Another arrest in alleged counterfeit ring in Aspen |

Another arrest in alleged counterfeit ring in Aspen

ASPEN – Local authorities believe they have the third and final suspect in an alleged counterfeiting ring that orchestrated the passing of phony $100 bills around Aspen.

Francesco Anthony Saputo, 29, of Escondido, Calif., was advised of his rights Tuesday in the chambers of Pitkin County District Judge James Boyd. Assistant District Attorney Arnold Mordkin indicated he plans to file four felony charges – two counts of forgery, one count of theft in a series, and one count of conspiracy to commit forgery and theft – against Saputo.

Boyd set bond at $3,500 for Saputo, whose mother and sister flew in from New York to attend the hearing, as well as protest what they believed was the inhumane handling of him when he was extradited from San Diego to Aspen.

In a tear-filled offering, Saputo told the judge that the pending charges are “heinous” and during his extradition to Aspen from San Diego he was “neglected of my human rights to eat and sleep.”

“What I have endured for the last 10 days … it was not right,” he said, while his sister and mother wept.

Judge Boyd did not address those concerns. Instead, he suggested that Saputo find an attorney. His next court appearance is scheduled Nov. 2.

Saputo’s extradition comes after he was arrested in San Diego on suspicion of driving under the influence. Upon his arrest, authorities discovered he was wanted in Aspen for the counterfeiting charges, which triggered extradition proceedings.

Local authorities believe that Saputo was in cahoots with Christian Adam Gaxiola, 30, and Andrew Allan McCollum – both of California. Gaxiola and McCollum are both incarcerated at the Pitkin County Jail, and are believed to have passed around phony 100 dollar bills to buy goods at downtown retailers in August.

According to a police statement from Aspen officer Ian MacAyeal, Saputo was caught on surveillance camera buying a dog toy and cookie for $31.64 at C.B. Paws on Aug. 10. He allegedly paid for the items with a fake 100, and received $68.36 in return.

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