The Aspen Daily News reports a local sponsored skier was arrested Friday and faces a class 4 felony and class 1 misdemeanor charges from an alleged incident at the Limelight Hotel Aspen dating back to September. Andrew Benaquista, 30, faces felony identity theft and misdemeanor theft of between $750 and $2,000 after allegedly running up a $1,800 bill at the Aspen hotel on a visiting woman’s credit card without her permission.
The police report describes Benaquista as a prototypical ski bum…“a 30-something-year-old male who is homeless and had been crashing with friends at the time” who allegedly spent the night of Sept. 28 at a Limelight Hotel Aspen room occupied by two women who were visiting from Denver. The next morning he offered to check one of the women — the alleged victim — out of the room. She accepted the offer, and she and her friend returned home that day. According to invoices obtained by Aspen police from the hotel, rather than checking out, the victim’s credit card was instead charged for an additional four nights at $300 per night. Additionally, six separate meals from the hotel lounge averaging more than $50 per charge appeared on the invoices, as well as an in-room movie for $19.99.
The victim first contacted Aspen police about the fraudulent charges in March. Benaquista subsequently visited the victim in her home in Denver, at which time she confronted him about additional, unauthorized charges to her credit card:
“She said Benaquista brushed it off and told her it was really strange and maybe the hotel made a mistake. [The victim] believes Benaquista has a relationship with the Limelight lodge. She has seen his face in Limelight ads.”
The hotel manager did not know of any modeling contract between Benaquista and the lodging facility. Benaquista sponsors have included Fischer Sports, The Ski Monster, Atomic Skis, Oakley, Leki and Strafe. Benaquista had avoided addressing these charges until an officer who “had a good rapport with Benaquista from a previous incident” texted him. The following day Benaquista signed a summons and is scheduled to appear in Pitkin County District Court on July 20.images from LimelightHotelAspen FB