Heroin Dealer Sentenced Before Audience of Drug Court Participants

By Victoria Kim 08/02/16

A Michigan judge invited drug court participants to the sentencing because it "would be an appropriate forum" for the dealer "to see the lives he's affected."  

Heroin Dealer Sentenced Before Audience of Drug Court Participants

A Michigan heroin dealer stood before a group of Saginaw County drug court participants as he was sentenced on July 25—after his lawyer unsuccessfully reasoned with the judge to give him a lesser sentence. 

“Obviously punishment is not a deterrent,” attorney James Gust told Circuit Judge James Borchard at the sentencing. “As long as there’s consumers, there will be drug dealers.” 

His client, Carlos Delgado, was found with 1.5 pounds of heroin in November of last year, in addition to a large marijuana grow operation, other narcotics, and firearms. He pleaded guilty in June to possessing with intent to deliver between 450 and 999 grams of heroin, possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possessing with intent to deliver 45 kilograms or more of cannabis. 

As a repeat drug offender with a 2010 cocaine conviction, his maximum potential prison sentence was doubled for each of the two drug charges, according to MLive.

But unlike his co-conspirators, his wife and his father, who were given probation instead of jail time, Delgado wasn’t as lucky. Judge Borchard sentenced him to 16 to 45 years in prison, as the drug court participants watched. 

“I’m not going to go easy on you. At all,” said Borchard. “Everyone in this courtroom knows somebody who has died from heroin use. Friends, associates. They’ve all been to numerous treatment programs, and then there’s somebody like you who helps somebody get back into it so they can get rich. I’m not going to tolerate that.”

Gust argued against a harsh sentence for his client, and asked if it would do any good. “Is that going to change anything in this town? Any of these individuals here, did they complain … that after his arrest, there was no more heroin in town? No. So what is the point?”

“There’s always a compassion for the people who are in drug court,” Gust added. “Is he the reason these people are in drug court? They want drugs. They will find them.”

But his arguments did not sway the judge, who helps oversee the county’s drug court program. “These are the lives you’re ruining here,” Borchard told Delgado, referring to the drug court participants in the courtroom. “These are the drug court participants who are addicted … You’re the one who makes it possible.”

“You don’t just ruin their lives,” the judge continued. “You ruin their families’ lives. Here’s where we’re spending our money trying to rehabilitate people, and they’re working very hard at it. But there’s still people outside who are tempting them, like you, that want to turn them back to drugs so you can get rich. And you did.”

Borchard had invited the drug court participants to Delgado’s sentencing, saying, “I thought this would be an appropriate forum … to see the lives he’s affected.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr