Katz arrested again; boyfriend also charged | SummitDaily.com

Katz arrested again; boyfriend also charged

BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge Town Councilmember Jeri Beth “J.B.” Katz was arrested Saturday following reports she violated a restraining order, two days after she was arrested a first time on suspicion of domestic violence after a reported incident at her boyfriend’s house.

She was released from the Summit County Jail Monday on $2,000 bond. Her attorney, Todd Barson, asked County Court Judge Ed Casias to release Katz on a $1,000 bond, but Casias increased it to $2,000 in light of the restraining order violation.

Katz’s second arrest was in response to reports that she called her boyfriend and took items from his house, when a court order banned such actions.

According to Sheriff’s Office records, Katz’s boyfriend was arrested Saturday on allegations he had been calling her, as well, leaving a message on her cell phone demanding a disk from her computer. Another call included offensive language, according to the Sheriff’s Office report.

Katz was first arrested April 10 and released from jail on a personal recognizance bond after she had a series of asthma attacks in the jail, Casias said. One of the conditions of her bond was that she not contact her boyfriend.

She had been charged and jailed after reports to police of an altercation with her boyfriend that evening.

Sheriff’s Office reports indicate Katz tried to call her boyfriend once Friday and again Saturday. Her boyfriend also told deputies Katz had come by his house and taken a laptop computer, among other items.

The reports say Katz left a note saying that was all she could carry, that she needed her wallet and needed to borrow a vehicle while hers was in the shop.

Katz’s alleged actions – attempting to contact her boyfriend and coming back to the house – would be in violation of the restraining order against her.

Usually, if people need to retrieveitems from a house from which they are banned temporarily, they must get a law enforcement officer to accompany them – a procedure called a civil standby.

Breckenridge Police Sgt. Joe Wray said officers had been in contact with Katz but that she didn’t get back with them regarding a standby.

The boyfriend, who said some of his business files were on the computer in question, called police, who arrested Katz Saturday.

Katz’s elected position is not jeopardized by the arrests.

Town Manager Tim Gagen said the town’s charter doesn’t require her to resign, particularly since the original offense was related to her personal life and not her public office.

One provision in the town charter indicates that if a seated official is convicted of a felony, that seat is automatically declared vacant. Katz’s original offense is a misdemeanor.

Gagen noted, however, that people – including town council members – can advise her to resign, if that’s what they feel she should do.

Mayor Sam Mamula said any such decision should be left up to Katz.

“The worst thing is the embarrassment it causes her,” he said. “We politicians love to see our name in the paper when we say brilliant things, but when we mess up, we get the same thing. We live by the sword, and we die by the sword. This whole thing is made worse because she’s an attorney, and then it’s made even worse because she’s on the town council.”

Mamula said he hopes Katz will get on with her life and possibly atone for her predicament by helping people in similar situations. He said if he were in her shoes, he would quit the council.

“It’s a personal decision,” he said. “There are ways to turn this thing around.”

Councilmember Dave Hinton agreed.

“That’s her decision,” he said. “It’s also the citizens’ decision to make along with her. It’s not something I’d ever think is my call to make. I’d never ask her to resign. It’s not my call – it’s her call. Her contribution to the community has been outstanding, and as a citizen, that’s what I’d base my decision on. It’s not a political matter.”

“We’re all capable of outbursts, emotions, that we don’t feel good about after the fact,” said Councilmember Ernie Blake.

Councilmember Jim Lamb said he hadn’t given a lot of thought to whether Katz should resign.

“I would resign,” he said. “It’s one thing to make a mistake. It’s another to follow up with something like that.”

Gagen said he has seen elected officials recover from similar circumstances.

When Gagen was town manager at Commerce City, he said, a city council member was involved in a domestic dispute in which she punched her husband. The woman made a public apology, told citizens about the problems the couple had been having and was re-elected to her seat in the following election.

Katz has served one full term on the town council, and voters re-elected her for a second term last year. Term limits prohibit her from running a third time.

“Your whole life is an open book when you hold a public office,” Gagen said. “It’s pretty tough.”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.

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