EL PASO — Former County Commissioner Willie Gandara Jr., asked forgiveness from God, his constituents, and his family minutes before he was sentenced Wednesday.
He was sobbing, insisting that his ignorance and greed led him down a dark path, but that he was deeply sorry for the pain he had caused. Judge Frank Montalvo was not the least bit convinced. The judge called Gandara Jr. a master of disguise, who was leading a double life and was up to his neck in illegal acitivites.
Gandara was sentenced to six and a half years in prison and ordered to pay a $300 thousand fine. Officers took Gandara into custody immediately after the sentencing and his wife, daughter, and other family members began crying hysterically. A handcuffed Gandara turned around and told his family "I love you" before officers took him away.
Willie Gandara Jr., was a former Socorro mayor and county commissioner. He resigned from his seat as county commissioner after his arrest by DEA agents. Gandara pleaded guilty to two drug charges in July and also admitted to dealing almost 124 pounds of marijuana from his Coker Road property in October 2011.
Judge Montalvo compared Gandara to Pablo Escobar, a big time Columbian drug dealer who once made billions from shipping cocaine into the United States. The judge suggested to Gandara that he should sell his numerous properties to pay the fine. Otherwise, Judge Montalvo warned he would have the us attorney come after the 37-year old felon to collect the money.