Moses Greengrass accepts plea deal |

Moses Greengrass accepts plea deal

Joel Stonington
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” A former Aspen crime-spree leader faces up to three years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to attempted possession of more than one gram of cocaine.

Moses Greengrass, 26, had faced up to 24 years in prison had he been convicted of felony possession of more than 25 grams of cocaine and possession with intent to sell. Those charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.

The guilty plea comes as a time when Greengrass is on parole after serving seven years for his role in a 1999 crime spree in Aspen, which involved local teenagers committing a string of armed robberies in the upper valley. He faces up to five years in prison if he is found guilty of violating his parole, which is possible now that he has pleaded guilty to attempted possession.

The plea deal left the option for District Judge James Boyd to issue Greengrass a concurrent or consecutive sentence.

Boyd ordered a screening for community corrections, leaving the door open for Greengrass to stay out of prison.

“He’s proven himself to a lot of people,” defense attorney Garth McCarty said. “I think he’s done enough time.”

A major deciding factor in the case came Aug. 6, when a seven-hour evidentiary hearing took place. At issue was the first few contacts that rookie Aspen police officer Jeff Fain made with Greengrass before he eventually was arrested. Boyd ruled that Fain had sufficient basis to question Greengrass in the early morning hours of March 23 outside of Eric’s Bar in downtown Aspen.

“When Judge Boyd denied the motion to suppress evidence, which I think was seized after an illegal police stop, then that evidentiary issue was likely be to used against him,” McCarty said after the hearing. “That kept the risk pretty high.”

Had Judge Boyd found that the arrest was unconstitutional, the case against Greengrass would have fallen apart.

Not in question were the facts that Fain came out of a walk-through of Eric’s Bar early on the morning in question and saw Greengrass on the far side of a Toyota Scion speaking with a woman in the dri­ver’s seat.

In testimony, Fain said he saw ” from 10 feet away and through the front windshield of the car ” Greengrass make a hand-off with the woman. Fain suspected a drug transaction and stopped Greengrass for questioning.

Boyd wrote that the first contact was a “consensual interview” and later became an “investigatory stop” as Greengrass walked away from Fain during questioning.

When the stop changed to an “investigatory stop,” Boyd wrote that Fain had reasonable suspicion.

Deputy District Attorney Gail Nichols said the resolution to the case is a fair one.

“[Greengrass] is exposed to an additional three years in prison and he can’t appeal,” Nichols said. “He still has significant parole time, five years.”

Greengrass is scheduled to be sentenced at 1:45 p.m. on April 21.