Instead, the 39-year-old Garcia, already in custody, got slammed with a prison term of more than nine years.
"The fact that he's a police officer plays such a major role in his life, and it has to play a major role in my sentencing," U.S. District Judge
In April, a 12-person
The judge highlighted that Garcia's actual documented illegal charges amounted to so little money -- less than
Garcia's decision to go to trial rather than admit to his credit card scheme and cooperate with the
Garcia, two other suspended
On Wednesday, Garcia's defense attorney,
Arango rattled off that Garcia received numerous commendations, was named officer of the year, served on a
"He did what he could to better himself and to make himself a better detective," Arango, a former federal prosecutor, told the judge. "His whole life is his family and his kids. He's the center of his entire family's life."
She tried to persuade the judge to give Garcia a two-and-a-half year prison sentence, arguing that the loss of the job that defined him was already severe punishment. "This very public fall from grace is enough," she said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney
The prosecutor also said that Garcia stole eight credit cards from a criminal suspect, used them for his personal benefit and then tried to charge the man with having stolen the cards from others.
"When a police officer violates his oath, he should be punished and the punishment should be severe," Lacosta said, recommending a seven-and-a-half year prison term.
Moreno ended up crafting a sentence of nine years and four months, which included stacking four minimum-mandatory two-year sentences for Garcia's convictions on aggravated identity theft.
Moreno said he imposed the harsher sentence to promote "respect for the law," especially from a police officer. He said "more is expected" of law enforcement officials, politicians, lawyers and clergymen who break the law.
Garcia was arrested by federal agents in
The arrests unleashed a series of scandals in the small city west of
Garcia was a member of an elite detective unit now accused of unjustified arrests and of maintaining an evidence room separate from the official one to hide items seized after arrests.
Camacho, who created fraudulent credit cards using stolen numbers, gave some to Garcia and to former
At Garcia's trial, the jury found he made unlawful purchases totaling about
Camacho, Munoz and Camacho's nephew, Asnays Fernandez, testified at Garcia's trial. They all made deals with federal authorities to receive reduced sentences in exchange for their testimony.
Camacho was not charged in the federal credit card fraud case. Instead, he received a 10-year probationary sentence in an unrelated state case. Fernandez, who supplied Camacho with stolen credit card numbers, got a five-year probationary sentence in the federal case. Munoz was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
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