Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — A La Jara couple who were arrested during a multi-county crackdown on an alleged prescription drug ring appear to be taking different paths through the court system.
On Tuesday, Hollye Mitchell’s attorney entered a not guilty plea on her behalf, clearing the way for a four-day trial to begin on June 25.
Deputy Public Defender Amanda Hopkins had been prepared to do the same thing for Mitchell’s husband Jeffrey. But she ultimately asked 12th Judicial District Judge Pattie Swift to continue his first appearance in district court, based on a request from her client.
According to Hopkins, Jeffrey Mitchell asked her to convey information to the district attorney’s office, which could determine whether or not he will seek a trial date.
The 30-year-old man, who was arrested last October for Class 6 distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance, remains in custody at the Alamosa County Detention Center.
But his 34-year-old wife, who was arrested on a more serious Class 3 felony charge for the same alleged offense, is currently free on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond.
Deputy District Attorney Mark Loy previously alleged that the Mitchells dealt drugs while their children were present, leading his office to charge both defendants with child abuse.
The Mitchells were among 15 people who were arrested on Oct. 11, 2012, following a six-month investigation into an alleged drug ring that reached from Conejos County and Alamosa to Salida and Cañon City.
At the time, law enforcement officials who spearheaded the multi-agency effort called the bust a significant disruption of southern Colorado’s drug trade.
Undercover agents allegedly purchased methamphetamine and Ecstasy from some of the suspects. But prescription drugs accounted for most of the controlled substances they allegedly bought, according to a joint law enforcement press release.
Investigators claim that most of the 15 suspects obtained oxycodone, OxyContin, Vicodin and other drugs by convincing licensed physicians that they needed prescriptions for the powerful painkillers.
In addition to the Mitchells, six other Valley residents were apprehended during the October sweep, including Jennifer Rivera-Lovato, Tessa “Famie” Silva, Pamela Lynne Richardson, Stella Ann Schimpf, Billy Darrel Webster and Savannah McDermott.
Schimpf pleaded guilty on Jan. 14 to attempted distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance, leading the district attorney’s office to dismiss the initial charges against her, including a second Conejos County case.
Richardson and Rivera-Lovato are set to enter their respective pleas on Feb. 12, while Jeffrey Mitchell is due back in court on March 4.