We question the kind of judicial wisdom that led to the decision to spare a former Department of Corrections officer from having to spend part of his life in federal prison. Former prison guard Edward Crisostomo, 33, has acknowledged he used a prison transport van to smuggle drugs and other contraband into the Mangilao correctional facility.
Following pleas for leniency, based on the value of his role as an informant who told on others involved in a massive drug smuggling ring in Guam's only prison, District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood agreed to give Crisostomo a relatively light sentence. He will be in "home detention" for 12 months.
Home is too comfy for Crisostomo. At home, anyone can watch movies, go online and enjoy home-cooked meals all day. It isn't punishment enough, or at all.
If this is the kind of deal corrupt public "servants" can get, there won't be enough of a lesson for other corrupt Guam public officials and employees to not betray the public's trust.
We don't think the judge did her best to balance empathy and public safety in Crisostomo's case.
What he did was brazen.
Crisostomo was involved in what a federal prosecutor called "drug transfers" into the prison compound, which has been plagued with drug use and incidents of inmates or detainees having been caught in possession of methamphetamine.
"When he used the prisoner transport van to pick up drugs, that's an abuse of power," federal prosecutor Belinda Alcantara said.
"He transported his duty weapon in the glove compartment" during the drug transfers, she said. "He confessed immediately."
A lot of lives have been ruined in Guam's drug crisis. When people are sent to the Mangilao prison, the expectation is they'd no longer be able to access drugs. The hope is they'd realize while in prison that they need to turn their lives around.
In the drug ring that Crisostomo was willingly involved, he was part of feeding the addiction of people within the confines of the prison. The effect of this drug ring on many families in our community is profoundly bad.
Yet when it was time to decide on a punishment for Crisostomo, the community's interest in the case was less important than judicial leniency.
In the sentencing hearing, there was a lot of focus on Crisostomo's personal setbacks rather than his betrayal of the public that had been paying his paycheck.
Federal public defender John Gorman had argued his client is "vulnerable to abuse" in prison as a former DOC guard, and said Crisostomo suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
In the sentencing hearing, the judge acknowledged Crisostomo had been through a drug recovery program.
"You are always going to be in recovery," she said.
"Yes, ma'am. It's a lifelong process," Crisostomo said.
"It's too bad you violated your badge of honor as a guard," Tydingco-Gatewood said.
"One day at a time. That's all I can do," Crisostomo said.
The chief judge also questioned Crisostomo about his decision to use the drug "ice."
"I don't know what's the real reason," he said. "It was just there. I thought it was the best thing in the world."
Crisostomo did not deserve the kind of leniency he got from the court. This is a case in which the drug convict scored, at the public's expense.