Week in Review
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The chopping of dozens of trees along the edges of the Roaring Fork River in the River Meadows Mobile Home Park last weekend and on Monday has provoked a strong reaction from both resident Deborah Hord and some of her neighbors.Hord argues that the cutting of the trees was unnecessary and came with little notice or regard for the residents’ landscaping and decking, or for the birds that nest in the trees.But Karen Price, resident manager of the mobile home park, said the trees were diseased and that their culling from along the banks was necessary for the safety of the residents.Joe Corda, River Meadows owner and managing partner, said “the whole purpose of the tree cutting is flood mitigation.” City officials said Tuesday night they would look into drafting an ordinance to protect trees. Currently, the city has no authority over tree removal on private properties.”I’m here requesting or trying to make people see that we need to implement laws to protect our trees,” Hord told the City Council Thursday night. “I know that we are a tree city and to not have any laws to protect our trees – what does that say? I’m still pretty upset because it’s torn up the riparian and the wildlife. It’s destroyed pretty much everything there.”
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Defense attorneys and defendants have said many of the 30 suspects in an alleged mid-level drug trafficking organization were unfairly grouped together and had little or no connection.Some believe the only thing at all linking the cases together is a confidential informant who conducted controlled drug purchases for the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team.One suspect has said he has nothing to do with any of the others and threatened to sue local media and the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.”It appears to me that this is not some monolithic drug ring that has any strong connection from one case to another and it has been overstated for whatever purpose by the police side of this and the press,” said defense attorney Tom Silverman, who’s representing John Shertz and may take on some of the other suspects. “I’m wondering if TRIDENT has some motivation to try and justify their money that they get to do their work and to try to portray this in a way that shows there is a major problem that they’re successfully dealing with.”
DENVER, Colorado – U.S. District Court Judge Robert Blackburn sentenced a man to 330 years in prison Tuesday for his role in a $56 million investment scam from which proceeds were used to buy the Redstone Castle.At 72, it’s unlikely Norman Schmidt, of Denver, will ever be released.An order of financial restitution hasn’t been entered, but Blackburn entered an order of forfeiture totaling $38.41 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.Investigators believe Schmidt obtained tens of millions of dollars from hundreds of investors for his own personal gain.Schmidt was found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and securities fraud, plus other counts and a money laundering count. He and his wife, Jannice Schmidt, plus five others were indicted in 2004. Jannice Schmidt was recently sentenced to nine years in prison. George Beros, of Shaker Heights, Ohio, was previously sentenced to a year and a day in prison and $286,739 in restitution. George Alan Weed, of Benton, Ill.; Charles Franklin Lewis, of Littleton; and Michael Duane Smith of Colbert, Wash., all await sentencing. Lewis was scheduled for sentencing today. Peter A.W. Moss, of London, England, remains at large.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Midwest Drywall Co. has joined 69 Mexican workers in a lawsuit accusing a Texas company of human trafficking.Midwest was originally named as a defendant in a complaint and demand for unpaid wages filed in Garfield County. But the case was moved to federal court on March 5, and Midwest shifted to the plaintiff’s side of the case Thursday.Ken Stettner, an attorney for Midwest, said JNS Construction Services LLC filed a false document with the Department of Labor to obtain work visas. The document was purportedly on Midwest letterhead and represented that Midwest needed around 100 workers for a project near Vail. But Stettner said Midwest never made that representation, and the letter even included a forged signature.”We were victimized, and that’s why we’re now on the plaintiff’s side,” Stettner said. “That was not our letterhead. We did not request men, and we had no knowledge of that.”
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – United States Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., has joined several other Republican lawmakers to introduce energy legislation to increase domestic energy production by removing barriers to oil shale leasing in the Western United States and drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.The American Energy Production Act, announced Thursday, includes language that would repeal a one-year moratorium that prevents the Bureau of Land Management from approving final regulations for commercial leasing of oil shale. The language for that prohibition came in a $555-billion spending bill Congress passed last year. Allard voted against the bill, while Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., voted for it.Salazar has been opposed to the BLM issuing commercial oil-shale leases because he says the technology to develop it is still not ready and the environmental impacts are not yet known.However, Allard said the “needed development of oil shale in Colorado” is an important piece in addressing the energy supply shortages in the United States, according to a statement from his office.
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State department of transportation crews are well on their way to clearing Highway 82 to Independence Pass, which should open on schedule May 27 at noon.