A former Aspen city councilman and mayoral candidate who stole and sold more than $2.4 million worth of skis, snowboards and other goods while working as an Aspen Skiing Co. executive for 17 years, pleaded guilty in court yesterday.
Derek Johnson, 51, and his wife, Kerri Johnson, 48, admitted in Pitkin County District Court to stealing between $100,000 and $1 million from Skico between June 2013 and January 2019. Derek could face up to 12-years in jail. He was fired by Skico in the wake of the theft allegations and had been working as a delivery driver for an Aspen restaurant to support his wife and family and will only have to pay back $250,000.
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Johnson helped found the D&E Snowboard Shop and sold it to Skico in 2001 when he was kept on as managing director of the company’s retail-rental division. Skico fired Johnson in December, calling the situation “tragic” and “very painful and personal,” though company officials declined to comment further. Johnson, at the time, said his firing was “a private employment matter” and also refused to comment further.
An anonymous tip to Skico’s human resources department last November lead to police intervention, and spreadsheets found on Johnson’s computer at his home showed that between 2010 and 2018, he and his wife listed $2.15 million in total sales from the eBay account called “sportandski“. Police also found more than $224,000 worth of skis and snowboards in a storage unit rented by the Johnsons, gear that was returned to Skico officials. Finally, the icing on the cake, the couple also billed Skico nearly $42,000 since November 2015 for ski boxes they used to send the allegedly stolen Skico skis to their eBay customers.
In a statement released Monday morning, Skico officials said:
“While Derek Johnson’s public admission of responsibility for these serious crimes is an important first step in finding closure for Aspen Skiing Company, that process will take significant time,” according to the statement. “These crimes impacted a number of people, caused them emotional trauma that continues to this day, damaged trust and had financial impacts on individuals and on the company.”
Johnson will be sentenced Jan. 21, 2020.