Pictures on Facebook lead to arrest in 2010 Aspen bar assault
July 3, 2012
ASPEN – Photos posted on Facebook have led to the arrest of a man suspected of assaulting a person at an Aspen bar more than two years ago.
National Park Service authorities arrested Derek Clark, 29, on June 18 at Grand Teton Park in Wyoming, where he worked as a concierge. Clark was wanted by the Aspen Police Department, which notified the Park Service that recent photos posted on Facebook showed Clark at Jackson Lake, which is located at Grand Teton Park.
Rangers later located Clark in his dormitory and took him into custody.
On Monday, Clark appeared in Pitkin County District Court to answer one charge of second-degree assault causing bodily injury.
The case had been under investigation by the Aspen police since May 23, 2010. That’s when a patron of the Regal Watering Hole was struck in the face by a glass hurled at him by an unidentified man, police allege. The alleged victim suffered facial lacerations and was treated at Aspen Valley Hospital.
One week after, a Regal bouncer told Aspen police that he believed the perpetrator’s name was Derek, and on June 16, Regal’s general manager reported to police that he believed the suspect lived in Aspen.
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No arrests were made at the time. But on April 24, police receive a break in the investigation when the same bar manager contacted them to say he recognized Clark from a photo that ran in a local newspaper about his April 12 arrest in Aspen on an Eagle County warrant, according to a statement written by Aspen Police Officer Rick Magnuson.
The Regal manager also provided a photo of Clark on Facebook – not the one at Jackson Lake – to Aspen police. The manager said he was “positive” that Clark was the person who threw the glass at the patron more than two years ago, Magnuson wrote.
On May 24, another witness to the alleged assault, after reviewing a photo lineup of six males, said, “I’m 75 percent this is the suspect,” when he saw Clark’s picture, according to Magnuson. A third witness, on May 30, also identified Clark as the culprit after reviewing the lineup, Magnuson wrote.
That information was enough for a judge to sign a warrant for Clark’s arrest. And, according to a statement from the National Park Service, on June 18 rangers at Grand Teton received information from Aspen police that “included posting on Facebook where the suspect … said that he was spending the summer in the Jackson Hole area. Photographs on the site appeared to have been taken on Jackson Lake.”
Upon further investigation, rangers learned that Clark has a criminal history that “included possession of controlled substances, kidnapping, domestic violence and assault,” the press release said.
While he was arrested without incident at his dormitory room, “based on evidence found at the scene, Clark is also being charged with possession of a controlled substance,” according to the Park Service’s press release.
Meanwhile, at court Monday, Clark told District Judge Gail Nichols he had only “two dollars” to his name. He had posted bond in Wyoming after his June 18 arrest, and turned himself into Pitkin County Jail within the last week, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin.
The jail released Clark because he had posted bond in Wyoming; but Mordkin said that the Wyoming bond was not valid in Colorado. That led to deputies taking Clark into custody in the middle of the courtroom, where a judge set his bond at $10,000 for the assault case.
In other court news from Monday:
• A woman with a history of embezzlement pleaded guilty to one felony count of theft in a series, more than $20,000.
Former Snowmass Village resident Brenda Elaine Dobbs, 63, admitted to Nichols that she stole money from the Mountain View Homeowners Association’s business account while she worked as its bookkeeper.
“Did you know you were doing this without authority of Mountain View Homeowners?” Nichols asked Dobbs.
“I did,” she replied.
Dobbs has been in custody since Aug. 16, when Pitkin County authorities arrested her on a warrant out of Eagle County. There, she was wanted on criminal charges of theft, fraud and habitual criminal activity. She also has an embezzlement case in Garfield County. She’s expected to enter a plea Thursday in Garfield, said Public Defender Tina Fang.
As part of the Pitkin County plea agreement, Dobbs must pay restitution in the Garfield case before she is sentenced in Aspen. Her sentencing date here is Sept. 17.
Charging documents say that Dobbs was hired to be the HOA’s bookkeeper on May 1, 2011, and was given permission to use the ATM so she could pay its bills. The account had a balance of $28,441 at the time of her hiring.
On Aug. 8, the HOA’s treasurer froze the account after he noticed that its funds were nearly depleted. Aspen police were contacted, and subsequently launched an investigation that led to the arrest of Dobbs.
• Nichols issued a warrant for the arrest of Taylor Colton, 41, who failed to appear for a sentencing hearing.
Colton was to be given a deferred sentence for his guilty plea to a burglary from July 2011.
Fang said she had not heard from Colton.
Nichols also revoked Colton’s $10,000 bond because of his no-show.
Last year, Colton also was accused by area business owners of fleecing them out of cash as part of a magazine scam. The business owners claimed that they paid Colton for advertisement space in the magazine Aspen Moxie, which has yet to be printed. Colton told them the magazine would hit the stands in June or July of 2011. Criminal charges have yet to be filed in that matter, and Aspen Moxie has yet to be published.