Aspen woman seeks leniency in coke case
DENVER – An attorney for an Aspen woman convicted of a cocaine charge filed a 24-page motion Monday asking the court to exercise leniency at her May 30 sentencing date, contending that she has suffered enough by losing her standing in the community.
Joan Anastasi, 68, faces an 18- to 24-month sentence in federal prison. But her attorney, James Jenkins, of Boulder, is lobbying for a home-detention stint of 10 months that would be part of a three-year term of supervised release.
Filed in the U.S. District Court of Denver, the motion is backed with 10 letters offering strong words of support for Anastasi. The letters come from friends, her son and former employers, among others, and tout her strong work ethic, her positive influence on her son as a single mother and her volunteer work in Aspen.
Anastasi also wrote a letter expressing her remorse for the crime.
“Mere words cannot adequately express the shame and humiliation that I feel as a result of my inexcusable conduct. … I realize that I have only myself to blame for my current situation,” the letter reads. “I am sorry and ashamed for what I did and understand there must be consequences for my actions. I wish that I could go back in time and make better choices, but I live every day knowing that I cannot.”
The motion reads, “The same letters, along with Ms. Anastasi’s own letter, demonstrate Ms. Anastasi’s strong motivation to regain the respect of the members of her tight-knit community and to somehow repay that community for what she has done.”
Anastasi is one of six Aspen-area residents and four Southern California men indicted by a federal grand jury on April 19, 2011. Nine of the 10, including the six locals, were arrested by members of the Drug Enforcement Administration and aiding agencies exactly one month later.
In January, Anastasi pleaded guilty to one count of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Prosecutors, in court filings, say agents found nearly 227 grams of cocaine at her home at the time of the arrest.
Meanwhile, the motion contends that publicity from the case, fueled by coverage in Aspen’s two newspapers, has hampered Anastasi’s ability to find work.
She was terminated by one child-care agency where she worked as a nanny, while the second one has kept her aboard. Once an active volunteer in Aspen, Anastasi now finds herself turned down for positions, the motion says.
“The loss of her ability to find employment as well as curtailment of some of her volunteer activities has had a large impact on Ms. Anastasi, who has worked regularly, oftentimes multiple jobs, and volunteered in the community for 38 years,” the motion says.
For example, she secured a job in January to work at the upcoming Winter X Games at Buttermilk, only to be dismissed after her Jan. 23 guilty plea was covered by Aspen’s two newspapers, according to the motion.
More so, the motion says that Anastasi has accepted full responsibility for her actions.
“She has offered no excuses or justifications for her conduct,” the motion says.
Anastasi, who admitted to an Aspen drug counselor that she had used cocaine prior to her arrest, has tested negative for alcohol and drug use for the last year, the motion says. “She has successfully addressed her drug usage. There is no likelihood that she will break the law again.”
Judge Marcia S. Krieger presides over the case.
On Monday, she sentenced Southern California defendant Anthony Buchanan, 69, to three years of supervised release, which include 18 months of home detention.
Buchanan has a “limited criminal history,” according to court filings. Anastasi had no criminal history prior to last year’s arrest, Jenkins wrote.
After the DEA made the bust last year, it said it had dismantled a drug trafficking ring that had run cocaine between Aspen and Los Angeles for 15 years. The indictment says that from July 2010 through April, the defendants conspired to own and sell more than 11 pounds of cocaine.
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