Drug sales near school net prison term for Walla Walla man

Roman Garcia was sentenced to 104 months behind bars after selling cocaine from his home across from Garrison Middle School.

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WALLA WALLA -- A man was sentenced Monday afternoon to more than eight-and-a-half years in prison for twice selling cocaine out of his home, the site of alleged gang activity, directly across the street from Garrison Middle School in March.

Roman Garcia, 22, of 258 Willard St., was ordered to serve 104 months out of a sentencing range of 68-108 months.

In handing down the sentence, Superior Court Judge Donald W. Schacht declined to go along with a defense request for a reduced sentence mandating drug treatment for Garcia. Schacht called Garcia's residence a "drug house," pointed out the multitude of illegal activities there and cited Garcia's "rather lengthy" criminal history.

Garcia was given credit for the 129 days he'd served in the County Jail, and was placed on a year of community custody, a form of probation, when he's released from prison.

In a statement before Schacht imposed the sentence, Garcia said he had tried to stay out of trouble, adding, "No one's perfect and I happened to make a mistake and I want to say I'm sorry."

Garcia pleaded guilty June 7 to two counts of delivery of cocaine within 1,000 feet of the perimeter of a school grounds. He admitted delivering the controlled substance to a confidential informant who went to the residence March 3 and 23.

Garcia also faced a third count of delivering cocaine, plus charges of delivering marijuana and possessing cocaine and marijuana with the intent to deliver the substances. But those were dismissed in exchange for his guilty pleas.

Police said they found the drugs, along with plastic bags and digital scales, in Garcia's bedroom when they served a search warrant March 27.

Garcia's half brother, Ricky J. Palomino, 17, pleaded innocent Monday to charges of delivering marijuana and twice delivering cocaine from the home March 4, in addition to two felonies in an unrelated case. The charges recently were transferred to adult court. A trial date wasn't immediately set.

Their mother, Priscilla Chavez, 39, was convicted by a jury in June of possessing cocaine that officials located in her bedroom March 27. Schacht sentenced her July 6 to 60 days in the County Jail, with credit for three days previously served, and the rest converted to partial confinement for work release. She also was placed on two years of community custody, a form of probation.

Schacht said at her sentencing hearing he is convinced the house has been a "hotbed for drug activity in this community for both adults and juveniles."

More than 20 law enforcement officers from various jurisdictions participated in raiding the home when the search warrant was served because of "numerous gang problems and the possibility of firearms" at the residence, according to a news release issued at the time.

In a letter filed in court, staff and students at Garrison lay out what they term "the grave impact this home, its gang affiliations and negativity have imposed" on the school.

The letter describes several incidents of vandalism, harassment and gang recruitment believed to be associated with the residence during the past decade.

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