Suspended Aspen postal worker appears in federal court over weapons charges |

Suspended Aspen postal worker appears in federal court over weapons charges

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Mauro Pennini

Suspended mail sorter Mauro Pennini appeared before a U.S. magistrate judge Thursday in Grand Junction to face two federal counts related to weapons possession at the Aspen post office.

Pennini, 56, already in the Pitkin County court system for similar charges, waived advisement of charges of possession of a firearm at a federal facility and subject of a protection order in possession of a firearm. Each count carries penalties of as many as 10 years imprisonment and a maximum $250,000 fine, according to court records.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to keep postal employees and their customers safe,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh in a statement, which was part of a statement issued by the Colorado division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “Possessing a firearm while under a protective order and while on federal property are violations of federal law and will be prosecuted.”

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

The U.S. Postal Service has placed Pennini on emergency leave pending the outcome of the case, records show.

Aspen police arrested Pennini on June 8 at the post office after a protected party reported that he violated the no-contact order. Police said Pennini had a switchblade knife in the left front pocket of his pants, while his backpack — found in the post office locker room — contained a handgun loaded with 14 rounds, two sets of handcuffs and 26 additional rounds of ammunition.

Pennini bonded out of jail after the June 8 arrest, but Aspen police arrested him again Tuesday on harassment allegations. The alleged victim, also the protected party, told police Pennini threatened to kill her.

A federal affidavit for Pennini’s arrest, made public Thursday, says that federal authorities interviewed him June 11 in Aspen, but Pennini ended the brief discussion because he was without counsel.

The affidavit also says that on June 12, federal agents interviewed an employee at Basalt Firearms who told them that Pennini wanted to put his gut on consignment because he was worried that police would seize them. The employee also told the feds that on June 1 — days after a county judge placed a protection order on Pennini — he tried to buy “an easily concealed, high-powered, Derringer-style pistol,” the affidavit says. The application to buy the pistol was denied, the affidavit says.

Pennini is due back in Grand Junction’s federal court Tuesday, said Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Justice Department in Denver. The hearing will concern bond. Pennini currently is being held at Mesa County Jail.

“We can ask a magistrate judge to order an individual detained without bond, and in order to do that, we have to prove one of two things,” Dorschner said. “One, that he is a danger to the community, or two, that he’s a flight risk. In this case, it’s our intent to ask a judge to hold the defendant without bond as a danger to the community.”

Aspen attorney Richard Nedlin, Pennini’s counsel on the local cases, said he had not heard from his client since his latest arrest.