Attorneys debate fine for Snowmass man in cocaine case |

Attorneys debate fine for Snowmass man in cocaine case

DENVER – Claiming that a Snowmass Village man played “an important role in fueling an ongoing cocaine-distribution conspiracy,” federal prosecutors have laid the groundwork to fine Christopher Sheehan $25,000 in addition to a $250,000 lien already placed on his house.

A 13-page brief filed Wednesday by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Korver contends the proposed fine against Christopher Sheehan is “not excessive” and that he waived his right to contest the sentence in January when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

Korver’s response came after Sheehan’s sentencing hearing, scheduled June 27 in Denver Federal Court, was postponed after his attorney raised issues about the potential penalties.

To bolster his argument, Sheehan’s attorney, Ariel Z. Benjamin, of Denver, filed court papers July 17 maintaining that the lien on Sheehan’s house should be satisfactory enough and that the $25,000 penalty would “be imposing an excessive fine, grossly disproportionate to the offense, in violation of (Sheehan’s) constitutional rights pursuant the Eighth Amendment.”

The pending deal for Sheehan includes a prison sentence of one year and one day. It also calls for Sheehan to pay the government the $250,000 upon the sale of his Juniper Hill Drive home, which federal officers took steps to seize on May 19, 2011, when he and seven other Aspen-area defendants were arrested on charges connected to cocaine trafficking.

Prosecutors say that Sheehan had been buying cocaine from suspected ringleader Wayne Reid, 65, of Aspen, for two years. Reid has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to sell more than 5 kilograms of cocaine. Court documents show that Reid admitted to buying cocaine in California and Nevada and resold it for distribution in the Aspen area.

“Mr. Sheehan had been regularly receiving distribution quantities of cocaine from his co-defendant Wayne Reid for nearly two years,” Korver wrote in last week’s brief. ” … In addition, although Mr. Sheehan has offered very little credible evidence of consistent employment and has no record of wages in Colorado for the past 10 years, his net worth totals in excess of one million dollars, with assets including three valuable pieces of real estate, four vehicles, a Harley Davidson, and thousands of dollars in checking and investment accounts.”

Prosecutors also contend that Sheehan’s house is worth $650,000 – $400,000 more than the government’s lien on it.

A new sentencing date for Sheehan remained unscheduled as of Monday.

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