Through a plea arrangement his defense lawyer described as “complicated,” a 20-year-old man on Monday was sentenced to two years in the Pitkin County Jail, but he will be allowed to participate in a work-release program if he lands employment.
District Judge Gail Nichols handed down the sentence to Cody J. Chiarelli, of the El Jebel area. He was arrested after a Nov. 16 early morning accident in Aspen. One of three passengers in his vehicle was ejected and seriously injured in the single-car crash near the intersection of Seventh and Main streets. Following the incident, Chiarelli drove away from the scene, but police caught up with him when he lost control at Seventh and Francis streets.
Chiarelli pleaded guilty to vehicular eluding, a felony, and two misdemeanors: third-degree assault and DUI. At the time of his arrest, he faced three felonies and five misdemeanors. Police said he had been drinking and taking drugs prior to the accident.
His attorney, Kathy Goudy, of Carbondale, asked for immediate sentencing following the guilty pleas. Chiarelli received a one-year jail sentence for the DUI and two years for the assault charge. The jail terms will run concurrently. He received three years’ probation on the felony charge.
Aspen prosecutor Andrea Bryan pointed out in court that the DUI conviction was Chiarelli’s second.
“He could have much more seriously injured himself or his passengers that night,” Bryan said. “This plea agreement hopefully gives him the incentive that he needs.”
However, she added that Chiarelli is “intelligent and charismatic.” She agreed to the plea arrangement, in part, because of his age, she said.
Goudy said Chiarelli understands his mistakes and is willing to undergo counseling. Nichols asked him if he had anything to say.
“Throughout my life I’ve been in a lot of trouble,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of bad decisions.”
Chiarelli said he was shocked when he woke up in the Aspen jail several hours after the accident and realized he had hurt his friends.
“I didn’t know who I was anymore,” he said. “I hope through this sentence I can work through some of these issues.”
Nichols expressed concern that Chiarelli now has three felony convictions — two from outside of Pitkin County. Despite seeing “some real challenges” to the deal, she agreed to it.
Chiarelli also will be required to complete 40 hours of community service. He cannot use alcohol or marijuana for the entire term of his probation, and he must participate in Drug Court.
In other District Court news:
• Michael J. Vickery, 39, a New Mexico casino blackjack dealer who was accused of stealing a Jeep with a snow plow on Jan. 24, during the weekend of the Winter X Games, received a two-year deferred judgment on a felony charge of aggravated motor-vehicle theft. Nichols sentenced him to two years’ probation on the Driving While Ability Impaired charge, a misdemeanor to which he pleaded guilty in early April. His attorney, Mark Rubinstein, said in court that Vickery wasn’t trying to deprive the vehicle owner of its use — he simply had too much to drink and was seeking shelter from the cold. Vickery expressed remorse for the incident. Nichols said he must complete 36 hours of community service in New Mexico.
• John M. Cerise, 45, of the Basalt area, pleaded guilty to attempted sexual assault on a child, a felony. He was first jailed on Dec. 18 following a Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office investigation that revealed improper activity with a girl younger than 15. The incident, according to Sheriff’s Office records, occurred in 2012. Cerise also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge. Sentencing was set for July 21. He is expected to receive a four-year deferred judgment on the felony charge, but must complete a difficult state program known as Sex Offender Intensive Supervised Probation.