Rifle man faces theft, computer-crime charges

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

A Rifle man who works in Snowmass Village allegedly took jackets and other goods that belonged to local Performance Ski operations and tried to sell them over the Internet, according to the Aspen Police Department.

Matthew D. Long, 38, who also resides part-time at Snowmass Mountain Chalet, was advised Wednesday by Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols that he faces two felony charges: theft of less than $20,000 and computer crimes. The first charge typically carries a one-to-three-year jail term while the second carries a two-to-six-year term, Nichols said.

He was being held in the Pitkin County Jail as of Wednesday afternoon. Aspen prosecutor Andrea Bryan asked for Long’s bond to be set at $15,000 — she noted a previous out-of-state conviction involving a controlled substance as well as a possible DUI arrest in Glenwood Springs in 2010. Bryan also said the evidence against Long was “quite strong” and involved a “large-scale scheme.”

Nichols set bond at $2,000 after learning that Long has a wife and children who live with him in Rifle, minimizing his flight risk.

Aspen police received a theft report involving Performance Ski on Sunday. An employee saw eight jackets for sale, by the same person, on the Internet retail outlet eBay that closely matched items missing from the shop’s inventory, police said. The jackets matched the style, color and size of items that were to be delivered to Performance Ski’s location in Snowmass Village, authorities said.

Police used software to identify the owner of the eBay account, which led them to Long. A search of his house, coordinated with the Rifle Police Department, resulted in the discovery of numerous items that were new, in the box, with price tags still attached, police said.

After learning that Long maintained a residence in Snowmass Village, Aspen police notified the Snowmass Village Police Department, which contacted Long. He was taken into custody as police searched his second home, finding jackets and other items that matched descriptions of Performance Ski’s merchandise, police said.

During the discussion of his bond during Wednesday’s court hearing, Long sought to discount Bryan’s claim that he might be suicidal. He said his initial reaction to the investigation and his 1 a.m. arrest was “panic” and noted that he has worked for Snowmass Hospitality and other Base Village operations for nearly 10 years. He also mentioned a health condition and added that he was seeing a neurologist.

“I need to get out and do some damage control and work,” Long told Nichols in arguing for his release on a personal-recognizance bond, which does not require money for release from jail.

Nichols set Long’s next court date for Nov. 18 and advised him to apply for legal representation from the Public Defender’s Office.

Aspen police spokeswoman Blair Weyer said that information about how Long had access to the Performance Ski items could not be made public because the investigation is continuing.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office assisted Aspen, Snowmass Village and Rifle police with the investigation.