Basalt bottle-thrower pleads to criminal mischief
June 5, 2018
A Basalt man caught throwing duct-tape-wrapped bottles filled with household chemicals into the Roaring Fork River this spring pleaded guilty Monday to felony criminal mischief.
Richard Parras-Membreno, 43, originally faced six felony counts of causing a hazardous substance incident in relation to at least 74 bottles thrown in the river since the beginning of the winter. However, those counts were dismissed Monday as a result of a plea deal with the District Attorney's Office.
Parras-Membreno — who has never given authorities a reason for tossing the bottles into the river — now faces between 12 and 18 months in prison when he is sentenced next month.
Prosecutor Don Nottingham said Monday that an explanation of everything that occurred in the case will "take a minute or two" to explain at sentencing.
Parras-Membreno was arrested March 16 after police staked out a site near the 7-Eleven Bridge in Basalt, where they believed the bottles had been thrown into the river. Police initially believed the bottles contained the remnants of a methamphetamine cooking operation, though no trace of drugs was found in the bottles or in Parras-Membreno's home.
An analysis of the bottles discovered bleach, isopropyl alcohol, sodium acetate trihydrate, titanium oxide, starch and adhesive material, police have said. It also found photo paper and traces of chemicals associated with photo paper and ink used for photo development.
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In other court news Monday:
• A 58-year-old Carbondale woman will spend 120 days in jail and five years on supervised probation after pleading guilty to her fifth drunken-driving charge earlier this year.
Nancy Collins also must complete the Pitkin County Recovery Court, perform 64 hours of community service, continue on a sobriety-monitoring program and remain sober, according to the sentence handed down Monday by District Judge Chris Seldin.
"This is a serious offense," Seldin said, noting that Collins' breath-alcohol content was nearly three times the legal driving limit of 0.08 when she was arrested in August 2016. "When you get to five DUIs, you've really come too far.
"People with fewer DUIs have ended up in the Department of Corrections."
In Colorado, DUI is considered a felony after a person receives four or more such citations.
Collins apologized Monday to the court and the community for her behavior and cited childhood trauma as an underlying reason for her drinking problem.
Seldin allowed her to begin serving the jail sentence in three weeks so she could get her affairs in order.
• Two housekeepers were sentenced to two years of probation Monday for stealing checks from a Basalt office they cleaned.
Celina Romo-Guzman, 24, of Rifle, and Evelyn Yessenia Paredes-Vasquez De Chavez, 29, of New Castle, each pleaded guilty to one count of felony criminal possession of identification documents.
As part of a plea deal with the District Attorney's Office, if Romo-Guzman stays out of trouble for the next two years on probation, the felony pleas will be wiped from her record. Paredes Vasquez De Chavez pleaded guilty to the charge.
Romo-Guzman allegedly cashed a $1,000 check in Frisco she stole from her employer. She must pay $1,033 in restitution as part of the plea deal.
Paredes-Vasques De Chavez allegedly cashed two checks totaling $2,300 and will have to pay back that amount as part of her plea deal.
• A Brooklyn, New York, man who placed personal items including a small baggie of cocaine in the Transportation Safety Administration security screening tray at the Aspen airport in March was sentenced to one year of supervised probation Monday.
Nicholas Fabiancic pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine. If his year of probation remains trouble-free, the felony conviction will be wiped from his criminal record as part of a plea deal with the District Attorney's Office.
Fabiancic, a financial analyst, must enroll in a sobriety-monitoring program and remain drug- and alcohol-free during the year on probation as part of his sentence, District Judge Chris Seldin said. His probation will be transferred to New York.
In addition to credit cards, a cellphone and a boarding pass, Fabiancic placed his wallet with a rolled up $20 bill sticking out and the small bag of cocaine in the airport screening tray, according to court documents and prosecutor Don Nottingham.
• An Alabama man who lunged at police with razor blades he took from his mouth and was later kicked out of an alternative to prison program was sentenced to prison Monday.
Matthew Atwood, 32, pleaded guilty to felony menacing in November in relation to the razor-blade incident and was initially sentenced to two years in the Garfield County Community Corrections, a rules-intensive program offering offenders a chance to avoid prison.
However, Atwood suffered a job-related injury to a private area of his body he refused to discuss with program officials, which led to his expulsion from that program, said Molly Owens, his public defender.
On Monday, Seldin lowered his initial sentence of two years and gave Atwood 18 months in prison, though he received 313 days of credit for the time he has already served in jail and the community program.
Atwood told Seldin on Monday that therapy in the community program allowed him to see that he was trying to commit suicide-by-cop in February 2017 when he lunged at officers with the razor blades at Rubey Park.
"I was trying to take my own life," he said. "I'm glad I didn't get shot that night. Obviously, I was not thinking clearly."
Seldin noted that Atwood was lucky he decided to use that strategy in Aspen, where police are far more lenient than other jurisdictions.
"I'm glad you didn't commit suicide by cop," Seldin said. "Thankfully, the situation didn't escalate further."
Atwood said he just wants to complete serving his time and return to his wife and five children in Alabama.
• An 18-year-old Lazy Glen man faces three more felonies in connection with the alleged repeated sexual assault of a young girl, according to court records.
Nelson Parada Vargas is now charged with three counts of felony sexual assault on a child with a pattern of abuse and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor, which includes allegations that pictures or video of the assaults were taken. He was initially charged with just one count of sex assault on a child. Ever Valencia, 19, of Carbondale is facing one count of felony sexual assault on a child with a pattern of abuse in Eagle County, where he is alleged to have assaulted the same girl.
There are no allegations of violence or forced sexual contact in the case, though the girl is under the age of 15 and not legally able to consent to sex, prosecutor Don Nottingham has said.