Local homeless man’s felony arrest highlights underage use of cannabis

by Chad Abraham, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

Transient told police he bought joints for teens

A local homeless man who allegedly told police he bought a dozen joints at the request of an underage person was advised Thursday on a felony charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Douglas Stewart, 49, who a prosecutor said has over 30 convictions dating to the mid-1980s, told an Aspen police detective that he had bought 12 joints for a party of minors in exchange for them letting him keep two, his arrest affidavit says.

A purse left under a picnic table in Rio Grande Park led to his arrest. It was turned into the police department on Monday. Cathleen Treacy, the department’s records custodian, found a driver’s license belonging to a 16-year-old and noticed a strong smell of marijuana coming from the purse, the affidavit says. A partially smoked joint, along with its sales tube from a local dispensary, was found in the purse.

On Tuesday, Fain wrote that he met with the juvenile and her parents.

The girl said “high school kids commonly purchase marijuana from dispensaries using the local transient population,” the affidavit says. “[She] stated on this particular occasion, she had found a man wearing a black-and-white jacket and had obtained marijuana from him.”

She didn’t know his name and couldn’t describe him any further.

Fain wrote that he went to the pot shop on Wednesday and spoke with a manager about the purchase; he sent Fain three still images from the business’ surveillance camera that depicted an older male wearing a black-and-white jacket. Fain forwarded the images to the rest of the police department, asking if anyone recognized him.

Around 9 p.m. Wednesday, a dispensary employee called police to report the man had returned. Officer Forrest Barnett was unable to locate the man, but roughly 45 minutes later, Stewart came to the police department. He said he’d been kicked out of the homeless shelter in St. Mary’s Catholic Church across the street from the courthouse because he was too intoxicated. He requested from Barnett a form for Tipsy Taxi, a publicly funded initiative to reduce drunken driving, or to be placed in a detox facility for the night, the affidavit says.

Barnett recognized Stewart because of the jacket he was still wearing, and, upon questioning, he allegedly admitted to buying the minor marijuana.

“Yeah, they gave me money for 12 joints and let me keep two,” he said, according to the affidavit.

In court Thursday, Stewart was advised that he faces two to six years in prison. Deputy district attorney Sarah Oszczakiewicz detailed his lengthy criminal history, which includes three felony convictions and misdemeanor convictions for disorderly conduct, public intoxication, contempt of court, probation violations and 17 occurrences of failing to appear for court.

Stewart’s bond was originally set at $5,000, and Oszczakiewicz asked that it remain at that amount.

Stewart told Judge Chris Seldin of Pitkin County District Court that he was broke.

“So the amount of the bond doesn’t matter,” he said. “I’m not getting out.”

The judge left the bond amount the same and set Stewart’s next court date for Tuesday.