A former Texas police officer was sentenced to 130 months in prison on April 9 for possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute. The 40-year-old man will also serve four years of supervised release after completing his custodial sentence. In January, he admitted to helping a Hidalgo County criminal gang to rob drug traffickers while working for the Donna Independent School District Police Department.
The man admitted to conducting traffic stops so the gang he was associated with could steal drugs from narcotics smugglers and dealers. The gang also robbed drug stash houses and, on at least one occasion, held a terrified family at gunpoint after being given the wrong address. The man maintains that he merely facilitated the gang's activities and never participated in their acts of violence. In return for his guilty plea on the marijuana count, prosecutors agreed to dismiss a cocaine charge against him.
The judge who handed down the sentence was not swayed by the man's tearful plea for a second chance, and he was unmoved by several letters written on his behalf by members of the local community. The judge told the man that his drug charges had eroded the public trust that law enforcement relies on, and he made a scathing reference to a letter of support written by the current mayor of Donna.
This case reveals why the vast majority of criminal prosecutions are resolved with plea agreements. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may understand that prosecutors are more likely than judges to consider a more lenient approach. This is because prosecutors are under tremendous pressure to close cases and will often reduce charges and penalties significantly in return for a swift and successful outcome.
Source: KTXS, "Former Donna ISD Police Officer sentenced for possession of drugs", Staff report, April 9, 2019
Source: The Progressive Times, "Former Donna ISD police officer sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison for working with drug traffickers", Dave Hendricks, April 9, 2019