Appeals for leniency in sentencing meth dealer criticized

LENIENCY: Two former senators, the former Civil Defense Chief, two mayors and the current chief of staff for the governor of Guam have written letters in support of a lenient sentence for a former homeland security employee who pleaded guilty to taking part in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Post file photo

Two former senators, the Office of Civil Defense chief, two mayors and the current chief of staff for the governor of Guam have written letters in support of a lenient sentence for a former Guam Homeland Security employee who pleaded guilty to taking part in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

Ricky Q. Sanchez was employed at GHS when he was indicted on March 16, 2016 on allegations that he conspired with others to distribute 5 grams of methamphetamine between March and December of 2014.  

Sanchez entered a plea of guilty on May 2, 2016 and agreed to cooperate with authorities in their ongoing investigation. Sanchez faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

His prominent friends have written letters to Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood of the District Court of Guam asking her for leniency in his sentence.

In response, community activist Ken Leon-Guerrero sent an open letter to the chief judge calling for the maximum sentence to be imposed.

“Their pleas for leniency for a person who willfully abused his position gut the credibility of law enforcement’s effort to stop this plague on our people," Leon-Guerrero wrote. 

“All the letters that ask (for) mercy on his behalf for his family, ignore the impact his actions had on the community. What mercy did he, or any other drug dealers involved, show for the families now destroyed as a result of methamphetamine addiction?”

Tony Babauta, whose letter is dated Aug.15, 2017, which is before he became chief of staff for Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, wrote that he has known Sanchez “for many years” and considers him a “dear friend.” 

“I have spoken to Ricky about the crime which he has pleaded guilty and genuinely believe he understands the gravity of his actions,” wrote Babauta. “I appreciate every consideration of leniency, or probation.”

Charles Esteves, then Civil Defense administrator, wrote an Aug. 1, 2017 letter praising Sanchez for being “a very supportive employee” who “performed all his assigned duties.”

“I strongly advocate against the use, abuse, trafficking and selling of illicit substances,” wrote Esteves, who added: “if given a second chance, I’m sure Ricky can prove himself to be a positive contributor to our island." 

Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares wrote, “I know (Sanchez) is truly sorry for what he has done.” Agat Mayor Kevin Susuico said Sanchez “has been an awesome role model for his home village.”

Former Guam Sen. Frank Blas Jr. wrote, “I’m sure (Sanchez) truly regrets his actions ... I humbly ask for your lenient consideration.”

Former GHURA Director and Sen. Marcel Camacho wrote “leniency will allow (Sanchez) to pay time to society for his actions (and) eventually get back to helping his family.”

Sentencing for Sanchez is set for June 25.

Guilt Plea

According to the plea agreement a friend arranged to put Sanchez in contact with Francisco Arias who agreed to mail the meth to Sanchez at the Department of Homeland Security. Sanchez never met Arias. He only had phone contact with him, according to the plea agreement.

Arias made to mail meth to the Homeland Security address in Agana Heights. The first attempt failed because the address was wrong. The package was seized by postal inspectors in Nevada.  It was found to contain about 27 grams of 100% pure methamphetamine.

The second attempt succeeded, and  the package was delivered to Homeland Security. The plea agreement does not say how much meth was in the second package. According to the plea agreement Sanchez “admitted her was supposed to receive a package containing methamphetamine but he could not remember who he was supposed to give the package to.”  

Sanchez said he expected to receive between $500 to $1,000 for receiving the package.