Judge rejects Sheehan’s appeal of bond

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER – A federal judge has rejected suspected cocaine trafficker Christopher Sheehan’s bid have to his bond lifted so he can be released from custody.

Judge Marcia Krieger denied Sheehan’s appeal of a magistrate judge’s decision to keep Sheehan detained without bond until his trial, according to court papers.

Krieger’s ruling came after a hearing Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Denver.

“The judge determined that Sheehan was ultimately a risk of flight so she ordered him detained,” said Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver.

Sheehan, 65, of Snowmass Village, was arrested May 19 at Dallas Forth Worth International Airport after he disembarked a flight out of Costa Rica. He’s one of six Aspen-area residents indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on cocaine trafficking charges, based on federal authorities’ allegations that they were part of a network that funneled more than 200 kilograms of the drug from Los Angeles to Aspen over a 15-year period.

Sheehan has been in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service without bond since his arrest, and currently is being held in Denver.

On June 16, Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty ruled that Sheehan and Wayne Alan Reid, also 65, remain detained without bond; the other four local suspects are free on $20,000 bonds.

Hegarty based his ruling in part because of the potential flight risks posed by Sheehan and Reid. The magistrate judge noted that Sheehan owns a residence in Costa Rica and he 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.

In his written order, the magistrate 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.

Sheehan’s attorneys, Ariel S. Benjamin and Harvey Steinberg of Denver, however, appealed the ruling July 1, arguing that Sheehan poses no harm to the community and that his sister, an attorney in Brooklyn, had the financial means to secure his bond. Benjamin also argued that Sheehan has “deep and ongoing ties” to the Aspen community, and because he forfeited his passport at the time of his arrest, he could not flee for Costa Rica, as contended by Hegarty and the prosecution

Judge Krieger apparently agreed. After presiding over a 69-minute hearing that statements from Sheehan’s sister and Pitkin County property owner Rufus Crockett, she denied the appeal.

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.

A trial is set for all of the defendants in February in Denver.