Now 21, Aspen man violates probation, triggers felony
A former Aspen High School student on probation for his 2012 drug conviction now has a felony on his record after Fort Collins police arrested him on new drug charges in August.
Max Brandon Puder, 21, appeared Monday in Pitkin County District Court and was sentenced to 24 hours of community service by Judge Gail Nichols. The judge opted not to sentence Puder to jail time, citing a current 60-day term he is serving in Larimer County for the most recent arrest. Prosecutor Andrea Bryan asked for a 30-day term in Pitkin County Jail. Puder’s attorney, Andrew Bertrand of Fort Collins, said the felony was enough punishment.
“This is your first jail sentence, and from the court’s point of view, that jail sentence should be an eye-opener, and an additional 30 days isn’t going to do anything,” Nichols said.
Nichols is familiar with Puder, having given him a three-year deferred judgment in January 2013 for his Christmas Eve 2011 arrest in Aspen.
Puder was 18 at the time of his arrest for selling ecstasy on the exit stairs of the Belly Up nightclub. As part of a plea deal, Puder pleaded guilty in August 2012 to possession of more than 4 grams of psilocybin mushrooms.
Puder went to Sober College in California in January 2012 then to school in Minnesota before eventually moving to the Fort Collins area.
Had he stayed out of trouble during that three-year period starting January 2013, Puder would have had the felony erased from his record.
But Fort Collins authorities arrested him Aug. 30 for possession of a Schedule 1/2 substance, tampering with evidence and obstructing a police officer.
Puder told the judge that he is learning from his mistakes.
“I actually do feel the past few months I’ve matured and thought about things differently,” he said. “I wish there was something I could do to not have the felony on my record. It’s out of my hands.”
He said he suffered severe brain damage in a bike accident in 2007 when he was 15 which triggered his problems with substances. Puder also had run afoul of the law when he was a juvenile with some drug arrests.
“I made some mistakes, I’ve made a number of them,” he said. “When I was younger I was in an accident and in a coma and trauma.”
Nichols said oftentimes she would dismiss such an excuse, but she said he believed Puder to be sincere.
“In reality I think your analysis is correct,” she said. “You have been dealing with it, and I think initially you dealt with it by smoking and drinking, and that shows in your juvenile record. And certainly, there are many adults who do the same thing. You are not unique in that way.”
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Despite nearly a month of intense investigation by two APD detectives, two investigators with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and help from an FBI agent in Glenwood Springs, the case is progressing slowly.