Prosecutors seek 15 years for ex-Dublin prison warden convicted of sex abuse
OAKLAND, Calif. - Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to stray from normal procedures and send a former Dublin prison warden to 15 years behind bars – more than 10 years more than the sentencing guidelines recommend.
At the same time, Ray Garcia's attorney wants U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers to sentence the former warden – convicted of seven counts of sexual abuse and one count of lying to the FBI – to no more than 4 years in prison, but hopefully, just two.
The maximum sentence for Garcia under the federal guidelines would be 4.8 years in prison.
These dueling memorandums were filed Thursday ahead of Garcia's sentencing scheduled for March 22 in Oakland, where the probation department is recommending that the former warden be taken immediately into custody.
Gonzales has already signaled her disgust with current sentencing guidelines in February when she reluctantly sent former FCI Dublin prison cook Enrique Chavez to prison to nearly two years.
She made it clear she thought Chavez should be incarcerated for much longer than that. Chavez pleaded guilty to one count of abusive contact with an incarcerated woman, though he was originally accused of abusing more than one woman.
In court, Gonzalez lambasted the U.S. Sentencing Commission – none of whom were present – for what she feels is lax punishment for sexual abuse.
"How are these guidelines so low?" she asked out loud in court. "I sentence people for crack and cocaine for many more years. And this is so much worse in many ways."
Garcia, 55, of Merced, was formally convicted Dec. 8, 2022, of sexually abusing three women between 2019 and 2021.
He is one of five correctional officers at FCI Dublin – the most at any one prison – charged with sex crimes. Four so far have been convicted, including Garcia.
One story of abuse stood out in particular. During the trial, a woman named Melissa testified that Garcia told her to get on her hands and knees while he took naked photographs of her. He then instructed her to insert a half-eaten candy cane inside her vagina. She complied, although it hurt, and she was embarrassed, she testified.
In seeking the 15-year sentence, Asst. U.S. Attorneys Molly Priedeman and Andrew Paulson noted the ultimate power Garcia had in controlling these womens' lives, and how he continually denied all his wrongdoings under oath.
"Garcia's crime cannot be overstated," they wrote in their sentencing memorandum, adding that a significant sentence is needed to deter others. "As the warden, Garcia set the tone for the rest of the institution. By abusing inmates without any consequences for so long, Garcia's actions sent a dangerous message that sexual misconduct would be tolerated without consequences."
In his sentencing memorandum, defense attorney Kevin Little wrote that he "hotly disputes" many facts entered into evidence. For example, Little denied that Garcia had complete power in the prison, never showed women pictures of his penis, never penetrated a woman's vagina and never gave her candy, as some examples.
Instead, Little urged compassion for Garcia, who as a young man, "rose from poverty and sporadic homelessness" and then who went on to become a federal warden despite not having a college degree.
Little lauded Garcia's 32-prison career, saying he was the "only federal corrections officer ever to himself capture an escaped inmate" and is an "exemplary family man" who still cares for his elderly father.
Garcia, his attorney said, also has a special needs son, who will suffer greatly if his father is in prison for that long. Little argued that his client should be not be remanded following the sentencing hearing, so that he can attend his son's 16h birthday.
Finally, Little also noted that because of Garcia's stature – the first warden in U.S. history to be convicted of sex crimes – he would likely serve an isolated sentence in a remote institution far from family and friends.
That type of solitary sentence, Little argued, is well known to be psychologically detrimental.
Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at email@example.com or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez