Defendant brings up Braudis in second day of trial
DENVER — Former Aspen resident Montgomery Chitty bought and sold up to 250 kilograms of cocaine during years of trafficking, witnesses said during the second day of his jury trial in a federal courtroom Tuesday.
Six people testified about Chitty’s actions, including three men who have signed either plea agreements or immunity deals with the U.S. attorney’s office. Under Chitty’s questioning, one former Aspen resident said he told U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents of a time when former Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis was with Chitty during a drug transaction in an Aspen home but that Braudis was not aware of the illicit activity.
Chitty, one of 10 people arrested after a 15-month investigation by the DEA, has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. He is the only person to go to trial.
Alfonso Elvao-Allocati of Pasadena, Calif. testified, as did others, that Chitty, 61, replaced Wayne Reid of Aspen as having a main role in bringing cocaine to the valley after Reid went to prison on a drug conviction in 2002.
Authorities have cast Reid, 61, as the leader of the California-to-Aspen trafficking ring that spanned 15 years. He has pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing with the intent to distribute 5 kilos or more of cocaine, and is expected to be sentenced to four to eight years in prison.
Allocati, 71, said he was selling Reid 4 to 5 kilos every three to four months for much of their 15-year relationship, using meeting places in California and Nevada. Allocati said he kept selling similar amounts to Chitty when Reid was incarcerated in 2002.
Chitty, a resident of Big Pine Key, Fla., who is representing himself, strove to portray inconsistencies in what some of the witnesses told authorities.
During his lengthy cross examination of Allocati — who was on the witness stand for about five hours Tuesday — Chitty tried to show that his fellow defendant told conflicting stories about how long he knew Reid and Chitty, the drugs Allocati sold, and where they met for alleged drug deals.
Allocati testified that he met Chitty most of the time in Mesquite, Nev., and sometimes in Pasadena, estimating that he sold Chitty 80 to 100 kilos over eight years. Chitty noted that Allocati’s statements to the DEA contained “no mention whatsoever” of Mesquite.
Saying that Allocati pleaded guilty to the same charge as Reid, in exchange for several other charges being dropped, Chitty asked how much prison time Allocati expected at his sentencing in April.
“Is it true it says 42 months?” Chitty said of prosecutor Michelle Korver’s recommended sentence.
“Yes,” Allocati said.
“If you were offered a potential life sentence on one hand and three to five years for perjury, which would you choose?” Chitty asked.
“I don’t lie,” Allocati said.
Chitty arrived in court with several manila folders. He wore a dark blue blazer, red tie, white shirt, black pants and glasses. He had white thinning hair and a trim beard of the same color. The only outward sign that he has been held without bail in federal detention facilities since his arrest a year ago were gray prison-issue Crocs on his feet.
His questioning of witnesses was confident and polite. If convicted, Chitty faces at least 20 years in prison, a mandatory minimum sentence brought on by his 1990 conviction in Louisiana for marijuana trafficking, and as long as a life sentence.
There were six people in the audience during the trial’s morning session in downtown Denver, including Chitty’s son and two reporters.
Korver also called former longtime Aspen resident Larry Bartenfelder to the stand.
Bartenfelder, who testified that the U.S. government has given him immunity from prosecution, said his first jobs in Aspen 20 years ago were in metal framing and construction.
“I didn’t hold a job after that,” he said. “For the past 20 years, it’s been dealing drugs.”
Bartenfelder, who now lives in Florida, said he would often front money to Reid, and later Chitty, for cocaine purchases, buying 3 to 5 kilos every three to four months. He said he eventually bought 150 kilos over a decade from Chitty.
Bartenfelder said he once gave Chitty $125,000 for 5 kilos, recouping the cash outlay through drug sales, and that he decided to stay with Chitty over Reid after Reid was released from prison in 2004.
“Did you tell the [DEA] that Bob Braudis and Mr. Chitty were together when Mr. Chitty came to your house to sell you cocaine?” asked Chitty, who was referring to himself in the third person.
“I told [the DEA] the story of Bob being present during a drug transaction,” Bartenfelder said. “I pulled you aside and asked you, ‘Does Bob know anything about this?’ and you said no.”
Chitty is a former consultant to the Democratic National Committee and was a friend of the late writer Hunter S. Thompson, as was Braudis.
Korver’s final witness Tuesday was Joseph Burke, 65, of Aspen Village, who was arrested in a May 2011 DEA raid. As part of a deal with Korver, he has pleaded guilty to using a phone to facilitate a drug transaction. Burke acknowledged that he is hoping for no jail time as part of his agreement.
He said Chitty asked to meet with him at Herron Park in Aspen near Chitty’s then-residence in the fall of 2010, after police stopped Reid for a traffic violation that summer. During that stop, police seized $130,000 or so from Reid’s vehicle.
Chitty “asked if I’d be interested in coming to work for him selling cocaine,” Burke said. “He felt that Mr. Reid wouldn’t be in the business too much longer.”
Burke said he didn’t give Chitty a definitive answer because he “wasn’t sure if it’d work out.”
Korver said she plans on calling one more witness this morning. Chitty told Chief Judge Marcia Krieger of U.S. District Court that he would then call the first of his 12 witnesses.