A Carbondale man who took rare deer antlers from his longtime employers without permission and sold them for thousands of dollars was sentenced to four years of probation Monday.
Aspen prosecutor Arnold Mordkin said Pedro Amaral-Jacobo, 33, had known the owners of Crystal Home Ranch in Redstone almost all of his life, and the judge in the case said she was “quite concerned” with the defendant’s abuse of his former employers’ trust.
In 2007, Amaral-Jacobo began taking chandeliers and other home furnishings made with antlers from the fallow deer to Aspen Home Consignment.
Fallow antlers typically come from Hungary, Bulgaria and Russia, and are difficult to obtain because of strict U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines put in place because of foot-and-mouth disease. A special license is required for their importation, court papers say.
If the items sold, Amaral-Jacobo would receive half of the sales price in commission, the store’s owner told a Pitkin County Sheriff’s deputy. He was charged with three felonies for taking nearly $35,000 worth of items containing the antlers.
The ranch owner became aware of Amaral-Jacobo’s actions in June 2011, after a client told him that several pieces made at the ranch were for sale at the consignment store, a police report says. Authorities began investigating soon after.
Amaral-Jacobo told police that a friend who also worked at the ranch took the items and gave them to him in exchange for $100 per item when they sold.
Among the items recovered before they were sold were: two chateau tables worth $6,500 each; an art deco mirror ($3,650); a floor lamp ($2,850); a Ludwig chandelier ($3,500); and a white antler bench ($2,500).
In April, Amaral-Jacobo pleaded guilty to an attempted computer crime involving $20,000 or more, and Mordkin dismissed two other felonies of theft by receiving. The computer count stems from the items being in the business’s computer database, Mordkin said.
The prosecutor told Judge Gail Nichols that the victims are concerned that Amaral-Jacobo still has some of the “very valuable” antlers or furniture made with them. Mordkin said he considers the property to be stolen and that if Amaral-Jacobo tries to sell them, he will prosecute him and his probation will be violated.
“[I] hope he’s accepted responsibility and that he won’t do that,” Mordkin said.
Nichols said her “biggest concern is the abuse of trust.” She said she considered sentencing Amaral-Jacobo to jail but ended up accepting the recommendation in the plea agreement.
Amaral-Jacobo declined to speak before sentencing, other than telling Nichols that he now works for a company that rents party supplies.
Along with supervised probation, Nichols ordered him to pay restitution and to give to Mordkin’s office any fallow deer material that he still possesses.
In other court news, a former Snowmass Village man who had three separate felony cases pleaded guilty in two of them in exchange for the other case being dismissed.
Michael Kulik, 26, pleaded guilty to theft in a series of $1,000 to $20,000 and cocaine possession. He phoned into the hearing from Minnesota, where his attorney, Mark Rubinstein of Aspen, said Kulik is in a long-term drug-treatment program.
Kulik admitted to stealing nearly $2,000 in ski rental deposits from his former employer, Aspen Sports.
In the case that was dropped in the plea bargain, he was accused of stealing another man’s credit-card number and using it to pay for bar and hotel tabs in Aspen and Snowmass Village. He faced three felonies in that case alone.
When police arrested him for the credit-card case, he had less than 4 grams of cocaine on his person.
Rubinstein said the plea agreement calls for a three-year deferred sentence. If he violates terms of his probation, he would face a two- to six-year prison sentence for the theft charge and a year to 18 months for the cocaine count.
Nichols ordered Kulik, who told the judge that he intends to live in Minnesota permanently, to appear in person when he is sentenced July 16.