Pascal admits to clipping actors laptop
The Aspen hairdresser who stole Kevin Costner’s laptop computer during the actor’s 2004 wedding pleaded guilty to a reduced theft charge Monday.Pascal Bensimon, 45, was sentenced to two years of unsupervised probation, 25 hours of community service and ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution.Judge James Boyd told Bensimon, the owner and operator of an upscale Aspen salon bearing his name, that he violated the Costners’ trust when he stole the computer.”I’ve caused a lot of trouble, and I’m sorry for all of the trouble I’ve caused,” Bensimon quietly told the judge. “I want to go forward.”Bensimon was hired to style guests’ hair during Costner’s wedding to Christine Baumgartner in September 2004. The $1,500 Apple laptop computer contained wedding photos.
Pitkin County Detective Ron Ryan said previously that Bensimon wrote a confession. He apparently committed the crime in response to an argument about money and because he felt the wedding planner had treated him poorly.But Bensimon’s attorney, Pamela Mackey, said the decision to go to trial or accept the plea offer was “50-50.” She told Boyd that had the case gone to trial, she would have challenged the legality of the process sheriff’s investigators used to obtain the computer.Mackey, who represented Kobe Bryant during his sex assault case in Eagle County, said the search may have violated constitutional protections against illegal search and seizure. The charge against Bryant was dismissed.Bensimon originally was charged with felony theft, but that count was dismissed as part of the plea agreement. He paused to consult Mackey several times before Boyd accepted his guilty plea.Mackey told the judge that her client’s first language is French and that he sometimes has trouble understanding English. Boyd said he’d try to speak slower.
Bensimon asked to be sentenced immediately on the misdemeanor theft charge. Prosecutor Gail Nichols acknowledged that he has suffered a lot of embarrassment from the case’s publicity. She said the plea agreement was a “very fair resolution.”Bensimon has “already paid dearly” and wants to take responsibility to put the matter behind him, Mackey said. The bad press has also affected his business.”The embarrassment has been significant,” she said. Mackey declined further comment when she and Bensimon quickly exited the courthouseBoyd told Bensimon that the hairstylist had been in a position of trust when “the victims brought you into their home.””You did not honor this trust,” Boyd said.
Bensimon must pay the restitution by today, the judge ruled. Mackey assured the judge that the check would be sent overnight Monday. His community service must begin by April 20, and he must check in today with a deputy to set up his schedule for that.Jail supervisor Don Bird said offenders can pay their debt to society by working with one of about 60 local organizations. The sheriff’s office approves the businesses and government offices for community service work.The list includes organizations ranging from the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies to Pitkin County Vegetation Management to Theatre Aspen. People can choose which group they want to work with, Bird said.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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