Aspen postal worker pleads guilty in federal court |

Aspen postal worker pleads guilty in federal court

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times
Mauro Pennini

GRAND JUNCTION – Former Aspen postal worker Mauro Pennini faces as many as 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of possessing a handgun when he was directed not to under a court order.

In exchange for Tuesday’s plea in federal court in Grand Junction, the government dropped a misdemeanor count of possession of a gun in a post office. Pennini is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 4 after a federal probation officer completes a pre-sentence report.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Gordon Gallagher also found that Pennini is likely to be a danger to others and might not show up for the sentencing. That means he will continue to be held at the Mesa County Detention Center until he is sentenced, though his lawyer, Steve Laiche, said he might file a motion to reconsider his detention given the length of time until sentencing.

Aspen police officers arrested Pennini, who was born in the United Kingdom, at the Aspen post office on June 8, after a family member who filed an order of protection against him reported that he texted her. At the time, he asked officers to retrieve medication from his backpack, and they discovered a loaded 9mm handgun inside the bag.

Officers also discovered a switchblade on him, then searched the backpack and found an additional three folding knives, a multipurpose tool, two sets of handcuffs and two magazines loaded with 14 rounds of ammunition each.

In court Tuesday, federal prosecutor Celeste Rangel said Pennini had been shooting the 9mm at targets at a Basalt shooting range the day before his arrest and forgot to remove it when he went to work the next day.

Under terms of the protection order, which was filed in May, Pennini wasn’t allowed to possess weapons at all.

In addition to a possible decade-long prison sentence, Pennini also faces another significant punishment as a result of the plea deal: deportation.

“You are very likely going to be removed from this country at the end of whatever sentence you serve in this case,” Judge Gallagher said. “Almost certainly it sounds like you will be deported from the United States of America.”

Pennini appeared in court Tuesday in dark gray jail clothing, neon orange jail shoes and was both handcuffed and in leg restraints. His gray hair was cropped short, he wore black glasses and his heavily tattooed arms were visible.

Laiche said the plea agreement contains no agreement as to sentencing. U.S. District Judge Marsha Krieger will sentence Pennini in January.

Pennini also faces misdemeanor weapons and harassment charges in Pitkin County. It was unclear Tuesday exactly when he might face those charges