Cocaine defendant free after putting up Snowmass property as bond | AspenTimes.com

Cocaine defendant free after putting up Snowmass property as bond

DENVER – A Snowmass Village man who had been in federal custody on drug-trafficking charges since May was released last week after posting a $250,000 property bond, according to court records.

Christopher Sheehan, 65, used the very real estate that the federal government has taken steps to seize – located at 1459 Juniper Hill Drive in Snowmass Village – to post the bond.

Sheehan was one of six local residents arrested May 19 by members of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The arrests came after a Denver grand jury indicted them and four men from Southern California.

While four of the six local defendants were released on $20,000 bonds shortly after their arrests, Sheehan and the alleged ringleader of the cocaine-trafficking ring, Wayne Alan Reid, have been in custody without bonds because they have been considered potential flight risks. Reid, 65, remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service in Denver.

Sheehan reached a plea agreement with the prosecution in November, part of which allowed him to be released from custody provided he met a number of conditions, including that he wear an ankle bracelet.

Other conditions of Sheehan’s release, outlined in court documents filed last week, include GPS monitoring and home detention, which means he can only leave the premises for reasons such as employment, court appearances and medical treatment, among others. He also will be subjected to drug testing and cannot have any contact with the co-defendants. Additionally, he cannot travel outside Colorado and had to surrender his passport.

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Messages left with the law firm defending Sheehan – Spring and Steinberg PC in Denver – were not returned.

Sheehan is due back in U.S. District Court in Denver on Jan. 26, at which time he is scheduled to plead guilty to federal charges connected to cocaine trafficking.

Jeff Dorschner, of the U.S. Department of Justice in Denver, said the status of Sheehan’s property will become more clear once he enters a plea.

Along with Sheehan’s home, other local properties subject to federal seizure in connection to the case are located at 230 Pitkin Mesa Drive and 435 Vine St.

The Mesa Drive home is a duplex unit and is listed under the name of Aspen Pitkin Mesa Limited Partnership, according to county property records. The Vine Street property is a Hunter Creek unit owned by one of the defendants, Joan Anastasi.

Sheehan’s home is the most valuable Pitkin County property facing government seizure, with an actual value of $1.42 million – $950,000 for the 2 acres it sits on and $470,000 for the house – according to tax records from the Pitkin County Assessor’s Office.

The indictment says the properties were acquired with “proceeds obtained directly and indirectly” from the alleged cocaine ring and also were used “to commit or facilitate” the alleged crimes. A statement issued by the Department of Justice at the time of the arrests called them “drug-related property in Aspen.”

Dorschner previously has said that the government could have taken either the criminal or civil route to claim the properties. It’s using criminal proceedings to seize the residences but can only do so if the properties’ owners are convicted.

The indictment says that from July 2010 through April, the defendants conspired to own and sell more than 11 pounds of cocaine. Four suspects in Los Angeles also were indicted.

Eight of the defendants have reached deals with the prosecution; one from California remains a fugitive. The prosecution dropped all of the charges against one defendant, Peggy Schlauger, of Aspen.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

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