“The scale and consistency of the theft dwarfs prior (theft) cases that have come before the court. The scale and the amount of theft is enough to justify a Department of Corrections sentence. This is an incredibly serious offense.” -District Judge Chris Seldin
52 year old Derek Johnson was sentenced yesterday to six years in prison for stealing and selling over 13,000 pairs of skis worth nearly $6 million over more than 12 years.
The Aspen Times reports in a statement to the court Johnson took sole responsibility for the crimes (although his wife suspiciously kept the books during his methodical crime spree) and apologized to his family, his former Skico colleagues, the community in general and Skico’s guests for his actions:
“I take full and sole responsibility for the crime I have committed. I never intended to hurt anybody. … I’m deeply sorry and remorseful and ashamed of my actions. I will start over to rebuild my life with my family. I will continue to give back to this community if allowed.”
Here’s how the scheme went down. Johnson sold Skico the Aspen snowboard shop he co-founded and Skico made him an executive in their rental/retail division in the early 2000s. Johnson and Skico then started a side business together selling salvage or used skis on eBay and they split the proceeds.
After a few years of meager success, they mutually agreed to discontinue their partnership but Johnson did not stop and that’s why he’s going to jail. Johnson not only continued to sell salvage skis, but also began ordering two to three times more demo skis than the company needed and then selling them on eBay, according to the letters. It was pure profit on Johnson’s end.
Johnson’s theft was equivalent to stealing two pairs of skis per day, every day for 12 years. That equates to 8,760 pairs of skis stolen from the ski company, sold on eBay and often shipped in boxes that were paid for by Skico. According to eBay records, the 8,760 pairs of skis are not even close to the actual number the couple sold. In reality, Johnson and his wife sold more than 13,000 pairs of skis between 2006 and November 2018, when they were finally busted. That number includes at least 3,800 new pairs of skis, and equates to nearly three pairs of skis stolen from his employer and sold every day for 12 years.
If you’re wondering if the court is throwing the book at him to set an example that they will not stand for ski theft in mountain country, you may be onto something. His lawyers argued probation and fines would have been appropriate but the man holding the gavel saw it another way:
“The community is watching what the court is going to do. (A prison sentence) promotes respect for the law by showing that kind of conduct is unacceptable.” -Judge Seldin
Johnson probably won’t serve his full six years sentence, with good behavior, he could be out in two-and-a-half to three years.