Man held on $250,000 bond in coke case

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A Steamboat Springs man charged with distributing coc-aine will remain in jail on a $250,000 bond after a judge refused his attorney's request Wednesday to reduce the amount of the bond.

Michael Sherrod Saunders, 25, appeared in county court on charges of distributing a Schedule 2 controlled substance, a Class 3 felony.

Saunders was arrested July 8 in connection with an alleged cocaine deal that took place July 6.

Deputy District Attorney Tammy Jenson said in court that Saunders was arrested after an undercover of--ficer with the Grand, Routt, and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team purchased cocaine from Saunders. Police Capt. Joel Rae confirmed the circumstances of the transaction.

Saunders first appeared in court July 11 and told the court he was confused about why he had been taken into custody.

GRAMNET officials ob--tained a warrant to search Saunders' home after they produced evidence to support their suspicions that there was cocaine distribution taking place. GRAMNET officers had surveillance on the home for a period of weeks.

During Wednesday's hearing, Public Defender Trevor McFee asked Judge James Garrecht to consider lowering Saunders' bond.

"This is the highest bond I have ever seen here," he said.

McFee said that because Saunders has been employed in Steamboat for three years and lacks a criminal history, his bond should be reduced significantly.

"I am not asking for a (personal recognizance) bond or a $1,000 bond, I am asking for a bond more similar to the bonds in other cases this court has seen," McFee said.

McFee asked Garrecht to lower the bond to about $40,000.

Jenson, who was prosecuting the case in the absence of Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James, objected to the request, saying that Saunders has a lengthy arrest record in North Carolina.

Jenson told Garrecht that Saunders previously had been arrested in North Carolina on suspicion of cocaine possession, suspicion of possession of psilocybin mushrooms and suspicion of theft of property. However, he was never convicted on any of the charges, Jenson said.

Jenson also objected to the request for bond reduction because of the violent threats Saunders reportedly made to officers when he was arrested.

McFee said that most people are upset when they get arrested and that Saunders was only acting as anyone in his situation would.

Jenson told Garrecht that because of the nature of the crime and because officers had found cocaine, evidence of marijuana cultivation and several weapons in the home, she didn't think the bond should be reduced.

"This is a drug house in the middle of a residential area located only a few blocks from this courtroom," she said.

Garrecht said that he would neither "deny nor grant" the request and that he would defer the issue so that each party would have more time to work through the case.

McFee also requested that the search and arrest warrants that were sealed in the case be unsealed so that he could have access to the information.

"At this point, I have no discovery," he said.

McFee asked for the same documents the District At--torney's Office has so that he could proceed with the case. Jenson did not object.

McFee told the judge he did not feel comfortable going forward with a preliminary hearing in the case with so little information. Garrecht told McFee that he will receive the same information that the district attorneys have and that because that was adequate information for them to file charges, it should be adequate information for a preliminary hearing.

Jenson said that the District At--torney's Office is looking into filing more charges in Saunders' case later in the week.

Garrecht set the preliminary hearing for 11 a.m. Aug. 3.

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