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Aspen cops stumble on to ID theft scheme

Aspen police apparently uncovered an intricate identity theft scheme late this summer after arresting a 44-year-old man for behaving belligerently at two downtown Aspen bars, according to court records.

Jeffrey Sanzari, of Denver and Florida, initially gave police several fake names after they contacted him in August that eventually led the District Attorney’s Office to charge him with 23 counts of felony identity theft after a police investigation.

The evidence seized appears to indicate that Aspen police stumbled onto a well-organized identity theft scam after arresting Sanzari. He had personal information from 15 different people organized into separate profile pages in a three-ring binder found by police, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court.

Police also found six different pre-paid phones labeled with names and phone numbers, some of which corresponded to the names in the binder, the affidavit states.

“The binder is organized so that each sheet protector was a person’s profile,” according to the affidavit written by Aspen Police Detective Ritchie Zah. “A number of credit cards were recovered from some of the sheet protectors specific to a person’s profile demonstrating successful lines of credit being opened.”

In addition, each profile contained “background information such as news articles, Facebook posts and usernames and passwords for various financial institutions specific to each person,” the affidavit says. Some profiles contained credit card rejection letters.

In addition, Aspen police found 13 credit cards tucked into the binder for eight different people that were each labeled with the date the card was last used, PIN numbers, credit limits and cash advance limits.

All the items were found in the trunk of a 2015 Toyota Corolla belonging to a woman who allegedly drove Sanzari to Aspen. The woman has not been charged in connection with the case, though it remains under investigation, said Aspen prosecutor Don Nottingham.

Police are currently in the process of searching each of the pre-paid phones and analyzing the communications recorded on them, according to the affidavit.

Sanzari first came to the attention of police Aug. 31 about 8:15 p.m., when they responded to a report of a man who wouldn’t leave Aspen Public House in the downtown core, according to a police report. Sanzari fled the scene before officers arrived, but two hours later officers were called to Mr. Grey, across the street from Aspen Public House, for another disturbance he allegedly caused.

“Dispatch noted that a drunk male was fighting persons at the bar,” the affidavit states.

Officers contacted an extremely intoxicated Sanzari nearby, who first told them his name was “William Chem.” He also identified himself as “Terry Chen” and “William Chen” and handed the officer credit cards with the name “Baoku Chen” on them, according to the document. Later he identified himself as a “Marine Corps veteran” and said his name was “William John Jenson.” He also had a phone on him with the name “Sung Won” and a 720 area code phone number labeled on it, according to a police report.

Sanzari said he was staying at the Molly Gibson Lodge, though when officers gave him a ride to the hotel, the woman staying with him who owned the Toyota wouldn’t let police into the room, according to the affidavit. The woman, who said she was from Denver, told them his name was “William Jansen” and that he was from Florida.

Officers later searched the room but seized only a Sinclair gas card with the name “Baoku Chen” on it, according to the affidavit.

Sanzari was not positively identified until after he was arrested for disorderly conduct and fingerprinted at the Pitkin County Jail, where officials discovered an Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office warrant charging him with forgery and criminal impersonation, according to a police report. In Arapahoe County, he’d been arrested under the name “David Hepsher,” one of 13 different aliases Sanzari is known to use, according to police reports and the affidavit.

He’s also previously been charged with burglary and using forged “instruments” in Nevada.

Sanzari posted a $2,500 bond after he was arrested Aug. 31 and was released from the Pitkin County Jail soon after. A higher bond was not set for him at the time because police and prosecutors had not yet found the three-ring binder in the Toyota, Nottingham said.

Sanzari didn’t show up for his first scheduled court date Monday.


Winter travel rules put into effect in Aspen-area forests

The White River National Forest will apply its winter travel rules and close many roads and trails starting Saturday.

Winter travel rules require all wheeled vehicles, including bicycles, to stick to plowed routes or designated roads open through special order.

The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District and other U.S. Forest Service offices in the White River National Forest have Winter Motor Vehicle Use Maps that identify routes and areas designated for “over the snow” travel, including snowmobiles. They are free or available online.

