Man arrested after chase faces drug-distribution charge

by Chad Abraham, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

A Glenwood Springs man fled from police following an alleged drug deal early Sunday by jumping from a walkway above an Aspen restaurant and landing on one of its outdoor tables, according to court papers.

Ian James White, 31, appeared in court on Monday. He faces charges of felony cocaine distribution and possession, and misdemeanor resisting arrest.

Robert Joseph Rice, 39, of Aspen, who allegedly bought less than 4 grams of the drug from White, also was before Judge Gail Nichols of Pitkin County District Court on Monday. Rice is charged with felony possession of a controlled substance and two misdemeanor protection-order violations.

Around 2 a.m. Sunday, White and Rice went into the walkway above the restaurant on the Hyman Avenue mall, Aspen police officer Adam Loudon wrote in an arrest affidavit.

“I know from my training and experience that people will go into that area to conduct illegal activities,” he wrote.

Walking toward them, Loudon allegedly saw a “hand-to-hand transaction.” As Loudon and other officers approached, Rice tried to hide what he had received from White, who also tried to conceal a pill bottle he was holding, the affidavit says.

Loudon wrote that he grabbed White by the wrist, causing him to drop the pill bottle and some money. White allegedly pulled away and tried to jump a railing to the restaurant’s outside dining area below.

“I grabbed onto White with both hands in an attempt to stop his flight and fall,” Loudon wrote. “White’s movements were so violent that I could not hold onto him, and he fell to the garden level, landing on a table.”

White

White allegedly then ran up a staircase to the mall level, eluded another officer, headed east on the mall to Galena Street, west down the alley between Hyman and Cooper avenues and onto Mill Street.

Another officer stayed with Rice, who allegedly threw a bindle of cocaine on the ground. Police meanwhile caught up to White when he tripped on a planter’s box and fell, the affidavit says.

The bindle Rice allegedly threw to the ground was recovered, and Loudon wrote that White’s pill bottle contained seven bindles.

In court, Aspen prosecutor Andrea Bryan said that White in 2002 pleaded guilty to attempted distribution of a controlled substance. Given that the earlier charge could now lead to a more serious sentence if he’s convicted, Bryan said White is an increased flight risk. She asked for a $50,000 bond.

White, who works as a lumberjack for a local tree service, said he has family in the area and asked for a much lower bond so he could go back to his job.

“I’ve never ran, never skipped a court hearing,” he said.

Nichols said the charges White faces are too serious for a personal-recognizance bond, or one that allows a defendant to be released on their promise to return to court.

“I do have some concern about the search and seizure,” Nichols said. “If it survives search-and-seizure law the evidence against you is quite strong.”

White’s bond was set at $25,000, while Nichols put Rice’s bond at $3,500.

The two charges related to protection-order violations against Rice, a local restaurant employee, stem from a 2011 misdemeanor assault case in Aspen. The orders prevent him from consuming drugs and alcohol, and Rice allegedly told police that he had been drinking that night.

The men are next due in court July 1.

chad@aspendailynews.com