March 6, 2012

SandBoxBlogs: Aspen Daily News "Former Snowmass man gets four years probation in marijuana-mailing case"

Chad Abraham:
"Saying she was giving a former Snowmass Village man a “huge break,” an Aspen judge on Monday sentenced the three-time felon to four years of probation for receiving 11 pounds of marijuana in the mail.

Vaughn Barnett, 28, smiled and told his mother, who testified via phone from New Jersey on his behalf at the sentencing hearing in Pitkin County District Court, that he would see her soon.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin had recommended prison time for Barnett, and the prosecutor slowly shook his head when Judge Gail Nichols of the 9th Judicial District began questioning Barnett about where he would live if she sentenced him to probation.

U.S. Postal Service agents arrested Barnett and his then-roommate at gunpoint at the Snowmass post office on Nov. 20, 2010. The package mailed to the roommate ripped open, and postal employees who noticed the smell alerted authorities.

Barnett pleaded guilty on Jan. 9 to felony possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute more than 5 pounds in a plea deal in which a bail-bond violation count was dropped. The roommate pleaded guilty last March to attempted possession of marijuana and received a two-year deferred sentence.

The judicial district’s probation office recommended that Barnett be sentenced to two years of community corrections in Rifle.

But Barnett, who is black, told Nichols that he was assaulted in Rifle because of his race and did not want to live and try to find work there.

“He’s terrified of that prospect,” said his attorney, public defender Tina Fang.

Fang urged Nichols to sentence Barnett to probation, saying prison time would be a “tremendous backslide” for him and that he would have a solid support system of relatives on the East Coast..."
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