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Drug dealer gets lesser sentence for assistance

By Alex Bridges-abridges@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG -- A one-time cocaine dealer for former Winchester attorney Paul H. Thomson received less prison time than guidelines suggested in exchange for helping federal authorities.

U.S. District Judge Glen E. Conrad sentenced Oscar A. Salvatierra-Jovel, 39, formerly of Winchester, in federal court in Harrisonburg to concurrent 18-month terms for each of four counts of distribution of cocaine and one count of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.

The defendant also likely faces deportation after he serves his sentence, according to court documents.

Salvatierra-Jovel had faced serving at least five years in a U.S. prison for dealing drugs in the Winchester area in 2010. Conspiracy calls for a mandatory minimum prison term of five years, but a conviction can carry a sentence of up to 40 years plus a $2 million fine.

Each distribution conviction can carry a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $1 million fine.

Conrad ordered Salvatierra-Jovel to serve three years of supervised release. At the time of his release Salvatierra-Jovel must be delivered to an authorized immigration official for deportation proceedings, according to the sentencing documents. The defendant must not illegally re-enter the United States, and doing so would violate the terms of the supervised release, the judge ordered. Should deportation not occur, the defendant must report to the probation office within 72 hours of his release from the Bureau of Prisons.

Salvatierra-Jovel pleaded guilty in April under an agreement reached between the U.S. and his attorney, Fred Heblich.

Neither the plea agreement nor a statement of the facts submitted in the case identified any of the defendant's buyers.

However, documents filed in the federal case against Thomson identify Salvatierra-Jovel as a supplier to the former attorney through his legal assistant, Nannette S. Boden.

U.S. prosecutors Timothy J. Heaphy and Grayson A. Hoffman filed a motion the day of Salvatierra-Jovel's hearing asking the court to depart downward from the federal sentencing guideline range as well as the applicable mandatory minimum statutory prison term. Prosecutors sought the sentence "based upon the substantial assistance he provided to law enforcement authorities." Conrad granted the motion and sentenced the defendant.

The U.S. attorney's office would not comment on the decision-making involved in filing the motion. Information on the sentence recommended by the guidelines was not available.

Such information often comes in a presentence report, which is not a public document.
Boden pleaded guilty in March to charges of cocaine distribution and conspiracy to tamper with evidence in a federal investigation. Boden, who also has been cooperating with authorities, faces sentencing Sept. 26.

Thomson pleaded guilty June 27 to five charges, and his sentencing is set for Sept. 27.

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