Silt man given 30 months probation, public service for extortion conviction, appeal in the works |

Silt man given 30 months probation, public service for extortion conviction, appeal in the works

Silt resident Mark Aspiri maintains he did nothing wrong despite a felony criminal extortion and harassment conviction at a trial in Glenwood Springs in June.

At his sentencing hearing Tuesday before Garfield District Judge James Boyd, Aspiri said it’s been his life’s work to help others and that he finds himself in “disbelief” that he was “convicted for answering a phone call.”

That call in December 2020 was from a friend who he has said was trying to collect some money owed to him by the alleged victim, and Aspiri said he agreed to help.

“It discourages me that anyone would believe that I would harass or extort another person,” Aspiri said at the Tuesday sentencing hearing. 

“I will continue to profess my innocence,” he said, adding he does plan to appeal the conviction.  

A jury in the late June trial agreed with prosecutors that Aspiri harassed and threatened the undocumented Hispanic victim to pay the $1,000, which he said he didn’t owe, or face consequences due to Aspiri’s influence with area police.

The extortion conviction could have carried as much as six years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Boyd on Tuesday agreed in essence with a probation department recommendation, which was supported by the District Attorney’s Office, for 30 months supervised probation, plus 170 hours of useful public service.

Aspiri is also not to have any contact with the victim and must write a letter of apology to the victim and undergo restorative justice as directed by probation officers.

The letter can wait until after Aspiri, through his attorney Chip McCrory, completes the appeal, Boyd said. If the conviction stands, Aspiri is required to formally apologize in writing, the judge said.

Boyd noted the jury concluded there was enough evidence that Aspiri intended to induce the victim into paying the money by threatening him and his employer, referring in recorded phone conversations to the victim as “illegal” and that he could “make things happen.”

Boyd also noted, however, that Aspiri did not have a criminal record and that more than 35 letters of support were submitted on his behalf for the sentencing.

“I hope there is room here for you to engage in some introspection … that you jumped into this with some behavior that didn’t take into account the victim here,” Boyd said. “You were doing a favor for a friend, but didn’t recognize some boundaries.”

The alleged victim also spoke before the court through a Spanish interpreter, and said the incident negatively impacted his life and that of his family.

“I have very bad memories about this for myself and for my family, and it’s a situation I don’t wish upon anyone,” he said. “I wouldn’t want anyone in this community to go through that, it feels very frustrating.

“I just want (Aspiri) to understand what he did was wrong, and I was harmed a lot,” the man said before the court.

His brother and a family acquaintance who encouraged the man to go to the authorities about the incident also addressed the judge.

Deputy District Attorney Heidi Bauer noted the “anguish” in the man’s voice as he spoke before the court.

“There’s no doubt, Mr. Aspiri has done some positive things, but he denies committing any offense and has no remorse or guilt,” Bauer said. “There is a lack of responsibility for his actions.”

McCrory filed a motion for a new trial in the case, saying prosecutors presented a new time range for the crimes at trial that he wasn’t prepared to address. Boyd denied the motion before handing down the sentence.

“(Aspiri) is sorry for what happened, but he does not believe he committed a crime, and he does plan to appeal this conviction,” McCrory said, requesting a sentence of one year’s probation.

Aspiri and his wife own the Flying A Ranch outside Silt, where he told the judge Tuesday that they often host youth groups to give them an outdoors experience.

“We provide food and clothing to people here in the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond … and we are active with the Colorado Animal Rescue and Rifle animal shelter,” he said.

In addition, the couple has taken in numerous foster children over the years, Aspiri said.

“That is something we will no longer be able to do with a felony conviction,” he said.

Aspiri was also a one-time candidate for the U.S. Senate, running as a Republican from Colorado in 2014. He did not make it onto the primary ballot.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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