After being recorded allegedly threatening to harm an informant who helped lead to his arrest, a man being charged with selling cocaine was denied a bond reduction request.
Michael Sherrod Saunders, 25, of Steamboat Springs, will remain in custody on a $250,000 bond after his bond-reduction request again was denied in Routt County Court on Wednesday. He is being charged with selling cocaine after undercover officers allegedly purchased the drug from him July 6 at his home.
Saunders also is being charged with introducing contraband into Routt County Jail by trying to smuggle cigarettes. That offense is a misdemeanor.
Public defender Trevor McFee asked Judge James Garrecht to reduce Saunders' bond to $40,000.
McFee previously requested the reduction, noting that Saunders' roommate, Grey Edward Schumacher, 25, of Steamboat, who is the co-defendant in the case, was released on a $5,000 bond.
Schumacher is being charged with marijuana cultivation, a Class 4 felony.
Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James told Garrecht that Schumacher is not facing the same charges as Saunders.
"He certainly is not in the same trouble Saunders is," St. James said.
Schumacher also appeared Wednesday in County Court. Schumacher is being represented by Steamboat attorney Drew Johnroe, who told Garrecht that he had discussed the case with St. James.
"The deal is all but worked out," Johnroe said of a possible plea agreement that might have been reached.
Garrecht sent Schumacher's case to District Court to be heard at a later date.
St. James told Garrecht that Saunders is a known drug dealer who has been observed selling cocaine by Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team officers for several months.
"The state alleges he is a hard-core drug dealer, living in a hard-core drug house located three blocks from this courtroom," St. James said.
McFee told Garrecht he should consider reducing the bond because Saunders has gotten into altercations with other inmates at the jail. McFee said that, for Saunders' safety, he should be removed from the situation by being allowed to post bond.
McFee said that if his bond were reduced, Saunders would "without a doubt be working by Monday."
McFee also told Garrecht that Saunders had strong family support and that his father was willing to give up the title to his house to post Saunders' bond.
"His family believes he needs to get out of jail for his own personal safety," he said.
St. James then introduced a jail transcript of several phone calls Saunders had made or received, while in custody, concerning information about the confidential informant that GRAMNET officers had used to buy drugs from Saunders.
According to the court documents St. James read, Saunders learned the identity of the informant used in his case and was recorded several times threatening to harm the witness.
"If I could (expletive) put her in front of my face, I'd rip her head off," Saunders was recorded saying to a male caller.
"I, like, (expletive) need your sister to call her and get her to come visit me. She's a (expletive) narc. I'm going to get her to (expletive) take some heat off me," he said.
St. James also told the court that Saunders had been recorded making hundreds of drug transactions during several months, including ones involving cocaine, marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD and Xanax.
St. James also said Saunders was in possession of an assault rifle and other deadly weapons during the times of the transactions. St. James said Saunders admitted to using seven grams of cocaine in three hours as well as doing a line of cocaine before he was arrested July 8.
After listening to the testimony, Garrecht decided to keep Saunders' bond at $250,000 and set a preliminary hearing for Sept. 7.
"The things I am hearing do not make me feel very comfortable. I'm not going to take a risk on him," he said.
In other court action Wednesday:
Eric Sullivan, 31, of Steamboat Springs, who is facing two counts of vehicular assault, is in the process of negotiating a plea agreement with the District Attorney's Office. Sullivan was arrested June 15 after two female passengers were injured when the Jeep that Sullivan was driving crashed and rolled on Buffalo Pass. The women were thrown from the car.
Chief District Attorney Scott Turner of Glenwood Springs is prosecuting the case because Sullivan's father, Tom Sullivan, is Routt County manager. Turner and Sullivan's Steamboat attorney, Cheryl Hardy-Moore, were able to discuss the case over the telephone. Turner told Hardy-Moore that he still is working through the discovery phase and is attempting to reach the victims in the case. Turner hopes he can reach a plea agreement in the case within the next two weeks. Sullivan is scheduled to appear in court at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 14.
A Steamboat man being charged with sexually assaulting a child had his case set for a preliminary hearing. The man was an employee of the business where the assault allegedly occurred. The business is not being named to protect the identity of the alleged victim. Routt County Judge James Garrecht set the hearing for 9 a.m. Aug. 31. Garrecht also said he would address a request for a bond reduction at that time.
Cosme Orlando-Lopez, 22, of Steamboat, who is accused of methamphetamine distribution, appeared in Routt County Court for a preliminary hearing. Lopez also faces cocaine distribution charges in a separate case. The meth distribution charges were added last month. Lopez was arrested in June, along with his roommate, Jesus Alvarez-Frias, 44, after the men allegedly sold cocaine and meth from their home near Soda Creek Elementary School to undercover police officers.
Lopez is facing more serious charges in the cases because the alleged drug sales happened within 200 feet of a school. Garrecht determined that enough evidence existed for the case to continue, and he bound it over to District Court, with a hearing set for 1 p.m. Sept. 7.