Drug sting defendant to serve 2 1/2 years
A defendant who sold an undercover officer $80 worth of cocaine will serve 30 months in prison, the longest sentence yet handed down in the multi-agency sting last winter that resulted in the arrest of nearly a dozen employees at two local restaurants.Gabino Velazco-Estrada sold a federal agent two bindles of cocaine worth $40 on two occasions last fall, deputy district attorney Gail Nichols said during Monday’s sentencing hearing. The agent also saw Velazco-Estrada, who pleaded guilty to a felony distribution charge, involved in “cocaine-selling activity” in the bathroom at Cooper Street Pier, where he was a prep cook. The bar was raided on Dec. 2 along with the neighboring Little Annie’s Eating House by officers from local, state and federal agencies.The prison sentence exceeds that of fellow defendant Edubiel Hernandez-Cruz, who is serving 17 months after police found 3 ounces of cocaine in his home. Velazco-Estrada’s sentence is longer than the probation office’s recommendation of two years in prison.The undercover officer also bought drugs from Velazco-Estrada’s brother on multiple occasions. But “it was Gabino who directed it,” Nichols said. “He was in business and went to Cooper Street Pier to sell.”Defense attorney Peter Rachesky said his client was “the middle man on the lowest rung of the distribution ladder.” Velazco-Estrada didn’t sell often and mainly traded drugs to feed his addiction, Rachesky said.Velazco-Estrada apologized to Judge James Boyd for breaking the law and entering the country illegally.”I’m sorry. I won’t do these things again,” he said. “I’m very repentant.”Boyd told the defendant that drug-dealing injures the community and that Velazco-Estrada “chose to be a part of that system over a period of time.””For that reason, a Department of Corrections sentence is appropriate,” Boyd said.Velazco-Estrada was given credit for 248 days of time served.In other court news, a Carbondale man was arrested Sunday and charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old co-worker.Francisco Ortiz-Maldonado, 51, faces a felony count of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust. The alleged victim told police that Ortiz-Maldonado touched her breasts twice.The girl’s name and the name of the business where the alleged crime happened are being withheld to protect her identity.Ortiz-Maldonado, who was advised of the charge against him in Pitkin County district court Monday, was being held on $5,000 bond. He also has a federal immigration hold, meaning he may be deported if he bonds out of jail.He faces from 10 years to life in prison if convicted.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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