The ink is dry in Danforth case | AspenTimes.com

The ink is dry in Danforth case

ASPEN – Aspen Daily News owner Dave Danforth struck a deal Wednesday with city prosecutors that will erase a trespassing conviction from his record if he behaves well for the next 90 days.

Making his first court appearance in connection to an early-morning spat Oct. 9 at the Locals Corner, Danforth entered what’s called an Alford guilty plea, a legal tactic that’s rarely employed in the local court system.

Similar to a no-contest plea, an Alford plea allows a defendant to plead guilty without admitting guilt.

“He’s pleading guilty, but not as an admission of guilt,” Danforth’s attorney, Chip McCrory, told Judge Brooke Peterson.

The plea was part of a 90-day deferred judgment, meaning the court will dismiss the conviction so long as Danforth doesn’t get arrested within the next three months.

The agreement put an end to an apparently simmering feud Danforth, 60, has had with the Locals Corner about the tax it charges on newspapers. The morning in question, Danforth commented to the store clerk about charging a tax on The New York Times he was purchasing, according to reports. In turn the clerk, frustrated by Danforth’s lingering presence, asked him to leave. He didn’t.

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So the clerk called Aspen police, who arrested him.

McCrory, Peterson and city prosecutor Jim True appeared to agree that some disputed facts surrounding the case amounted to ingredients for a compelling trial. McCrory offered that a trial would help Danforth “sell a lot of newspapers.”

But, as Danforth told the judge: “There’s no real advantage to getting a trial and getting a not-guilty verdict. All I’d be doing is rubbing [the Aspen Police Department’s] noses in it that I won, if I won.”

Responded Peterson: “I was about to say, that was quite presumptuous on your part.”

Danforth had maintained that police escalated the situation by handcuffing him over a non-altercation with the clerk. He said he “was just kidding with the guy” when he talked to the clerk. Danforth said he will no longer patronize the Locals Corner and knows of other Aspen retailers that sell The New York Times.

Peterson also ordered Danforth to pay $25 in court costs.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com