A Cortez man facing a charge of alleged felony drug possession with intent to distribute received a reduced bond Thursday in Montezuma County Court.
Christopher Allen Gonzales was arrested Feb. 17 at the Aqua Carwash by the Montezuma-Cortez Narcotics Investigation Team for a parole violation.
Officers said during a search of Gonzales and his car they discovered 21 grams of heroin, cash and alleged drug paraphernalia. The estimated street value of the heroin was estimated between $6,000 and $6,500, according to officers with the Cortez Police.
Gonzales’ bond was set at $20,000, but at the request of public defender Kellan Schmelz, it was reduced to $5,000 cash surety by Judge Raymond Satter. Satter is filling in for Montezuma County Judge JenniLynn Lawrence.
Schmelz made a case for a personal recognizance or reduced bond, and Deputy District Attorney Sheena Goldsborough objected to lowering it.
Schmelz said Gonzales is not a flight risk because has strong community ties and family who support his recovery from drug addiction. Lowering bond would allow him to leave jail so he could seek treatment.
Schmelz said he is not convinced there was a case for drug distribution, and that the heroin was to support Gonzales’ drug addiction. He said the money found by police during the search was from a government stimulus check received by Gonzales.
If released on bond, Gonzales hopes to find in-patient treatment for drug addiction at Peaceful Spirit in Pagosa Springs or the Cortez Addiction Recovery Center.
While Gonzales has a criminal history he “wants to get treatment and show the court he can do better,” Schmelz said. The $20,000 bond “keeps him in a cage rather than address his addiction.”
Goldsborough said reducing the bond was not appropriate because of the serious drug charges against Gonzales, the potential for a jail sentence if convicted, his recent parole violation, and criminal history. She said in 2018 he was given the opportunity for community corrections but failed to do so.
Schmelz responded that sobriety from addiction is not a “linear path for anyone” and will have ups and downs. Allowing Gonzales to bond out while case is pending gives him the chance for needed treatment, he said.
Goldsborough recommended a GPS ankle monitor be required for Gonzales if he is released on bond.
Judge Satter asked Gonzales for assurance he would return to court if released on a lower bond.
Gonzales said he “will be there” and has a strong local support group who will help him get back on the right track. He said he is reaching out to treatment centers, and at age 24 is more prepared “to grow up” and work toward recovery.
If released on bond pending his case, Gonzales will be subject to sobriety monitoring.