Cassatt to receive treatment for drugs |

Cassatt to receive treatment for drugs

John Colson

A judge agreed on Monday to allow Alex Cassatt to check into a drug treatment facility, after learning that the young man had failed his most recent urine analysis test for marijuana.

But while Cassatt, 19, waits for a bed to open up at a treatment center, he will be staying at the Pitkin County Jail.

And once he is released from the treatment center, he will return to the Pitkin County Courthouse to be sentenced for his crimes by 9th Judicial District Judge J.E. DeVilbiss.

Cassatt is one of a dozen local teen-agers linked to a crime spree in Aspen and Snowmass Village last year. In a plea bargain with the district attorney’s office, he has admitted he provided a key to the Take 2 Video store to two of his friends, who burglarized the business on Aug. 4, 1999.

That same night, according to a statement by Cassatt, he and co-defendant Cody Wille drove around town in Wille’s car, as Wille tried to break into four other local businesses.

According to Cassatt, the first three attempts were failures, but Wille at last succeeded at the Airport Liquors store in the Aspen Airport Business Center, where the pair made off with a box filled with stolen bottles of liquor.

The burglaries that night were part of a wider crime spree that included three armed robberies and the burglary of a house on Twining Flats. Seven of the 12 teens accused of being part of the spree have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to either prison terms or lengthy probation. The others either have yet to file a plea, are awaiting trial or awaiting sentencing.

Cassatt turned himself in to police in December after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Statements from others involved in the crime spree have corroborated his claims that he was minimally involved in the actual commission of the crimes, and the district probation office has recommended he be sentenced to a three-year term of probation and a short jail sentence, along with 80 hours of useful public service.

Cassatt has been free on bond since December, and under orders not to use drugs or alcohol.

In court on Monday, attorney Arnold Mordkin informed Judge DeVilbiss that since Cassatt had failed his most recent urine analysis, he wanted to delay sentencing until he had a chance to undergo formal drug rehabilitation treatment.

“My client is having some difficulty maintaining his freedom from the use of drugs, specifically marijuana,” said Mordkin. “He would have a lot of trouble maintaining probation.”

When Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills said he had no objection to the delay, Judge DeVilbiss agreed to the plan, and to Mordkin’s suggestion that Cassatt sit in jail until a bed opens at a treatment center.

“I was concerned about the very thing that’s happened here … thought that perhaps it was going to happen,” the judge said.

To Cassatt, the judge commented that success at the treatment center is important, because “things would look a lot better for you at sentencing than they do right now.”

Although the probation office recommended probation in the case, DeVilbiss noted he is not bound by that recommendation and that he could sentence Cassatt to prison for up to three years.

“Right now, you’re involved in a fight, a struggle with an opponent that is a lot bigger than you are,” the judge concluded gravely.

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