Trial begins in Glenwood Springs ethnic intimidation case

A jury trial began Tuesday in the criminal case against a Silt man accused of harassing an undocumented Latino immigrant and asking for money in exchange for not turning him in to immigration officials.

Mark H. Aspiri allegedly threatened in fall 2020 to report the alleged victim if the individual didn’t pay Aspiri more than $1,000. Aspiri is charged with ethnic intimidation and criminal extortion.  

Jury selection concluded Tuesday afternoon and opening statements were heard by prosecutor Heidi Bauer and Aspiri’s defense attorney, Chip McCrory.

The case is being heard before Chief District Judge James Boyd.

Aspiri was briefly a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Colorado in 2014 but did not make it onto the primary ballot.

After several alleged phone calls between Aspiri and the man in December 2020, the victim reportedly became scared that he could be deported if he didn’t pay the money.

On one of the calls, Aspiri allegedly expressed that he had the ability to end the career of local police officers if they became involved, Glenwood Springs Police officers testified during an April preliminary hearing.

Police said that when the victim sought guidance from friends, they also encouraged him to just pay Aspiri, saying that if he didn’t he could get deported, Police Chief Joseph Deras said at the time of Aspiri’s arrest.

The trial is scheduled to run the remainder of this week, and the jury could reach a verdict by Friday.

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

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