Gypsum man pleads guilty to felony fraud, vehicle theft across Western Slope

Jesse Flores accepts plea deal that will require him to pay over $100K in restitution to victims

Kelli Duncan
Vail Daily
Jesse Flores
Eagle County Sheriff’s Office

EAGLE — Jesse Flores, a 21-year-old Gypsum man, pleaded guilty to 12 felonies Wednesday, Dec. 8, including multiple counts of aggravated motor vehicle theft and fraud by check across seven counties.

He also pleaded guilty to one count of felony forgery and a misdemeanor cybercrime charge for a total of 13 charges.

As part of the plea agreement, Flores will have to pay over $100,000 in restitution to many of the victims of his crimes, which were committed across the Western Slope, according to a news release from the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Flores’ acceptance of the plea deal from the District Attorney’s Office represented a change of heart after he pleaded not guilty in June to a portion of the charges, which were originally being litigated separately across various counties.

It all began in December 2020, when Flores turned himself in after being charged with various combinations of motor vehicle theft, theft, fraud by check and forgery — all felonies. The charges were brought after he allegedly tried to steal a variety of cars, trucks, trailers, ATVs and snowmobiles from their owners by writing fraudulent checks.

These incidents added up to 18 felony charges spread across Chaffee, Eagle, Grand, Mesa, Routt and Summit counties.

“Victims’ stories include Flores purchasing cars and ATVs/UTVs where he would write checks in order to purchase the vehicles, however none of the checks had sufficient funds to cover them,” the news release stated. “… When confronted by the sellers about the insufficient funds in Flores’ account, he would give a multitude of excuses and always promise to make it right. He never did.”

In March of this year, six more felony charges and a misdemeanor were tacked onto Flores’ growing rap sheet. He was charged with six counts of felony violation of bail bond conditions and a new misdemeanor charge of cybercrime to scheme or defraud after he allegedly schemed a West Virginia man who tried to purchase a hunting bow from him.

In a June hearing, Flores pleaded not guilty to charges in two Eagle County cases: one for motor vehicle theft and fraud by check and the other for additional charges he incurred in March. Jury trials for the two cases were set for October and November.

However, the District Attorney’s Office then decided to consolidate cases filed in Chaffee, Eagle, Grand, Lake, Mesa, Routt and Summit counties to be litigated together in Eagle County.

The cases were able to be consolidated to facilitate more efficient proceedings because “all of those charges have a direct connection to Eagle County,” District Attorney Heidi McCollum said during Wednesday’s hearing. While not all of the crimes took place in Eagle County, vehicular theft can be charged in the county where the vehicle was stolen or any counties that the stolen vehicle was taken to or passed through, McCollum said.

Flores decided to plead guilty to the consolidated cases Wednesday in what is known as a “global disposition.”

Some of the charges in Routt, Grand, Chaffee, Mesa and Summit counties were dismissed as part of the global plea agreement, resulting in Flores pleading guilty to a total of 13 charges.

As part of the plea deal, Flores could either be accepted into Community Corrections for eight years, or he could be sentenced to up to eight years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Ultimately, it will be up to Chief Judge Paul Dunkelman to hand down Flores’ sentence at a hearing set for Feb. 2.

Flores still has pending criminal cases for similarly charged crimes in Adams and Garfield counties.

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