewelry and watches from several Aspen stores.

According to police reports at the time, Bennett stole numerous expensive items of jewelry while walking around town in the company of his mother, Rena Smith, 45, of Leadville, and Bennett’s infant child.

In a plea bargain with the district attorney’s office, Bennett pleaded guilty to theft and was sentenced to four years of probation and 80 hours of public service, as well as being ordered to pay $440 in court costs and fines. He had served 149 days in jail while awaiting trial.

In a handwritten statement to the judge, Bennett explained that he was living with his mother at the time but was planning to return to Arizona and wanted to visit Aspen before he left the state.

He wrote in the note that he was despondent over a recent breakup with a girlfriend and that he started stealing the jewelry “before I knew it.”

He received permission to move to the Front Range to live with family members but disappeared without paying his court costs and fines or completing his hours of public service, according to police.

Documents in the file indicate that he spoke to a probation officer after moving to the Cortez area without permission.

Because he failed to comply with the terms imposed by the court, his probationary sentence has been voided and he now faces lengthy prison terms for three charges of felony theft and conspiracy.

He is due in court on Oct. 16.

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