Judge orders Reid, Sheehan to remain in federal custody
DENVER – A book that explained “how to disappear” and an article on how to commit suicide, found by authorities at the Aspen home of Wayne Alan Reid, are among a judge’s reasons to keep the suspected cocaine ringleader in federal custody. And in a separate ruling, also made Wednesday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty, Snowmass Village resident Christopher Sheehan was ordered to remain in detention because of his potential flight risk.
The judge’s ruling comes after both Reid and Sheehan appeared at a detention hearing held Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Denver. Both have been in custody, without bond, since their May 19 arrests; Reid was detained by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents at his Aspen home, Sheehan at Dallas Forth Worth International Airport after he disembarked a flight out of Costa Rica.
Hegarty’s ruling notes that the U.S. government’s evidence against Reid and Sheehan – of which much was drawn from a confidential source – compelled him to keep both detained until their trials. The judge’s order on Reid explained that because the longtime Aspen resident faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, and possibly up to life because of his prior criminal history, “the nature of the offense that has been alleged against the Defendant makes him an inherent flight risk.”
The judge’s order also says that “The evidence against Mr. Reid is strong. Combining the observations of law enforcement, the statements of the confidential source, the results of the searches and seizures, and the admissions of Mr. Reid, the case entails significant evidence of guilt of the crimes charged.”
Reid’s family members supplied the court with emails stating he’s not a flight risk, while a potential employer of Reid offered an email in support of his character, the judge wrote.
While Hegarty took those emails at face value, he also noted Reid’s pending cocaine-distribution case in Mesa County District Court, a prior criminal history that includes one drug conviction, and the fact that “a book was found during a search [of his home] which discussed ‘how to disappear.’ Finally, the evidence at [Tuesday’s] hearing suggested that he has been distributing cocaine in the Aspen area for 15 years, perhaps up to several hundred kilograms during that time. This factor weighs in the government’s favor.”
The judge also expressed concern that agents recovered a faxed article at Reid’s house on how to commit suicide, and he has a history of substance abuse including a positive test for cocaine during the mid-2000s while on supervision.
” … I believe that Mr. Reid’s detention is warranted by the nature of the charges against him, his past criminal history, and what the prospective future holds for Mr. Reid,” Hegarty’s ruling says. “Facing prison for the rest of his life, and given the apparent drug proceeds that are literally invisible from a picture of Mr. Reid’s current financial situation (which potential proceeds could be used for a new life), he has not overcome the presumption in favor of detention …”
Meanwhile, in the Sheehan ruling the judge noted that the evidence against him is “not as conclusive as with co-Defendant Reid.”
But the judge sided with the government to keep Sheehan detained based on his age – he’s 65 years old, the same age as Reid – and because he maintains a residence in Costa Rica. The also judge noted that Sheehan has a history of drug addiction that started with Quaaludes and barbiturates some 40 years ago and evolved into cocaine habit, in addition to a criminal background that includes one deferred drug felony conviction. The judge expressed skepticism regarding Sheehan’s financial picture presented to the court, which showed a “vague reference” to being a self-employed construction developer and investor who earns $30,000 annually.
“This is frankly an odd income in my experience,” Hegarty wrote, adding that a government witness testified that Sheehan paid Reid “$10,000 on at least one occasion.”
In the ruling to detain Sheehan, the judge said “I am mindful that the analysis … may be subject to some criticism as discriminating against a class of persons based on age, when facing serious judge charges. The fact is, however, that someone facing [potentially] the rest of his life in prison, and visualizing the thought of such living conditions, compared especially to a life of retirement in Aspen, Colorado and Costa Rica, would have an overwhelming urge to disappear. This is a close case, and I have thought hard about the consequences of the decision, but I believe it to be the correct one.”
All of the six local defendants have pleaded not guilty, Sheehan most recently at his Tuesday hearing.
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.
He’s represented by Greenwood Village attorney John Henry Schlie.
Sheehan faces 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.
Aspen lawyer Mark Samuel Rubinstein represents Sheehan.
Rubinstein could be reached for immediate comment late Wednesday. Schlie, a court-appointed attorney, declined comment.
Reid and Sheehan are the only local suspects who remain incarcerated. The others – Aspen residents Joan Anastasi, 67; Jack Fellner, 61; and Peggy Schlauger, 41; and Aspen Village resident Joseph James Burke, 63 – were released from custody May 20 after posting $20,000 bonds.
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. All 10 were indicted by a federal grand jury out of Denver on April 19. One Los Angeles defendant remains at large; the other three California defendants were arrested.
DEA officials have alleged that Aspen was the end-stop for a cocaine ring that operated out of Los Angeles and had connections to Mexican drug cartels. They claim that more than 200 kilograms were transported from Los Angeles to Aspen over the past 15 years. Reid was one of the primary players in the network, authorities have said.
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