72-year-old Steamboat man gets 60 days in jail for fraud

A 72 year-old remodel and construction contractor from Steamboat Springs was sentenced on Thursday, July 7, to 60 days in the Routt County Jail and two years of supervised probation. 

Roger Karolewski pleaded guilty in three separate cases. As part of his plea agreement, he was convicted of perjury, violating a protection order and providing false information on a firearm background check, all of which are misdemeanors.

The count of perjury stemmed from Karolewski listing his deceased brother as the registered agent of KC Allen LLC, which Karolewski operated, on an incorporation document through the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

“Roger Karolewski has a history of grift, dishonesty and apathy toward the rule of law in this community, so the jail sentence here was clearly appropriate,” said Matt Karzen, district attorney for the 14th Judicial District, in a news release.

“With these convictions and this sentence, at a minimum his ability to defraud has been curtailed and any potential victim can at least discover his history with a due diligence background check,” Karzen continued.

Despite the convictions, Karolewski’s attorney, Sean Brown, was upbeat about the outcome of the case because the terms of his client’s probation could have been much more costly.

Karzen argued before Judge Michael O’Hara that Karolewski fraudulently listed his deceased brother to evade a $220,000 outstanding civil judgement made a couple years prior.

Karzen tried to make the case that Karolewski should be required to repay the $220,000 as a term of his probation, saying it was obvious Karolewski was concealing his affiliation with the LLC to avoid having to forfeit any of his earnings to collectors.

Such a ruling would be uncommon, but the permissible terms of probation are fairly broad.

“I wanted it to be made a condition of probation on the perjury because I saw the two as linked in terms of motivation and linked in fact,” Karzen explained, saying that any condition of probation is permissible as long as it reasonably relates to the rehabilitative purposes of probation and assists the offender in living a law-abiding life.  

Brown disagreed.

“There’s absolutely no tie-in or no proof that he was trying to evade that judgment by doing that,” Karolewski’s attorney said. “That is a false statement by Mr. Karzen.” 

According to Brown, Karolewski argued that he listed his deceased brother on the LLC for sentimental reasons, saying he thought it would be nice having his brother’s name on there.

“That’s what he stood by the whole time,” said Brown.  

Judge O’Hara concluded there was not enough proximate cause to justify attaching the outstanding civil judgment to Karolewski’s probation. 

“It was an absolute win for Roger in court (on Thursday),” Brown said. 

Karzen acknowledged it was a long shot and said he wasn’t surprised by the judge’s ruling. 

“I had never sought that before, but this one was unique, and so I thought it was worth asking the judge,” Karzen said. 

The judge did attach a different special condition to Karolewski’s probation that bars him from holding any kind of office at a corporation. 

Karolewsi was also charged with lying on a firearm background check form when he chose not to disclose information about a domestic violence charge and restraining order. 

Karolewski is serving his 60 days in the Routt County Jail.

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