Crime spree leader headed to trial on drug-related charges
ASPEN A district court judge ruled Monday there is enough evidence to try Aspen crime spree ringleader Moses Greengrass on charges of cocaine distribution.Greengrass, 26, was released from prison six months ago after serving seven years for his role in the Aspen robbery spree of 1999. He was arrested March 23 and charged with felony possession of more than 25 grams of cocaine and possession with intent to sell. He remains in the Pitkin County Jail for violating his parole and would not be released even if he could pay the $25,000 bond.
In a two-hour preliminary hearing Monday in Pitkin County District Court, Judge James Boyd ruled that prosecutor Gail Nichols had established probable cause for charging Greengrass with the crimes and moved the case one step closer to trial. During the hearing, Aspen police officers John Rushing and Jeffrey Fain testified as to what happened on the night of March 22 and early morning of March 23.Fain said he saw Greengrass make a hand-off with an unidentified woman. Fain suspected a drug transaction and stopped Greengrass. When Fain questioned Greengrass further, Greengrass fled on foot, shedding his puffy black jacket as he ran, according to Fain.Fain caught Greengrass in the breezeway behind the Caribou Club on East Hopkins Avenue and watched as Greengrass stuffed the jacket behind a wooden pallet.
Police officer Renee Rayton then retrieved the jacket and found a velvet bag containing plastic baggies and small folded envelopes, also known as bindles. Police Sgt. Rushing testified he searched the jacket with Rayton and tested one of the baggies for cocaine; he said it tested positive. Public defender Garth McCarty tried to establish that there was a gap in the chain of custody of the jacket because Rayton did not testify at Monday’s hearing. He also said there was no evidence the baggies and bindles not tested by Rushing contained anything illegal.McCarty also questioned whether Fain had probable cause to stop Greengrass; Nichols repeatedly objected to that line of questioning, however. And he repeatedly questioned Fain about his qualifications as a police officer. Fain said he was still in training at the time of the arrest; he said his training had been extended because he had failed some tests such as knowing every Aspen street name. Greengrass was one of 12 teenage bandits who wore masks, drove getaway cars and brandished weapons in grocery stores and burglarized businesses, including the Stage 3 Theaters, Clark’s Market, the Aspen Alps condominium office and the Snowmass Village Market, where a clerk was pistol-whipped.
Their mug shots grabbed national headlines when the gang was revealed as a group of popular and charismatic local teens, from star athletes to computer whizzes. An arraignment on the latest charges against Greengrass is set for 10:30 a.m. June 18.Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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