“Please respect the shift from summer to winter travel even if the snowpack is minimal,” the White River National Forest Supervisor’s Office said in a statement. “Seasonal winter closures are in place to provide critical winter habitat for wildlife, for winter recreational activities and for visitor safety.”

Snowmobiling clubs groom many routes through volunteer time and by collecting donations. Their work should be respected by obeying all signage and travel restrictions, the Forest Service said.

Fat tire bikes are limited to plowed routes that are open to wheeled vehicles or designated routes open through special order.

“Currently, all (Forest Service) trails are closed to fat-tire bikes in the winter in accordance with the White River National Forest 2011 Travel Management Plan,” the agency said.

Subaru owners suspect a pattern of vandalism

Have a blue Subaru? You might want to keep an eye on it.

In the past month, several Glenwood Springs residents have had their cars vandalized, and there appears to be a pattern.

Each person reports that his or her blue Subaru has been scratched with a key or some other kind of sharp-edged tool.

When Jacki Lohman’s midnight blue Outback was keyed in October, she was upset.

Lohman and her husband had parked on Blake Street and went to the Ghost Walk event.

She commented to her husband that evening how nice it was to live in a community with low crime.

“The irony of it was that we woke up the next morning and had been vandalized,” Lohman said.

When she took it to the auto shop for a $5,000 paint job, the mechanics told her they were working on a similar Subaru that also was scratched in the same way.

Lohman posted pictures of the damage Oct. 21 on a popular Facebook community group.

“If it happened to me and someone else, then maybe there’s somebody out there who has a vendetta with someone who has a blue Subaru,” Lohman said in an interview.

Nearly a month later, Brynn Hays posted on another community group that her blue Outback had been scratched.

Hays noticed the scratch on the passenger side of her vehicle when she was outside Lowes on Tuesday.

“It’s kind of unsettling for our little valley town,” Hays said. “I can’t fathom why somebody would do that to someone else. It’s just crazy to me.”

The police officially closed Lohman’s case without any leads, but if it’s a pattern, Lohman believes there might be cause to reopen an investigation.

Neither Lohman nor Hays can think of someone angry enough with them to scratch their car.

“I feel like a lot of people drive blue Subaru Outback here. It’s a staple of Colorado,” Hays said.

Whether the recent vandalism to blue Subarus is a targeted pattern by one individual or coincidence, it is typically difficult for police to catch a suspect for keying a car.

“Most of the time, it’s pretty hard to prove” who keyed a car, acting Glenwood Springs Police chief Bill Kimminau said.

If someone is caught on camera scratching a car, or there was a witness, that makes it easier to identify suspects.

“Every once in a while you get lucky and whoever did it starts to run their mouth to somebody about what they did,” Kimminau added.

But in general, most instances of car scratching isn’t random.

“A lot of times, whoever the victim is has an idea of who (the suspect) is. It’s usually not random, somebody is mad about somebody else about something,” Kimminau said.


Sherry brothers relishing chance to play alongside each other for Basalt football

Being two years apart, the opportunity was never there for the Sherry brothers to play with each other on the football field. That is, until this season came along.

Daniel Sherry, a senior, starts at center for the Basalt High School football team. Sam Sherry, a sophomore, is beginning to really make a name for himself at linebacker for the Longhorns. Getting to be there for each other is something both players haven’t taken for granted.

“We are normally on opposite sides of the ball, so I get to watch him play every play and he’s the one I zone in on. When he makes a play, it’s just awesome,” Daniel said. “We’ve never ended up on the same team. So this year has been special.”

The Sherry brothers have been an important piece for No. 9 seed Basalt (9-2) having made a surprising run to the Class 2A state semifinals for the first time. BHS will host No. 4 Delta (10-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday with the winner headed to the state championship game a week later in Pueblo.

Neither Daniel nor Sam had seen much varsity action before this season. Daniel had to bide his time for three seasons before an opportunity finally opened up to start on the offensive line, but that’s also one of the reasons BHS coach Carl Frerichs is so fond of the center.

