|Home Gardens Church Bishop Is Sentenced in Drug Case
By Steven Barrie
March 1, 2010
HOME GARDENS (CA) -- A Home Gardens church bishop whose shooting last year led authorities to find evidence of narcotics sales in his home was sentenced Monday to two years in state prison.
Monday's sentencing of Anthony Martinez Garduno, 51, comes after he pleaded guilty Jan. 4 to four felonies: possession of methamphetamine for sales, possession of methamphetamine, possession of GHB (commonly referred to as the date-rape drug) and possession of stolen property, the Riverside County district attorney's office said in a news release.
He also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of possessing Lorazepam, a powerful sedative used to treat anxiety and insomnia, without a prescription.
Garduno, a defrocked Roman Catholic priest, was operating Our Lady of Tepeyac Catholic Church out of his home. He was calling himself a bishop.
Our Lady of Tepeyac is not connected to the Roman Catholic Church, local church officials have said.
Garduno was shot Sept. 15 by five men police believe were on a multi-county crime spree.
He was initially thought to be the victim of random violence.
But as investigators looked into Garduno's shooting, they uncovered suspicions of drug sales out of his home and allegations of sexual assaults.
Riverside County sheriff's deputies arrested Garduno on Dec. 30. A search of his residence turned up evidence of narcotics sales and a stolen .32-caliber pistol.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges Dec. 31 but unexpectedly changed his plea to guilty during a Jan. 4 court appearance.
Investigators continue to look into the sexual assault accusations, the district attorney's office said, and charges could be filed later.
Reach Steven Barrie at 951-368-9466 or sbarrie@PE.com
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