Drug kingpin may be free man in a few years after plea - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Drug kingpin may be free man in a few years after plea

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - Already convicted and facing life in prison, it marked a strange twist in the high profile drug case of Mateo Sardoma Jr.

KUAM News brought you the story on Friday that he was able to change his plea  even though he was found guilty by a jury of his peers.

It looks like the drug kingpin will be a free man in a matter of years.

Sardoma may have been sentenced to life in prison, but thanks to a plea agreement accepted by the District Court of Guam on Friday, he'll be free man in a couple of years.

According to defense attorney Curtis Van De Veld, Sardoma's plea agreement includes admitting to possessing crystal methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm. These charges warrant at most eleven years behind bars.

"We specifically included within the plea agreement that only some of the evidence that was presented at trial related to Mr. Sardoma's convictions because of the fact that Mr. Sardoma contends that many of the government's witnesses lied while on the witness stand. I believe that the jury members believed that the person's who testified were largely dishonest and untruthful," he explained.

Along with these suspicions, Van De Veld notes a number of faults on the government's end, including failing to provide timely information on discovery, admission of improper evidence, and most recently alleged jury misconduct.

As we've been reporting, Van De Veld motioned for a new trial because a number of jurors talked openly on Facebook and with others regarding the case. This motion was vacated with the acceptance of the plea agreement.

Although the u.s. Attorney's office declined to comment on the matter due to pending sentencing, Van De Veld states it's a win-win situation for both parties. After all, a new trial for Sardoma would cost the government up to $2 million in attorney's fees and off-island marshals.

"The jury's verdict is subject to the potential of being put set aside because of the motion for a new trial. There is the ability for the court to vacate those convictions," he told KUAM News. "The government has elected to enter into the plea agreement and dismiss the case. The court has the discretion if it deems it serves the best interest of the community."

Van de Veld anticipates his client will receive good time credits as well as credits for participating in a drug treatment program. This on top of credits for time already served and Sardoma could see as little as five and a half more years behind bars.

Co-defendants Rudy Sablan and Maria Edrosa who were also convicted entered similar plea agreements with the government. Charges against Sardoma and Sablan will be dismissed at the time of their sentencing scheduled for august. Edrosa's agreement, which deals with the returned verdicts, will not result in dismissal.

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