Store clerks get deferred sentences in cigarette bust
ASPEN – A county judge gave suspended judgments Tuesday to four Aspen-area store clerks the state busted in November for selling cigarettes to minors.As part of a deal with the Pitkin County District Attorney’s Office, the four offenders pleaded guilty to the Class 2 petty offense of selling tobacco to a minor. But the convictions will be erased if they don’t commit any crimes within the next 90 days, or by April 17.”For now on you’ll always look at their [driver’s] licenses no matter how much hair they have,” Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely said to City Market employee Rosali G. Cabrera, 60, who sold a pack of Marlboro Blend No. 27 to a 17-year-old enlisted by the Department of Revenue. Cabrera actually sold the pack of smokes to a girl, but he got the judge’s point, indicated by his thumbs-up sign.Investigator Larry Mullen, who works for the Department of Revenue’s Tobacco Enforcement Unit, cited all four on Nov. 22.Mullen wrote that he was in each establishment at the time the cigarettes were sold to minors under the employ of the revenue department. None of the clerks asked the minors for their identifications, Mullen wrote.But 30-year-old Todd Kachik, who was cited after he sold a pack of Reds to 17-year-old girl at Sundance Drug & Liquor, told prosecutor Richard Nedlin he took the proper steps at the time of the transaction. “I asked the lady for her ID, and she said she didn’t have it,” he said, adding that he asked her for her birthday as well and she claimed to be 18, the legal age to buy tobacco products in Colorado. “I wasn’t doing anybody any favors.”Kachik said he found the report issued by Mullen to be troubling, since it alleged he did not ask the customer for her age or birth date. He said he routinely asks tobacco customers for their IDs.”I’m just upset that these are the people who I trust, and they lie,” he said. Replied Nedlin: “If you had asked for the ID, you wouldn’t be sitting here today.”The two other offenders weren’t as outspoken, telling the judge they would ask for IDs from now on. Fifty-year-old Marie Bulcke was working at the Great Western Grog Shop when she sold a 17-year-old boy a pack of Reds. The other clerk was Dolores M. Figueroa-Fletes, 30, who was working at Aspen Quick Mart when she sold some cigarettes to a 17-year-old girl. firstname.lastname@example.org
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No official vote has taken place, but the Dillon Town Council has decided to push forward with an ordinance at a future meeting despite a contentious debate that clearly divided council members on the issue.