Marijuana found after fire sparks guilty plea
An Aspen resident whose home was destroyed by a fire that led police to search his residence last summer pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute on Monday.
Barney Oldfield, 51, was arrested after a fire swept through the Aspen View Condominiums on Midland Avenue. The fire began on Oldfield’s third-floor balcony, fire officials determined, and approximately five and a half pounds of marijuana and other drug paraphernalia were allegedly found in the unit by police during a subsequent search.
Under a plea agreement, Oldfield will face an unspecified amount of probation and a maximum of 90 days in jail. This is Oldfield’s first felony conviction.
As part of the plea deal, $8,000 in cash that a volunteer firefighter found in Oldfield’s apartment and gave to police for safekeeping is to be donated to Aspen Medical Foundation’s Right Door Project. The project is working to create a location in Aspen where the sober community can attend support group meetings.
“We’re trying to give back to the community what, in our view, has been taken,” Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills said in court Monday.
The guilty plea is to the most serious of the charges that Oldfield faced. The other charges included possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Typically, Wills said marijuana possession with intent to distribute comes with a potential penalty of two to eight years in prison, with a 16-year maximum based on aggravating circumstances. It also comes with three years of parole and a $2,000-$500,000 fine.
Oldfield said little during the arraignment. He did answer the judge’s question of why he was pleading guilty. “Because I was in violation of the law, your honor,” he said.