“He gave it everything he had for four years, but he waited his time,” Frerichs said. “And now it’s finally his time, but it’s not like he ever complained or ever questioned. He just did what was asked and now he’s getting that opportunity to be our starting center.”

Sam claims he was given all of one play on varsity as a freshman last fall. As a sophomore, he’s become one of the team’s best defensive players. According to MaxPreps, he leads the Longhorns with 73 total tackles. He’s also a standout baseball player and is considered the most athletic of the three Sherry siblings.

“He is really good and sometimes it makes me feel less good, but it’s whatever,” Daniel joked. “Sam’s team always wins. He hasn’t lost on a football team until he got to high school, so it’s really cool he gets to continue that and that we, in our rebuilding year, get to keep going and fight on.”

Daniel said he is “more of a school person” when compared with Sam. Like his sister, Megan, who graduated in 2016, once was, Daniel is one of Basalt’s head students this fall. He’s always gravitated toward leadership roles and was happy to follow in his sister’s footsteps in that position. Daniel plans to pursue an engineering degree after he graduates.

“He got the smarts. Megan got smarts, too. But, I mean, I’m not stupid,” Sam jokingly said. “He also helps me with homework a ton, because he’s really smart. I just try to live up to his standards, school-related. I’m going to have to go out for (head student). I don’t want to be the sibling that doesn’t do it.”

Saturday will mark Basalt’s first time playing in a 2A semifinal in school history, a feat to be matched by only a trip to the 1A semis in 1979. The Longhorns have never played in a state championship game, although the Sherry brothers are hopeful to finally help get them there.

The last time Basalt played Delta was on Oct. 18, a 35-6 loss for the Longhorns.

“First game was terrible. I’m excited to come get revenge. We’re all going to sell out. I know that,” Sam said. “This year it’s been fun to be able to step up and be able to kind of prove myself. This team is just great to be a part of and is this community.”


Aspen’s Davenport, Bleiler react to death of snowboarding icon Jake Carpenter

Jake Burton Carpenter shaped snowboarding into what it is today, and, says Aspen skiing icon Chris Davenport, he saved the ski industry by showing it what it could become.

One of the most influential people in the snowsports world, Carpenter died Wednesday night due to complications from his ongoing bout with testicular cancer. He was 65.

“Jake’s whole vision was to create products to allow people to set themselves free in the mountains,” Davenport said Thursday. “In the late ’80s and more in the early ’90s, skiing itself needed a serious kick in the ass. The sport was stale. I won’t say dead, but we owe Jake Carpenter a gigantic debt of gratitude for jumpstarting the ski industry.”

Carpenter, the man behind Burton Snowboards, was the guiding light for the ski and snowboard industry during that time. If anyone can be credited for making the sports fun and hip and bringing up the next generation, it was Carpenter.

“Throughout snowboarding history there has been a common thread, and one of them is Burton,” Aspen snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler said. “Jake was a luminary in a sport and an industry where the spirit of it has always been innovative. And for him to innovate within that sport itself, it just shows a lot about who he was as a human being. It’s definitely a great loss for snowboarding.”

Bleiler, a four-time X Games Aspen gold medalist in the halfpipe and 2006 Olympic silver medalist, was never a Burton rider, but had a front-row seat throughout most of her career to the Burton brand.

Davenport’s connection to the Carpenter family runs deep. His wife, Jesse, grew up as neighbors to Jake and his wife, Donna, in Stowe, Vermont.

The Davenports knew the family well, and attended their annual fall party in Vermont more often than not. Despite being a professional skier, Chris Davenport’s admiration for the Carpenters and what they built matches that of any snowboarder.

“The thing that really resonates with me about Jake is he stayed so true to the passion of riding the mountains,” Davenport said. “Regardless of skiing or snowboarding, he loved being out there and he loved creating products that made people happy.”

