Felony arrest for hopping a bus ‘lame,’ judge says

While calling the charge “lame,” a Mesa County judge Tuesday said a man may face a felony charge for allegedly boarding a bus without a ticket.

Joseph S. Hatayama, 50, a transient, was arrested Monday by Grand Junction police on suspicion of endangering public transportation, a class 3 felony, plus misdemeanor charges of theft and third-degree trespassing.

“Sneaking on a bus is endangering public transportation?” County Court Judge Craig Henderson asked aloud during an advisement hearing Tuesday before researching the statute.

After reading up, Henderson went ahead and advised Hatayama on the possible felony charge. District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said he wasn’t sure what charges would be filed in the case, acknowledging it’s “not the crime of century.”

“Just because it’s lame does not mean there’s not probable cause,” Henderson said.

A Grand Junction police officer responded around noon Monday to the Greyhound Bus Station, 230 S. Fifth St., after authorities were notified of a man “bothering employees and customers,” according to an arrest affidavit.

When the officer contacted Hatayama, he was told to leave and not come back, the affidavit said.

Twelve minutes later, the officer received another report Hatayama had come back and boarded a bus.

The station’s manager told the officer Hatayama had snuck onto a bus, which was bound for Chicago, without paying and was told to leave again. A ticket would have cost $170.

Hatayama was ordered held on $5,000 bond.


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