Ex-jail inmate allegedly swindles another inmate
Steamboat Springs — A 31-year-old former Routt County Jail inmate is accused of posing as a lawyer to bilk $2,700 from a fellow inmate.
Hector Manuel Huerta, a former Steamboat Springs resident, faces felony charges of impersonation and theft.
Huerta, who arrived in Routt County Tuesday morning, appeared in Routt County Court later in the afternoon.
Judge James Garrecht set Huerta’s bail at $10,000. He is being held in the Routt County Jail.
Fatalino Espinosa told authorities he met Huerta while both were being held in the Routt County Jail last spring.
Espinosa said he talked to Huerta on April 15 in the jail’s recreation room.
During the conversation, Huerta told Espinosa, who speaks little English, that he would hire a lawyer for him, court records show. In order to hire a lawyer by the name of “Salvador Sanchez,” Huerta told Espinosa he would need to pay $2,700 to cover the legal fees for Sanchez, court records show.
Espinosa decided to take Huerta’s offer and borrowed the money from his father, court records show.
Huerta was released from the detention facility April 18 and arranged to meet with Espinosa’s uncle at the Routt County Courthouse that day, records show.
Espinosa’s uncle alleges he gave Huerta the $2,700 after Huerta provided an identification card that indicated he was Sanchez.
Espinosa reported the incident to authorities after he did not hear from Huerta after about a week.
Huerta was turned in to local authorities by the Colorado Department of Corrections. Huerta is also wanted in Denver for a drunken-driving arrest.
The theft charge is a class four felony. If convicted, Huerta could serve two to six years in prison and be fined as much as $500,000.
The criminal impersonation charge, a class six felony, carries a maximum jail term of 18 months and a fine of $100,000.
Huerta’s next appearance in Routt County Court is set for 1 p.m. Jan. 16.
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