PORTLAND, Maine — A California man was sentenced Friday to 3½ years in federal prison for sending threatening text messages and emails to a former co-worker who now lives in Buxton.
Pedro Baez, 33, of Ontario, Calif., threatened to have the “Mexican mafia” kill the victim, a former race car driver with the Richard Petty Driving Exposition, her children and other members of her family. Baez sent more than 100 messages, at least 18 of them threatening, to the woman between between December 2010 and July 2011, according to court documents.
One of the threats included in the prosecution version of events to which Baez pleaded guilty last year said: “so now that the truths out either get to my aptment or u n ur daughter will be killed n cant be used as threat so keep from everyone i know in everyway or i will fly out there to kill u n them promise.”
The victim and Baez, who worked as a laborer for the traveling exposition, met in 2005 but were not romantically involved, according to court documents. In December 2010, after Baez complained that he could not afford a cellphone, the victim gave him one of her older-model phones because she had recently upgraded her cellphone. Shortly after that, the threats began.
Baez was arrested in California in July and indicted in Maine by a federal grand jury on 18 counts of sending interstate threatening communications. He pleaded not guilty on Aug. 23 in federal court in Portland. On Oct. 31, he pleaded guilty to three of the 18 counts. In a plea agreement with prosecutors, the remaining 15 counts were dismissed Friday.
After entering his guilty plea, Baez sent two letters from jail to the victim, according to court documents.
“Like the text messages, the two letters demonstrate a clear obsession which Baez experiences regarding the victim,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Chapman wrote in his sentencing memorandum. “Like many of the emails, the letters contain references to corrupt people in California, including the Mexican mafia, who wished to bring harm to the victim or her family.”
But Baez never took steps to carry out those threats, Federal Public Defender David Beneman countered in his sentencing memorandum.
“There is not a single act by the defendant over that nine-month period toward making good on any of the threats,” he wrote. “The defendant is in California and never comes to Maine. He never sends another to Maine.”
Baez faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, he faced between 10 and 16 months in prison.
Chapman successfully argued that Baez’s sentence should be longer due to the seriousness of the threats, which the prosecutor described as “exceptionally vile, lewd, violent and degrading.” He said in his sentencing memorandum that the sentence should be longer than 33 months.
In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby sentenced Baez to three years of supervised release after he completes his prison term.