Carpenter founded Burton Snowboards in 1977. While Sherman Poppen is credited with inventing the snowboard — he made the “Snurfer” in the 1960s — it was Carpenter who is largely credited with taking the sport forward.

Only a few days ago, Miah Wheeler stumbled across a relatively unspoiled ’80s-era Burton Performer Elite snowboard in a Carbondale store. The longtime snowboard program director for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, Wheeler, whose go-to board is a modern Burton, had to scoop it up.

Now AVSC’s development director, Wheeler was born in 1976 and fondly remembers Carpenter’s constant push to make snowboarding into the sport it is today.

“He was a snowboarder through and through,” Wheeler said. “Snowboarding and skateboarding certainly have that anarchic feel to it. When FIS was pushing to get snowboarding into the Olympics, it felt like they were asking us to change our identity and who we really were. He really pushed back against that.”

Carpenter also made the push to get snowboarding into the ski resorts. Even Aspen Mountain once scoffed at the idea of allowing snowboarders on its chairlifts, with Aspen Highlands being among the first to open its runs to both, prior to being acquired by Aspen Skiing Co.

Without Carpenter and his passion, snowboarding — and possibly skiing — may not have survived into this century.

“He made his money and he made his impact with a snowboard company, but his legacy is so much greater than that. He propelled the ski industry,” Davenport said. “He’s one of the real icons who is a total legend. He basically built a sport from scratch. How do you get any bigger than that?”


Aspen ski racer Wiley Maple prepares for another season on the World Cup

Wiley Maple has had plenty of reason to quit and he knows the end is closer than the beginning. But the 29-year-old Aspen ski racer also believes he still has enough left in the tank to keep chasing his dreams on the “white circus” that is the World Cup.

“As soon as the effort-to-fun ratio starts changing, that’s when it probably becomes less worth it,” Maple said. “Last year since I felt so healthy and was skiing pretty well and just felt like I got robbed, a big part of continuing to go is feeling like I haven’t even slightly reached my potential. So I keep fighting for the results and the feeling that you want to feel on a World Cup downhill. And it’s still fun, so that’s probably the biggest part.”

Maple, who finished 30th in the 2018 Olympic downhill, is once again not officially on the U.S. Ski Team but nonetheless is set to embark on another World Cup season. He made his World Cup debut in 2011 and has had a tumultuous but wildly entertaining run since. Injuries have cost him a couple of seasons in there, his relationship with the national team has been on and off, and luck hasn’t always been on his side.

Yet, Maple still finds he has plenty of fight in him. His 2018-19 season included plenty of good skiing, but the results were rarely there. His only World Cup points came when he finished 28th in a downhill in Val Gardena, Italy. But Maple also feels he wasn’t that far off the pace, had he only gotten a few more breaks.

“For the most part I was skiing pretty well last year,” Maple said. “Pretty dry year for me. But the skiing was there. Luck wasn’t on my side, it seemed.”

Maple’s season ended with the traumatic loss of his ski technician and best friend Sam Coffey, who died in May while vacationing in Mexico. Coffey likely would have joined Maple on the World Cup for a second season this winter, but instead Maple has turned to fellow Colorado ski racer Will Gregorak to aid him. Gregorak is a former U.S. Ski Team member who last competed in 2015.

Still, Maple knows Coffey’s influence won’t be far away.

“I think about him every day still,” Maple said. “He’s going to be on my skis. He’s part of my skis, because he put in some of the work for those skis, and obviously he’s part of me because he helped create who I am.”

Nothing is guaranteed for Maple this season. He plans to head to Lake Louise and Beaver Creek over the coming weeks for the season’s first speed races, although he’ll have to earn a starting spot during training for each race.

He’s spent the past few weeks training at both Copper Mountain with the rest of the U.S. Ski Team and at the Stapleton Training Center at Aspen Highlands. Maple said he’s happy with how training has gone, but won’t know how that will carry over to actual races until he slides out of the starting gate.

“It’s hard to know where you are at, just based off the training camps and stuff,” Maple said. “Some of the training camps go really well and you feel like you are totally in there, then others you just seem a little bit behind or whatever. It depends on where you are training and who you are training with.”

