Jail inmate makes liquor run

Trusted worker was outside shoveling snow before bolting

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— A 30-year-old man serving two years behind bars is suspected of leaving the Routt County Jail to buy alcohol and then returning to share it with another inmate as they baked cookies in the jail kitchen, sheriff's office officials acknowledged late Wednesday.

Sheriff John Warner and Undersheriff Dan Taylor believe James Todd Reimer left the jail grounds just before 9 p.m. Tuesday and purchased a bottle of "Phillips Blue 100" schnapps from a liquor store nearby. Computer records at the liquor store show that someone with Reimer's identification made a purchase Tuesday evening. Reimer allegedly was wearing a long denim ranch jacket provided by the jail, which hid his inmate clothing, Warner said.

Later that night, Reimer and fellow inmate Alfred John Flood were reportedly caught drinking the peppermint schnapps as they worked in the jail's kitchen preparing cookies for the next day.

The two men, who already are serving two-year sentences, face charges of introduction of contraband into a jail and possession of contraband in a jail, both felonies. Reimer also faces a second-degree felony assault charge for allegedly kicking two lawmen as they tried to restrain him.

On Wednesday, Reimer and Flood appeared in Routt County Judge James Garrecht's courtroom. Garrecht set Reimer's bond at $20,000 and Flood's at $10,000. During the short court proceeding, Reimer sat calmly in the courtroom, while Flood openly wept.

The two men had built up a trust with jail officials and achieved the status of "trustee," or inmate worker. Trustees have more freedom and privileges than other inmates. But in exchange for more responsibility, they are required to work. For example, trustees mop floors, prepare food, shovel snow and do janitorial work at county buildings.

Reimer and Flood both worked in the jail kitchen preparing meals.

"Honestly, they had been doing a bang-up job," Undersheriff Taylor said. "The kitchen was clean and orderly."

After cleaning up after dinner Tuesday, Flood and Reimer were allowed to take out the trash and shovel snow outside the building. Deputies periodically checked on the two inmates and their work was monitored by a security camera. However, the camera shows only a limited portion of the area where the two were working.

"We believe (Reimer) ran across the street and purchased the bottle," Taylor said. "I don't believe our security measures were lacking."

After their shoveling and trash duties, the two men were to make cookies for the next day. And it was while they were in the kitchen baking that a deputy noticed that Reimer and Flood "appeared to be under the influence of something," Taylor said. "They were not acting appropriately."

According to a court document, Reimer and Flood were each put into holding cells about 10:30 p.m., so deputies could investigate the matter. Two orange plastic cups were found in the kitchen, labeled with their names and filled with liquor, the court document shows. Deputies found the bottle of schnapps, three-quarters empty, hidden behind other food in a walk-in cooler.

While in the holding cell, Reimer allegedly yelled obscenities at deputies and was kicking the cell's door.

"He became somewhat inflamed," Taylor said. In fact, two lawmen were reportedly kicked as they tried to subdue Reimer and place him in a restraint chair.

Tuesday's incident was the second disturbing occurrence at the Routt County Jail in the last five months. In late October, a 20-year-old inmate serving time for assaulting a paramedic and trying to steal an ambulance hanged himself in the commons area of his cell block. He died two days later at a Denver hospital when life-support equipment was turned off. A subsequent investigation cleared the sheriff's office of any criminal wrongdoing.

Until Tuesday evening, Reimer and Flood had been "model inmates," Taylor said.

"We gave them as much trust as we were able to," he said. "I'm very disappointed."

Because of what happened with Reimer and Flood, deputies did an "emergency shakedown" of the jail facility to look for other contraband Wednesday.

"When you find something in a detention facility it raises concern of what else is in the facility," Taylor said. "We searched every nook and cranny."

The jail was searched three times but nothing was found, Taylor said.

Along with any time related to their pending criminal charges, Reimer and Flood could lose any good time they had earned that could have reduced their jail sentences.

Reimer was serving two years for third-degree assault, violating a bond condition, violating a restraining order and driving under the influence of alcohol. He was sentenced in July.

Flood was sentenced to two years in jail in November for third-degree assault on a peace officer. He pleaded guilty to the charge after spitting on a Steamboat Springs police officer in September.

An investigation into the alcohol incident Tuesday is ongoing.

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