Prison sentence for Aspen rental home squatter

A 50-year-old man with a history of felony convictions was sentenced Monday to four years in prison after pleading guilty to burglarizing an Aspen rental home.

Thomas Abbott was allegedly caught twice in February 2017 squatting in the home in the 200 block of West Hopkins Avenue. Abbott also allegedly stole a backpack from City Market in Aspen.

Abbott pleaded guilty in August to felony burglary in connection with the incidents, admitting that he entered the home with the intent to commit theft. Prosecutor Don Nottingham agreed to ask only for the minimum of four years in prison as part of the plea deal.

District Judge Chris Seldin then sentenced Abbott to the four-year term behind bars.

Abbott was already serving a two-year prison sentence when the case in Aspen was filed against him. In that case, he pleaded guilty in 2017 to first-degree trespassing of an automobile and identity theft in Garfield District Court.

In other court news Monday:

• A Basalt man pleaded guilty to drug possession, child abuse and driving while ability impaired in connection with a car accident in June involving his 2-year-old daughter.

As part of a plea deal, Lawrence Jones, 43, will receive a deferred sentence on the child abuse and possession of a controlled substance charges, meaning they will be wiped from his record if he successfully completes what is likely to be a probation sentence. The guilty plea to the DWAI charge will stay on his record.

Jones was arrested in June after he allegedly veered across all four lanes of traffic on Highway 82, went through a wooden, split-rail fence and hit two trees on his way down a 150-foot embankment, law enforcement officials said at the time. His 2-year-old daughter was in the car with him at the time, though neither were injured.

Cocaine was found in Jones’ 2000 Toyota truck, Nottingham said. He was previously convicted of DUI and DWAI, he said.

• A Los Angeles resident pleaded no contest to two felonies related to the theft of a purse from a car parked in downtown Aspen in November.

Virgil Buchanan, 40, pleaded to first-degree trespassing and unauthorized use of a financial transaction device and faces up to four-and-a-half years in prison when he’s sentenced in November.

Buchanan was charged with stealing a purse from an unlocked car in downtown Aspen, then allegedly using it to buy $6,000 worth of gift cards at City Market and Clark’s Market.


Hanukkah has arrived in Aspen

Members of the valley’s Jewish community gathered at the Albright Pavilion at Aspen Meadows Thursday for their second annual menorah lighting ceremony to celebrate and acknowledge the first day of Hanukkah.

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