Before Maple heads to his first races, he will host a fundraising event from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Red Onion in Aspen. There will be a silent auction with roughly 40 items to bid on that will help fund Maple’s latest World Cup endeavor.


A Wine Destination Turns 30: The Little Nell Reaches a Milestone

It was late November 1989, and Aspen was full of anticipation for the coming ski season. The Silver Queen Gondola had opened two seasons before, taking skiers to the top of Aspen Mountain in 14 minutes — cutting the previous base-to-peak time in half. There was controversy as the community fought over a measure to ban the sale of fur. In New York, a developer by the name of Trump was planning his Christmas vacation to Aspen. One that would include both his wife, Ivana, and his girlfriend, Marla Maples.

And at the base of Aspen Mountain, a new hotel was preparing to welcome its first guests for Thanksgiving. The Little Nell, a 92-room, five-star luxury hotel designed by the local architectural firm Hagman Yaw, opened Nov. 23, 1989. While it has changed many things in Aspen and the world of skiing, setting a standard in ski-in-ski-out luxury hotels that is mirrored at virtually all top-tier U.S. resorts today, it is its role as a premier wine destination that distinguishes it from other mountainside properties.

Over the last three decades, The Little Nell (TLN) has become a revered destination for a number of different wine constituencies. Its Wine Spectator Grand Award, one of fewer than 100 granted worldwide, has made it a must-stop for traveling wine connoisseurs since it was first awarded to the hotel in 1997. A staggering run of master sommeliers in the wine program (there have been 10 who have worked the floor in the hotel’s various restaurants) have made it the “Cradle of the Masters.” Those who aspire to be players in the wine community regard TLN as an ultimate proving ground and, for years, the Court of Master Sommeliers held both their educational events and final exams in TLN meeting rooms and restaurants.

Then there are the winemakers themselves, many whom have made the pilgrimage from around the globe to pour their wines for guests at TLN over the years. Peter Gago, the winemaker at Penfolds in Australia and the custodian of the famed Grange, has brought his bottlings from the Barossa. Vintage Dom Pérignon has been popped in TLN Wine Room by the Champagne’s former cellar master, Richard Geoffroy. And this past year saw the new world of minimalist wines represented when Raj Parr poured pinot noirs from the Sta. Rita Hills and Oregon.

And I nostalgically recall a La Paulée des Neiges wine event in 2013, held in the newly christened Element 47 restaurant, that saw a passel of Burgundy’s finest producers, including Dominique Lafon of Domaine des Comtes Lafon; Etienne Grivot of Domaine Jean Grivot; Jean-Pierre de Smet of Domaine de L’Arlot; Christophe Roumier of Domaine Georges Roumier; Pierre Meurgey of Maison Champy; and, from Crozes-Hermitage, Alain Graillot, pour their wines for an elite clientele. The accompanying meal was prepared by famed French chef Daniel Boulud. Sigh.

Pretty heady stuff. But why has this small boutique hotel sitting at 8,000 feet, miles from the nearest major city, become such a go-to for the wine world?

The answer traces back to the financial commitment made by the owners, the Crown family of Chicago and Aspen, to build a cellar that would rival the world’s best. That cellar, really not much more than a glorified, chilled storage room down a steep flight of stairs for the early years, grew under the stewardship of a cadre of young, energetic sommeliers.

Somms like Richard Betts, Bobby Stuckey, Jonathan Pullis, Sabato Sagaria and Carlton McCoy channeled their passion for wine into a place that holds over 20,000 bottles, serving a wine list of over 100 pages. Their commitment to service emphasizes a tradition that every bottle poured receives appropriate attention.

Today the wine program is under the auspices of newly named wine director Chris Dunaway, who looks forward to continuing the legacy of The Little Nell as a wine mecca. He will also oversee the wine cellar room that morphed into a destination speakeasy under past wine director Carlton McCoy.

