Once again, the charges pile up: assault, stalking, eluding, auto theft. And more fraud charges out of Boulder. Facing theft charges in five counties, Abbie Worley takes guilty pleas that put her in community corrections for ten years — and in a position to testify against the reputed ringleader, Vic Gabler. (Worley didn't respond to a request for comment for this story.)

Once again, Gabler has no trouble making bond. "He wasn't out for two hours and he started calling me and harassing me, telling me that my days were numbered," Lori Marquez says.

The phone calls are in violation of a restraining order and generate more charges of stalking and witness retaliation. A few hours later, shortly before three in the morning of August 16, Thornton police check out a stolen, brand-new Audi A4 that's plowed into a curb, a fence and a tree on East 99th Way. They find court papers and letters belonging to Victor Gabler in the car, along with credit cards and other items that belong to other people. They find Gabler himself, bruised and speech-slurred, hiding behind a bush.

Vic Gabler in one of many police photos taken over the years.
Vic Gabler in one of many police photos taken over the years.

Geographically, at least, Vic Gabler is no longer running from his problems. He's sitting in jail with them, looking at possible sentencing as a habitual offender, going nowhere except to Pueblo and back. He talks bitterly about alleged partners in crime enjoying the fruits of their labor, plasma TVs and fancy cars, while he rots behind bars, but then he shrugs.

"I accept most of the blame," he says. "Maybe I am institutionalized. Maybe the Department of Corrections is the only stable life I've ever known. But the system is broken. I've been just stored, warehoused. There are so many people with problems in prison that I can just blend in."

Gabler's attorney, Patrick Vance, says he can't discuss his motion to the court to evaluate his client's competency, which was filed under seal. But he readily agrees that problems like Victor Gabler seldom get properly addressed.

"I see a tremendous amount of mental illness in the criminal justice system," says Vance, a former public defender. "The people you see over and over again have a combination of substance abuse and severe mental illness. It's almost impossible to deal with the volume. Most of them just keep going through the system."

Marquez says the real problem is how easily people like Gabler manipulate the system and get back on the streets. "I have to look over my shoulder and wait for the phone call telling me he's been released on bond," she says. "I live in fear of when that happens."

Gabler still goes fast. Before the trip to Pueblo, he walked the day room at the Adams County jail five, six hours a day. Or he ran up and down stairs. Or used the toilet in his cell as a stairmaster.

Did all the exercise help? Did it sweat out the mania, make him feel more in control?

"Not really," he says. "But for six hours a day, I'm not doing something else that could get me in trouble."

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