07/13/2011 08:06 pm ET Updated Sep 12, 2011

Con Games: Pitkin County Sheriffs Finally Shut Up About Aspen Cocaine

The latest twist in the Aspen cocaine bust blues is actually not the news that Michael Cleverly of Woody Creek -- artist, writer, self-appointed "journalist" -- is now being compelled to show his mug July 25, 2011, in front of a grand jury in Denver, Colorado.

The real news is that when the current and former sheriffs of Pitkin County were asked for comments on Cleverly's summons, neither the current, Joey DiSalvo, nor the former, Bob Braudis, had a word to say in defense of their pal from the good old days.

"No comment" is not exactly mother's milk to the talkative two -- particularly not to Braudis, heretofore willing to wield the King's English without surcease in subservience to his views about drugs, including the historical origins of "sheriff" providing permission to ignore the drug laws in the first place. Braudis and Cleverly co-wrote The Kitchen Diaries, about the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Jr., and Cleverly was on the payroll of the DiSalvo for sheriff campaign just past. It would be nearly impossible for Braudis and DiSalvo to claim they are not friends with Cleverly, though disavowing friends has become a bit of a blood sport for the two sheriffs since the cocaine bust.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) asked Cleverly to reveal the source of an email outing the DEA's confidential informant -- and threatening her in the bargain -- in the agency's case against Wayne Alan Reid and Christopher Sheehan, both 65, and others accused of dealing copious amounts of cocaine in Aspen. The email had a picture of the informant and these ominous words: "contract is out.... I'm offering $2 for the skin, dead or alive."

Cleverly told the Aspen Daily News the DEA "burned the sheriff and the past sheriff so much that they can no longer go up the food chain. So they are going down the food chain and to the left and the right of the food chain." He also said "the alleged threat on the informant is bullshit; it's just guy talk."

The feds obviously take witness-tampering very seriously -- and so do the two sheriffs. When Aspen Times reporter Rick Carroll asked the Joey DiSalvo and Bob Braudis about Cleverly's blues, the two sheriffs immediately put a sock in it for the first time since the big spring 2011 bust.

Why you should care when the sheriffs finally shut up? Because this is actually the turning point in the case against those busted for dealing cocaine in Aspen and Pitkin County -- and the sheriffs who have protected them since snorting became an Olympic sport. Their silence is a sign that Sheriffs DiSalvo and Braudis finally understand they are in deep trouble -- so deep they can't even come to the public defense of a friend in need.

"What they are doing," Cleverly told Carroll of the DEA, "is they're harassing everyone with anything to do with the upper valley who has a distaste for undercover-narc BS."

What the DEA is really doing is trying to find out the identity of the person who put a key witness in their investigation at risk. Michael Cleverly plans to hide behind the First Amendment as a "journalist" in quotes. He might be better served by invoking the Fifth.