Plea deal may be brewing in Aspen drug case
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Suspected heroin dealer Ryan Welgos of Aspen tried to plead guilty Thursday to attempted distribution of a schedule I controlled substance as part of a plea agreement that would have dropped other related drug charges against him.
But Garfield County District Court Judge Daniel Petre did not accept the plea deal after he voiced concern about the agreement and other issues. The agreement had called for Welgos, 30, to receive a suspended sentence of three to six years in prison, provided he entered and completed drug court.
Another hearing was scheduled for Dec. 11, at which time the deal is likely to be revisited.
Petre said he was concerned because the case was “brought forward as a distribution case,” and was now treated much differently. He was also concerned about a change of attorneys that could muddle the situation down the line.
Welgos’ defense attorney, Arnold P. Mordkin of Snowmass Village, agreed last week to be the head prosecutor at the district attorney’s office in Aspen beginning Nov. 21. As a result, Mordkin must end his private practice no later than midnight Nov. 20.
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That’s presented some conflicts.
For one, Mordkin had to be relieved as Welgos’ attorney, which the judge agreed to do Thursday. Attorney Chip McCrory was tabbed to fill that position.
Also, with Mordkin set to assume his new role with the district attorney’s office, a special prosecutor must be appointed to wrap things up.
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cheney said at the hearing the special prosecutor would come from outside the 9th Judicial District, which serves Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties.
Petre said the situation was somewhat unusual. He said before rendering a decision on the potential plea agreement, the new attorneys should examine the deal. The judge also said, repeatedly, he had in no way made up his mind.
Along those lines, the judge did allow Mordkin and Cheney to explain how the deal came about, and why it should stand.
Mordkin cited Welgos’ lack of a criminal record before this incident. And he said Welgos’ behavior was not that of a drug dealer but one of an addict.
“This isn’t the greatest distribution case the people have to present,” Mordkin said.
Cheney cited many reasons as well for signing off on the deal, including strong family support, faith in the drug court program and a highly motivated defendant who faces a number of years in prison should he not comply with the terms of the agreement. He also said an element of the case was suspect.
Welgos has been behind bars since he was arrested June 19 along with Nelson Raul-Gamez, in Silverthorne, after a three-month investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The investigation stemmed from the March overdose death of Adam Steven Peterson, who was visiting Aspen at the time of his death.
Raul-Gamez has a preliminary hearing scheduled Dec. 12.
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