Cocaine defendant’s lawyer seeks leaner sentence
A lawyer for a Southern California man has filed a motion seeking a reduced sentence so that it’s consistent with the punishments delivered to other defendants in a cocaine-trafficking case that involves a handful of Aspen defendants.
Attorney Kathleen Moreno introduced court papers Friday contending that the federal government’s recommendation that Valentin Barrios spend 52 months in prison shows “disparate treatment in comparison to co-defendants.”
Barrios, 43, of Los Angeles, has been in federal custody since May 19, 2011, more than 500 days of confinement. In January, he pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. His sentencing hearing is set for Thursday.
Barrios is one of 10 people indicted in April 2011 by a Denver grand jury on cocaine-trafficking charges. Six of the defendants came from the Aspen area, but prosecutors dropped charges against one of the local residents, reducing the pool of defendants to nine.
Some of the other defendants with similar plea outcomes have received leaner sentences or are awaiting punishments that are inconsistent with the one Barrios faces, according to the court filing.
Among those defendants already sentenced are Aspen residents Joan Anastasi and Jack Fellner as well as Christopher Sheehan, of Snowmass Village. All are in their 60s.
Anastasi and Fellner, who spent 24 hours in jail after federal agents arrested them at their homes, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute – the same charge Barrios admitted. They were sentenced to the time in jail they already served, along with three years of supervised release. Anastasi was given 10 months of home detention; Fellner received nine.
Another defendant awaiting sentencing, Joseph James Burke, of Aspen, faces a sentence to the one day he served in jail. He has pleaded guilty to using a telephone to facilitate a drug transaction.
And last week, a judge sentenced Sheehan to one year and one day of prison time for his guilty plea to conspiracy with intent to distribute a controlled substance. Sheehan was given credit for the time he served and ordered to pay the government $250,000 upon the sale of his Juniper Hill Drive home, which the federal government seized upon his arrest.
The stiffer prison sentences have yet to be delivered.
Longtime Aspen resident Wayne Reid, 66, declared by authorities to be the drug network’s mastermind, faces a sentence of 53 months to six years for his guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine. Reid has been in custody since his May 2011 arrest.
For Southern California defendants Alfonso Allocati and Jesse Trujillo, prosecutors have recommended prison terms of 42 months and 27 months, respectively, for their guilty pleas to conspiracy to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine.
Barrios’ motion claims that Allocati “pursued and induced Mr. Barrios’ involvement in the alleged crimes.” Allocati already has served 240 days in jail and “is likely to not serve another day in custody,” Barrios’ motion says.
“In every other factor in determining the appropriate sentence, Allocati’s involvement is comparable to that of Mr. Barrios,” the motion says.
Barrios, a father of five, has cooperated with the government and surrendered more than $29,000 in cash that was “from legitimate business proceeds” – his restaurant, video store and rental-property business, the motion says. Barrios has put both his and his family’s lives at risk by working closely with the government in its ongoing investigation, the motion argues.
“He has taken responsibility for his crimes,” the motion says. “His behavior and steps toward rehabilitation clearly illustrate a sincerity to turn his life around in every way.”
According to a plea agreement for Barrios, he sold “kilogram quantities” of cocaine to another defendant, Allocati, in the Los Angeles area. Allocati, in turn, sold the cocaine to Reid, the agreement says.
Feds say the drug ring imported 200 kilograms between Aspen and Los Angeles over a 15-year period. The network also had ties to Mexican drug cartels, feds claim.
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