Oak Creek Town Board member appears in court

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Bernard "Bernie" Gagne Jr.

Editor's note: On Jan. 9, 2013, Gagne pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment. All the other charges were dropped.

The Oak Creek Town Board member accused of committing a hate crime against a black teenager has retained an attorney and appeared briefly in court Tuesday.

Bernard “Bernie” A. Gagne Jr. is being represented by Steamboat Springs attorney Kris Hammond. During the hearing Tuesday, his case was continued to 2 p.m. Nov. 7.

After the hearing, Hammond said he could not comment on the accusations because he has not reviewed the reports.

“Obviously, this is a really serious charge to slap on someone,” Hammond said. “It’s terrible if it’s true. It’s terrible if it’s not true."

The Routt County Sheriff’s Office investigated the allegations and arrested Gagne on Sept. 24.

On Thursday, Routt County District Attorney Brett Barkey filed four charges. They are a Class 5 felony bias-motivated crime, misdemeanor bias-motivated crime, misdemeanor third-degree assault and misdemeanor menacing.

Gagne was released from custody after posting a $2,000 bond and has not wanted to discuss the allegations against him.

According to an affidavit filed with the Routt County Court, a woman contacted the Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 17 and said her 17-year-old grandson had been assaulted by Gagne on Sept. 1. The teen told deputies he was leaving the Select Super Market in Oak Creek when Gagne stopped him and started threatening him, the affidavit states.

“Gagne informed him that Oak Creek did not need any of his kind around,” the affidavit states. “At one point, Gagne told (the teen) that he would kill him and his friends.”

Gagne then punched the teen in the face, the affidavit states. Gagne later apologized to the teen and shook his hand.

Gagne was appointed to the Town Board in January 2010 to fill the seat of a previous board member who resigned. In April 2010, he was elected to a four-year term. He did not attend last Thursday’s Oak Creek Town Board meeting.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

“It’s terrible if it’s true. It’s terrible if it’s not true."

In a few words I think Kris Hammond just indicated the direction of the defense.

There would appear to be a reason that the "victim" and his friends did not immediately call police claiming they were the victims of a hate crime. Because at the time they considered "did not need any of his kind around" to be referring to them as punk kids breaking laws around town.

Kids today are not so isolated and ignorant to not know about hate crimes. So their own actions show they didn't then consider it to be a hate crime. But somehow the grandmother upon hearing about it later escalated it to a hate crime.

I am very surprised that DA charged a hate crime given the various weaknesses of the case. If DA lose then the idea of overcharging someone with a hate crime is pretty offensive to many voters here. Thus, if DA loses this case then just about anyone could defeat this DA in the next election by just promising to not overcharge people.

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