A Texas constable and probation/parole officers in Massachusetts and North Carolina are in the spotlight this week. Let's get to it:
In Brownsville, Texas, a former Cameron County constable was sentenced September 11 to four years and nine months in federal prison for selling marijuana from the precinct evidence room. Former Constable Saul Ochoa, 37, had pleaded guilty in July to selling 10 pounds of marijuana to a confidential informant in return for the dropping of three additional counts of marijuana sales. All told, Ochoa is suspected of selling at least 175 pounds of seized marijuana he stole from the evidence room. Only 15 pounds were in the evidence room when there should have been 190 pounds. Ochoa was the only person with a key to the evidence locker. Ochoa told investigators he sold the drugs to finance a $40 a day cocaine habit. When he was arrested in May, police found eight pounds of marijuana, along with a loaded 9 mm Beretta, two shot guns, shot gun ammunition, and an M-16 in his squad car. Investigators also found a small amount of cocaine in his wallet and evidence bags with control numbers matching a constable's office marijuana seizure. At Ochoa's home, investigators found a digital scale, a lighter, pipe, two hunting rifles, a brick of marijuana, and more empty evidence bags.
In New Bern, North Carolina, a former North Carolina probation and parole officer was sentenced September 11 to 46 months in federal prison for aiding in the peddling of crack cocaine. Patricia Lisa Gederberg, 42, was convicted of possession with the intent to distribute more than five grams of crack and aiding and abetting. According to federal prosecutors, Gederberg used her state-issued vehicle to meet with contacts she provided with classified documents and for the transportation of drugs. She was charged last October and copped a plea in December.
In Springfield, Massachusetts, a former state probation officer was sentenced September 9 to 2 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to a series of drug dealing charges. Juan Latorre, a 23-year veteran probation officer, was arrested in March 2007 with three other men as police broke up a large Oxycontin and other pain pill distribution network. Police seized $100,000 in cash during the bust. Latorre pleaded guilty to possession of an opium derivative with intent to distribute, possession of methadone with intent to distribute, possession of diazepam with intent to distribute, and violation of a drug-free school zone. While that case was making its way through the courts, Latorre was busted again and has now ended up also pleading guilty to an additional four counts of heroin distribution and one of possession. His attorney said he was strung-out on Oxycontin after a previous injury.