Crime-spree teen strikes plea deal
Anthony Rizzuto, one of a dozen local youths implicated in a series of crimes in late 1999, pleaded guilty this week to a count of menacing in return for the dismissal of a number of charges against him.
Menacing is a class five felony, which carries a potential sentence of three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Rizzuto had been facing two trials later this year, one on charges that he violated conditions of his bond while awaiting trial last year, the other on a charge of having sex with a minor.
He already has been convicted of armed robbery and burglary charges, stemming from a crime spree in August and September of 1999. A jury found him guilty of one felony-level count of conspiring to commit burglary, in the September 1999 break-in at a Twining Flats house. A second jury found him guilty of three felonies stemming from the armed robbery of the Aspen Alps condominium office in early August 1999.
It was while he was free on bail in August 2000, awaiting trial on the crime-spree charges, that he got into a fight at a party in Snowmass Village. The fight reportedly involved one of the other young men implicated in the crime spree, which was a violation of a “no contact” provision of his bail agreement.
At roughly the same time, Rizzuto was accused of having sex with a 14-year-old girl, based on reports to police by the girl’s mother.
With the plea bargain announced in court this week, Rizzuto will not face the additional trials. Four felony counts in the bond violation case, as well as the entire statutory rape case, were dismissed as part of the plea bargain.
Deputy District Attorney Lawson Wills declined to comment on reports from Rizzuto’s family that laboratory tests failed to connect Rizzuto with the sex-assault case.
Rizzuto is due to be sentenced March 12 on the five felony-level convictions. Although he could potentially go to prison for 30 years or more, most courthouse observers expect his sentence to be far shorter than that.
The only remaining case from the 1999 crime spree involves armed robbery charges against Stefan Schutter.
Schutter, 19, who already has been convicted in the Aug. 19, 1999, armed robbery of the Village Market in Snowmass Village, is accused of also being involved in the Aug. 5 armed robbery of Clark’s Market in Aspen. That trial is set for March in Glenwood Springs.
All of the other men implicated in the crime spree are either serving prison sentences or on probation.
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I try to remember to give thanks every day I spend outside, whether it be floating the Colorado or Roaring Fork, fishing an epic dry fly hatch on the Fryingpan, or teasing up tiny brook trout on a remote lake or stream. We’re spoiled rotten here, so it’s easy to be thankful.