Jan. 15, 2006 — Montclaire Guishard, a former DPNR officer convicted of bribery and related offenses, will be re-sentenced by order of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
According to a unanimous judgment published on Jan. 10 in Philadelphia, Guishard's conviction in an earlier trial before former U.S. District Court Judge Thomas K. Moore was confirmed, but the earlier sentencing was not.
Guishard, who had received several concurrent jail terms — the longest being just shy of 20 years — will be re-sentenced by the District Court.
His attorneys successfully argued that the District Court "treated the Federal Sentencing Guidelines as mandatory" according to the decision, when it should have been used as "an advisory framework."
The 3rd Circuit ordered the re-sentencing but added "we cannot ascertain whether the District Court would have applied a greater or lesser sentence under an advisory framework."
According to court papers, Guishard was on maritime patrol as a conservation enforcement officer for the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources when he and another officer stopped a boat, arrested one of its occupants, a man named Lester de Castro, and seized "at least 36 kilograms of cocaine and about 20 pounds of marijuana." (See "Authorities: Speeding Boat Was Carrying Drugs".)
The boat's other occupant, who swam away uncaptured, was later identified from his abandoned wallet as Clifford Potter.
Meanwhile, according to the decision, Potter's other colleague, Craig Hendricks, was being investigated by the FBI for suspected drug dealing. After Hendricks was arrested (See "Investigation Nets Eight Arrests, $1 Million"), he admitted bribing Guishard to "misidentify Potter if Potter returned to St. Thomas."
The total bribe payment was to be $20,000, of which $5,000 had been paid and $15,000 was still owed.
The FBI then set up a sting and arrested Guishard right after he picked up the remaining $15,000.
Guishard's lawyers argued that Judge Moore had allowed the use of improper evidence in the course of the trial, but the appeals court ruled that the judge had ruled appropriately on several disputed points. While the convictions were unanimously upheld by the three higher court judges, the sentencing was not.
Guishard had been convicted of: (1) conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute drugs; (2) bribery in a federally-funded program; (3) making a false statement; and (4) misprision (i.e., concealment) of felony.
The timing of the re-sentencing was not discussed in the decision, nor was the current location of the defendant.
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