Two decades in prison was minimum possible for former Aspen man
Former Aspen resident Montgomery Chitty was sentenced to 20 years behind bars Tuesday for his role in a cocaine-distribution ring, a term that is more than twice as long as the combined sentences of the three other men who received prison time in the case.
A federal jury in February convicted Chitty, 62, of conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine in the Aspen area.
The sentence handed down by Chief Judge Marcia Krieger of U.S. District Court in Denver was the minimum amount possible, because a federal prosecutor used a decades-old drug-trafficking conviction against Chitty. In 1990, he was convicted of smuggling marijuana in Louisiana.
After Chitty’s February 2012 arrest in the Florida Keys, three men said they either bought cocaine from Chitty or sold it to him over a number of years, in amounts that eventually reached hundreds of kilos.
One man, former Aspen resident Larry Bartenfelder, who said he did nothing but sell drugs for 20 years, testified against Chitty and received immunity.
A California man, Alfonso Elvio-Allocati, also testified. He told jurors that he sold 4 to 5 kilos every three or four months to Wayne Reid of Aspen for nearly 15 years. He also said that when Reid went to prison in 2002 for marijuana distribution, Chitty replaced him and eventually bought 80 to 100 kilos from him over an eight-year period.
Reid did not testify, but provided “significant and corroborating information which assisted the United States in the prosecution” of Chitty, according to a court filing by the U.S. attorney’s office.
Their cooperation led to reduced prison sentences, with Reid receiving about four-and-a-half years and Elvio-Allocati two-and-a-half years. Another California man, who acted as a drug courier, was sentenced to 27 months.
At Tuesday’s sentencing in Denver, Chitty told Krieger that the disparity between their terms and his was unfair, said his attorney, Thomas Goodreid of Denver, in an interview.
“He threw rocks at the government,” Goodreid said.
Chitty told the court that federal prosecutor Michele Korver did not have to charge him under a sentencing-enhancement statute that led to the 20-year term, Goodreid said.
The statute holds that if any person sells more than 5 kilos of cocaine “after a prior conviction for a felony drug offense has become final, such person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which may not be less than 20 years and not more than life imprisonment.”
Chitty said that by charging him that way, Korver is setting the sentence, not Krieger.
“She didn’t take that very well,” Goodreid said of Krieger, who told Chitty that Congress had established the law.
Chitty twice had his sentencing postponed, once after he said in a court filing that white supremacists assaulted him. He said it was retaliation for tutoring a black inmate and that he was treated for symptoms of a stroke.
Krieger last week rejected his bid for a third continuance. Chitty sought the postponement because there are pending congressional bills that, if passed, would give judges discretion in sentencing, instead of having to adhere to the minimum standards dictated by federal law. Chitty and Goodreid argued that the bills could mean a reduced sentence.
But Krieger said the basis for the continuance, that Congress may pass the measures, was too speculative, Goodreid said.
The continuance motion was “our big hope,” he said.
Krieger also chided Chitty for putting forth differing versions of what his levels of responsibility were in the cocaine ring.
Chitty did not appear to be in good health, according to Goodreid, speaking in a halting manner to the judge. Krieger recommended that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons place him in a medical facility for his sentence.
“The BOP is very proud to tell you that sometimes they follow a judge’s recommendations and sometimes they don’t,” Goodreid said.
Chitty, a political gadfly during his time in Aspen, was a friend of the late journalists Hunter S. Thompson and Ed Bradley of “60 Minutes.” He also served as a consultant to the Democratic National Committee and the political campaigns of Gary Hart.
Parole is no longer available for federal inmates, Goodreid said. Instead, convicts can annually shave a maximum of 54 days off their sentences for serving “good time.”
Authorities want a well-behaved inmate to serve 85 percent of their prison term, Goodreid said.
Under those guidelines, Chitty would still serve 17 years.