Criminal extortion case against Silt man heads to jury trial in June
Judge denies defense request to suppress statements
A case against a Silt man accused of harassing an undocumented immigrant is scheduled for a jury trial following a motions hearing Friday.
Mark H. Aspiri, who allegedly threatened to report a undocumented immigrant if the individual didn’t pay Aspiri more than $1,000, is scheduled to appear in court for a pretrial conference June 14, and his jury trial is slated to begin June 22. Charges against Aspiri include ethnic intimidation and criminal extortion.
According to Ballotpedia, Aspiri was a 2014 Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Colorado for a brief time before dropping out.
Aspiri and his attorney Chip McCrory attended a virtual motions hearing Friday, during which 9th District Judge James Boyd ruled on motions for discovery and to suppress statements.
Glenwood Springs Police Department Det. Jeff Fain and Officer Alicia Hampton testified during the hearing on a motion to suppress statements.
Hampton testified she was dispatched Dec. 9, 2020, to speak with the victim and his translator, who alleged Aspiri threatened the victim during a call about missing wages. The conversation occurred over the phone, and Hampton said she followed up the allegations by contacting Aspiri and directing him not to contact the victim again. She didn’t recall if Aspiri acknowledged her directive, but told the court she advised Aspiri that he could be charged with harassment if he continued to contact the victim.
McCrory questioned Hampton about taking notes during the phone call, and where those notes might be included in the incident report. Hampton said she might have written down a phone number on a notepad or entered notes on an incident report, but she did not recall which.
On Dec. 10, 2020, Fain was working on patrol duties when he was also dispatched to speak over the phone with the victim and his translator, Fain testified.
The conversation was brief, but Fain learned the victim was in communication with two other people who had complaints about communications with Aspiri for not being paid for work completed, according to Fain’s testimony.
During the call, the victim claimed he did not know Aspiri, but Aspiri was demanding the victim pay him money or Aspiri would turn the victim into immigration, Fain said.
Fain said he followed the conversation with the victim by calling Aspiri, who allegedly denied calling the victim or threatening the victim. The detective said he also called additional numbers provided by the victim to speak with people familiar with the situation.
McCrory asked Fain about taking notes on the call. Fain said he did not have his notes readily available and could not guarantee he took notes, but if he did, they were likely written down in a notepad.
Fain added his notes were not requested by the District Attorney’s Office as part of the case against Aspiri.
Representing the DA’s Office, attorney Heidi Bauer told Boyd she filed a request for Fain’s note as a result of the Friday testimony.
Boyd ruled to deny the motion to suppress statements.
On motions of discovery, McCrory said his office did not receive recordings of the victim’s voicemails, which might have been provided to the police department. He also requested copies of the victim’s witnesses’ statements, copies of incident reports related to the case and any police recordings of conversation translations with the victim, who does not speak English, or non-English speaking witnesses.
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at email@example.com.
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