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Monday, April 21, 2014

Conviction, sentence in ‘ice’ case affirmed

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the federal court’s conviction and sentence of a former garment worker who was found guilty in the third largest haul of methamphetamine or “ice” in the CNMI so far.

Circuit Judges Susan Graber, Jay S. Bybee, and Morgan Christen ruled that since defendant Yong Ming Song committed a traffic violation, the police officer’s motives for pulling him over are irrelevant.

Song had argued that he has a defense of sentencing entrapment or manipulation.

“Even assuming he has not waived this argument, defendant’s sentencing entrapment and manipulation claims fail,” said the judges in a two-page order filed in court Thursday.

The judges said that Song’s decision as to the route he took was not influenced by law enforcement.

Song also argued that the sentencing penalties under 21 U.S.C. Section 860(a) should not apply.

“Even assuming that lack of voluntary presence is a defense to Section 860(a), the factual record in this case does not support such a defense,” the judges said.

The Criminal Code provides for consecutive sentences for manufacturing or distributing and possessing with intent to distribute “ice” where children reside or are present.

Police Sgt. Anthony Macaranas and police officer Daniel Punimata had flagged down Song’s car along Beach Road in San Jose on Sept. 11, 2008, after seeing him driving without a seatbelt.

Song’s suspicious behavior prompted the officers to search the vehicle, where they found “ice” that, according to the prosecution, weighed 149 grams worth between $60,000 to $75,000.

In February 2009, a federal jury found Song guilty of possession of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school with intent to distribute.

In May 2009, then chief judge Alex R. Munson sentenced the defendant to 15 years and eight months in prison.

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