Lawyer says client sold drugs to help family
By Joe Gorman
The lawyer for a man who pleaded guilty to federal drug charges wrote in a sentencing memorandum this week his client turned to drug dealing to help his family.
Jeffrey Kurz, attorney for Michael Flores Maldonado, wrote in a memo to Judge Christopher A. Boyko of the U.S. Northern District Court Of Ohio that his client began working in the drug trade after a car accident in May 2013, involving his mother and stepfather, because he needed money right away but could not find a job.
Maldonado is set to be sentenced Tuesday by Judge Boyko after pleading guilty to charges he was involved in distributing heroin in Youngstown in July and August 2013 with another man, Santos Rivera.
Maldonado faces a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in federal prison.
Rivera was pulled over a by a member of the Ohio State Highway Patrol on Aug. 17, 2013, on Interstate 76 in Beaver Township, and a search of the car found more than 400 grams of heroin. That arrest led to his indictment.
The sentencing memorandum says that Maldonado has just one prior conviction on his record, from his native Puerto Rico, for which he received probation, before he was arrested in this case, and argues for a minimum sentence because of his lack of a substantial criminal record.
The memorandum also says that circumstances beyond his control led Maldonado to dealing drugs. It says he moved to Youngstown in 2012 with his wife and two children, none of whom speak English, where his mother and stepfather lived. He had a job briefly but lost it, the memorandum said.
When the accident happened, the memorandum said Maldonado decided to sell drugs because he had heard that he could make a lot of quick money, which he needed to support his family. Maldonado had no experience in selling drugs and even used his own phone in his own name as he did so.
He also had no idea of the manufacture, order or quality of the drugs that were being sold, the memorandum said.