Update: Back in February, we noted that American hero-turned admitted cycling doper Lance Armstrong had hired Kobe Bryant's lawyer to defend him in a case that involved an Aspen car crash for which his girlfriend, Anna Hansen, had taken the blame even though he'd been behind the wheel at the time.
A few weeks later, Armstrong resolved the matter via a guilty plea sent by mail, along with a check for court costs and the like that came to $238.50. See our previous coverage about the latter below.
But if Armstrong thought the mailing resolved things, he thought wrong. The seemingly minor case could have major repercussions in regard to legal action taken against him by the U.S. government, which maintains that his doping during the period when he led the U.S. Postal Service cycling team — for which he was paid in the neighborhood of $30 million — constitutes civil fraud.
The story comes to us from USA Today, which obtained documents in which the feds responded to an effort by Armstrong's attorneys to prevent Hansen from testifying.
Team Armstrong maintains that Hansen knows nothing about the matters for which the government is suing Armstrong. But according to the document, the feds believe Hansen should be quizzed owing to her "knowledge of instances relevant to Armstrong's character for untruthfulness" — and they specifically cite the Aspen incident.
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"For example, Hansen has admitted to conspiring with Armstrong to lie to Colorado police officers in the hope that Armstrong could avoid liability for a late-night automobile collision with a parked car," the document states. "Additionally, any knowledge Hansen has concerning other instances of Armstrong's untruthfulness, including about his doping activities and concealment campaign, are properly discoverable."
The Aspen incident is hardly the only Colorado connection to the government's case against Armstrong. USA Today notes that longtime Boulderite and onetime Armstrong teammate Tyler Hamilton recently testified against him, sharing many of the stories he first told 60 Minutes in 2011, long before Armstrong came clean — or at least cleaner.
Look below to see an excerpt from Hamilton's 60 Minutes segment, plus a bonus clip from CBS' coverage. That's followed by our most recent post about Armstrong's Aspen shenanigans, including photos from the scene and more.
Original post, 9:50 a.m. February 19: Earlier this month, we told you that discredited cyclist Lance Armstrong had hired Kobe Bryant's lawyer after his girlfriend, Anna Hansen, had admitted to taking the blame for Aspen car crashes when he'd actually been driving.
The gig presumably resulted in some of the easiest money ever made by Pamela Mackey, the attorney in question, because Armstrong has now pleaded guilty in the case — by mail.
On December 29, as we reported (based on an account from the Aspen Daily News), police responded to an address on West Francis Street in Aspen. The resident said he was the victim of a hit-and-run, and he wasn't the only one; two rides had been struck.
Later that day, another officer found a vehicle with front-end damage that suggested it might have been involved.
The owner: Armstrong, who splits his time between Aspen and Austin, Texas.
The cops subsequently quizzed Anna Hansen, Armstrong's girlfriend — although she's quoted in the police report as describing him as something more, as you'll see. She told the officers she'd driven home from a party for the Aspen Art Museum the night before because "Lance had a little bit to drink" and had slid into a couple of parked cars en route. Hansen added that she'd informed one of the homeowners that she'd pay for the damages.
After the cops told Hansen she was obligated to inform the police immediately after accidents (something about which she said she was unaware), they wrote her two tickets. But her story reportedly raised suspicions among one of the officers, especially after he spoke to a valet at the St. Regis Aspen Resort, where the art museum event had taken place. The valet said Armstrong had been driving that night.
In response to this claim, Hansen said she and Armstrong had swapped places at a local City Market before the accident took place — a tale she allegedly grew upset while telling.
The account unraveled further when police spoke to the homeowner Hansen had chatted with after the crash. The homeowner quoted her as saying, "I'm Anna, we're the Armstrongs, my husband's Lance, he was just driving too fast around the corner or something."
H ence, another police interview with Hansen, this time at the Pitkin County Courthouse. Here's how the Daily News recounts her exchange with the officer after he asked her who had been driving on the night in question:
"I asked, 'And Lance was driving the car when it crashed into those two other cars?'"
Hansen allegedly said yes.
"I asked Hansen if Armstrong asked her to take the blame for the accident once they got home.... She replied, 'No, that was a joint decision, and, um, you know we've had our family name smeared over every paper in the world in the last couple of years and honestly, I've got teenagers, I just wanted to protect my family because I thought, 'Gosh, Anna Hansen hit some cars, it's not going to show up in the papers, but Lance Armstrong hit some cars, it's going to be a national story.'"
Hansen denied that she'd taken the fall for Armstrong because he was blotto at the time of the crash and apologized for her actions — a change of course that may explain why she hasn't been charged in the case.
Afterward, Armstrong reportedly hired Mackey, the attorney who defended Los Angeles Lakes star Kobe Bryant against sexual assault charges out of Eagle County circa 2003 and 2004 — and a court date was set for March 17. But Armstrong apparently decided that subjecting himself to another media humiliation wasn't a great idea. A Daily News update reveals that he pleaded guilty by mail last Friday.
The check written by Armstrong came to $238.50, which covered a fine and court costs.
By admitting his guilt, he lost four points on his driver's license, but probably not any respect from his former fans — since we doubt there's any left.
Look below to see a CBS4 report broadcast shortly after the crash was made public, followed by a recent BBC interview with Armstrong, who seems under the delusion that he can still salvage some of his demolished reputation.
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