Amount could increase sentence for drug smuggler

  • By LIZ KELLAR
  • Thursday, June 22, 2017 8:00am
  • News

There will be a jury trial in Juneau Superior Court solely to determine whether “aggravators” should increase the sentence of a man who already has pleaded guilty a drug charge.

Brian O’Neil Yambao Arce, 38, pleaded guilty in May to second-degree misconduct involving controlled substances, a class B felony, after bringing methamphetamine on a commercial flight to sell in Juneau.

What remains at issue is his sentence.

Arce was stopped at the Juneau International Airport coming off a flight from Seattle on April 14, after a Juneau Police Department K-9 alerted on his bag. A subsequent search reportedly revealed 216 grams of a white crystalline substance that field-tested positive for meth; Arce allegedly said he does not live in Juneau and was visiting friends.

In May, he entered a guilty plea without an agreement with the District Attorney’s office.

In court Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Amy Paige said she planned to proceed on requesting transportation of a controlled substance, and the large quantity, as sentencing aggravators.

An aggravating factor allows the court to go above the presumptive sentencing range for an offense, which in this case is zero to two years, Paige explained. If an aggravating factor is found, the court can sentence the defendant up to 10 years, the maximum term available for the offense.

Judge Philip Pallenberg noted he has never presided over an aggravator-only trial.

“It’s a tricky situation,” he said. “The jury is not deciding guilt or innocence. … I would have to issue instructions to the jury that Arce was found guilty of the underlying charge.”

Paige estimated the trial could take three days; a pre-trial conference was set for July 31 with a trial scheduled to start Aug. 7.

A lingering question of whether a prior federal conviction could potentially increase his sentence was also discussed Wednesday; that conviction could have potentially increased his sentencing range to two to five years.

According to Paige, that federal conviction was in California, for conspiracy to defraud a casino, and would not count against Arce.

Bail argued for prison drug-smuggling suspects

Two of three co-defendants in a jail drug-smuggling case were in Juneau Superior Court Tuesday.

Greggory C. Wright, 23, and Aleasha S. Hayward, 30, have been charged with three counts each of first-degree promoting contraband; Hayward also was charged with tampering with physical evidence.

Wright was supposed to be arraigned on a violation of conditions of release, reportedly for violating an order to have no contact with Hayward after a June 10 arraignment. According to District Attorney Angie Kemp, Wright spoke to her 26 times on the phone between June 10 and June 13.

Judge Pallenberg left his bail at $1,000 and strongly cautioned him against further contact with Hayward. He is set to return to court on the original case on July 18.

Hayward was arrested Friday on the warrant and was initially arraigned over the weekend with a $500 cash performance bond set.

Kemp on Tuesday asked to increase her bail, telling Pallenberg she had not been aware at the time of Hayward’s criminal history. Kemp alluded to the phone conversations between Wright and Hayward, including discussion of bringing drugs into prison through, among other tactics, contact visits, and alleging an ongoing drug smuggling operation.

Pallenberg said there was no good reason for Hayward’s bail to be lower than Wright’s, and set it at $1,000 cash performance. She is also set to return to court July 18, with the jury trial scheduled to start Sept. 5.

Delores N. Smith, 20, was arraigned on Monday.

The arrests came after Alaska State Trooper Chris Umbs had begun monitoring calls at Lemon Creek Correctional Center regarding the transport of controlled substances into the jail, and reportedly listened to scores of phone calls between Wright and Hayward.

Wright and Hayward reportedly planned a contact visit and enlisted Smith. Umbs conducted a warrant search during that contact visit on Feb. 11 and Smith reportedly produced a balloon with meth and marijuana, telling the trooper that Hayward gave it to her.


• Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 523-2246 or liz.kellar@juneauempire.com.


More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 19

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Rep. Tom McKay, R-Anchorage, speaks in favor of House Bill 143 on Friday. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House approves relaxed environmental rules for ‘advanced recycling’

Applies to facilities using high heat or chemicals to turn plastic garbage into raw materials.

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon (right) discusses the Juneau School District’s financial crisis with school board Vice President Emil Mackey (right) and City Attorney Robert Palmer during a meeting Thursday night at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Meetings to comment on Assembly’s proposed $9.6M of help to school district scheduled next two Mondays

Plan includes $4.1 million no-interest loan, picking up “shared costs” this year and next.

A crowd overflows the library at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Thursday night as school board members meet to select a consolidation option to help resolve the Juneau School District’s budget crisis. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
School district leaders approve putting grades 9-12 at JDHS, 7-8 and HomeBRIDGE at TMHS

Elementary schools will be K-6; Marie Drake, Floyd Dryden to close this fall if plan gets final OK.

Members of the Alaska House of Representatives celebrate the passage of a sweeping education bill on Thursday. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
House passes $680 BSA increase, with other education provisions

Bill now returns to Senate, which must pass it unchanged before it can head to the governor’s desk.

House Minority Leader Calvin Schrage, I-Anchorage, speaks during Thursday night’s floor debate on an education bill. (Screenshot from akl.tv livestream)
House approves $680 BSA increase, extra support for charter schools in education bill

Bill passes by 38-2 vote, Senate expected to concur with changes after days of negotiations.

Musicians perform Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, at Devil’s Club Brewing. The event was among the first three allowed under a newly amended state law. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Three Alaska alcohol manufacturers sue state over rule limiting live music and entertainment

Plaintiffs say limit of four events annually at breweries and distilleries violates First Amendment.

A previously unidentified Eastern North Pacific right whale surfaces in the waters of the Gulf of Alaska in September 2023. The discovery of this whale was hailed by scientists studying the critically endangered population. Members of the public are being asked to choose a name for the animal through an online contest that will use bracketed competition. (Photo by Bernardo Alps/NOAA Fisheries, International Whaling Commission and WildSea Inc.)
Agency asks public to name, get to know member of highly endangered Alaska whale population

NOAA wants people online to name Eastern North Pacific right whale spotted in September.

The front page of the Juneau Empire on Feb. 21, 1994. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of Feb. 25

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Most Read