Bishop Pleads Not Guilty to Selling Drugs

Desert Sun
December 31, 2009

A Catholic bishop accused of child molestation pleaded not guilty today to felony drug charges involving the alleged sale of methamphetamine and possession of a date rape drug and Lorazepam. a hypnotic sedative, out of his Home Gardens church.

Bishop Anthony Martinez Garduno, 51, who also made headlines in September when he was shot outside Our Lady of Tepeyac during a robbery attempt, was not charged in connection with sex abuse allegations involving a teenage boy.

Instead, he was charged with one felony count of possession of a controlled substance for sale, two felony counts of possession of controlled substances and one misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance.

He is also charged with receiving stolen property -- .32-caliber semiautomatic pistol that he allegedly knew had been stolen.

The misdemeanor count stems from his alleged possession of Lorazepam, a hypnotic sedative.

Garduno is also suspected of possession for sale of methamphetamine and possession of GHB, a date-rape drug.

Garduno's arrest Tuesday stemmed from an investigation launched Dec. 21 on claims that the bishop assaulted a 17-year-old boy, according to sheriff's Deputy Herlinda Valenzuela.

The alleged victim also reported having knowledge of additional sexual assaults by Garduno against underage boys and selling of drugs in the church, Valenzuela said Wednesday.

Investigators served a search warrant at the church, at 13462 Magnolia Ave., and found evidence linking the bishop to drug sales and possible sexual assaults, Valenzuela said.

In September, Garduno was shot outside his church when he interrupted a robbery. He surprised five suspects, one of whom opened fire, according to sheriff's officials.

The five had allegedly been on a 10-hour robbery spree targeting Denny's and IHOP restaurants in Los Angeles and Riverside counties, according to sheriff's investigators.

Willis Webb Bagley, 38, of Perris, Jacob Zachary Buschow, 19, of Pomona, Anthony Brian Coleman, 21, of Chino, Timothy William Jacquemain, 18, of Pomona, and Andrew Blake Swindle, 23, of Pomona, are all being prosecuted on attempted murder and robbery charges.

Their trial is set for Monday.

Garduno was ordered back to court Monday for a felony settlement conference. A preliminary hearing was tentatively set for Jan. 14.

He is behind bars on $250,000 bail.


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