Magistrate rules Aspen postal worker threat to public safety |

Magistrate rules Aspen postal worker threat to public safety

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times

Citing public-safety concerns over a suspended Aspen postal worker, a U.S. magistrate judge ruled Thursday that the suspect must remain in federal custody.

Court records from the hearing, held in the U.S. District Court of Grand Junction, show that Magistrate Judge Gordon P. Gallagher did not deem Mauro Pennini a flight risk but said the defendant poses a threat to the public.

“I find by clear and convincing evidence that Defendant is a danger to the community, and I conclude there is no condition or combination of conditions for release that will assure the safety of any other persons and the community,” Gallagher wrote in a three-page order.

Pennini’s court-appointed attorney, Steven Laiche of Grand Junction, could not be reached for immediate comment Thursday.

Pennini, 56, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal charges of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and possession of a firearm in a federal facility.

The charges are similar to ones in Pitkin County, where Aspen police arrested him June 8 for allegedly violating a protection order against another person. At the time of the arrest, police say they found a handgun loaded with 14 rounds in his locker at the Aspen post office, two sets of handcuffs and 26 additional rounds of ammunition. Pennini also had a switchblade knife in his front pocket, police said. Aspen police arrested Pennini again June 15 on harassment allegations against the same protected party, who told authorities he threatened to kill her.

Gallagher cited the Aspen incidents for keeping Pennini in federal custody.

“Defendant’s employment in no way has a use of weapons,” he wrote. “Defendant was charged for another state crime alleging a restraining order violation after this offense. … The Court has significant concerns about the safety of (the protected person) given all of the stated information.”

Gallagher also noted that Pennini, who was born in the United Kingdom, allegedly threatened to kill the person and had boasted that he had killed 11 people with his bare hands.

Federal authorities arrested Pennini on June 17 at the Pitkin County Jail, where he was in custody on a $10,000 bond facing misdemeanor weapons and harassment charges.