Former firefighter Richard Sullivan Benavente is appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from a 30-year imprisonment sentence slapped against him for sexual exploitation of a child.
Benavente is also appealing from the U.S. District Court for the NMI’s order, holding him in breach of the plea agreement that he entered with the U.S. government.
Benavente, through counsel Michael Dotts, filed his notice of appeal yesterday in federal court.
The defendant is appealing for the Ninth Circuit reverse the 30-year maximum sentence and the ruling finding him in breach of the plea agreement.
Last Feb. 22, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona sentenced the 45-year-old Benavente to the maximum imprisonment of 30 years.
Last October, Manglona determined that Benavente lied in his testimony at the trial of Raymond Roberto, who was then charged with coercion and enticement of some of the same minors that Benavente sexually exploited.
The judge said by giving false testimony at the Roberto trial, the former firefighter materially breached his plea agreement with the U.S. government.
At the trial in September 2014, the prosecution presented evidence that Roberto used a prepaid SIM card with a number ending in x3443 to contact minor girls for sex.
Testifying for the defense, Benavente testified that, from mid-June to July of 2013, he in fact used the x3443 SIM card to contact the minors.
Roberto was acquitted.
Because of Benavente’s testimony, the U.S. government asked the court to find him in breach of his plea agreement for allegedly lying about his use of the x3443 SIM card during the Roberto trial.
Roberto used to serve as acting director of the CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife.
In 2013, a federal grand jury indicted Benavente on several counts of sexual exploitation of a child. He cooperated with authorities and entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. government.
In February 2014, Benavente pleaded guilty to a count of sexual exploitation of a child.