Students caught with cocaine plead guilty | AspenTimes.com

Students caught with cocaine plead guilty

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Two teens caught with cocaine in an Aspen High School bathroom pleaded guilty to drug charges Monday in Pitkin County District Court.

The first boy to appear in court pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, which is a Class III felony for adults but is a lesser charge for juvenile offenders.

A second charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance was dropped in the plea bargain. A condition of the agreement calls for a ban on any proposed out-of-home placement, such as placing the boy in a juvenile detention facility or a group home environment.

Once the boy had assured the court that he understood the consequences of his crime, he was asked to describe the events that led him to deal the drug that day.

“I was asked if I wanted to distribute cocaine, and I agreed to that … and the same day I received [the cocaine], I was caught,” the teen told the court.

Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills reported to the court that the boy had been “doing well” in the weeks that followed the bust, despite being expelled from Aspen High for the remainder of the school year.

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The boy sought help from private tutors to continue his education, Wills said, and accompanies his mother to work each day for extra adult supervision.

The boy backed Wills’ report as he was leaving the courtroom after his hearing.

“I promise that it won’t happen again,” the boy promised prosecutors.

The second boy involved in the incident, a 16-year-old AHS sophomore, also pleaded guilty to a single charge, unlawful use of a controlled substance. A second charge of possession was dropped in the plea agreement.

After entering his plea, the boy was also asked to recount his side of the Oct. 10 incident. He summed up the charges against him in a single sentence.

“I used cocaine in a school bathroom,” the boy told the court quietly.

Wills said the second boy has also fared well since the incident.

Though he was suspended from school, the boy has entered drug counseling and, as a result, been accepted back at AHS. The boy, whose father lives in New Mexico, will also be allowed to leave the state over the holidays in order to visit his family.

The 16-year-old also faces up to two years in juvenile detention.

Both teenagers will be sentenced on Feb. 3.

Law enforcement officials are still searching for the original source of the drug.

The boys were first questioned by police on Oct. 10 when AHS Assistant Principal Tom Dodd found the pair loitering in a school bathroom.

A search revealed eight “bindles,” or small packages of cocaine, in the boys’ possession ? seven full bindles and “one empty bindle that the youths had just consumed,” said Pitkin County juvenile investigator Bruce Benjamin.

The exact amount of cocaine in the seven bindles has not been determined, Benjamin said, but the weight of the drug will be reported to the court in time for the boys’ sentencing.

[Jennifer Davoren’s e-mail address is jenniferd@aspentimes.com]