Trial begins in auto theft case |

Trial begins in auto theft case

Joel StoningtonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Jury selection begins Thursday in the trial of a convicted felon who allegedly stole a car after lulling a Basalt woman into a trustful friendship. Robert Zimny, 46, is charged with stealing a 2006 Ford Fusion and driving the car to Park City, Utah, where he was apprehended. Zimny was born in Indiana, but court documents show he had driver’s licenses from Utah, California and Florida, and eight aliases ranging from Zuski to Zimmy to Zimmerman. The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office lists one of Zimny’s fake birthdates as April 20, 1960, and Basalt police found Zimny’s address to be false after the filing of the car theft report. At the time, Zimny was on probation from a 2002 felony theft conviction in which he stole thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. In that case, Zimny met a Denver woman in Crested Butte. Court records said they “hit it off,” and he went to visit her in Denver. Zimny left the Denver woman’s house four days later with more than $15,000 worth of goods, including a $5,000 gold and diamond ring and a $3,000 gold, ruby and emerald bracelet, court records show. He was convicted of that felony and also has a conviction in Florida for felony theft and illegal use of credit cards. Zimny’s past is nearly as complicated as the car theft case.According to court documents, Zimny borrowed the Ford from Susan Peetz of Basalt numerous times last October but never returned after the final time, Oct. 19. Peetz filed a police report, and the car still had not been found two weeks later. Zimny was later picked up in Park City. Peetz did not even know “Bobby’s” last name when she loaned him her car. After filing the report, she went to the Bistro in Basalt, a place he frequented, to see if anyone knew his last name. There, she found that people thought it was Zimmerman. Basalt police ran his name in the national criminal records computer, and numerous aliases, Social Security numbers and various birthdays popped up. Peetz’s insurance company had already paid out for the car by the time it turned up in Park City, so the possessions in the car were destroyed, and Peetz’s insurance company sold the Fusion, with a blue book value of $19,000, at auction for $601. The defense tried for a dismissal, saying there was exculpatory evidence destroyed when the car was handed over to the insurance company. That motion failed. In transcripts of preliminary motions, the defense has tried to show that Zimny had an agreement to borrow Peetz’s car and that Zimny spent money on new snow tires. At the time of the theft, Peetz’s license was suspended so she could not legally drive. On the stand in a motions hearing, Peetz said she never gave Zimny permission to do more with the car than go get groceries. Zimny has spent the past nine months in the Pitkin County Jail on $10,000 bond. He faces two to six years in prison for the single count of aggravated motor vehicle theft. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is