Law Enforcement

Denver Union Station Sweep: What Happened to 43 Defendants

The Union Station sweep took place on February 23.
The Union Station sweep took place on February 23. Photo by Evan Semón
Today, August 24, the members of Denver City Council's Safety, Housing, Education & Homelessness Committee are scheduled to discuss "safety and security at Denver Union Station," and the timing is appropriate. Six months ago yesterday, on February 23, the Denver Police Department conducted a high-profile sweep in response to complaints about rising crime at the iconic location — an action that netted 43 arrests or citations and heavy criticism from activists who saw the episode as a doomed return to failed get-tough policies of the past.

What happened to those who were cited or taken into custody, almost always for drug-related crimes?According to information from the Denver District Attorney's Office, which handled a majority of the matters, and the Denver City Attorney's Office, tasked with tackling at least fourteen lower-level allegations, some entered guilty pleas, generally to lesser charges, while a slew of cases remain open. Several more were dismissed, and no records could be found regarding a handful of others.

The sweep placed a considerable burden on the system, and the reports indicate that no major criminals were removed from the streets as a result of the operation. Of the resolved cases, only three resulted in any jail time, with the longest of these sentences ninety days.

The offenses cited by prosecutors correspond to codes explained in the following primer on Colorado drug laws from attorney Matthew A. Martin:
Petty Offenses
Minor drug crimes such as public consumption of marijuana are considered a petty offense. These crimes are not serious enough for jail time but are punishable by a fine amount assigned by the Colorado Code.

Misdemeanors
Misdemeanors are either classified as a DM1 or a DM2.
• DM1 — These are considered to be the more serious type of misdemeanor out of the two. DM1 offenses can include manufacturing, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute. The maximum penalty for a DM1 is up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
• DM2 — Although less serious than a DM1, you should not take the penalties for a DM2 related crime lightly. Some DM2 crimes include possession of a synthetic cannabinoid or abusing toxic vapors. The maximum sentencing for a DM2 offense is up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $750. [Code 5 refers to the lowest-level misdemeanor.]

Felony Offenses
The most severe type of drug offense is classified as a felony. Colorado has four levels for their felony drug offenses, and these include:
• DF1 — DF1 crimes include drug offenses such as distribution of any material with specific amounts of schedule I or II controlled substances combined, or distribution of schedule I or II drugs to a minor. The maximum penalty for a DF1 offense includes up to 32 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
• DF2 — Less severe than a DF1 crime, DF2 drug offenses still have life-changing penalties. The maximum sentence for a DF2 rime is up to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.
• DF3 — Level 3 drug felony cases, also referred to as DF3, can include crimes such as distribution of any material weighing 14 grams or less if the material contains a schedule I or II controlled substance. The highest penalty a person can receive for a DF3 crime includes up to 4 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
• DF4 — Most crimes are simply labeled as a DF3 unless the distribution was for the purpose of sharing use of drugs at “a time substantially contemporaneous” with the exchange of drugs. Upon conviction a person can face up to 12 months in prison for a DF4 offense and a fine of up to $100,000.
Here are the records for the 43 individuals arrested or cited in the February 23 Union Station sweep, referred to by their initials. Denver City Attorney's Office cases are designated by an asterisk; the rest fell under the supervision of the Denver District Attorney's Office.

1. C.M., age 31
Original charge: Felony distribution of a controlled substance
Status: C.M. pleaded guilty to a global settlement resolving three cases: two DF3s and a DF4. The court resolved all three cases with a grant of two years' probation.

2. D.H., age 33
Original charge: Felony distribution of a controlled substance
Status: No cases found against the defendant.

3. L.G., age 29
Original charge: Felony Distribution of a controlled substance
Status: L.G. pleaded guilty to a global settlement (a DF4 and two counts of DM1) to resolve both cases. No reference to a sentence was provided.

4. K.P., age 20
Original charge: Felony distribution of a controlled substance
Status: K.P. pleaded guilty to a DM1 and received a deferred sentence on a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He received a deferred sentence plus two years' probation.

5. S.C., age 31
Original charge: Felony distribution of a controlled substance
Status: Open

6. D.T., age 36
Original charge: Felony distribution of a controlled substance
Status: No cases found against the defendant.

7. V.J. age 22
Original charge: Distribution of an imitation controlled substance
Status: Open

8. Juvenile suspect
Original charge: Felony distribution of a controlled substance
Status: No information against juvenile defendants is provided unless the individual is charged as an adult.

9. M.H., age 27
Original charge: Possession of a schedule 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 controlled substance
Status: Defendant is not in Denver custody, and there are no scheduled court dates.

10. T.L., age 27
Original charge: Failure to comply/intimidation
Status: L.T. pleaded guilty to a DF4 and was sentenced to ninety days in Denver County Jail plus two years of unsupervised probation. The latter is dependent on no new law violations.

11. A.M., age 18
Original charges: Two counts of possession of a schedule 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 controlled substance
Status: Defendant failed to appear at first court appearance. No new dates scheduled.

12. J.M. age 22
Original charge: Code 5 misdemeanor
Status: Neither the Denver District Attorney's Office nor the Denver City Attorney's Office provided a record of a case against this defendant.

13. C.W., age 29*
Original charge: Possession of drug paraphernalia
Status: C.W. was issued a $100 personal-recognizance bond but failed to appear at two scheduled court dates. The case is open and in warrant status.