On Friday, Nov. 29, The Little Nell is hosting a celebratory 30th anniversary dinner with the title “Dining Through the Decades” to commemorate its special culinary and wine history. Executive chef Matt Zubrod will be joined by chef George Mahaffey who, during his tenure at what was then called “The Restaurant at the Little Nell,” won a James Beard Award as Outstanding Chef: Southwest in 1997.

“When I arrived in October of 1992, The Nell was yet in its infancy,” Mahaffey recalled about his experience there. “I think that, all in all, we, a team of 300, did well. I have memories of hard work, and of our collective brilliance, of personal failures, and memories of laughter and tears, and of the many guests who also helped to make it so special.”

Pouring wines alongside Dunaway will be Stuckey, who worked with Mahaffey at TLN in the ’90s before going on to open Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, his Friuli-inspired wine centric restaurant that has also won a Beard Award for Best Wine service. He is looking forward to his return, stating, “I am so honored to be able to be back to The Little Nell for their 30th anniversary. Twenty-five years ago, when I went to work at The Little Nell, Eric Calderon, Connie Thornburg and chef George Mahaffey created an environment that created the food and wine and hospitality professional that I became. That era created many things about me that I pull on every day. I’m so excited to be back for the dinner.”

There will be stories. Wine will flow. And just like in 1989, everyone will be full of anticipation for another ski season to remember.

June and Labor Day Experience pass on sale Friday

The Jazz Aspen Snowmass “We Trust JAS” Pass go on sale Friday. The early pass to the June and Labor Day Experiences, released before the festival lineups, include a 3-Day June Experience (June 25-28) for $125, a 3-Day Labor Day Experience Transferable Pass (Sept. 4-6) for $219 and a June & Labor Day Combo Pass for $325. New this year, all passes are transferable.

Locals get a head start on June and Labor Day Experience sales this year at Belly Up Aspen on Friday, Nov. 29, from 2 to 5 p.m.

Phone and online sales will begin immediately following the presale at 5 p.m., based on availability, at 866-JAS-TIXX (527-8499) or www.jazzaspensnowmass.org.

REI Ups ‘Black Friday’ Ante

For the fifth year running, REI will close its stores and pay all of its 13,000-plus employees to “Opt Outside” for Black Friday, which is the day after Thanksgiving.

But the company now says it — and its members — need to do more.

REI announced new commitments to reduce its environmental impact. And it’s asking members to pledge to follow a 52-week “Opt to Act” plan for the year to come.

REI wants to mobilize its members, in conjunction with its employees, to take action throughout the next year. The Opt to Act plan provides resources for members to find local cleanup efforts across the country and commit to simple acts that reduce individuals’ carbon footprint.

Click here to read the full story from Gear Junkie

Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com

Theatre Aspen to host Holiday Cabaret Series

The popular Theatre Aspen Cabaret Series will return this winter with a family-friendly holiday edition, of four public performances running Dec. 15 to 19.

Following an expanded summer cabaret lineup, the series will feature specially created evenings of ensemble and solo numbers around the piano and will play at varying locations in downtown Aspen and Snowmass. The venues and performances change every night, but each evening will include a pre-show dinner.

“What better place to spend the holidays than Aspen?” said producing director Jed Bernstein. “The entire Theatre Aspen family is ecstatic to be presenting these cabarets during the magical wintertime season for the first time. We hope to create a new holiday tradition for all those who attend.”

The cabaret company, including Aspen locals and artists from across the country, will include Nikki Boxer, an Aspen native for many years most recently seen in Theatre Aspen’s “Cabaret” and “Les Misérables;” Jonathan Gomolka, direct from his appearance in this summer’s production of “Guys & Dolls”; Sheryl McCallum, a Denver native making her Theatre Aspen debut; and Sally Swallow, a new full-time Aspen resident.

The series will be directed by Abbey O’Brien, whose Broadway credits include “Waitress” and “Jagged Little Pill” with music directed by Bob Finnie, a Roaring Fork Valley stalwart, with stage management by Taylor Marun, who returns after her first summer with Theatre Aspen.