Henry Marin, right, a former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy… (Al Seib, Los Angeles Times )
A former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy accused of trying to smuggle a burrito stuffed with heroin into a courthouse lockup was sentenced Monday to two years in jail.
Henry Marin, who was once portrayed as a dim-witted bumbler on a reality television show that focused on 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.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, June 27, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 56 words Type of Material: Correction
Smuggling sentence: In the June 26 LATExtra section, the headline on an article about the sentencing of a former Los Angeles County sheriff's employee on smuggling charges said, "Deputy receives 2 years in heroin-stuffed burrito case." As the article noted, the man, Henry Marin, is a former deputy who resigned from the Sheriff's Department in April.
Marin, 27, was one of several sheriff's employees recently accused of smuggling narcotics and other contraband into jail for inmates. His arrest was part of an investigation by a sheriff's task force set up to combat smuggling by corrupt deputies and other sheriff's employees.
As undercover sheriff's investigators watched, Marin accepted a bean-and-cheese burrito with about 24 grams of black tar heroin for an inmate at the Los Angeles airport courthouse, where Marin was assigned. The woman who provided the package had been asked by another inmate to deliver the food.
"He told me to put the package in the burrito, but he didn't tell me to put money in there for you," the woman told Marin as she handed him the food, according to court records.
"OK," the deputy responded.
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. He admitted providing food for the same inmate at least 25 times, court records show.
In April, Marin resigned from the Sheriff's Department and pleaded no contest to drug smuggling and conspiracy charges.
Prosecutors accused Marin of playing a pivotal role in a sophisticated criminal scheme and said drugs in jail sell for 10 times their street value.
Marin "was the inside man in this inside job," Deputy Dist. Atty. Amy Pellman Pentz wrote in court documents. "He violated the trust and confidence of the citizens of Los Angeles by conspiring with gang members to bring heroin into the jails."
Marin's attorney, Donald N. Kelly, said Marin insists he did not know the burrito contained heroin. In court documents, Kelly said his client had attended the same high school as the inmate who was to receive the burrito. Investigators reviewed Marin's bank records and found no evidence that he was paid for the deliveries, he said.
"This guy has no guile," Kelly told The Times after Monday's hearing. "I think he was someone who was taken advantage of.... He didn't realize any gain from it."
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. He is awaiting sentencing.
Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said that when a deputy conspires with an inmate to smuggle contraband, the misconduct casts "a pall over ... the deputy sheriffs who each and every day do their jobs with honor and integrity."
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.