DiSalvo case is resolved
The Pitkin County Sheriff’s investigator charged with assault after striking a man at an Aspen restaurant last summer was given a deferred prosecution instead of a jury trial.Joe DiSalvo, the head of investigations for the sheriff’s office, appeared in Aspen Municipal Court Monday for what turned into an agreement between city prosecutor David Hoefer and defense attorney Pamela Mackey.The deferred prosecution, approved by the judge, means that so long as DiSalvo doesn’t break any laws in any jurisdiction (excluding all traffic offenses) for one year, the charge will be dismissed and DiSalvo can’t be tried for the alleged crime. The deal is retroactive to June 22, the date of the altercation.On the other hand, if DiSalvo does violate any laws, the matter will again be set for trial.The agreement did not involve a plea from DiSalvo.As part of the deal, DiSalvo will pay $150 worth of administrative costs to the municipal court. DiSalvo was also expected to deliver a check on Monday afternoon for approximately $4,200 to the victim’s attorney to cover medical expense – restitution agreed upon between the defense and the prosecution.In addition, the municipal charge of misdemeanor assault and battery against DiSalvo was amended to disorderly conduct, which includes a section dealing with fighting and quarreling.DiSalvo was eating dinner with his wife and friends in the bar at Jimmy’s restaurant on June 22. He told police that two women entered the bar area and began looking on the floor for an earring when he threw a couple of dollar bills on the floor in their direction as a joke.One of the women told her boyfriend, Tom Drake, about DiSalvo’s actions. DiSalvo claims Drake came over to talk to him about the incident and appeared threatening, so DiSalvo struck him.According to a police report, Drake’s left cheek was swollen from the punch; he was checked out by medics but wasn’t taken to the hospital that night. His girlfriend, Gwen Dickinson, said on Monday that Drake actually went to the hospital the next day and was diagnosed with Temporo-Mandibular Joint disorder, or TMJ, for which he now wears a mouth guard at night.”I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to Tom Drake,” DiSalvo said in municipal court. “He never pushed or hit me … and I hope that we can now both move on.”Drake, who attended the proceedings, was asked if he had anything to say but said he had no comment. After the hearing, Drake told The Aspen Times: “I’m glad it has been resolved, and maybe at a later date I’ll have more to say.” Drake declined to comment further when contacted Monday afternoon.DiSalvo took a brief voluntary leave of absence from his job with the sheriff’s office shortly after the incident but has been working as head of investigations since. The disposition of the case will not affect his job, DiSalvo said.Sheriff Bob Braudis is on vacation, “but he is standing by me,” DiSalvo said after the proceedings. “Hopefully this will be just a memory soon.”Dickinson said Drake was happy to hear DiSalvo apologize for his actions.”We never wanted to get his job – we just wanted him to not hurt other people,” she said. “We stayed so quiet during all of this, and we just wanted it over with.”DiSalvo’s attorney, Denver-based Pamela Mackey, said at a brief press conference after the hearing that she suggested this disposition back in July.”There was no way Joe or I were going to allow him to enter a guilty plea – we don’t think he’s legally guilty,” she said. “He has a very strong case of self-defense.”City attorney Hoefer called Mackey to suggest this resolution last Tuesday, she said. Hoefer told The Aspen Times that this kind of deferred prosecution is “very common in municipal court.””It’s only given to people who haven’t been in trouble with the law before, so they have the opportunity to make a mistake and not end up with a criminal record out of it,” he said. In many instances charges are changed from municipal assault and battery to disorderly conduct because both charges have a fighting-related section, and the charge doesn’t sound as serious that way, he added.Drake’s attorney, Denver-based Patrick Tooley, did not return a call for comment. Mackey said she does not know whether Drake and his attorney are interested in following up this case with a civil suit.”There is some relief that this is behind all of us – it’s been a long, drawn-out event, and I feel after a discussion with Pamela [Mackey] that this needed to come to an end,” DiSalvo said. “People shouldn’t feel that I’m any different than I was on June 21. This hasn’t interfered with my work or what the people of Pitkin County want in public safety.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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