Former U.S. Senate candidate makes first appearance in court on criminal extortion charges
Silt resident Mark H. Aspiri made an initial appearance in Magistrate Court Wednesday afternoon. Aspiri unsuccessfully ran in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in 2014.
Aspiri is charged with criminal extortion — a class 4 felony — and misdemeanor ethnic intimidation harassment and theft.
Aspiri said he had yet to retain an attorney, prompting prosecutors to reschedule his next court appearance to June 8 at his request.
Aspiri was arrested by Glenwood Springs police for allegedly attempting to leverage a Latino man’s immigration status as a reason to pay him $1,200, according to a news release.
Aspiri also allegedly expressed to the victim that he had the ability to end the careers of local police officers if they became involved.
Aspiri was a 2014 Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Colorado for a brief time before being defeated at the GOP Assembly by Cory Gardner, the eventual winner of the seat.
The Glenwood Springs Police Department is asking that any individuals familiar with other victims of similar criminal actions, threats or intimidation tactics contact the police at 970-384-6500. When calling, all parties have the option to stay anonymous.
Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Executive Director of Voces Unidas de las Montanas Alex Sánchez released a statement about the current extortion and ethnic intimidation case, thanking the Glenwood Springs Police Department and Chief Joseph Deras for making the arrest and proactively working with the community.
“We also call on the District Attorney to use the full powers of his office to prosecute these hate crimes to the full extent of the law and to go after the many others who are preying on our community here in the region,” Sánchez said.