14. A.B., age 40*
Original charge: Possession of drug paraphernalia
Status: A.B. was issued a $100 personal-recognizance bond but failed to appear at a scheduled court date. The case is open and in warrant status.

15. K.L., age 49
Original charge: Distribution of a schedule 1, 2 controlled substance
Status: Open. Next court date is November 21.

16. D.E., age 43
Original charge: Code 5 misdemeanor
Status: Neither the Denver District Attorney's Office nor the Denver City Attorney's Office provided a record of a case against this defendant.

17. K.H., age 22
Original charge: Code 5 misdemeanor
Status: Neither the Denver District Attorney's Office nor the Denver City Attorney's Office provided a record of a case against this defendant.

18. M.D., age 42*
Original charge: Possession of drug paraphernalia
Status: Case dismissed without prejudice for invalid court date on citation.

19. A.W., age 54*
Original charges: Possession of a schedule 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 controlled substance and providing false information
Status: A.W. pleaded guilty to one of two charges; the other was dismissed. No information about sentencing was provided.

20. C.K., age 45*
Original charge: Code 5 misdemeanor trespassing
Status: Open

21. M.M., age 43
Original charge: Possession of a schedule 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 controlled substance
Status: Open

22. J.J., age 38
Original charge: Code 5 misdemeanor
Status: Neither the Denver District Attorney's Office nor the Denver City Attorney's Office provided a record of a case against this defendant.

23. R.R., age 54*
Original charge: Possession of drug paraphernalia
Status: Default judgment against R.R. imposed on February 28 — a $50 fine.

24. P.M. age 32
Original charge: Possession of a controlled schedule 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 substance
Status: P.M. pleaded guilty to DM2 and received a deferred judgment. He was ordered to complete misdemeanor drug court probation but was not compliant, so defendant was sentenced to ten days in Denver County Jail.

25. K.B., age 44*
Original charges: Possession of a schedule 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 controlled substance, possession of an illegal knife
Status: K.B. failed to appear at multiple hearings, prompting the court to issue a bench warrant with a $100 personal-recognizance bond. The case is open and in warrant status.

26. K.B., age 50
Original charge: Code 5 misdemeanor
Status: The only charge against this defendant pertains to an address far from Union Station

27. J.J., age 40*
Original charge: Possession of drug paraphernalia
Status: J.J. failed to appear at multiple hearings, prompting the court to issue a bench warrant with a $100 personal-recognizance bond. The case is open and in warrant status.

28. N.Y., age 23*
Original charge: Code 5 misdemeanor/possession of drug paraphernalia
Status: N.Y. failed to appear at a hearing, prompting the court to issue a bench warrant with a $100 personal-recognizance bond. The case is open and in warrant status.

29. T.M., age 28
Original charge: Possession of drug paraphernalia
Status: Neither the Denver District Attorney's Office nor the Denver City Attorney's Office provided a record of a case against this defendant.

30. A.H., age 32*
Original charge: Possession of a schedule 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 controlled substance
Status: Case dismissed without prejudice due to an invalid court date on the citation.

31. A.R., age 24
Original charge: Code 5 misdemeanor
Status: Neither the Denver District Attorney's Office nor the Denver City Attorney's Office provided a record of a case against this defendant.

32. N.N., age 36
Original charge: Code 5 felony
Status: Neither the Denver District Attorney's Office nor the Denver City Attorney's Office provided a record of a case against this defendant.

33. K.K., age 22
Original charge: Possession of a schedule 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 controlled substance
Status: Case dismissed

34. A.G., age 46*
Original charge: Possession of a schedule 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 controlled substance
Status: A.G. pleaded guilty on May 5 and was credited for time served.

35. R.D., age 45*
Original charge: Trespassing
Status: R.D. pleaded guilty on March 25 and was sentenced to thirty days in jail and one year of unsupervised probation accompanied by an order to abide by Union Station area restrictions.

36. A.G., age 26
Original charge: Possession of a schedule 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 controlled substance
Status: Open. Defendant failed to appear at most recent court hearing.

37. A.G., age 22*
Original charge: Code 5 misdemeanor/possession of drug paraphernalia
Status: Case dismissed as part of a global plea.

38. N.K., age 30
Original charge: Possession of a schedule 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 controlled substance
Status: The only current case against N.K. does not correspond to the February 23 sweep.

39. P.H., age 18*
Original charge: Possession of drug paraphernalia
Status: P.H. failed to appear at multiple court hearings, prompting the court to issue a warrant with a $50 personal-recognizance bond. The case is open and in warrant status.

40. A.D., age 31
Original charge: Possession of a schedule 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 controlled substance
Status: The only current case against the defendant doesn't correspond to the February 23 sweep.

41. C.D., age 29
Original charge: Escape
Status: The most recent case against the defendant dates back to 2019.

42. D.T., age 30
Original charge: Escape
Status: The most recent case against the defendant dates back to 2018.

43. M.L., age 47
Original charge: Assault in the third degree
Status: The most recent case against the defendant dates back to 2019.

Today's meeting of the Denver City Council's Safety, Housing, Education & Homelessness committee gets underway at 10:30 a.m. at the City & County Building, 1437 Bannock Street, in the council chambers, room 450. Click for more information.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
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