District Attorney’s Office lack of staff contributes to plea deal | AspenTimes.com

District Attorney’s Office lack of staff contributes to plea deal

A 28-year-old Snowmass man pleaded guilty to two counts of theft Monday in connection with selling fake New Mexico elk-hunting permits in 2014.

Joshua Meacham entered the guilty pleas to one count of felony theft between $20,000 and $100,000 and one count of misdemeanor theft between $750 and $2,000.

He would have faced between two and six years in prison for the felony plea and between six months and 18 months in the county jail for the misdemeanor plea. However, as part of a plea deal the District Attorney's Office agreed not to recommend any prison sentence.

He will face up to two years of probation when he is sentenced in January.

In addition, the felony conviction will be wiped off Meacham's record if he stays out of trouble during the two-year probation sentence.

Meacham was offered the plea deal because the District Attorney's Office recently lost two experienced attorneys and doesn't have a lawyer available to cover Meacham's trial, said Deputy District Attorney Sarah Oczczakiewicz. Meacham would have had to agree to a continuance in the case in order for a DA to cover the trial, she said. If he didn't agree, the case would have had to be dismissed under speedy trial rules, she said.

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Meacham, who also was involved in a marijuana-patch manufacturing business in Aspen, was initially charged with two counts of felony theft after a woman told a Pitkin County sheriff's investigator that she paid him $3,625 for an elk-hunting permit advertised on eBay, according to court records.

Another man also reported paying Meacham $6,300 for an unspecified number of elk-hunting permits in the same area of New Mexico, court records state.

The investigator in the case also reported receiving two reports from the Navajo County Sheriff's Office in Arizona alleging that Meacham sold hunting permits and never delivered them. He was charged with felony fraud in that case, though it was dismissed when he allegedly paid back the $8,950 he received for the permits, records state.

In other court news Monday:

• A 59-year-old local interior designer is facing between a year and a year and a half in prison after pleading guilty to felony theft.

Renee Bowden will have to pay back $148,625 to one of her former clients and $26,752 to the Colorado Department of Revenue as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. Bowden also may have to repay unspecified funds to another former client, according Oczczakiewicz.

"I kept funds that were not mine to have for myself," Bowden told District Judge Chris Seldin, noting that the funds belonged to clients of her interior design business.

One former client told police that Bowden, also a real estate broker, agreed in March 2014 to provide discounted furnishings and building supplies for two condominiums he owned in exchange for the man listing the units with her for sale, according to court records. However, Bowden charged the man retail prices and didn't fully pay vendors, who filed liens against the property.

Another of Bowden's clients told police she hired Bowden to remodel a condo. However, vendors in that project were only partially paid and the woman reported having to pay off liens — essentially paying twice for the same work, according to court records.

Bowden, who has no prior criminal history, is scheduled to be sentenced in February.

• A 30-year-old former Aspen resident withdrew his guilty plea to a felony theft charge Monday after a judge sentenced him to more time in jail than the deal allowed.

Jared Mastroianni entered the plea earlier this year under an agreement with prosecutors that called for three years' probation and a maximum of 30 days in jail, Oszczakiewicz said.

However, District Judge Chris Seldin sentenced him to 90 days in jail Monday in addition to the probation. If a judge gives a defendant more time than is offered in a plea deal, the defendant can withdraw his plea under the law, which Mastroianni elected to do.

Confusing paperwork filed with the court by the DA's Office was partially to blame for the plea withdrawal. Language in the paperwork did not accurately reflect the plea deal offered by a former prosecutor, Oszczakiewicz said.

Mastroianni faced securities fraud and theft charges for allegedly stealing nearly $200,000 in Rolex watches from a local Aspen shop and bilking $60,000 from a local couple by posing as a financial adviser.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

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