Prosecution deems Aspen coke case ‘complex,’ wants more time
June 4, 2011
ASPEN – More details in the federal investigation that netted the arrest of six Aspen-area residents last month emerged Friday when the U.S. Attorney’s Office introduced court documents seeking more time to prepare for the case because of its complex nature.
The five-page motion, filed by U.S. Attorney Michele R. Korver, asks a judge to waive the defendants’ rights to a speedy trial because of unusually large amounts of evidence in the case. Korver said prosecutors hope to provide discovery to the defendants’ attorneys by June 20. At least 90 days will be needed by defense counsel to review the evidence in preparation for pretrial matters, the motion says.
“The indictment in this case, charging a multi-state drug conspiracy, follows a year-long investigation involving court-authorized wire interceptions on four telephones over a five-month time period,” the motion says. “There are approximately 1,442 call records, of which approximately 384 calls have been determined by officers to be pertinent calls involving criminal activity. Many of the intercepted conversations are in the Spanish language.”
The motion goes on to say that the prosecution “anticipates that there will be over one-thousand pages of documents produced in discovery, comprised of wiretap documents, line sheets and pertinent call summaries, and DEA reports. In addition, there are many hours of video surveillance. This was a multi-state investigation, and the DEA out of the Central District of California also intercepted a fifth telephone, used by Defendant Valentin Barios, for approximately 30 days …”
Barios was one of four Los Angeles-area suspects indicted by a federal grand jury that handed down a nine-count indictment on April 19. Three of those suspects were arrested May 19; one remains at large.
The local defendants are Aspen residents Joan Anastasi, 67; Jack Fellner, 61; and Peggy Schlauger, 41; and Wayne Reid, 65, along with Aspen Village resident Joseph James Burke, 63; and Christopher Sheehan, 65, of Snowmass. All of the local defendants, other than Sheehan, who has not been arraigned on the charges, have pleaded not guilty to various cocaine trafficking counts, which carry prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life.
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Reid remains in custody on no bond; his detention hearing has been rescheduled to June 10 in the U.S. District Court of Denver. Anastasi, Burke, Fellner and Schlauger are free on $20,000 bonds.
The sixth local suspect, Sheehan, has a detention hearing set for June 7 in Denver. His court-appointed attorney is Mark Rubinstein of Aspen.
Officials with the Drug Enforcement Administration have claimed that Aspen was the end-stop for a cocaine ring that operated out of Los Angeles and had connections to Mexican drug cartels. They claim that more than 200 kilograms were transported from Los Angeles to Aspen over the past 15 years.