The 19-year-old scion of a wealthy Aspen family, along with his mother and father, face felony charges of drug distribution for allegedly offering underage teens cocaine, nicotine and alcohol, and allowing them to use those and other drugs in their home.
Shira Lipsey, 44, was arrested at her home in the Aspen Highlands neighborhood Monday morning, while Joseph Lipsey was arrested on his way to Aspen High School, where he is a senior. An arrest warrant has also been issued for his father, Joseph Lipsey Senior, 56. Along with felony charges of unlawful distribution of drugs, they face counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Shira Lipsey and Joseph Lipsey were freed from jail after each posted $100,000 bonds. Joseph Lipsey Senior is expected to surrender in coming days.
Joseph Lipsey Jr. — already facing counts of vehicular assault and reckless driving for allegedly wrecking his family’s Tesla in November with four other people inside — is to be charged with two felony counts of unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing or sale; contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a felony; four counts of possession of a controlled substance, two of which are felonies; and other charges related to drug paraphernalia, furnishing nicotine to minors, and possession or consumption of alcohol or marijuana by a minor.
Shira Lipsey faces charges of unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing or sale; three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor; and three counts of serving alcohol to someone under 21. Prosecutor Don Nottingham said Joseph Lipsey Senior faces similar charges.
Shira Lipsey declined comment Monday evening, and the attorney representing Joseph Lipsey Jr. did not return a message.
The charges stem from Aspen police officer Ryan Turner’s investigation that started in early January and continued into February. The cases are being handled jointly by the Aspen Police Department and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s deputy Kyle Ryan wrote in the warrant for Joseph Lipsey Jr. that Turner interviewed one person, presumably a teenager as the affidavit is heavily redacted, who said that on Jan. 2 and continuing into the next morning, the elder Lipseys “were there, they were in the basement with us” and knew teens were drinking, the warrant says.
The person told police that “there was just some open champagne and open vodka so kids were pouring some and the parents were like it’s not that big of a deal,” Ryan wrote.
The warrant details more disturbing allegations, with a law enforcement officer interviewing a teen who was videotaped after he passed out, apparently at the Lipseys’ home.
Police also recovered SnapChat video allegedly taken at the defendants’ home, including one showing Shira Lipsey sitting with two unidentified men. Two lines of cocaine, along with a credit card, straws and a rolled dollar bill, can be seen on a table in front of them, the warrant says.
“Before sending the [SnapChat] photo, the user put the text, ‘This kid’s parents are tryna kill me’ on the screen with the video’s image,” Ryan wrote. “The video is timestamped Jan. 3, 2019, at 2:45:36 in the morning.”
Another video taken with the SnapChat app shows the same plate of cocaine, with the poster of the video writing, “Almost did it all,” the warrant says, adding it was timestamped 10 minutes later.
A mother of one of the party attendees told an officer that her son told her, “Mom, it was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. They were making it look normal, like they were passing around vitamins.” Police also allegedly found evidence of cocaine that had been freebased in the home, including charred tin foil and a spoon with cocaine residue on it.
Shira Lipsey and Joseph Lipsey Jr. are due in court April 1.