News Briefs for June 1


Five men arrested in connection with drug ring

Three Oklahoma men are among the five people who have been arrested in connection with a suspected theft and drug ring operation spanning several states, Routt County Sheriff John Warner said Wednesday.

Jerry Lane Pritchett, 42; Terry William Taylor, 42; and Larry Loron Winfield, 32, were arrested earlier this month on suspicion of possessing a firearm by a previous offender, possessing drug paraphernalia and possessing methamphetamine. Pritchett and Taylor have Steamboat Springs addresses but are residents of Oklahoma. Winfield is from Kansas, Okla.

Warner said the men were employees of Gerald Starr of Kansas, Okla. Investigators from numerous local and federal agencies spent the past several days searching property owned by Starr near Phippsburg. Officers said their search recovered tens of thousands of dollars worth of stolen construction equipment as well as hazardous waste suspected to be from the production of methamphetamine.

Two other men suspected to be involved in the alleged crime ring are in custody in Eagle County, Warner said. Warner said he expects additional search and arrest warrants to be executed in relation to the investigation.

Charges dismissed in sexual assault case

Charges were dismissed last week against a 43-year-old Steamboat Springs man who had been accused of improperly touching a young boy last summer.

The man's attorney, Larry Combs, said the dismissal came after the alleged victim in the case testified Friday that he did not remember anything about the alleged incident.

Court records indicate that Deputy District Attorney Tammy Jenson dismissed the charges as part of a plea agreement reached with the man. As part of the agreement, the man pleaded guilty to failing to register as a sex offender, a Class 1 misdemeanor.

That charge was tacked onto the man's case after prosecutors discovered he had been convicted of a misdemeanor sexual assault crime in Washington and had failed to register as a sex offender in Routt County. The man will be sentenced at 1 p.m. July 28.

Man sentenced to 16 years for cocaine sales

A judge sentenced a 23-year-old Steamboat Springs man on Tuesday to 16 years in prison for selling drugs near an elementary school.

Cosme Orlando Lopez was found guilty in February on two counts of distributing a Schedule II controlled substance, a Class 3 felony, and selling the drugs within 148 feet of a public elementary school.

Lopez was arrested June 10 after Greater Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team officers said they saw him sell methamphetamine to an undercover informant. Lopez's roommate, 42-year-old Jesus Alvarez Frias, was arrested on suspicion of selling meth.

Lopez was sentenced to a 16-year prison term and was ordered to pay more than $13,000 in court costs. District Judge Paul McLimans gave Lopez a 291-day credit for time he has spent in Routt County Jail.


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