DA’s office ends snowsports restitution fund to use money to support COVID-19 relief efforts
BRECKENRIDGE — The Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office is shutting down its snowsports restitution fund and using the leftover money to help support local nonprofits with COVID-19 relief efforts.
The snowsports restitution fund was created a few years ago as the result of a felony settlement plea agreement involving ski thefts. As part of the agreement, the offender was required to make a $140,000 charitable contribution to the District Attorney’s Office, which provided the initial seed money for the program.
The fund was meant to help reimburse community members who had equipment stolen in cases where the perpetrator was never caught and the victim wasn’t otherwise compensated through insurance.
Between 2017 and 2020, the fund has distributed more than $28,000 to skiers and snowboarders who had their gear stolen in Summit, Clear Creek, Eagle and Lake counties. But District Attorney Bruce Brown said money currently sitting dormant in the fund could be making a bigger impact in the community.
“The snowsports restitution fund was a great program,” Brown said in a news release. “Dozens of visitors whose vacations and recreators whose ski days were ruined in so many ways due to theft, were able to recoup money for costly gear. However, with the current needs of our community, it was difficult to see money in that account just sitting when we could be helping people out during this public health crisis.”
In April, Brown petitioned the district court to allow his office to dissolve the fund and disperse the remaining $112,000 from the program to other endeavors via the office’s charitable contributions fund. The charitable contributions program is largely funded through plea agreements on minor traffic offenses, which can raise between $30,000 and $80,000 a year.
But the program was widely suspended to prevent unnecessary backlongs in the courts following the arrival of the novel coronavirus in the state, which meant nonprofits that typically got a piece of the pie — like Advocates for Victims of Assault, the Treetop Child Advocacy Center and the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, among others — weren’t going to get much this year.
Brown said he hopes the transfer of funds will help to offset the difference.
“We’re going to distribute that $112,000 throughout the district, with preference given to nonprofits that are serving community relief and COVID-19 relief efforts,” Brown said. “So each agency may get between $2,500 and $7,500. It’s not a king’s ransom, but overall it’s a nice addition.”
For any future thefts of snowssports equipment, victims should continue to report crimes to local law enforcement and ski area security offices. Victims still might be able to secure restitution if the thief is identified and convicted.
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