A federal judge who Donald Trump once blasted as “unfair” to him because of his Mexican ancestry has handed a Mexican national a sentence of nearly 14 years in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel on Monday sentenced Hector Rodriguez-Chavez, 62, of Guadalajara to a 141-month term for pointing a loaded semiautomatic pistol at a U.S. Border Patrol agent in November 2018.
The agent was able to wrestle the gun out of his hands.
At a May 2016 rally in San Diego during his presidential campaign, Trump referred to Indiana-born Curiel as a “very hostile judge” and described him as “Mexican” who wouldn’t be fair in his then-pending Trump University case. (He later settled the lawsuit.)
NPR later noted how Curiel, while a federal prosecutor in the late 1990s, was targeted for assassination by a Tijuana drug cartel for leading a joint task force to take down the gang.
“At that point,” Curiel’s former boss recalled, “the United States Marshals Service removed Judge Curiel from his home and, for a year, had him live on a Navy base here in San Diego and then on separate occasions in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., outside of the danger area.”
On Monday, Curiel also tacked on an additional two years to the defendant’s sentence for violating the terms of his supervised release stemming from a 2014 conviction for illegally re-entering the country after being deported, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In imposing the sentence, Curiel noted that one of the purposes of the sentence was to promote respect for the law. He noted how Border Patrol agents must work in remote areas and that “few law enforcement officers place their life on the line to the extent that Border Patrol agents do.”
Aaron M. Heitke, chief patrol agent for the San Diego sector of the U.S. Border Patrol, said he was “pleased by this sentence.”
“Any day that our agents go home safe is a good day. Border Patrol agents risk their lives every day, protecting America and the agent’s quick thinking in this case prevented any bloodshed,” Heitke said.
— City News Service contributed to this report.
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