Riverside County defrocked priest pleads guilty to selling, possessing drugs [Updated]
Anthony Martinez Garduno, 51, a self-proclaimed Catholic bishop, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug count and four felony drug counts, including possession of the "date-rape" narcotic GHB, authorities said.
Garduno also pleaded guilty to possessing a stolen .32-caliber semiautomatic handgun.
Garduno was arrested Dec. 29 after detectives determined he was selling methamphetamine and was in possession of other drugs at his Our Lady of Tepeyac Church, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said.
Detectives are investigating allegations that Garduno sexually assaulted underage males at the church, the department said.
Garduno was tried by the Roman Catholic Church for heresy and defrocked in 1993, said John Andrews, a spokesman for the Diocese of San Bernardino.
"He has no official relationship to the Roman Catholic Church," Andrews said.
Afterwards, Garduno formed his own church in Home Gardens, an unincorporated area of Riverside County.
He had initially pleaded not guilty to the drug and gun counts but entered his new plea directly with the court, said John Hall, spokesman for the Riverside County district attorney.
Garduno is scheduled to be sentenced March 1 in Riverside County Superior Court. He could receive four years and four months in state prison, Hall said.
-- Robert J. Lopez
Photo: Anthony Martinez Garduno. Credit: Riverside Sheriff's Department.