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Former deputy sentenced in drug-smuggling-in-a-burrito sting

June 25, 2012 | 11:34 am

Henry Marin is seen on the Fox reality show "The Academy" in 2007.

This post has been corrected. See note below.

A former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who was believed to be trying to smuggle heroin, stuffed inside a burrito, into a courthouse jail was sentenced Monday to two years in jail.

Henry Marin, once featured on a reality television show focusing on prospective sheriff's recruits, said nothing as a courtroom deputy handcuffed him and led him away to the type of cell he was once responsible for guarding.

Marin, 27, was caught in a sting set up by a sheriff's task force that aims to combat smuggling by corrupt deputies and other sheriff's employees who have helped fuel a lucrative drug trade behind bars.

As undercover sheriff's investigators watched, Marin accepted a bean-and-cheese burrito with 24 grams of black tar heroin for an inmate at the Los Angeles Airport courthouse, where Marin worked. Marin later told investigators that he intended to give the burrito to the inmate after checking the package and didn't know there were drugs inside.

In April, he resigned from the sheriff's department and pleaded no contest to drug smuggling and conspiracy charges. Superior Court Judge Anne H. Egerton informally indicated to his attorney on Monday that she planned to sentence him to three years behind bars, so Marin instead accepted a plea deal offered by prosecutors that called for two years in jail, said his attorney, Donald N. Kelly. As part of the agreement, the conspiracy charge was dismissed.

Kelly said it is unclear why his client participated in the smuggling scheme. Marin, he said, was not being paid to bring the drugs behind bars.

"This guy has no guile," Kelly said after the hearing. "I think he was someone who was taken advantage of.... He didn't realize any gain from it."

Marin was one in a string of sheriff's employees accused of smuggling narcotics and other contraband into jail for inmates. The porous nature of the jails was highlighted last year when The Times revealed that FBI agents conducted an undercover sting in which a deputy was accused of taking money to smuggle a cellphone to an inmate working as a federal informant. That deputy, Gilbert Michel, pleaded guilty to a bribery charge in January.

Before the burrito incident, Marin was featured in the first episode of Fox's reality show "The Academy" based on the sheriff’s department's training of recruits.

Marin's subpar performance eventually led to his ouster from Academy Class 355 for flunking two role-playing exercises. In one, he failed to call for help after a suicidal woman drew a gun, and he was unable to recall the radio code for an emergency.

"You blew this one, big time," his instructor says in the 2007 TV show. After he failed a second scenario, Marin was dismissed from the academy. But he was allowed to re-enroll in a later academy class and successfully graduated.

[For the record, 9:35 a.m. June 26: An earlier headline on this article referred to Henry Martin as a Sheriff's deputy. He resigned in April.]


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Photo: Henry Marin is seen on the Fox reality show "The Academy" in 2007. Credit: Fox Television