Kelly Won’t Sentence Drug Suspect Who Pleaded Guilty, But Then Professed His Innocence in Pre-Sentence Report

State Supreme Court Justice William Kelly doesn’t believe in sentencing people to jail who say they are innocent, even if they have pleaded guilty to a felony charge.
This morning, Kelly noted Marco Vaquero-Jiminez told the Rockland Probation Department that he didn’t possess cocaine and the police coerced him into making a statement. The judge read from Vaquero-Jiminez’s pre-sentence report, apparently having done so in preparation for court.
Kelly noted that in April that Vaquero-Jiminez pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, admitting to possessing 26.7 grams of cocaine.
“He allocuted here under oath and told the Probation Department something completely different,” Kelly told the prosecutor Christopher Waters and defense attorney Mitchell P. Schecter.
Vaquero-Jiminez drove Nolberto Lopez-Gonzalez, but claims he didn’t sell drugs and didn’t benefit from what happened. Lopez-Gonzalez, 26, of Haverstraw was sentenced in May to a year on his guilty plea to third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He admitted selling 27 grams of cocaine for $1,500 in Spring Valley.
Kelly asked Vaquero-Jiminez if he was guilty.
Through a Spanish-speaking interpretor, Vaquero-Jiminez voiced his innocence. Kelly then told him he can withdraw his guilty plea and go to trial.
Schecter said client was not interested in withdrawing his guilty plea.
Kelly asked Schecter if he had not heard what his client said. “He says he’s innocent,” Kelly said. ” I don’t intend to sentence him.”
Kelly said he will hold a trial on the charges, but gave the prosecution and defense until June 23.
Vaquero-Jiminez faces a year in jail on his plea. Kelly told him if he failed to show up in court on June 23, he would sentence him to five years in state prison in abstenia.
Waters said after the court session that he would re-allocute Vaquero-Jiminez on the facts to hopefully show his guilt — and satisfy Kelly.

Steve Lieberman

Steve Lieberman joined The Journal News as an editor in February 1984 and became a reporter during the spring of 1986. He has covered police, courts and legal issues for more than a decade, after reporting on county, town, village and state governments and general issues. He received more than a dozen state awards for writing and reporting. Born and raised in The Bronx, he has lived in Rockland since 1988.