Aspen defendant could get six years in coke case |

Aspen defendant could get six years in coke case

DENVER – Aspen resident Wayne Alan Reid, referred to by Drug Enforcement Administration agents as the ringleader of a cocaine-trafficking network they claimed had ties to Mexican drug cartels, has agreed to a plea deal that will put him behind bars for 53 months to six years, according to court documents filed Thursday.

Reid, 65, also has agreed to forfeit a combined $116,614 in cash that authorities seized from him during separate Interstate 70 traffic stops in which they confiscated cocaine, as well.

Reid and another defendant, Christopher Sheehan, appeared in separate change-of-plea hearings Thursday in U.S. District Court in Denver.

Reid pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to sell more than 5 kilograms of cocaine. In exchange, federal prosecutors agreed to drop eight other counts against Reid. Court documents show that Reid admitted to buying cocaine in California and Nevada and resold it for distribution in the Aspen area.

One of his customers, Sheehan, 66, of Snowmass Village, pleaded guilty to conspiracy with intent to distribute a controlled substance. The prosecution, in return, will drop two other charges, court records show.

The deal for Sheehan includes a prison sentence of one year and one day. It also calls for Sheehan to pay the government $250,000 upon the sale of his Juniper Hill Drive home, which feds took steps to seize on May 19, 2011, when he and the other nine defendants were arrested.

Court documents and courtroom testimony show that a female friend of Reid’s played a key role in the investigation, which was launched when she approached a DEA agent in Glenwood Springs in 2010. The confidential informant, who received financial compensation from the government for her work, provided federal agents with tips regarding Reid’s whereabouts and to whom he was buying and selling cocaine.

The informant’s tips led the DEA to enlist both the Mesa and Garfield county sheriff’s office to pull Reid over on Interstate 70 on minor traffic violations, only to seize cocaine and money he was transporting.

It was the April 8, 2011 traffic stop of Reid in Mesa County by state troopers, who subsequently found a brick of cocaine weighing more than 1 kilogram in the trunk of his car, which led to the convening of a grand jury in Denver. On April 19, the grand jury issue a true bill, or indictment, laying out the charges against Reid and nine other suspects, four of whom resided in the Los Angeles area.

And on May 19 last year, DEA agents, along with a host of other law-enforcement agencies – Pitkin County and Aspen were left out of the loop because the feds claimed they had “close ties” to Reid – arrested the suspects at their homes and places of work.

Reid’s sentence “is the lowest end of the applicable guideline range,” the plea agreement says. The maximum prison sentence ranged from 10 years to life of imprisonment,

Reid, however, has agreed to assist the government in proceedings involving the forfeiture of assets that are related to “illegal activities,” the agreement says.

The sentencing dates for both Reid and Sheehan are April 25 and April 23, respectively. U.S. District Judge Michele R. Korver presides over the cases.

Attorneys for Reid and Sheehan could not be reached for immediate comment Thursday.

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