An Aspen man charged with three felonies for allegedly stealing more than $2,000 from his then-employers’ safe had his bond reduced Monday from $5,000 to $1,000.
Joseph Kern, 35, has a job offer and can stay with friends if he is released from jail, said his attorney, public defender Laura Koenig, arguing for a lower bond.
Koenig told Judge Gail Nichols of Pitkin County District Court that she should also consider a public-recognizance bond, meaning he would be freed on his promise to return for his next court date, because he fulfilled requirements of a previous traffic case and never missed a court hearing.
Kern is charged with two felony counts of burglary, a felony theft count and a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a police officer. He was arrested Oct. 3 after the owners of CP Burger in Aspen, Craig and Samantha Cordts-Pearce, told police that a surveillance camera had captured Kern earlier that day entering the restaurant’s office and taking about $2,100 from a safe.
Kern had worked as director of operations for the four restaurants the couple own in town, but they had been trying without success to contact him so they could fire him, a police report says.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin said he had discovered additional criminal cases in Kern’s past, though he didn’t know their dispositions. He argued that the current bond of $5,000 was appropriate.
Nichols said she wouldn’t consider the previous cases, one of which happened in 1994, because the outcomes were unknown.
After Koenig said Kern is also working with the Aspen Counseling Center, Nichols reduced the bond to $1,000 but made it of the cash, not public recognizance, type.
“It is a serious offense, and the evidence is very, very strong, if it’s admissible,” she said, adding that she was “somewhat concerned” about a potential suppression issue in the case.
If he is able to post bond, Kern would be living with friends because his Hunter Creek apartment was damaged by a fire two days before he was arrested.
Investigators with Aspen police, the Aspen Fire Protection District and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation were continuing to probe the fire’s cause Monday, said Aspen police spokeswoman Blair Weyer.
Mordkin also submitted a restraining order in an effort to prevent Kern from contacting any employee of the four Cordts-Pearce restaurants. He said Kern had contacted some workers from jail, where he remained Monday evening.
But Nichols rejected the order, saying that not every worker was a victim. Such an order is perhaps appropriate to ensure that Kern doesn’t contact employees who were there on Oct. 3 and allegedly saw Kern go into the office, the owners and other potential witnesses, Nichols said. But she declined to sign a restraining order until Mordkin names those people.
Kern’s next court date is Nov. 5.
In other court news, a Carbondale man facing a rash of felonies after wrecking an allegedly stolen vehicle on Cemetery Lane can travel to California to enroll in a residential drug treatment program, Nichols ruled.
Dylan Martin, 21, is charged with 13 counts, including felony burglary, aggravated motor-vehicle theft, kidnapping and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Police say that early on July 4, Martin broke into an SUV in Basalt and drove it away. He allegedly offered to give a 12-year-old boy, whom he had met earlier that night, a ride home but instead headed upvalley at speeds of nearly 100 mph.
Martin apparently lost control after hitting a speed bump. He crashed the vehicle in a home’s yard on the 800 block of Cemetery Lane, traveling through trees and rolling it once, according to police.
Both passengers, who were wearing seat belts, had to be extricated. The boy was treated for bumps and bruises and released, while Martin was hospitalized for some time for injuries to his ankle, which was crushed in the accident, wrist and facial bones.
He is being represented by Koenig, who told Nichols that Brad Osborn of the Aspen Counseling Center highly recommended the California treatment program.
After completing that program, Martin will undergo intensive outpatient treatment at the local counseling center, Nichols was told.
Staff at the California program will brief Osborn on Martin’s status, and he can then update Nichols, Koenig said.
Martin’s next court date was set for Dec. 3.