Suspect strikes plea deal in Redstone marijuana bust
ASPEN, Colorado ” A Pitkin County man accused of being a courier in a drug-trafficking ring that spanned from Arizona to Wisconsin has struck a plea agreement with the federal government.
Donald Teeple, 61, had been scheduled to stand trial on charges connected to a December bust in which federal agents seized some 800 pounds of marijuana in Redstone. Teeple, as well as Aspen residents James Wingers and Thomas Blank, also were arrested. Blank was not charged, but Teeple and Wingers were indicted by a Milwaukee grand jury.
Earlier this month, Teeple, of Redstone, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana.
The count carries a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and at least four years of supervised release. It carries a maximum prison sentence of 40 years and a maximum fine of $2 million.
However, court documents show that Teeple, whose sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 5, could receive a less severe sentence if he “provides substantial assistance to the government in the investigation or prosecution of others,” according to the plea agreement
Meanwhile, Wingers, 64, an Aspen truck driver, is scheduled to stand trial in the U.S. District Court of Milwaukee in December and “ruin everybody’s Christmas,” said his defense attorney, Stephen Komie of Chicago, on Thursday.
Wingers pleaded not guilty to the charge in January. He continues to work in the Aspen area as he awaits trial, his attorney said.
“He is driving his truck,” Komie said.
Komie said he had not seen the plea deal that Teeple hatched with the federal government. Komie did not rule out the possibility of Wingers reaching some type of agreement to avoid trial.
“It’s a path that is possible,” he said.
The December drug raid was a historical one of sorts, as far as the quantity of pot that was seized. Papers filed Nov. 29 in federal court in Wisconsin allege that more than the 800 pounds of marijuana came in the form of a stash of large plastic-wrapped bales in a Redstone home. The volume was enough to overflow a standard pick-up truck bed.
According to court documents, more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana passed from sources in Arizona through stash houses in Silt and Redstone before being sold in Milwaukee. The federal government has claimed that Teeple and Wingers were drug runners for the network.
“Prior to transit from Colorado to Milwaukee, large quantities of marijuana were stored at Donald Teeple’s residence in Redstone. (Peter Israel, one of the suspects in the ring) paid Donald Teeple a stipend for use of his property. In addition, on occasion Teeple delivered marijuana for (Peter Israel),” reads the plea agreement, which Teeple signed.
The marijuana was subsequently distributed in the Milwaukee area, the plea agreement says.
The plea agreement also refers to Wingers’ alleged role in the network, accusing Wingers of driving to Milwaukee in March 2007 to deliver some $91,000 in cash to Israel in exchange for 70 pounds of marijuana. Israel, however, sent Wingers to Redstone, where he gave Teeple the $91,000 in return for the marijuana, according to the allegations provided in court papers.
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