Man who insulted boss guilty of harassment, not racial bias |

Man who insulted boss guilty of harassment, not racial bias

A Pitkin County jury on Friday found a local man guilty on one count of harassing his Hispanic former boss last fall but found no evidence of racial bias.

The jury acquitted Robert Rice, 43, of two other counts of misdemeanor harassment by ethnic intimidation.

Rice was convicted of harassment for insulting the man outside a restaurant and threatening to hurt him in front of his family. He faces as much as six months in the Pitkin County Jail when he is sentenced May 2.

Rice called his former boss a “wetback” and an “illegal” when the two men ran into each other at Local’s Corner in October, prosecutor Denton Walker told jurors during opening arguments Thursday. Rice also told the man to get out of the country, said Alex Haynes, Rice’s public defender.

In addition, Rice allegedly pretended to accidentally spill coffee on the man, Walker said, though the jury acquitted him of that action Friday.

Rice followed the Hispanic man, who’d fired Rice five months previously, to a restaurant two blocks away, Walker said Thursday. However, jurors acquitted him of harassment in that situation, as well.

In 2011, Rice was sentenced to two years in the Pitkin County Jail after pleading guilty to charges connected to pushing a paraplegic Iraq war veteran out of his wheelchair.