Orange County mail thief Salvador Alex Escamilla has led a tough life.
Escamilla grew up in a poor, dysfunctional family with an abusive, convicted felon father. He accidentally consumed his dad's heroin stash at the age of five and had to be rushed to the hospital. His parents couldn't afford to buy him shoes to wear to middle school. He never attended high school and, thanks to drug addictions, created a criminal rap sheet that includes domestic violence. He can't visit his three children because of a restraining order.
But this week inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, Escamilla had one thing going for him in a sentencing hearing for possession of stolen mail from at least 23 different addresses as well as altering checks made payable to other people.
After law enforcement agents confronted him at the Key Inn in Tustin in February 2012, he quickly agreed to plead guilty--a move that federal prosecutors say should be rewarded because it saved taxpayers money that would have been spent preparing for a trial.
Federal probation officials recommended a 24-month prison trip for Escamilla, but--and this doesn't happen all the time--prosecutors wanted the thief rewarded for his cooperation by pushing for the low end of sentencing guidelines: 18 months of incarceration.
U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter decided the lower prison period was adequate for justice and also ordered the 42-year-old defendant to undergo supervised probation for three years upon his return to society.
Escamilla is presently housed under U.S. marshal control inside the Santa Ana Jail and awaiting a bus ride to a federal prison.
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Holly Renee Lamb--his 36-year-old co-defendant in the thievery--pleaded guilty, but has not yet been punished by Carter.
Lamb remains locked in the Santa Ana Jail.