City drops charges, Bergmann Hotel manager ‘vindicated’

City drops charges, Bergmann Hotel manager ‘vindicated’

Charges have been dismissed against the building manager of the Bergmann Hotel.

Charles Cotten was facing criminal prosecution for allegedly recklessly violating a lawful order by a building official, a Class A misdemeanor. He said the City and Borough of Juneau agreed to drop two misdemeanor cases after he agreed to plead no contest and pay a $300 fine for the initial infraction, unlawful continuance of a fire hazard.

Court documents reveal Cotten’s misdemeanor cases were dismissed on Thursday. Assistant municipal attorney Sherri Layne did not return a call for comment Monday.

Cotten, who was led away in handcuffs after city officials condemned the hotel on March 10, said he feels vindicated, but still feels that he was railroaded by the city and by building owner Kathleen Barrett.

“They’re not going to give me a public apology,” he said, adding that he asked city officials for one and did not receive an answer.

Cotten said he met with Layne and warned her that if she took him to trial, he would “make a circus out of it,” telling her they would not be able to prove he was legally liable for the condition of the building.

According to Cotten, the city prosecutor would not elaborate on why his charges were being dismissed, other than to say blame had been cast in the wrong direction.

“I got thrown to the wolves,” he said, claiming that Kathleen Barrett erroneously named him as the day-to-day operations and management.

“She told them she hired me and that was a lie,” he said. “I never got a check from her. She wrote checks to CPR Services. … I was wronged.” All along, Cotten has said he is not legally responsible because CPR Services is the contracted management for the Bergmann.

Cotten said his legal woes have caused him a tremendous amount of stress and he is not sure how involved he will remain with the future of the Bergmann.

“I’m going to watch and see what happens,” he said. “But I am still involved was far as helping them find contractors to fix things. I refuse to leave them high and dry.”

Cotten initially was charged with a minor offense and a misdemeanor for unlawful continuance of a fire hazard, because the hotel failed to correct a list of fire and life safety code violations despite notices issued Oct. 31, 2016, and on March 1, according to court documents.

On March 10, Cotten was taken into custody for violating his conditions of release on the previous misdemeanor charge; he was also charged with a new count of reckless or intentional violation of a lawful order of the building official.

Clarification: This article states that charges were dismissed against Cotten. The Empire should specify that all criminal charges were dismissed against Cotten. Charges were not dismissed against him for the non-criminal minor offense infraction of unlawful continuance of a fire hazard; he pleaded no contest to that offense and paid a fine.


• Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 523-2246 or liz.kellar@juneauempire.com.


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