Court news: Alleged meth supplier denied lower bond
Javier Madeo and Frank Shino appeared in court Thursday to address drug charges as part of a major downvalley drug sting, but their attorneys were obliged to request a continuance due to the lack of information.
The District Attorney’s Office has yet to compile the full discovery in the sting, which involved extensive surveillance and resulted in a dozen arrests.
Still, both Tony Hershey, representing Madeo, and Kathy Goudy, representing Shino, took the opportunity to address bond.
Madeo, a 43-year-old truck driver from Whittier, California, has previous felony convictions but no failures to appear. His bond, initially $50,000, was later raised to $75,000.
Hershey pointed out that the standard bond for a first-degree drug felony is $25,000.
Deputy District Attorney Matthew Barrett opposed the move.
According to Barrett, Madeo and Shino were arrested together, meeting a truck stop in Rifle, with both methamphetamine and marijuana in the car with them.
“The allegations are that this defendant was essentially the one who was transporting the meth to our community from California,” he said. “The case against him is extremely strong, and the stakes are extremely high.”
Hershey viewed that as far from damning evidence.
“There were drugs in the car, but they weren’t necessarily in his possession,” he said.
Judge Denise Lynch denied the bond reduction, and gave the district attorney’s office until June 4 to finish compiling discovery and provide all the information to the defense.
Shino, a former accounts manager from Rifle with previous convictions for drugs and auto theft but numerous ties to the community, fared better.
Goudy cast doubt on investigator’s interpretations of phone calls between Madeo and Shino, and reminded Judge Daniel Petre that no drugs were found on Shino’s person or at his home.
Petre was amenable.
“A lesser amount of bond would be appropriate given Mr. Shino’s ability to earn, his family connections to the area, his involvement in community activities and the like,” he said.
Although Deputy District Attorney Peter Beyel expressed doubt that the office could compile discovery by June 4, Petre agreed with Lynch that it should be completed as soon as possible.
“I’m not drawing any lines in the sand yet, but it if this continues, we may have a problem,” he said.
PLEAS IN BIG DRUG CASE
More than six months after 20 warrants were issued in an extensive Roaring Fork Valley drug and racketeering investigation, a few cases are being resolved.
A conspiracy to distribute charge was dropped against Daniel Grindstaff of New Castle in exchange for a guilty plea to possession of a controlled substance, which earned him 14 days in jail with two days served, two years’ probation, 48 hours of community service and fees topping $3,000.
Victor Dominguez-Garcia, aka “Cuate,” of Carbondale, hesitated before pleading guilty to distribution of a controlled substance on Thursday.
Judge Denise Lynch encouraged him to consult with his as attorney, Matthew Pearson, via interpreter before continuing with sentencing.
“I’m a little concerned about his statement to probation that he didn’t do it,” Lynch said. “I’m not in the business of sentencing innocent people.”
In the end, Dominguez-Garcia opted to go forward.
“There have already been a number of convictions from this investigation. This defendant is one of the first to be sentenced, and it’s appropriate because he was believed to be near the top of this organization,” said Deputy District Attorney Matthew Barrett.
Pearson and Barrett agreed on a plan which called for one year in jail with 232 days of credit for time served and two years of supervised probation.
“I was kind of surprised by the plea, because of the nature of the case, but I assume it is because he has no prior record,” Lynch observed before accepting the plea and approving the stipulation.
MERCY? YOU WON’T GET IT
When Benjamin Levy was found medically unable to serve his three-year sentence at the community corrections facility in Rifle, Judge Denise Lynch was faced with a difficult decision — either release him on probation or impose a harsher sentence.
Levy, 27, of Glenwood Springs, has been in and out of court in Pitkin and Garfield counties since October 2013 on charges ranging from driving under the influence to illegal discharge of a firearm. In the case in question from June 2014, Levy was arrested after breaking into his wife’s Sunlight home, where he was held at gunpoint until authorities arrived. He was ultimately subdued with a Taser.
The case was further complicated by allegations that Levy had been threatened by fellow inmates Sean Acree, 18, and Kyle Concannon, 25, and the fact that Levy’s appointed attorney, Kathy Goudy, also represents Acree.
Levy took it in stride.
“Ms. Goudy and I have discussed the conflict, and I don’t think it will affect her ability to represent me,” he said. “I feel that it’s time to move forward.”
“I know that I am here because of my actions,” he said. “I just want a chance to go home and give my wife and daughter the husband and father they deserve.
“I won’t ask for mercy from this court,” he added.
“You won’t get it,” Lynch responded.
“You have very serious alcohol issues, and when you drink you are extremely violent,” she told him. “I’m very concerned you’re going to drink again. I know you’ve been sober, but that’s just because you’re in jail.”
In the end, Levy was sentenced to three years of supervised probation with a recommendation for intensive supervision.
“I don’t want this woman’s death on my conscience,” Lynch said of Levy’s wife. “You better hope to God you don’t end up back here in front of me.”
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Garfield County’s healthcare network easily has the capacity to administer twice as many COVID-19 vaccinations than it has given so far, Garfield County Public Health Director Yvonne Long said Monday.