'It's meth, your honor'

COURT APPEARANCE: Former Department of Corrections officer Jerome Taimanglo San Nicolas, right, failed a drug test before his sentencing hearing Thursday, July 2, in Hagåtña. Standing at left is San Nicolas' attorney, John Bell. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

Former Department of Corrections officer Jerome Taimanglo San Nicolas was high on methamphetamine on the day he was scheduled to be sentenced for his part in a major prison contraband scheme.

San Nicolas appeared before Superior Court of Guam Judge Anita Sukola on Thursday.

He went to Adult Probation Services prior to the sentencing hearing, and that is where he tested positive for using illegal drugs.

"He's signed a declaration of admission," the probation officer said to the court.

"What kind of drug is it?" said Sukola.

"It's meth, your honor," said the probation officer.

"Methamphetamine. And he signed an affidavit saying that he took it?" said Sukola.

"That's correct," the probation officer said.

"This would be his fourth violation," Sukola said. "Third time he tested positive for methamphetamine."

San Nicolas was immediately taken into custody by court marshals and will be held at DOC until his sentencing hearing, now set for July 10.

Defense attorney John Bell told the court that San Nicolas was already in the process of getting help for his drug addiction.

"My client is not contesting it, your honor," said Bell. "He did let me know that he just got in touch with Lighthouse (Recovery Center) and he is working on his recovery."

"That's very good," said Sukola. "We can't do the sentencing today (Thursday), because technically you were tested and they found that you are still under the influence of methamphetamine, and I am just not sure you are coherent with me and understanding what is going on."

Contraband plea

San Nicolas has since pleaded guilty to official misconduct and could face up to six months in prison with credit for time served.

The plea agreement also calls for the dismissal of other charges brought against him, including conspiracy to promote major prison contraband, receiving bribes and possession of a firearm without a Guam Firearms Identification card.

The former corrections guard was among a dozen others charged in a scheme that involved the smuggling of drugs and other contraband into the prison in 2017.

Sexual misconduct allegations

In May of this year, San Nicolas won his appeal in the Supreme Court of Guam on a separate case that resulted in the overturning of his conviction of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The justices concluded that the trial court had abused its discretion in excluding the cross-examination testimony, and that the error prejudiced San Nicolas because he was prevented from challenging the credibility of his accuser.

The case, which accused of him of allegedly molesting a 15-year-old girl known to him, has been sent back to the lower court to be tried again.

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