Carbondale man gets two years of probation on drug conviction
The Aspen Times
A native of South America who in July was convicted by a Pitkin County jury of felony cocaine possession was sentenced on Monday.
Fernando A. Fuentes-Silva, 30, of Carbondale, received two years of supervised probation. But in handing down the sentence, District Judge Gail Nichols pointed out that the conviction makes Fuentes-Silva a likely candidate for deportation.
“Your best chances with immigration (officials) are going to be full compliance with probation,” Nichols said.
The jury returned the guilty verdict on July 29 in a trial lasting less than two days. At the time, the case against Fuentes-Silva was nearly two years old: He was arrested near a bike path outside of Truscott Place apartments in the early morning hours of Sept. 6, 2012, accused of holding more than 4 grams of cocaine contained in separate plastic bindles.
Felony prosecutor Andrea Bryan asked for 30 days of jail time in addition to probation. She said it was apparent that Furentes-Silva feels sorry for himself, but questioned whether he has accepted full responsibility for the infraction. Fuentes tested positive for cocaine during a probation office evaluation for his presentencing report, but he claims the test result was in error and that he has not used cocaine since the morning of his arrest.
Nichols declined to add jail time to his sentence, citing the likelihood of his deportation. “I see no reason for jail,” the judge said.
Defense attorney Beth Krulewitch described Fuentes-Silva as a hardworking man with two jobs who was convicted of a victimless crime. She said he is not a drug dealer — the cocaine was for personal use, and he was honest and helpful when questioned by Aspen police before and after the arrest.
The conviction has taken a toll on his family in the Roaring Fork Valley, Krulewitch said.
“He has family here who love him and friends here he cares about,” she said. “He feels terrible and is sorry for what he has done.”
Deportation would be a penalty worse than any sentence the judge could impose, Krulewitch added.
While Nichols pointed out the strong chance that Fuentes-Silva will be picked up by U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service officials, she also reminded him to comply with all probation stipulations — including random tests for drug and alcohol use — in the event that he obtains release.
According to court documents, Fuentes-Silva was prepared to plead guilty and receive a disposition in late 2012, but he later switched attorneys and changed his plea to not guilty when he learned that a conviction could result in deportation.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
A standoff between Garfield County and state public health officials over COVID-19 restrictions for certain business sectors in the county leaves Glenwood Springs stuck in the middle.