Judge OKs man’s theft, fraud charges
Enough evidence exists to charge a former Aspen man with stealing nearly $200,000 in Rolex watches and bilking $60,000 from a local couple by posing as financial adviser, a District Court judge ruled Tuesday.
Jared Mastroianni, 30, will face felony charges of both securities fraud and theft of between $100,000 and $1 million, according to the ruling made by District Judge Chris Seldin after a preliminary hearing Tuesday. Mastroianni also faces other felony counts of securities fraud, theft of between $20,000 and $100,000 and forgery related to the same cases.
In January 2015, Mastroianni told the owner of Meridian Jewelers, 525 E. Cooper Ave., he wanted to buy eight Rolex watches for his “top employees,” according to court documents. He ended up taking possession of five of the watches valued at $196,250 after writing a check that later bounced.
Evidence presented Tuesday indicated the fraudulent check Mastroianni wrote “was drawn on no bank at all,” Seldin said. Evidence also showed that he knew the watches were stolen before he almost immediately sent them out of state to a used Rolex watch broker, the judge said.
In the securities fraud case, an Aspen-area couple gave Mastroianni $60,000 because they thought he was a financial adviser who worked for a company called “Strategic Point,” according to court documents. The couple later became suspicious that Mastroianni wasn’t who he said he was and discovered he had no affiliation to the company, the documents state.
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At one point, Mastroianni referred the couple to an alleged business associate named “Oren Lipstean,” according to court documents. The couple recorded the phone conversation with Lipstean, and prosecutor Andrea Bryan played the recording in court Tuesday.
The voice on the phone sounded to both the couple and a Pitkin County sheriff’s investigator like Mastroianni using a voice synthesizer, Bryan said. On the tape, the person spelled his alleged last name as “Lippenstean” instead of “Lipstean,” Bryan said.
After the phone call, Mastroianni told the couple he’d return their money by check but never did, according to court documents. He later sent his “assistant” to meet them at the Aspen Business Center with a check that was later found to be a forgery, the documents state.
The couple never received their money back, according to the documents.
Mastroianni has not yet entered a plea in the case.
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The Aspen Filmfest program, which opens Tuesday night with the Jessica Chastain-led drama “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” is a tribute to the founder, Ellen Kohner Hunt. The festival will also recognize the memory of Hunt with “Ellenfest” on Thursday.