31-year-old Brolin McConnell of Colorado Springs has been in the Pitkin County jail nearly a year and a half, ever since this incident happened up on Independence Pass, which he allegedly held 3 men hostage, and threatened to shoot them to death multiple times. Monday, McConnell pleaded not guilty to all the charges. They include attempted first degree kidnapping and attempted first-degree murder, 3 counts 2nd-degree kidnapping, and 10 counts felony menacing. McConnell’s alleged to have first taken 2 men hostage, then another who drove up on the scene. They sued McConnell for inflicting emotional distress on them, earlier this summer.

The Aspen Times reports part-time local and race car driver Scott Tucker has been convicted in New York of illegally profiting from one of those predatory lending businesses. The US Attorney there said Tucker had charged some people as much as 700% interest. The jury convicted Tucker on 14 counts. Another man found guilty of all the same charges was Tucker business partner and lawyer Timothy Muir. Prosecutors told the jury one way the pair preyed on their customers was by lying to them that the loan business was run by Native Americans, when it was not. Although Tucker says he’ll appeal the verdict, the Wall Street Journal reports he could do as many as 20 years in prison for these crimes. Sentencing’s currently set for January.

You may see some smoke while traveling around the rest of this week and through the weekend in Eagle County. Fire officials say it’ll probably be nothing to worry about. They’ll be conducting a prescribed burn of as much as 1200 acres near Cottonwood Pass, the Cattle Creek burn. Some 3 quarters of all vegetation in an area 9 miles north of El Jebel will be torched. So don’t call 911 when you see the smoke from this big fire on the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District. It’ll likely be visible not only around Carbondale, Basalt, & El Jebel, but also over on the other side of Eagle County, as far away as Gypsum and Eagle. As many as 20 firefighters and 2 engines will be around to keep an eye on things, the whole time it’s burning.

Montrose resident Lily Benaliou is still posting about her daughter Amber’s condition at Denver Health Medical Center. Amber’s the 16-year-old who somehow fell from the 4th floor of Glenwood Springs’ Hotel Colorado a week ago Tuesday. She suffered multiple broken bones and damaged internal organs, but is said to have regained consciousness over the weekend. Benaliou says another round of surgery for Amber began about 9:30 Tuesday morning, running ‘til about 4 in the afternoon. No word on exactly what problems the surgery addressed.

Next step in that hanging-by-a-thread situation that involves Justice Snow’s at the Wheeler in Aspen? It’s not clear, but not looking really good. Our friends at both the Aspen Times and the Daily News report City Council made it clear this week it’s not thrilled with the restaurant-bar getting more than $40,000 behind on its rent. Owner Michele Kiley’s request Monday for leniency, claiming Justice Snow’s has been a community asset the last 5 years and members should “trust” she has investors lined up to quickly pay back the $40,000, was met with some negative comments. The key from that work session is that Kiley only has a few days in which to catch the rent up and present the city what’s being called “a path forward” to a successful business. If all that happens, council might renew the restaurant’s lease as soon as Monday. If not, the operation appears to be in jeopardy.