District judge upholds cocaine charges in Aspen bust
ASPEN – A district judge ruled after a preliminary hearing Wednesday that there is sufficient evidence to bind over an Eastern European man for trial on cocaine charges.
Judge Denise Lynch also set June 6 as the arraignment date for Andrian Arapu, 25, of Moldova, who faces a class-three felony offense of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and a class-three count of unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing or sale of cocaine. Prosecutors also have tacked on special sentencing enhancers because he allegedly was in possession of a deadly weapon at the time of his arrest.
Arapu was arrested April 6 a his Copper Horse apartment unit, where Aspen police say they found 41.9 grams of cocaine and a handgun.
“That is a large amount of cocaine,” Lynch noted. “That is more than somebody would use for recreational use.”
In a related development, prosecutors dropped a felony count against Arapu that alleges he seduced Elena Inozemtseva, 24, who was at his apartment at the time of the arrest, into selling cocaine.
The charge was dropped two days after prosecutors, citing a lack of evidence, dismissed drug charges against Inozemtseva, who was transported to Denver this week on an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold.
But before she is deported to her home country of Russia, Arapu’s attorney, John Van Ness of Carbondale, hopes to depose her for information regarding his client’s case. Van Ness filed a motion Wednesday seeking the deposition, which prosecutors Richard Nedlin and Arnold Mordkin said they plan to protest. They have until Wednesday to file a written reply detailing their position.
The preliminary hearing was relatively brief, lasting less than 45 minutes. Only one witness, Aspen police detective Walter Chi, was called to testify. Chi relived moments leading up the arrest, which had already been presented in court papers.
Essentially, as told by Chi, ICE agents received a tip in February that Arapu was living in the U.S. illegally and he had a firearm. ICE called Aspen police for back-up when it visited Arapu’s residence.
There, authorities found cocaine and an air gun, which they said were in open view. Police obtained a search warrant later in the day, and confiscated more cocaine and items used to package and weigh the drug, along with a .38-caliber revolver, according to allegations outlined in court documents.
Judge Lynch was taxed with ruling on evidence presented in the most favorable light to the prosecution. In preliminary hearings, prosecutors don’t have the burden of proof needed to convict someone in trial.
Van Ness did not present any witnesses and did not offer a closing argument.
“Given the standards used at a preliminary hearing, I have no argument,” he said.
Arapu is in the custody of Pitkin County Jail on a $60,000 bond. If convicted of the charges, he faces eight to 48 years behind bars. He also faces an ICE detainer.
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