Newsmakers of the year: Only in Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Newsmakers of the year: Only in Aspen

Saudi Arabian goes Aspen 'extreme'

A 23-year-old Saudi Arabian student told police he wanted to "go extreme" while visiting Aspen, and he seems to have succeeded. Majed Alhamad and a friend were taking a taxi back to the St. Regis Hotel early on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving when Alhamad repeatedly offered the 60-year-old taxi driver cocaine. The driver declined, which allegedly angered Alhamad, who called him a "f—ing American" and then exposed his genitalia to the man before spilling cocaine on him. The story immediately went viral, and appeared the next day on the front page of the New York Post as well as on the Drudge Report. More than 200,000 people clicked on the link to The Aspen Times story.

— Jason Auslander

Of course that's cocaine up my nose, officer

The story of Eliphalet Ford, 34, of Snowmass Village, also went viral once it hit the papers. Officers found Ford sitting on a bench across from Little Annie's Eating House early in the morning Oct. 4 allegedly chopping lines of cocaine. Aspen police officers said they saw cocaine-covered credit cards on the bench and a line of white powder, which Ford swept to the ground when they asked him about it. One of the officers then shined a light up Ford's nose, saw a white substance in his nostrils and asked him if it was cocaine.

"Of course I have cocaine up my nose," Ford said, according to the police report. "It's Aspen."

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— Jason Auslander

Homeless man scores big payday

Michael Engfors has regularly played scratch-off tickets over the years, and the homeless Aspen man hit pay dirt Dec. 4 when he forked out $10 for a ticket at City Market and won $500,000.

Even by Aspen standards that's a handsome sum, but not enough for Engfors to buy a home here. Engfors had 61 cents — a penny for each year of his life — in his checking account when he won the big prize. He kept the ticket stashed in his back pocket as he spent the weekend at the Aspen Homeless Shelter. That Monday, shelter director Vince Savage drove Engfors to a claim center in Grand Junction, where he collected a check of between $300,000 and $400,000 after taxes.

— Rick Carroll

Furry attorney

Aspen resident Charles Abbott has long been known for his eccentricities, but he took it to a new level at a May court hearing when he brought a stuffed owl to court.

"He's a very sensitive guy, has law degrees from Yale, Harvard and Stanford," Abbott told Pitkin County Court Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely. "I think he'll be able to represent me before a public defender comes online."

Abbott was in court as a defendant in a restraining-order hearing, and the judge ignored his furry prop. The same couldn't be said for the national and international media, which by picking up the story made it viral and gave Abbott his 15 minutes.

— Rick Carroll

Aspen cops have senior moment

New Castle resident Antoinette Jaworski found herself being interrogated by Aspen police after she handed out her homemade baked goods at a Memorial Day barbecue. Police became curious after receiving a complaint that the 84-year-old woman was handing out marijuana-infused goodies. She wasn't. A police report shows the complainant "had learned that Ms. Jaworski said that the brownies had marijuana in them. It was not certain if Ms. Jaworski was just being sarcastic or if indeed the brownies did contain marijuana concentrate."

Jaworski was ultimately cleared, but she didn't take kindly to the incident.

"They were wrong. I'm 84, but I still have rights."

— Rick Carroll