Former Aspen resident Chitty begins defense in cocaine case
Ryan Summerlin February 28, 2013
DENVER – When accused cocaine dealer and one-time Aspen resident Montgomery Chitty first spoke to jurors at the start of his drug conspiracy case, he promised to present “more reasonable doubt than you can shake a stick at.”
He worked to support that position Wednesday and pointed out that Drug Enforcement Administration investigators have no video or photographs of him delivering cocaine to an alleged Colorado drug network.
Chitty, who is acting as his own attorney in this case, questioned DEA Special Agent David Storm about the matter and the nearly 1,600 individual wiretap conversations the government obtained during the course of the investigation.
Storm said that there were no conversations of Chitty talking about banks or money, or numbers, or needing to change his cellphone to avoid detection. And while investigators obtained photos and surveillance videos of others linked to the alleged drug conspiracy, there are no such images of Chitty.
Storm said there were no photographs or surveillance videos of Chitty at all, even though authorities had placed cameras at homes belonging to other Aspen area members of the alleged drug gang.
“Isn’t it your job to do your due diligence to see if someone is guilty?” Chitty asked the DEA agent.
Federal prosecutors say the drug dealing began more than a decade ago when another Aspen resident, Wayne Reid, began a lucrative business by moving coke to Aspen from a California dealer. After his arrest on a marijuana charge in 2002, Reid allegedly let Chitty take over the business, prosecutors contend.
Authorities say the alleged drug ring brought to the upper valley 200 kilos of cocaine over 15 years. Six upper-valley residents were arrested in May 2011 by the DEA for their roles in the distribution of cocaine.
Reid returned to the business after his pot case finished. A confidential informant told DEA agents in March 2010 that Reid was distributing cocaine in the upper valley. Federal agents tapped phones belonging to Reid. The wiretaps exposed the alleged drug conspiracy. Reid has since pleaded guilty to possessing with the intent to distribute 5 kilos or more of cocaine and is expected to get a sentence of between four and eight years.
Reid’s California cocaine supplier, Alfonso Elvao-Allocati, has told jurors that that he and Chitty conducted regular drug transactions from 2002 to 2010. Elvao-Allocati pleaded guilty in January to charges of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 5 kilos or more, and could be sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison.
On Wednesday, Chitty pointed out that while numerous physical surveillance show Reid distributing cocaine to his customers, the government has nothing of the sort on Chitty.
While questioning Special Agent Storm, Chitty said authorities found $114,000 on Reid when he was arrested. Investigators found $45,000 at Elvao-Allocati home in California. By contrast, investigators found little more than an old boat and an aging pick-up truck when they arrested Chitty nine months later at his home in Big Pine Key, Fla.
Storm said he could not identify one asset of Chitty’s that was bought by drug proceeds.
“Has your investigation turned up any bank accounts of over than $2,000, or assets of stocks and bonds or real estate or airplanes owned by Chitty?” the defendant asked.
“No. We have not found those,” Storm admitted.
Prosecutors countered the testimony, stating that the DEA never had a wiretap on Chitty’s phone. Prosecutors added that Reid and several other alleged co-conspirators were arrested in May 2011. But Chitty was not arrested until nine months later.
Chitty also called two long-time friends and Aspen residents to verify that he (Chitty) lived a very modest life during his time in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Don Steuber, who has been in the Aspen area for 38 years, said Chitty wrote columns for The Aspen Times and served as a researcher for famed writer Hunter S. Thompson and “60 Minutes” correspondent Ed Bradley. He also said Chitty had maintained close friendships with three Pitkin County sheriffs over a 30-year period.
Steuber laughed when asked if Chitty was a wealthy individual, adding that Chitty lived simply and was so hard up that he asked friends to bring food and wine to his annual Fourth of July party.
When asked point blank if Chitty had ever taken part in a cocaine drug ring, Steuber gave a firm “no.”
Another long-time friend of Chitty’s, Philip Eastley, echoed Steuber’s position.
“I’d describe his lifestyle as “very thrifty and bare to the bone,” Eastley said.
The defense is expected to present additional witnesses Thursday.
If convicted on all counts, Chatty could receive a sentence of 20 years in prison.