This one-man crime wave is going a hundred miles down a dead-end street

Victor Arnold Gabler talks fast. Faster than a play-by-play announcer or a cattle auctioneer. Faster than John "Mighty Mouth" Moschitta, the rapid-fire executive talker in the old Federal Express ads.

Gabler talks the way Moschitta might after a thermos of espresso and a snootful of crystal meth. There's a frantic urgency to his speech, as if he couldn't possibly get out everything he wants to say in time. At full throttle, the 37-year-old ex-salesman sounds like an electronically speeded-up disclaimer at the end of a radio commercial: offernotvalidinAlaskaHawaiiorPuertoRico. Except in his case, it's more like a series of rat-a-tat statements that collide in a breathless rush:

"I've been victimized in prison because people see that I want everybody to like me. You can't go unnoticed going this fast. Actioncausesreaction. Now I know so many people that it's not an issue, but when I first got in the joint, Igotfuckedupallthetime, Igotteethknockedout. When I was in Illinois, Igotbeatupeveryfuckingday..."

Over the years, many people, mostly police and probation officers, have accused Gabler of being on drugs. But he talks fast, he explains, because he's trying to keep up with his thoughts. If his brain were a car, it would be going 100, 200 miles an hour. "My mind is two steps ahead of what I'm saying right now," he says.

His thoughts race, but not always in the same direction. They tumble, circle, corkscrew and mambo. Sitting behind a grille at the Adams County jail, he's asked to explain himself; two hours later, the story of his life has sprouted more subplots than the JFK assassination.

It's the story of a chaotic childhood, of an adolescence bouncing from one place to another, of homelessness and motel rooms and jobs that never last long. But mostly, it's a story of prodigious crime and erratic punishment.

Gabler's rap sheet encompasses dozens of arrests on hundreds of charges in four states. A recent police report describes him as "a Multi State Offender with an extensive criminal history dating from 1993 to Present with 104 entries in his [Colorado] record," including credit-card scams, identity theft and computer crimes; larceny, fraud, forgery and receiving stolen property; numerous bail skips and parole violations; trespassing, assaults and domestic-violence complaints; stolen cars, several of which were crashed in drunken accidents; and several other varieties of havoc.

And those are just the times he got caught.

Although he boasts of making thousands of dollars a day on credit-card scams and being recruited to teach identity theft to a Latino crime syndicate in Chicago, Gabler is hardly a master of "organized" crime. Many of his crimes have been not just impulsive, but reckless. He's been known to bond out of a stack of charges in one county and start racking up new ones in another jurisdiction within hours. Busted frequently, he's managed to plea-bargain multiple felonies down to a handful of convictions, resulting in short jail or prison sentences — and a quick exit back to the streets.

That may soon change. After serving two years in the Colorado Department of Corrections on theft and fraud charges, Gabler was released on parole last year and was soon in deeper trouble than ever. He's now facing a bundle of theft, traffic and domestic-violence charges in Adams County and a grand jury fraud investigation in Boulder County. He's behind bars on a $100,000 bond he can't raise and hearing noises from prosecutors about habitual criminal charges that could put him away for 48 years.

"I wish I had a drug problem to blame it on, but I don't have that excuse," Gabler says. "I go 200 miles an hour without drugs."

Yet going fast is, in a sense, Gabler's excuse. Hours after his interview with Westword, he was transferred from Adams County to the state mental hospital in Pueblo to undergo psychiatric evaluation. He claims to be suffering from an untreated manic condition that has dogged him since childhood. At various times, he's been diagnosed as having a bipolar disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Less formally, a sixth-grade teacher once told him he was the most obnoxious student she'd ever had; decades later, a halfway-house manager declared him the most institutionalized prisoner she'd ever seen.

In 2004, a court-ordered evaluation by a clinical psychologist found him to be bipolar, exhibiting "intense psychomotor agitation" and "narcissism mixed with paranoia." The psychologist believed that while he was competent to stand trial, a mental-health professional should be present in the courtroom to act as a mediator if Gabler started to act impulsively. His current lawyer contends that Gabler has a mental disability that prevents him from effectively assisting in his defense.

Jail authorities have tried to treat Gabler's condition with drugs. Except for short periods, he's been resistant. The meds don't work, he insists, or work entirely too well, and he doesn't like gaining fifty pounds and feeling slow — and vulnerable.

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast

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