Two men who allegedly took salmon, sushi, chocolate milk and other items from Clark’s Market in Aspen, where they worked, were arrested early Friday as they drove away.
Joaquin Martell-Cortez, 45, of Blue Lake, and El Jebel resident Davis Hernandez Quintero, 37, face felony burglary and misdemeanor theft charges.
Detective Walter Chi of the Aspen Police Department met Wednesday with the CEO of the Clark’s chain, Tom Clark Jr., who “had been concerned about the financial performance of the meat department,” the arrest warrant says.
In investigating problems with shrinkage and ordering, Clark on Monday watched surveillance video to see if his employees were taking items.
“Clark observed almost every night in the month of January members of the night crew taking out full backpacks, boxes, gallons of milk and reusable grocery bags filled with what appeared to be product from the store,” Chi wrote in the warrant. “Clark confirmed that none of the crew was purchasing the items through the employee discount that the store tracks.”
Police on Thursday night watched live surveillance that allegedly showed three employees, including Martell-Cortez and Quintero, walk out of the store with items such as sushi and produce.
Around 1 a.m., police officers stopped the men in their vehicles and allegedly saw sushi, fish and two closed boxes, one of which Chi said he saw Quintero place in the car.
Martell-Cortez had in his vehicle a “half-gallon of milk, chocolate milk, a piece of salmon and a box of hair dye product,” the warrant says.
Quintero told Chi that “he was only taking expired items and that they were going to his home that he shares with his girlfriend and her cousins,” according to the warrant.
Clark told police that stocking employees are not authorized to identify spoiled items and that the company even scans expired products to track them better.
Another employee told Chi that “though she had closed her eyes to it, she knew the others she worked with were stealing meat, produce and supplies from the store,” the warrant says.
While Martell-Cortez and Quintero were the only ones arrested Friday, charges against others are possible, Chi said in an interview.
Martell-Cortez allegedly told police that his name was Herbert Granados, and he also faces a felony count of criminal impersonation.
When he was advised of the charges on Friday, he told Judge Gail Nichols of Pitkin County District Court that he has lived in the valley for six years. He asked to be released so he can get a new job to support his adolescent son.
Prosecutor Andrea Bryan said she was concerned about Martell-Cortez’s immigration status, which was unclear Friday, because he allegedly provided the false name.
She asked for a $5,000 bond, to which Nichols agreed.
“I’m a little confused about who you are, given the allegations,” Nichols said.
Quintero said little in court. He told Nichols that he has lived in El Jebel for six months, and he has a girlfriend and a brother in the area.
Nichols set his bond at $750, citing the local relations. Neither man has a criminal history, Bryan said.
They are due back in court on March 4.