Man who stole from monks gets probation | AspenTimes.com

Man who stole from monks gets probation

Daniel Kramer

ASPEN – A Carbondale man apologized Monday for stealing painkillers from monks at an Old Snowmass monastery and vowed to straighten out his life.

At a hearing in Pitkin County District Court, Judge Gail Nichols sentenced 23-year-old Daniel Kramer to probation as part of a one-year deferred judgment. The ruling means the class-six felony conviction of possession of less than 4 grams of a schedule-two substance (Vicodin) will be expunged from his record if he does not commit any crimes during that period.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed one felony count of second-degree burglary and two misdemeanors – one for theft and one for unlawful use of a controlled substance.

Nichols said she found the case troubling.

“People who live in monasteries aren’t living high on the hog,” the judge told Kramer. “Stealing from people who live in a monastery is somewhat shocking.

“Obviously they are forgiving and they are not going after your hide.”

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The judge said she had considered sentencing Kramer – who’s been in Pitkin County Jail for 52 days since he surrendered to authorities in early November – to more time behind bars. However, she said she believed him to be sincere about his effort to get help and avoid mind-altering substances.

“If you start going downhill and get depressed, reach out for help,” she told Kramer, who has no previous felony convictions, but does have a DUI and DWAI on his record.

In a brief statement to the court, Kramer said: “I feel horrible about my actions, and at this point all I hope is … to move forward in my life.”

One of Kramer’s thefts was caught on a surveillance video collected on Aug. 29, when he entered Father Joseph Boyle’s bedroom at the St. Benedict’s Monastery and took a prescription bottle containing five Vicodin tablets, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. The bottle was stolen during Mass, Boyle told authorities. Kramer was a congregation member of St. Benedict’s Monastery when he took the drugs.

The tiny camera had been placed in Boyle’s room after the monk, along with a fellow brother at the monastery, said their prescription drug bottles had been disappearing. The brother claimed that 10 pills of his Percocet, prescribed for a back surgery, had gone missing from his bedroom at the monastery in December.

Boyle told authorities there were five incidents of painkiller-drug thefts from the rooms, dating back to November 2009.

Apparently Kramer has had substance-abuse problems in the past, Nichols said, noting that he had entered rehabilitation programs on his own accord.

“To your credit, you have always recognized your issues,” she told him.

Public defender James Conway told Judge Nichols that Kramer plans to enter an out-patient treatment program “to get a handle on his problems.”

“He has a struggle ahead but I know he can do it,” Conway said.

As part of his probation, Kramer was ordered to avoid alcohol, submit to random drug tests, undergo evaluations for substance abuse and mental health, and write letters of apologies to the two fathers he victimized. He also was ordered to perform 80 hours of community service.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com