Stage 3 manager arrested for theft
Local police believe they have solved at least part of a robbery at Aspen’s Stage 3 Theatres last May.
Donald E. Blake, former manager of the theater, was arrested on Nov. 12 at the Mesa County Jail in Grand Junction, and charged with one count of theft and one count of “false reporting to authorities,” both of which are misdemeanor offenses.
According to police, Blake, 54, said he was alone in the theater office at about midnight on May 21 when three men wearing ski masks and carrying guns came in and threw him on the floor, demanding money.
He told them the day’s receipts – which amounted to nearly $4,000, according to Blake – were in a duffel bag on the floor. The men grabbed the duffel and ran out.
Over the course of a series of police interviews, Blake admitted he had “not followed procedure” and failed to make a midday deposit of the theater revenues, which is why so much money was in the office that night.
When told by Aspen Detective Glenn Schaffer that his story was difficult to believe, particularly since the holdup was the second robbery at the theater in six months in which he was involved, Blake denied making the story up and offered to take a polygraph test to prove his innocence.
He later admitted, in an interview with a police officer in Grand Junction, that he had found two $100 bills in the office after the robbers had left, and kept them. The police discovered the bills in the trunk of Blake’s car, under the carpeting.
Blake also admitted to Schaffer, in a subsequent interview, that the reason the money was in a duffel bag on the floor of the office that night was that he regularly took the day’s receipts home with him at night, and deposited them the next day, contradicting his initial report.
The robbery was the second armed holdup at Stage 3 this year.
On Jan. 2, a lone masked man, reportedly armed with a semi-automatic pistol, held up the theater and took an undetermined amount of money. No one was arrested for that robbery, and after the second heist, police officials said they were unsure whether the two robberies were connected.
A source in the police department said investigators are “very close” to making arrests in connection with one or both robberies, though the source would not say who the suspect or suspects are.
There has been widespread speculation in Aspen that the theater holdups are somehow linked to similar robberies at Clark’s Market and the Aspen Alps condominiums in Aspen, and The Village Market in Snowmass.
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A local man with a history of police troubles was arrested twice on Saturday, five days after a district judge let him out jail on his own recognizance.