Midvalley resident enters guilty plea to cocaine, pot charges
A midvalley man arrested in a drug sting in March will serve at least four years in prison, according to a plea agreement he accepted yesterday in Pitkin County’s 9th Judicial District Court.
Mariano Morales Tapia, 25, pleaded guilty to distribution of cocaine, a Class 3 felony, and possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, a Class 4 felony.
Judge J.E. DeVilbiss postponed acceptance of the plea twice yesterday, so that the language of Tapia’s plea form would clearly state the possible sentences he faces.
“You’re pleading guilty to distributing at least 25 grams, but less than 450 grams of cocaine,” DeVilbiss explained.
“And you understand that the sentence may not be less than four years” in prison, in accordance with the state’s mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for drug dealers, the judge continued. However, Tapia could be sentenced to as many as 32 years on the cocaine conviction, DeVilbiss said, and up to 16 years on the marijuana charge.
Tapia told the judge he understood.
When DeVilbiss asked Tapia why he was pleading guilty, Tapia replied, “Because I distributed cocaine and marijuana.”
Tapia and another man were arrested in a Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team (TRIDENT) search of Tapia’s residence on Emma Road, near Basalt, in mid-March.
During the search, TRIDENT authorities, including police officers from Basalt and Glenwood Springs, seized one ounce of cocaine, a bag containing 1.06 pounds of marijuana, one burlap sack containing three baggies with a total of 2.48 pounds of marijuana, $1,150 in cash, one .22 caliber rifle, a small digital scale with “cocaine residue” and miscellaneous drug paraphernalia, according to court documents.
According to arrest warrants filed by Glenwood Springs Police Officer Scott Templeton, Tapia “advised that he obtained the cocaine from a Hispanic male subject . who lives in California.” Furthermore, Templeton said Tapia “said he receives approximately a half-pound of cocaine . once every two weeks. … Tapia advised that he sells the cocaine to several local subjects.”
As part of the plea agreement, seven other felony counts that Tapia was facing were dismissed.
Tapia, who has remained in the Pitkin County Jail on a $15,000 bond since his arrest, is scheduled to be sentenced by DeVilbiss on July 31.
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