News in Brief
August 16, 2006
Drug agents and deputies were expecting to find a methamphetamine lab in operation when they knocked on an apartment door at the Aspen Equestrian Estates barn on Aug. 11.But all they found was a pan filled with a residue of “horse vitamins of some sort” and no indication of illegal activity, according to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario.Vallario said equestrian center manager Judy Nelson called deputies and agents of the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Task Force, along with an ambulance and a fire truck from the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District, to the apartment around 5:30 p.m.He said Nelson, who was in the middle of an eviction fight with the two Latino tenants, went into the apartment and saw “a white, crystalline substance” on the stovetop and was concerned the men were cooking up some crystal meth.Vallario said officers searched the apartment for drugs or any indication of illegal activities, tested the substance for the presence of drugs, but found nothing. Vallario said he had “no idea” what the two men were doing with the substance on the stovetop, but declared it “completely innocent.”Nelson was not available for comment.
DENVER (AP) – A civil-rights group has dropped one of its two federal lawsuits against the Garfield County sheriff over how the county’s jail is run.But a claim by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Colorado that Sheriff Lou Vallario has improperly denied an attorney access to inmates is still alive in the remaining lawsuit.”Rather than hassle with consolidation or deciding how to proceed, we just decided to dismiss the first case because the issue is raised in the second suit,” said ACLU legal director Mark Silverstein.The second lawsuit also accuses deputies of overly harsh treatment of inmates and says the sheriff has failed to develop adequate policies to control the use of pepper spray, Tasers, electroshock belts, restraint chairs and other items.Vallario has denied the claims.Attorneys are seeking class-action status for the second lawsuit on behalf of all inmates in the jail.The lawsuit claims deputies regularly respond to minor infractions with disproportionate force or threaten to use force. It also says inmates have tried to use the jail’s formal complaint process but have been ignored or denied the ability to file complaints, and accuses jailers of improperly denying some inmates’ repeated requests for mental health care.