No charges in $1M Aspen theft case | AspenTimes.com

No charges in $1M Aspen theft case

ASPEN – The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office will not pursue charges against an Aspen man who was arrested in February on suspicion of bilking a local builder out of nearly $1 million.

Thomas Andrew Kiplingbaugh, 55, had faced as many as 27 felony theft counts, and one felony count for unauthorized use of a financial transaction device, court records show. He also faced a misdemeanor theft charge.

On Monday, he was scheduled to be advised of the counts. Aspen-based Arnold Mordkin, the chief deputy district attorney, declined to provide specifics for the decision to not charge.

“Our office makes decisions based upon the information we have available,” he said. “We looked very closely at the case, talked to people and we made the call” not to charge.

Kiplingbaugh’s Aspen attorney, Jeff Wertz, said his client paid $100,000 in restitution to the accuser, Richard Wodehouse, owner of Wodehouse Builders, which has offices in Aspen and Basalt.

“He paid 10 cents on the dollar of what he was accused of taking, but it did not constitute an admission of any kind,” Wertz said. “It was far less than what he would have to spend on legal counsel to defend the case.”

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Mordkin, when asked about whether restitution factored in the decision to not file charges, said: “We’re very concerned about the victims. But that’s all we’ll say.”

In February, authorities in Newport Beach, Calif., arrested Kiplingbaugh on a Pitkin County warrant that claimed he fleeced Wodehouse Builders out of nearly $1 million, and used the funds to help buy a Range Rover and an Aspen house, among other items. Most of the charges took place in the Aspen area, law-enforcement officials said.

The warrant claimed that between September 2007 and March 2008, Kiplingbaugh, as manager of Wodehouse Builders, employed various means to funnel company funds for his own use.

The warrant also accused him of making illegal wire transfers and using the company credit card and checks for personal expenses.

Wertz said Kiplingbaugh should have never been arrested.

“It’s our position that an arrest warrant never would have been signed if an accurate affidavit had been presented [to the judge who signed it],” Wertz said. “We think the affidavit was full of inconsistencies and downright inaccurate factual statements.

“The notion that these dozens and dozens of payments, which were not made surreptitiously or in secret, and the notion that they were not authorized by the company and not known about company, is preposterous. If they’re not authorized there’s a criminal case; if they are authorized there isn’t a criminal case. These [charges] were authorized.”

Kiplingbaugh, who posted $50,000 at the time of the arrest, was in California on Monday, Wertz said.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

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