Walla Walla teen pleads guilty as adult to drug charges

Ricky J. Palomino had refused a deal that would have kept his case, and his potential sentencing, in juvenile court.

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WALLA WALLA -- An admitted gang member could be locked up for up to five years after pleading guilty Tuesday afternoon to drug charges.

Ricky J. Palomino, 17, of 258 Willard St., entered the guilty pleas to two counts of delivery of cocaine and one count of delivery of marijuana.

As a result, Palomino faces a standard-range term of 20-60 months in an adult prison when he's sentenced later. The prosecution is recommending Superior Court Judge Donald W. Schacht order Palomino to serve 40 months, the midpoint of the range, and agreed to drop other charges in exchange for the guilty pleas.

Also, the prosecution will not oppose a sentence that would reduce the period of incarceration for Palomino, but mandate drug treatment.

Police said Palomino delivered marijuana and twice delivered cocaine to a confidential informant who went to his home directly across the street from Garrison Middle School on March 4.

He also faced charges of residential burglary and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Officials said he fled into a residence in the 400 block of South Eighth Avenue on March 9 after a van he was in crashed into a parked vehicle.

A loaded .32-caliber semiautomatic pistol was found in plain view on the floor of the van, according to authorities. But those charges will be dismissed, according to terms of a plea agreement.

If convicted of all the charges, Palomino -- who will turn 18 later this month -- could have been ordered locked up in prison for a decade.

Although still 17, his case is being 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.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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