Ex-firefighter Benavente wants a new sentence


A former firefighter whose sentence of 30 years in prison for sexual exploitation of a child was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit now wants the U.S. District Court for the NMI to review the pleadings in his case and give him a new sentence.

Richard Sullivan Benavente, who is in prison in New York, filed a motion pro se or without a lawyer before the U.S. District Court for the NMI.

Benavente asked the court to remove the enhancement of the sentence, give him credit, and resentence him.

The former firefighter said that, in enhancing his sentence for obstruction of justice, the District Court highlighted two bases—his false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on April 25, 2014, and his breach of the plea agreement.

Benavente said his alleged lies in the Raymond Roberto case did not hinder or impede the U.S. government’s investigation or prosecution of the underlying offense for which he was charged.

This nullifies the two-point enhancement for his sentence for obstruction of justice, he said.

He said it denied him the right to a reduction in sentence.

In October 2017, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s imposition of a 30-year prison sentence on Benavente. The Ninth Circuit judges ruled that Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona did not abuse her discretion in imposing a two-level sentencing enhancement on Benavente.

Manglona concluded that Benavente obstructed justice by lying to the U.S. government and violating his plea agreement by testifying falsely at Roberto’s trial.

Manglona sentenced Benavente in 2016 to the statutory maximum after explaining that the defendant repeatedly enticed or coerced at least two minor girls into sex in exchange for drugs, and had violated his plea agreement.

In October 2015, Manglona determined that Benavente lied in his testimony at the trial of Roberto, who was then charged with coercion and enticement of the same minors that Benavente sexually exploited.

The judge said that by lying at the Roberto trial, the former firefighter breached his plea agreement with the U.S. government.

Roberto was acquitted.

In 2013, a federal grand jury indicted Benavente on several counts of sexual exploitation of a child. He entered into a plea agreement.

In 2014, Benavente pleaded guilty to a count of sexual exploitation of a child.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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