A 21-year-old man who accompanied his now-jailed father in a bid to sell about 44 pounds of cocaine to an undercover federal drug agent at a Highland Park home doubling as an unlicensed day care center was sentenced today to home detention and community service.
Miguel Talamante could have received about three years in federal prison, but U.S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin determined that the "very unique" case warranted a sentence of the four months the defendant already has served.
Talamante was sentenced to five years of supervised release, including six months' home detention and 1,000 hours of community service.
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Olguin found that Talamante played a minor role in the crime -- put into action by his father -- and exhibited faultless behavior while on pretrial release, showed good grades in his college courses, had strong family ties and was not likely to re-offend.
Talamante also qualified for the "safety valve" provision of federal sentencing guidelines available to low-level, nonviolent, first-time offenders.
The defendant's attorney, Mieke ter Poorten, told the court the case against her client stemmed from "one horrible day that changed the trajectory of his life."
Talamante pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court in December 2017 to possession with intent to distribute the drug. His 49-year-old father, Felipe, who also pleaded guilty, was sentenced in August to almost six years behind bars for running the scheme.
The judge said the elder Talamante negotiated the amount and price of the drugs and the son merely complied when asked by his father to accompany him to make the transaction.
"There's no excuse for what I did," the younger Talamante wrote in a letter to the judge.
After the men were charged two years ago, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer filed a nuisance abatement lawsuit against the Highland Park property.
"The drug activity we allege at this home was a massive blight on the community and especially outrageous because little kids were caught right in the middle of it," Feuer said at the time. "Shutting down this day care center, combined with the other tough conditions we fought for, will make this neighborhood safer for everyone."
A search warrant was served at the property in 2015, resulting in the elder Talamante's arrest and the recovery of 44 pounds of cocaine. A second search warrant served on the property two years later resulted in the federal charges against father and son and an additional 44 pounds of cocaine was recovered, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The judge wished the defendant good luck Thursday.
"I think you have a good future ahead of you if you keep doing what you're doing," he said from the bench.