Aspen realtor gets probation for giving alcohol to minors
A local real estate broker will spend the next nine months on supervised probation for giving alcohol to her daughter and her daughter’s friends at an Aspen bar this summer.
Wendy Lucas, 56, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor count of providing alcohol to a minor in August, though she originally was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a felony.
Lucas was set to be sentenced for the plea in September, but District Judge Chris Seldin postponed the hearing after a prosecutor noted that Lucas was charged with drunken driving in Basalt on Sept. 2. The DUI charge could have been grounds for the District Attorney’s Office to withdraw the plea agreement, though that case is still pending and did not affect Monday’s sentencing, prosecutor Sarah Oszczakiewicz said.
Lucas said Monday that she suffered an accident the day she attended a concert at Belly Up in June with her daughter and her daughter’s friends, which left her disoriented and confused. She had previously told police she fell while hiking and suffered a head injury, which led her to lose all memory of the night at Belly Up.
Video surveillance from the bar showed her giving a margarita to the underage girls, which they sipped and passed around.
“I made a mistake,” Lucas said tearfully Monday. “I broke the law. I’m remorseful and I’m ashamed.”
Lucas also said coverage of her case in the newspaper has “tarnished” her reputation in town. Gretchen Greenwood, a friend of Lucas’, also bemoaned the fact that the case has garnered coverage in the newspaper, and wondered if it was because Lucas is a woman.
Both District Judge Chris Seldin and Oszczakiewicz similarly noted that newspapers in Aspen regularly cover the town’s felony criminal docket, and that the publicity can have consequences.
Both also noted, however, that drugs and alcohol in Aspen negatively affect some local children.
“A portion (of those kids) get involved with drugs and alcohol and never get out of it,” Seldin said. “It ruins their whole lives.”
Seldin also noted that contributing to the delinquency of a minor is considered a more serious felony than menacing with a deadly weapon.
“That’s an indicator that the Legislature thinks this is serious stuff,” he said.
In addition to the nine months on probation, Lucas also will have to perform 30 hours of community service. Her lawyer said she had no prior criminal history.
• A former Aspen man was sentenced to three years of supervised probation Monday for spending thousands of dollars with a stolen credit card number and refusing to return a rental car.
Ronald Heffner, 31, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of theft as well as one count of fraud by check and another count of theft, both felonies.
Police have said Heffner stole a credit card from a man he met online and spent the night with, then used it to buy thousands of dollars’ worth of goods. He will have to pay back nearly $15,000 in restitution, according to his plea deal.
He told Seldin he was sorry for his actions and did not want to continue down the path he’d been on.
“It’s not how you want to spend your 30s,” Heffner said. “It’s not how society works. I don’t want to live the rest of my life like that.”
Seldin said he added a third year of probation to Heffner’s sentence — probation officials had recommended two years — because of lingering doubts about Heffner’s sincerity in reforming his behavior. Previous interactions with Heffner led the judge to question that sincerity, he said.
Heffner will be allowed to serve his probation in North Carolina, where he currently lives. He will also have to serve 50 hours of community service.
The case about not returning the rental car dated back to 2016.
• A Garfield County man who was charged with giving marijuana to a juvenile after police found the drugs in the waste collector of an Aspen public toilet was sentenced to one year of supervised probation Monday.
If Eduardo Alvarado, 22, completes the probationary year without getting into any more trouble, his guilty plea to felony contributing to the delinquency of a minor will be wiped from his record, according to his plea deal.
Alvarado was charged in connection with the February incident after police smelled marijuana outside the Rio Grande Park bathroom and knocked on the door. Officers searched Alvarado, but found no drugs on him.
Later, however, a city parks employee found a black container of marijuana in the rest room’s “fecal waste collector” that had a sticker on it indicating where and when it was purchased. Based on that information, Aspen police obtained video surveillance from the dispensary showing Alvarado buying the marijuana.
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It’s hard to fight City Hall and even harder to fight well-funded neighbors who don’t want any development near them, a local man has realized. So he settled for less than what he and his partner bought the property for.