Derek Johnson, a former Aspen city councilman who once ran for mayor, is the subject of a criminal investigation involving his former employer, the Aspen Skiing Co.
Johnson, a former SkiCo executive, said Monday that he was not aware of a criminal investigation, though law enforcement sources confirmed the inquiry. Aside from those sources, detective Adriano Minniti with the Aspen Police Department said that he is working on a case involving the SkiCo, but said he cannot yet disclose “who or what is being investigated.”
The investigation appears to be in its early stages, and few details were available Monday, though sources said it appears to focus on Johnson’s handling of ski equipment.
Johnson, the former managing director of the SkiCo’s retail and rental operations, and the company said little about the case.
“I can confirm that my 17 years of employment with the Aspen Skiing Co. has ended,” he wrote in an email. “I view this as a private employment matter and will not be commenting further.”
Asked about the investigation, Johnson reiterated that he regards “this as a private employment matter, although I do agree with the Skiing Company’s request that everyone refrain from speculation.”
The company issued a statement alluding to potential widespread ramifications of the case.
“This is a personnel matter, and there is an ongoing investigation,” the statement says. “It is very painful and personal for those involved, and we will not comment further at this time. This is a tragic situation that affects many people not just in the company but in the community across many levels, and we ask that everyone respects that and refrains from speculation.”
Asked to elaborate how residents would be impacted “across many levels,” SkiCo spokeswoman Tucker Vest Burton said the company would not be commenting further at this time.
Johnson and a business partner founded the D&E Snowboard Shop in Aspen in the 1990s, selling it to the SkiCo in the early 2000s. The SkiCo rental and retail sector won an award in 2007, and Johnson touted its multiple brands as a reason.
He was elected to his first term on Aspen City Council in 2009, receiving the endorsement of his former partner who said Johnson is a respected businessman and family man. Johnson ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2013, finishing fifth behind current Mayor Steve Skadron. He contemplated running for city council in 2015 before deciding against it.