Aspen man’s drug case could land in Summit County
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A plea deal in the case against alleged heroin dealer Ryan Welgos of Aspen appeared to be on shaky ground Thursday, after it was disclosed the prosecution wants to change the venue.
The 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office filed a motion in Garfield County Court requesting the case be transferred to Summit County. Assistant District Attorney Scott Turner said a change of venue was in order because “the actual act occurred in Summit County.”
He also said a related case was transferred to Summit County in December. The 5th Judicial District includes Summit County. Aspen, Pitkin County and Garfield County are all part of the 9th Judicial District.
Garfield County District Court Judge Daniel B. Petre ordered a Feb. 20 hearing to address the proposed change of venue.
“I expect counsel to be ready to go,” said Petre during a hearing Thursday morning in Glenwood Springs, at which he also rejected a reduction in bond for Welgos.
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Defense Attorney Chip McCrory said a change of venue would only prolong the case. The motion was filed last week, and disclosed Thursday.
“He’s been in custody seven months. A deal was in place two months ago,” McCrory said. “Another court, another two months.”
He added the status of the plea deal is not clear.
The plea agreement was originally brokered in November between Snowmass Village attorney Arnold P. Mordkin and the District Attorney’s Office in Garfield County.
But Mordkin had to withdraw from the case shortly after he brokered the deal because he was set to head the District Attorney’s Office in Pitkin County. Mordkin assumed the post in late November.
As a result, McCrory agreed to take the case, and a special prosecutor also had to be assigned to avoid any potential conflict of interest. That prompted Petre to order new attorneys in the case to review the deal before he took further action.
While a special prosecutor had not been assigned as of Thursday, Turner said a motion would be filed later in the day naming the person to handle the case. The 5th Judicial District is responsible for assigning special prosecutors in the western end of Colorado.
Welgos has been locked up since he was arrested June 19, with Nelson Raul-Gamez in Silverthorne, after an investigation headed by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Welgos is being held on $40,000 bond.
The investigation stemmed form the March overdose death of Adam Ryan Peterson. He was visiting Aspen at the time of his death.
The case against Raul-Gamez was transferred in December to Summit County. He had a hearing last week, and a defense lawyer was assigned to his case, said Kathy Goudy, who previously represented Raul-Gamez in Garfield County.
Gregory Elston, a third suspect in the case, was given a two-year deferred sentence, and two years of supervised probation, for possession of a schedule II substance. It was part of a plea agreement he reached in October.
In exchange, prosecutors dropped a heroin distribution charge against Elston, an Aspen resident.
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