WALLA WALLA -- An admitted gang member was sentenced Monday afternoon in Superior Court to more than a year-and-a-half of incarceration for dealing drugs out of his home directly across the street from Garrison Middle School.
Ricky J. Palomino, whose 18th birthday was Monday, was ordered to serve 20 months under a drug-offender alternative. He was given credit for about 11 months he's spent locked up locally and will serve the rest in an adult prison.
The 20-month alternative sentence imposed by Judge Donald W. Schacht is half the midpoint of the standard range of 20-60 months of straight prison time Palomino ordinarily would have faced. Palomino will be required to undergo treatment while he's locked up and for an additional 20 months while on community custody after he's released. If he fails to comply, he will be returned to prison.
In a statement to Schacht before he handed down the sentence, Palomino apologized for his crimes. His attorney, Jim Barrett, said Palomino had changed substantially since he's been in jail.
"He's serious about this," Barrett said. "Serious about wanting to change." Barrett urged imposition of the sentencing alternative, saying mandated drug treatment will benefit Palomino and the community.
Schacht agreed, saying he believes Palomino is a young man who has a drug problem and has been inappropriately influenced by adults over the years. Schacht told him, "I'm afraid if we throw you to the lions, so to speak, society will not in any way benefit."
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Golden was recommending a 40-month prison term for Palomino, but didn't oppose the drug-offender alternative.
Palomino pleaded guilty Jan. 18 to two counts of delivery of cocaine and one count of delivery of marijuana. Police said he delivered marijuana and twice delivered cocaine to a confidential informant who went to his home at 258 Willard St. on March 4.
Although 17 at the time, his case was handled in adult court because he declined to accept an earlier prosecution plea offer in the court's juvenile department that would have incarcerated him until he turns 21.
Palomino's half brother, Roman Garcia, 22, was sentenced in August to more than eight-and-a-half years in prison for two cocaine deliveries from the home in March.
Officials have said the house has been the site of numerous gang problems. In a letter filed in court, staff and students at Garrison describe several incidents of vandalism, harassment and gang recruitment believed to be associated with the residence during the past decade.