Cocaine charges dismissed against Aspen couple due to lack of evidence
A charge of distribution of cocaine to a minor filed against a wealthy Aspen businessman and father was dismissed by a prosecutor late last week, according to court records.
Joseph Lipsey III, 56, and his wife, Shira Lipsey, were both charged earlier this summer with the offense, which carried a mandatory minimum prison term of eight years and a maximum of 32 years upon conviction. District Judge Chris Seldin granted the dismissal Monday, according to Pitkin County District Court records.
“We’re glad the District Attorney’s Office followed through on their in-court comments,” said Yale Galanter, Lipsey’s attorney. “They got to further investigate the charge and we’re happy they agreed there’s nothing to substantiate that count against Joe and Shira Lipsey.”
Aspen prosecutor Don Nottingham declined to comment Wednesday on the dismissal. However, during a July 15 court hearing, Nottingham said there wasn’t enough evidence to support the most serious charge filed against the couple.
The Lipseys still each face three felony counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and three misdemeanor counts of serving alcohol to minors. The charges stem from parties held at the Lipsey home near Aspen Highlands in which minors were allegedly allowed to consume alcohol.
The distribution of cocaine charge to a minor allegedly stemmed from Snapchat photos sent out by a 17-year-old that implied the parents might have given him cocaine, according to court documents. A teenage witness also told police he saw the 17-year-old ingest cocaine while at least one of the Lipseys was present, the documents state.
However, on July 15, Nottingham said that while probable cause initially existed to charge the couple with the cocaine distribution count, investigators were unable to run down details from witnesses that provided a good chance of conviction at trial.
The couple’s son, Joseph Lipsey IV, has been charged of two counts of felony distribution of drugs, felony contributing to the delinquency of a minor, four counts of possession of a controlled substance and other misdemeanor charges. He also is facing two counts of felony vehicular assault after crashing his parents’ Tesla with four other teenagers in the car in November.
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