Grand Junction man gets 22 years for two robberies

A father to a new daughter who ran his own commercial painting business, Mitchell Lee Reeves had no criminal history in early spring 2009, attorneys said Tuesday.

“As far as I can tell, he never even had a police contact,” Reeves’ public defender, John Burkey, told District Judge Thomas Deister during Reeves’ sentencing hearing.

In May 2009, Reeves robbed a pharmacy and a bank in a span of 21 days.

Reeves, 28, was sentenced Tuesday to serve 22 years in prison under the terms of a plea bargain, which gave Deister a possible sentencing range between 10 and 25 years.

Reeves had pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, robbery and a sentence-enhancing charge of committing a crime of violence.

“I wish every day I could take back what I’ve done,” Reeves told the judge, while blaming prescription-drug addiction and “turning away from the Lord” for what he described as his life’s “spiral out of control.”

On May 8, 2009, Reeves walked into Rite Aid, 1834 N 12th St., placed a black handgun on the counter and demanded “all” of the store’s Oxycontin and fentanyl, giving clerks a white bag to put it in, according to an arrest affidavit.

Reeves walked away with eight bottles, each with 100 tablets of Oxycontin, with a total combined value just over $3,600, the affidavit said.

Five days later, an anonymous tipster told detectives that Reeves was the robber, the affidavit said. Detectives learned Reeves at the time had been using a white GMC van similar to the suspect’s vehicle in the May 8 robbery.

Rite Aid employees identified Reeves in a photo lineup as the robber.

Employees at Vectra Bank, 2394 F Road, did the same after a robbery on May 29 when a man walked up to a teller with “his hands balled up together” while talking on his cell phone.

“Ma’am, I need you to give me all your money,” a teller said the man instructed her, according to the affidavit.

While the affidavit doesn’t specify the amount of cash Reeves received, Reeves on Tuesday was ordered to pay $1,651 in restitution to Vectra Bank.

Reeves’ ex-wife told detectives she had suspected Reeves of robbing another bank in Grand Junction last year, but Reeves denied involvement. She said they divorced over his addiction to a host of pain-killing narcotics, which he starting using after a work-related back injury, according to the affidavit.

She told detectives that Dr. Eric Peper, former co-owner and operator of an Urgent Care clinic in Grand Junction, had started prescribing “large quantities” of Oxycontin and fentanyl patches to Reeves after his injury, the affidavit said.

The woman said her ex-husband eventually started selling the drugs he’d legally obtained.

“Mitchell Reeves consulted Dr. Peper about getting off the pain medications, and according to (his ex-wife), the doctor said it was a political issue and referred him to another doctor in Avon,” the affidavit said.

Urgent Care clinics operated by Dr. Peper and Dr. Sam Jahani in Grand Junction, Montrose and Delta were raided in October 2009 by agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration, who removed patient files from all of the locations.

Neither man has been charged, but federal authorities have said both remain under investigation.

In an interview with law enforcement prior to his sentencing, Reeves noted receiving prescriptions from Dr. Peper, who Reeves said was working toward “weaning him off” pain pills, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Hand.

At its peak, Reeves claimed a daily habit of consuming 400 to 600 milligrams of Oxycontin, Hand told the judge.

Dr. Michael Pramenko, with Family Physicians of Western Colorado, said he prescribes doses of 20 to 80 milligrams of the drug, to be taken twice a day, for certain types of pain management.

“That’s an outrageous dose,” Pramenko said of Reeves’ claimed usage. “You’d probably kill someone by starting them out on that level.”


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