Oak Creek Town Board member accused of hate crime
September 25, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Editor’s note: On Jan. 9, 2013, Gagne pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment. All the other charges were dropped.
An Oak Creek Town Board member was arrested on a warrant Monday night accusing him of committing a hate crime against an Oak Creek teenager who is black.
The Routt County Sheriff's Office investigated the allegations and arrested Bernard "Bernie" A. Gagne Jr. on suspicion of committing a bias-motivated crime, a Class 5 felony, misdemeanor third-degree assault and misdemeanor menacing.
When reached by cellphone Tuesday, Gagne, 49, did not want to discuss the allegations.
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.
Deputy Shawn Hockaday later interviewed the teen, who said he was leaving the Select Super Market in Oak Creek when Gagne stopped him and started threatening him, the affidavit states.
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"… 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."
The teen said he laughed at Gagne, and Gagne then tried to pull him out of the car, the affidavit states.
"When he could not get him out of the vehicle, Gagne then told (the teen) not to laugh at him and punched (the teen) in the face," the affidavit states.
The teen said he then left and went to a friend's house. The teen and his friends then went to Gagne's house to talk about the incident.
"After talking to Gagne about the incident, he shook (the teen's) hand and apologized about hitting” the teen, the affidavit states.
The boy’s grandmother reported that when her grandson came home, she could see swelling under his eye, but her grandson did not want to pursue criminal charges at that time because "everything was OK."
Gagne was advised of his rights in court Monday afternoon and then released from custody after posting a $2,000 bond.
"It's an unfortunate situation for everyone involved," Gagne said.
Gagne said he did not want to discuss the accusations because he was advised by Routt County Judge James Garrecht that anything he said later could be used against him in court.
"There were some charges pressed, and I'll have to face up to those charges, and we'll see what happens," Gagne said.
Official charges had not yet been filed Tuesday by the Routt County District Attorney's Office.
Gagne said he has not yet hired a lawyer. He is due to return to court at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 2.
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.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com