Theatre Aspen concession stand robber pleads guilty
A local man with ties to a notorious string of armed robberies in the Aspen area in 1999 admitted Monday to robbing the Theatre Aspen concession stand with a screwdriver a year ago.
Yuri Ognacevic, 39, pleaded guilty in Pitkin County District Court to aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and two counts of possession of a weapon by a previous offender as part of a plea deal. He faces 270 days in the Pitkin County Jail and an undetermined length of probation when he’s sentenced Aug. 17.
In exchange for agreeing to the plea deal, the District Attorney’s Office dismissed three counts of theft that were filed against him at the same time as the robbery for allegedly snatching two purses hanging from the back of chairs at outdoor restaurant seating areas while riding a bicycle.
Ognacevic entered the Theatre Aspen tent July 9 wearing a hat, glasses and bandana over his face and approached a 19-year-old woman serving concessions during intermission of the troupe’s production of “Guys and Dolls.” He allegedly held a small knife blade in the woman’s face and demanded money in the cash register, police said at the time.
Ognacevic made off with $250, a Theatre Aspen official said later.
After Ognacevic was taken into custody soon after the robbery, police found an AR-15 rifle, a .22 caliber rifle, a bolt-action .30 caliber rifle and a 9mm handgun, as well as more than 100 rounds of ammunition, in his Snowmass Village condominium.
On Monday, when Ognacevic appeared by phone in court, he clarified that the weapon he used during the robbery was a small, flathead screwdriver that was part of Leatherman multi-tool.
“It wasn’t even a small knife,” he said.
Ognacevic would have faced between six and 18 years in prison if he’d have been found guilty of the three charges he pleaded to Monday. Because he was previously convicted of robbery, he is not allowed to possess firearms.
That previous conviction related to the 1999 robbery of Clark’s Market in Aspen at gunpoint, though he also admitted to being involved in the burglary of a video store and supplying an unloaded .22 caliber rifle for one of several other robberies tied to 12 local teenagers.
The group of teens were implicated in an eight-month string of armed robberies and burglaries in Aspen and Snowmass Village in 1999. Many of the dozen teens involved were members of longtime local families.
Ognacevic was 18 when he pleaded guilty to felony robbery for the Clark’s incident, and served less than a year in a minimum security prison in Canon City before finishing his sentence at a halfway house.
A civil deputy kept her job and was mandated to undergo counseling after Aspen police arrested her in July on suspicion of driving under the influence and reckless driving.