Americas Most Wanted suspect set free
December 4, 2006
Ronald Young, whom police apprehended after “America’s Most Wanted” aired an Aspen case involving him, went free Monday.Ninth Judicial District Judge James Boyd dismissed felony forgery charges against Young, saying the prosecutor’s case was based on hearsay. Young, who had been in the Pitkin County Jail since mid-October, sat stunned at the defendant’s table with tears in his eyes. His lawyer, Lauren Maytin, leaned over to him.”You’re free,” she said with a smile, then turned around, pumped her fist and got a high-five from her husband in the second row. Boyd dismissed the charges without prejudice, meaning assistant district attorney Gail Nichols can refile; Nichols would not comment on her next move. Maytin has seven days to request dismissal with prejudice. “It is not appropriate for people to rely solely on hearsay evidence,” Boyd said during the ruling, after a preliminary hearing weeks ago on allegations of forged checks. “There was no link of the checks to the defendant.” The 10-year-old forgery case stemmed from what police believe was embezzlement through a confidence scam. Young, 64, was facing four felonies in connection with allegedly forging checks from the Aspen Outfitting Co. and Evacuation International in 1995 and 1996. He was a consultant to the businesses, and his former bosses contend he forged signatures and secretly wrote checks.The state had no case during the preliminary hearing, however, and Boyd said he had no choice but to dismiss. He quoted numerous Colorado Supreme Court cases that indicated inordinate use of hearsay, even in a preliminary hearing, would not stand. During that hearing, work by Aspen police investigator Jim Crowley formed the bulk of the case against Young. “It was dismissed without prejudice,” Crowley said after Monday’s ruling. “I’m not done yet.” The “America’s Most Wanted” episode that aired Nov. 19, 2005, said Young was a “master of deceit” and “con man on the prowl.” Less than 48 hours after the show, he was arrested in Florida, where he went on to serve a 10-month federal prison term on a weapons charge. He was then extradited to Aspen, where he was in custody at the Pitkin County Jail on a $175,000 bond pending trial.Monday’s courtroom was the picture of frustrated law enforcement. Crowley and Nichols left quickly, leaving behind three policemen who had traveled from Tucson, Ariz., to hear the ruling. Arizona police have been investigating Young for years in connection with a different case: the 1996 pipe-bomb murder of Gary Lee Triano. Police have alleged that Pamela Phillips paid Young to slay her ex-husband. On Sept. 6, 2006, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives searched Phillips’ Aspen home for evidence that would connect her to the 1996 killing. Young was connected to the murder after police in Yorba Linda, Calif., found weapons, a map of Tucson (where Triano was slain), and divorce papers for Triano and Phillips in a car Young rented in Aspen.The police affidavit from the search of Phillips’ home details recorded conversations that include threats, blackmail, money drops, a secret romance and evidence of conspiracy in the 1996 slaying.Detective Jim Gamber of the Pima County, Ariz., Sheriff’s Department wrote in the affidavit that he believed Young and Phillips were “involved in the bombing death of Gary Triano [and] that Pamela Phillips agreed to pay Ron Young $400,000 over time for his participation.”Though both Phillips and Young are persons of interest in the murder case, no charges have been filed. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is email@example.comThe Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.