Aspen man gets 90 days for drug charge | AspenTimes.com
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Aspen man gets 90 days for drug charge

Naomi Havlen

Aspen resident Barney Oldfield was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years of probation Monday for a drug charge that stemmed from an apartment fire last summer.

Oldfield, 51, was arrested after a fire gutted his apartment and damaged other units at the Aspen View Condominiums. The fire began on Oldfield’s third-floor balcony, fire officials determined.

During the investigation into the blaze, police found more than 5 pounds of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, including a scale, baggies and water bongs, in his apartment.

In March Oldfield pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills and Oldfield’s attorney, John Van Ness, agreed on a sentence as part of a plea agreement. This is Oldfield’s first felony conviction.

Yesterday, Wills asked the judge to impose a five-year probation sentence, pointing to evidence that Oldfield was selling drugs out of his home.

“He said during hearings that he consumes four ounces of marijuana a month – first of all, that’s an incredible amount,” Wills said. “At that rate, that five and a half pounds would be a two-year supply. It logically doesn’t fit that the five and a half pounds is for his own consumption.”

Wills said he is impressed with Oldfield’s efforts to quit using drugs.

Van Ness portrayed his client as a “pack rat” who never throws anything away and always shops during sales. Van Ness said the day that Oldfield was let back into his apartment after the fire, he came back out carrying a 36-roll pack of toilet paper.

Van Ness claimed the reason Oldfield had a large amount of marijuana in his apartment was because he had gotten a good deal on it from people who had to leave town in a hurry.

“He buys things when they’re cheap – there’s no evidence he was dealing drugs,” the attorney said. “He has plenty of income to take care of his needs.”

Van Ness said that besides being left almost $500,000 in an inheritance that’s 40 percent invested in a family business, Oldfield owns three condos and rents out two; he is also a licensed real estate broker. Van Ness said Oldfield’s income is in the range of $50,000 a year.

Saying Oldfield has quit smoking or consuming marijuana in the past four months, he requested a sentence of two years probation.

“There is not much in the way of direct evidence of distribution, but there is circumstantial evidence – so much marijuana and so much cash,” said Judge James Boyd of the 9th Judicial District before sentencing. “This distribution of drugs is dangerous to the community.”

Besides the 90-day sentence in Pitkin County Jail, of which he is credited for a day served, Oldfield must submit to random drug tests, participate in drug treatment and evaluation, and perform 40 hours of community service.

Also as part of the sentence, $8,000 in cash found in Oldfield’s apartment will be donated to the Aspen Medical Foundation’s Right Door Project. The project works to create a location where the sober community can attend support groups.

Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com

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