In what was deemed an “distinctive” and “nuanced” case by the prosecution, an Aspen man charged by the Pitkin County well being director for coughing in a lady’s face and violating the county’s public well being order in late March pleaded responsible Thursday and acquired a deferred sentence.
In trade for the plea settlement, Tom Patierno’s sentence has been deferred for six months and he may have six months of supervised probation. He additionally should carry out 60 hours of helpful public service, attend 18 hours of psychological well being counseling and write an apology letter to the sufferer. He was not fined and pays an court docket prices.
If he meets all the necessities of the settlement and probation, the case might be dismissed and faraway from his file.
Patierno admitted to police he “obtained within the lady’s face” on March 29 and made at the least a “coughing gesture” after she requested him to maneuver over as they approached one another on the Rio Grande Path.
He was initially charged with disorderly conduct by Aspen Police after his conduct towards the 68-year-old lady. Lower than two weeks later, nonetheless, Pitkin County Public Well being Director Karen Koenemann — by way of the county legal professional’s workplace — charged Patierno with the misdemeanor rely of violating the March 23 county public well being order for not social distancing.
“Your Honor, it’s a nuanced space of statute, little question,” Pitkin County Assistant Legal professional Richard Neiley mentioned in Thursday’s court docket continuing. “The cost got here from the Pitkin County public well being director.”
He mentioned the deal was agreed upon by Koenemann and the sufferer, who each, Neiley mentioned, needed to make sure Patierno “participated in some stage of psychological well being counseling in reference to the occasions that led as much as the cost.
“There’s little question this offense occurred in the beginning of the 12 months when the emergence of the pandemic was new and it was a scary time,” Neiley mentioned.
The case was heard in Garfield County after Pitkin County Courtroom Choose Erin Fernandez-Ely recused herself. Her husband, John Ely, is the Pitkin County legal professional and the fees got here from the county’s well being director.
“The info of this case have been of great concern to the group and I’m positive to the sufferer on this matter,” Garfield County Choose Paul Metzger mentioned Thursday. “I’m glad to listen to the sufferer is in help of one of these decision and this can be a decision.”
Patierno, who appeared by way of video convention, was contrite Thursday and reiterated it was a tough time for him. As he instructed police after the incident, he mentioned he was dealing with unemployment due to the pandemic. His legal professional mentioned Thursday he was additionally in a “contentious custody battle with an ex-girlfriend.”
He has since began a brand new job, the custody listening to has been resolved and he has began counseling, his legal professional mentioned.
“It was a scary time. A variety of issues have been up within the air. I used to be unsettled (and) fairly distraught,” Patierno mentioned. “I’m glad I’ve had a string of non-public success in my life. I’m feeling much more secure.”
He confronted as many as 18 months within the Pitkin County Jail and a effective of as a lot as $5,000 for the general public well being order violation.
Patierno was “partaking in an ‘important exercise’ with out complying with ‘social distancing necessities’” in violation of the general public well being order, in accordance with court docket data. Koenemann mentioned through the summer time her determination to file the cost was primarily based on the concept that Patierno’s act appeared to be intentional.
Koenemann told The Aspen Times in July that “the info appear to point that this was a purposeful act that sadly impacted somebody who’s in a weak inhabitants. We’re taking a look at egregious violations and somebody purposefully coughing on somebody definitely suits that invoice.”
The sufferer mentioned she didn’t develop COVID-19 after the interplay.
“I need to thank the court docket and notably the court docket employees for coping with the distinctive state of affairs the place you had anyone apart from the District Legal professional’s Workplace coming into a criticism on a prison cost on this matter,” Neiley mentioned Thursday.