Five Aspen-area suspects enter not-guilty pleas in cocaine case
DENVER – Five of the six Pitkin County residents arrested last week pleaded not guilty to cocaine trafficking charges Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Denver.
Aspen residents Joan Anastasi, 67; Jack Fellner, 61; Wayne Alan Reid, 65; and Peggy Schlauger, 41; along with Aspen Village resident Joseph James Burke, 63, entered their pleas before Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty, court papers show.
Anastasi, Burke, Fellner and Schlauger are free on $20,000 bond. There’s no bond for Reid, the suspected ringleader, who remains in custody. His detention hearing, originally scheduled for Wednesday, was reset to June 3.
In a related development, U.S. District Judge Marcia S. Krieger set a trial date for July 18. She scheduled the trial for 14 days with a 12-member jury and two alternates.
The sixth local suspect, Christopher James Sheehan, 65, of Snowmass, did not appear in court Thursday. Sheehan was picked up in the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport last Thursday after he disembarked from a Costa Rica flight.
Authorities say that from July 2010 through April 2011, all 10 defendants – four of whom are from Los Angeles – were involved in the distribution of at least 5 kilograms, or the equivalent of 5,000 grams, of cocaine. They were indicted by a federal grand jury out of Denver on April 19.
Reid faces one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine; six counts of distribution and possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and aiding and abetting; and two counts of distribution and possession with intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine and aiding and abetting.
Anastasi, Burke, Fellner and Sheehan face identical charges: one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 5 kilos or more of cocaine; and one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine and aiding and abetting.
Schlauger faces one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 5 kilos or more of cocaine.
Convictions could lead to 10 years to life in prison for all six Aspen-area defendants, along with fines up to $10 million.
Meanwhile, attorneys entered their appearances on behalf of the five suspects who appeared in Denver.
Anastasi, who was originally appointed a public defender, hired private counsel David Kaplan of the Denver firm Haddon Morgan and Foreman PC, which has handled numerous high-profile Colorado criminal cases, including the Kobe Bryant sexual-assault matter.
Burke will be represented by Denver lawyer Phil Cherner, a court-appointed attorney.
Schlauger, too, has been given court-appointed counsel, Daniel Smith of Denver.
Fellner opted out of having a court-appointed lawyer and brought in well-known defense counsel Abe Hutt. The court, however, noted that Hutt may have a conflict and would not allow the withdrawal of Fellner’s appointed lawyer, Leslee Barnicle.
Court-appointed attorney John Henry Schlie of Littleton is counsel for Reid, documents show.
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Starting Friday, Pitkin County is pulling back all its fire restrictions, Sheriff Joe DiSalvo announced Tuesday after meeting with local fire chiefs.