Diversion or probation granted in four cases

In a stacked calendar of court hearings on July 9, 2019, four individuals were granted either probation or a diversion program under Sixth Judicial District Court Judge Michael Montero. 

Junior Escoto-Albarenga

Junior Escoto-Albarenga previously pleaded guilty to being under the influence of a controlled substance, a category E felony. Montero stated that potential penalties for the felony include 1-4 years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine; whereas probation is mandatory under most circumstances. 

Escoto-Albarenga, age 24, admitted to being under the influence of methamphetamine, a schedule I controlled substance in Humboldt County on September 24, 2018. 

Escoto-Albarenga was represented by Humboldt County Public Defender Matthew Stermitz, who said that his client is an orphan who has no parents and managed to go to school for a few years with the assistance of his sister and is from outside the country. Stermitz reported his client has been deported several times and continues to return to the states because where he is from, most people are either in a gang or deceased. 

“I don’t know what’s easier, to grant him probation or a prison term and let him do his time but I assume sooner or later ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is going to come pick him up and take him back. 

The state did not oppose a sentence of probation in the hearing. During the Escoto-Albarenga’s allocution, he briefly questioned a warrant out of Denver, Colo. 

Escoto-Albarenga was sentenced to 12-32 months in prison with credit for time served of 107 days. The sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation for 36 months with conditions that he fully complies with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and pays fees ($25 administrative assessment, $60 forensic and $153 DNA collection and analysis) within 30 days. 

Lucas Schweizer

Lucas Steven Schweizer pleaded guilty to one category B felony count of transporting a controlled substance in a May 28, 2019 court hearing. Potential penalties for the charge include one to six years in prison with a maximum $20,000 fine and eligibility for probation. 

Stermitz represented Schweizer and reported to the court that a diversion application had been filed; however, that Schweizer was not interested in participating in the diversion program that included drug court and rather just wanted to take the felony. 

Schweizer, age 21, admitted to transporting methamphetamine in excess of four grams in Humboldt County on April 20, 2019. 

Stermitz said his client has no history to speak of prior to this arrest and suggested that perhaps he succumbed to addiction in this case. District Attorney Michael MacDonald reported that the state does not oppose probation in this case. 

The department of parole and probation recommended a sentence of 12-48 months, suspended with probation and completion of the 18-month Humboldt County Drug Court program as a condition of probation. 

Montero explained to Schweizer that with the diversion program, he would have a chance to avoid the felony conviction by completing the drug court program, rather than being convicted of a felony and then still being required to complete drug court.

When Montero asked Schweizer for his allocution, Schweizer said nothing. Montero explained to Schweizer that this was his chance to speak on his own behalf and make a statement to the court regarding what he would like for the future and for the sentencing. Schweizer again reported that he didn’t want to make a statement to the court. 

Schweizer was convicted of transporting in a controlled substance, category B felony and sentenced to 12-48 months in prison with credit for time served of 20 days. The court accepted the plea negotiations and suspended the prison sentence, granting Schweizer probation for 36 months. 

Montero explained that if Schweizer fails to complete any requirement of his probation, he could be remanded back to the court and sent to carry out the underlying prison sentence outlined in the judgment of conviction. 

Schweizer was ordered to pay a $25 administrative assessment fee, $153 DNA collection and analysis fee, $60 forensic fee and $250 public defender fee.

As part of the 36-month probation, Schweizer was ordered to abstain from alcoholic beverages, controlled substances, marijuana, inhalants, chemicals, poisons, solvents and other over the counter medications which contain alcohol or narcotics unless prescribed by a licensed medical professional and approved by his probation officer. He was advised to also stay out of smoke shops, vape shops, liquor stores or other facilities where alcohol is the main source of revenue. 

Schweizer was ordered to complete the 18-month Humboldt County Adult Drug Court Program as a term of his probation and submit to electronic monitoring and digital storage media monitoring. 

Gustavo Sandoval Munoz

Gustavo Sandoval Munoz pleaded guilty to one count possession of a controlled substance, a category E felony on May 28, 2019. An application for diversion was filed with the court on his behalf by Stermitz, his legal counsel.

Montero said potential penalties for the category E felony include one to four years in prison with a maximum $5,000 fine and probation is mandatory under most circumstances.  

Munoz, age 18, admitted to possessing methamphetamine in Humboldt County on April 21, 2019. 

“The department of parole and probation recommendation notwithstanding, I would think Mr. Munoz is their perfect person to be placed in a diversion program and I’m certain that the legislature, governor and voters of Nevada had Mr. Munoz in mind when they created the diversion program,” said Stermitz. “He has much to benefit. by going into the diversion program. He likes to work, he doesn’t like to be in jail and I think he will take to the diversion program.”

The state agreed with the argument of Stermitz. Munoz told the court that he would like the opportunity to participate in the diversion program and that he’s currently working, going to counseling and staying clean. He said he has never had the opportunity to participate in a drug court program. 

Montero granted the application for diversion, meaning that Munoz has the opportunity to complete the 18-month adult drug court program and return to court and withdraw his guilty plea, allowing him to avoid a felony conviction in this case. If Munoz doesn’t successfully complete the drug court program, the court could rescind the diversion and sentence him in the felony charge. 

The diversion program includes 36 months of formal probation and successful completion of the Humboldt County Adult Drug Court program. 

“I’m going to give you this chance to prove to all of us that you can be successful and complete a term of probation successfully,” said Montero. 

Jeramiah Jon Turner

Jeramiah Jon Turner faced a misdemeanor conviction of resisting a public officer, a charge which originated in Justice Court and was transferred to Sixth Judicial District Court by stipulation of legal counsel. 

Stermitz, who represented Turner filed an application of treatment for his client. Turner faced up to 6 months in prison and a maximum $1,000 fine for the offense, along with additional court fees. 

Turner pleaded no contest to refusing to obey the commands of a law enforcement officer in Humboldt County on September 29, 2018. 

Stermitz told the court that his client has suffered from a psychiatric disorder for some time and qualifies for a diversion program to avoid a conviction in the matter. MacDonald agreed on behalf of the state. 

In his allocution, Turner apologized for his behavior and said he has a plan in place to stay on track and asked to be given the opportunity to participate in mental health court through a diversion program. 

Montero granted the diversion program and suspended the sentencing in the matter and stated that since this is a misdemeanor offense, there would be no formal probation. He said that he will be required to complete the mental health court program, lasting approximately one year and any other requirements that are part of the program.