Cole takes felony guilty plea

Probation possible for defrauding an innkeeper conviction

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A man who initially was arrested in Durango on July 6 on suspicion of kidnapping, pleaded guilty Thursday morning in District Court on the charge of defrauding an innkeeper.

Lee Roy Cole, 51, was arrested in the Durango Home Depot parking lot after the Durango Police Department received a report that a woman had been kidnapped in Cortez and was hiding in the women’s bathroom at the Durango Walmart.

Assistant District Attorney Andy Hughes said the theft charge, a class 4 felony, was dismissed as part of the plea deal. The theft involves taking services or goods valued at more than $1,000 without paying for them.

Hughes told District Court Judge Todd Plewe that the charge stems from Cole racking up more than $5,000 in bills at the Holiday Inn Express in Cortez. Cole had been living at the hotel for several months without paying for the rented room.

Plewe said he was surprised that Cole was able to rack up bills in this amount since most hotels charge their renters up front.

Cole told Plewe that motel staff had charged thousands of dollars to a credit card when he first arrived there but had to rescind that money back to the credit card company.

Cole also said that he kept telling hotel staff he was going to have the money, but added it just snowballed from there,

The second felony Cole was charged with was for defrauding an innkeeper, a class 6 felony, which also stemmed from not paying his hotel bill, and the charge he pleaded guilty to on Thursday.

The plea agreement calls for Cole to receive up to 90 days in jail and probation. Cole was released on his own recognizance after being held on a $4,000 bail since his July 6 arrest.

Cole represented himself in court, though Plewe told him doing so was not wise, and asked him if he knew the charge he was pleading to would result in him being a convicted felon.

Cole said he understood this, and added it was appropriate for the way he had behaved.

Initially, police were informed that Cole may have kidnapped a woman, but the woman in question turned out to be an acquaintance.

Plewe set Cole’s sentencing for 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 20.

Reach Michael Maresh at michaelm@cortezjournal.com