Friday, September 28, 2007

More drug dealers plead guilty

Men indicted following major drug bust in April


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Steve R. Sanders Fidel Cornejo-Gomez

Two more drug dealers who were indicted by a Blaine County grand jury in April have pleaded guilty to methamphetamine charges.

The pleas were entered Wednesday morning in 5th District Court in Hailey by Fidel "Freddie" Cornejo-Gomez and Steve Richard Sanders II. Both men are 29. Sanders is an Oregon resident and Cornejo-Gomez previously lived in Ketchum but is suspected of being an illegal immigrant.

Both men accepted plea agreements with the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office prior to pleading guilty to reduced charges.

Cornejo-Gomez, who was originally charged with six felonies, pleaded guilty to a single count of delivery of methamphetamine, an offense in Idaho punishable by up to life in prison. The prosecutor's office will recommend that Cornejo-Gomez be sentenced to six years in prison, with three of them to be served before he's eligible for parole.

Speaking through a court interpreter, Cornejo-Gomez told Judge Robert J. Elgee that he is married, was born in Mexico and has only a sixth-grade education. Blaine County Jail records state that there is an "immigration hold" on Cornejo-Gomez, which indicates that he is in the U.S. illegally.

"If you plead guilty it will probably affect your ability to stay in the U.S.," Elgee told the defendant. "In fact, it might make it impossible for you to ever enter legally."

Sanders, originally charged in a grand jury indictment with two felonies, pleaded guilty to a single count of trafficking in methamphetamine, an offense in Idaho also punishable by up to life in prison.

"Are you pleading guilty because you're guilty and you know the state can prove it?" Elgee asked the defendant.

"Yes, sir," Sanders replied. "Your honor, I delivered a packet of methamphetamine to an undercover officer."

The prosecutor's office will recommend that Sanders be sentenced to six years in prison, with three of them to be served before he's eligible for parole.

Sentencing for both men was scheduled for 9 a.m. on Nov. 26.

Nine of 13 suspects indicted by the grand jury on drug charges have now entered guilty pleas.




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