Dishonest driver’s tall tales end with felony |

Dishonest driver’s tall tales end with felony

Jaosn Auslander
The Aspen Times

A Basalt man who was stopped Friday driving a car without a clear owner with license plates that belonged to other vehicles was arrested after deputies found prescription drugs, including morphine that belonged to a dead woman, according to court records.

Pitkin County deputies couldn’t even be sure of the driver’s name at first because he provided a fake name and fake date of birth, according to an affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court.

Eventually, however, the driver was identified as Pablo Mendoza-Calderon, 36, of Basalt and he was arrested on a raft of charges and booked into the Pitkin County Jail, the affidavit states.

A Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy initially pulled Mendoza-Calderon over on Highway 82 in Basalt after he turned right from Basalt Avenue without stopping at a stop sign. He claimed he had no identification on him, as well as no insurance, then wrote down the fake name and birthdate, according to the affidavit.

The plates on the Subaru he was driving had expired two years ago and belonged to a car owned by a woman Mendoza-Calderon said he didn’t know, the affidavit states. The expiration stickers on the plates, however, indicated they didn’t expire until December 2019, though they were supposed to be on a trailer owned by another man Mendoza-Calderon said he didn’t know.

At that point, the deputy noticed several bottles of prescription medication in the hatchback area of the car in the name of a dead woman, according to the affidavit. Mendoza-Calderon claimed he didn’t know the woman, then changed his story when a Basalt police officer on scene spoke up and said he knew Mendoza-Calderon was the woman’s caretaker before she died, the affidavit states.

Mendoza-Calderon then said he’d taken the medication to dispose of it after the woman died and knew he shouldn’t have it.

As he was being driven to jail, Mendoza-Calderon claimed to have close relationships with Pitkin County’s former sheriff and the current president of Mountain Rescue Aspen, and told the deputy driving that he also helped illegal immigrants cross the border, according to the affidavit.

Mendoza-Calderon then said he wanted to tell the deputy a story and asked that it be kept between them.

“I replied by telling him that he was under arrest and that nothing he told me would be kept just between us,” Deputy Kyle Ryan wrote in the affidavit. “Mendoza-Calderon replied that was OK, and told a story about getting in a fight while helping others to enter the United States illegally.”

Mendoza-Calderon was charged with felony drug possession, misdemeanor drug possession, driving without insurance, driving without a license, driving with expired license plates, driving with fake tabs and an unspecified warrant.

Deputies impounded the Subaru because they couldn’t figure out who owned it, the affidavit states.