Aspen man walks out of jail sans bail
The Aspen Times
ASPEN – An Aspen man turned himself into authorities at approximately 6:30 p.m. Monday after he was released from Pitkin County Jail over the weekend because of a clerical error.
Keith Ames, 42, walked out of the jail at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday after posting a bond of $25,000. But he shouldn’t have been let out at all.
That’s because while a $25,000 bond had been set for one charge against him, a judge on Jan. 3 revoked the bond in a separate case Ames faces.
Jail Administrator Don Bird said the deputy who let Ames go did not realize one of the bonds had been revoked, and was under the assumption that so long as Ames paid the $25,000 bond he could go free.
“It was our screw-up, and we’re trying to fix it,” Bird said.
When officials learned Monday that Ames should not have been released, Judge Denise Lynch signed a bench warrant for his arrest. Before he surrendered to authorities, Ames was technically considered a fugitive, Bird said, “even though we let him out.”
For the most part, Ames’ legal problems have been rooted in drinking- and drug-related charges. Bird said that while Ames was considered a fugitive, he did not break any laws by walking out of jail.
Said Ames’ attorney, Chip McCrory: “He hasn’t done anything wrong. It’s not his fault.”
McCrory did not contend the warrant for Ames’ arrest.
“The jail made a mistake and they shouldn’t have let him bond out, that’s all,” McCrory said. “Apparently the jail didn’t get the message there was no bond.”
At a Jan. 3 court hearing, Assistant District Attorney Arnold Mordkin persuaded District Judge James Boyd to revoke Ames’ bond for a bond violation connected to a drug conviction. That conviction came Dec. 16, following a two-day trial, when a Pitkin County jury found Ames guilty on one felony count of possession of less than 1 gram of cocaine.
But on Christmas Eve, Ames was arrested in Snowmass Village for disorderly conduct after he allegedly had been fighting patrons at the Mountain Dragon. Police said Ames had been drinking alcohol that evening, a violation of his bond conditions in two cases – one for the cocaine conviction, the other for a burglary charge stemming from a July 9 incident in which Ames allegedly walked into Matsuhisa restaurant during non-business hours and poured himself a drink.
Prosecutors then filed two felony bond violation charges against Ames; a bond of $25,000 was set for the bond violation in the burglary case, which Ames, via a bond agent, posted Sunday and led to his release.
Mordkin declined comment for this story.
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