70-year-old meth dealer loses appeal

Robert “Grandpa” Hakel

A 70-year-old former Grand Junction resident who dealt methamphetamine out of a retirement home, and later hired a hitman to kill witnesses, has lost his latest appeal.

The Colorado Court of Appeals on Dec. 13 issued a ruling to uphold convictions against Robert “Grandpa” Hakel, who argued a judge made errors in three cases. Hakel represented himself on appeal.

Hakel — who told a judge during sentencing in January 2009, “I did about 75 percent of it, if that makes any sense,” — received a 32-year term after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, possession of a weapon by a prior offender and solicitation to commit first-degree murder.

Hakel argued without success that a judge incorrectly denied a motion to appoint a new attorney, while Hakel claimed there was a “breakdown in communication” with the attorney. Hakel also claimed he was coerced into accepting a plea agreement.

“Defendant ... claims that the trial court told him that charges would be filed against his wife and that he would be sentenced to 96 years in DOC if he did not plead guilty,” the Court of Appeals ruling states.

The ruling said Hakel did not provide anything to support the allegation.

Officers executing a search warrant at Hakel’s home recovered nine firearms as well as a list in Hakel’s handwriting describing the weapons. Hakel was in the Mesa County Jail at the time of the search in March 2008, following his arrest on suspicion of distributing methamphetamine and cocaine.

Arrest records said associates in Mesa County’s drug culture referred to him as “Grandpa.”

Hakel, while being held at the Mesa County Jail, approached an inmate looking to hire a hitman to kill two people. One of the targeted individuals had provided a letter to prosecutors in which Hakel allegedly threatened to kill a police officer.

Hakel corresponded with an undercover officer who was posing as a hitman before being charged with solicitation to commit murder.


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