LACONIA — A local woman who told police she was one of the city’s main drug dealers will spend at least 7½ years in prison after a judge rejected a shorter sentence which he said was too lenient.
Anjelica Olivo, 27, of Union Avenue, in Laconia, pleaded guilty in Belknap Superior Court to three counts of sale of fentanyl.
Judge James D. O’Neill III sentenced her to 7½ to 15 years in prison on one count and imposed two suspended sentences on the other two counts, which means Olivo could be ordered back to prison anytime within 10 years of her release if she fails to satisfy all the terms of the sentence.
At the outset of Wednesday’s hearing, Belknap County Attorney Andrew Livernois asked the judge to accept a negotiated plea which called for Olivo to serve a five- to 10-year, along with two concurrent 10- to 20-year suspended sentences.
In arguing for a sentence that carried one-third prison time which Olivo could potentially have faced, Livernois noted that though the crimes she was charged with were serious, Olivo had a “very minimal criminal record.” She had three misdemeanor convictions, none of which had resulted in her being committed to serve time. He characterized the five- to 10-year sentence as “very significant punishment.”
Olivo’s attorney, Charles Keefe, said his client’s arrest earlier this year “likely saved her life” because at the time she was in the throes of opioid addiction, and has since begun receiving treatment and counseling. He said Olivo was “incredibly remorseful” and “appreciates the gravity” of her actions.
When O’Neill asked Olivo if she had anything to say, she was silent for several seconds, and then said, “I would like to apologize.”
But when Olivo appeared to crack a smile and chuckle, O’Neill reproached her, saying: “Why are you smiling?”
”She’s nervous,” her attorney interjected.
“I don’t find this the least bit funny,” O’Neill said sharply. “You are charged with selling this poison within 500 yards of this courthouse,” he said, a reference that two of the drug sales she was prepared to plead guilty to had taken place at Olivo’s apartment on Union Avenue.
“What about the lives you have affected?” O’Neill asked. “You were making money off the misery of others.”
Keefe told the judge that Olivo started selling drugs in order to pay for her own drug habit and that it just escalated. He said his client knows the harm drugs can do, noting that Olivo has lost a sister and friends to drug overdoses.
Livernois said the three charges involved three separate sales of fentanyl to undercover informants in March and April — two for one finger of fentanyl, and one for two fingers. The informant paid $400 for each finger.
Responding to a question from O’Neill, Livernois said a finger contained enough fentanyl for more than 50 hits of the opioid drug.
“I understand the severity of my crime,” Olivo told the judge. “I feel horrible about what I have done. I can’t express to you how sorry I am.”
“It’s not in my nature to give breaks in cases such as this,” O’Neill said before rejecting the plea deal saying: “Five to 10 years at this point is not appropriate.”
After a 10-minute recess Olivo, in handcuffs and wearing green jail garb, and the attorneys returned to the courtroom.
Livernois said the prosecution and defense had agreed to a longer prison term: 7½ to 15 years.
O’Neill accepted the negotiated plea.
He said to Olivo, “You might not think you got off easy, (but) in fact you did.” He admonished her to use her time in prison to “reflect on the misery and pain you inflicted on others because of your greed.”
Under the terms of the plea bargain, eight other charges related to the drugs found in Olivo’s apartment and a charge of being a drug enterprise leader were dropped.
When Olivo was arrested in April she told Laconia police that she was one of the city’s biggest drug dealers.
Livernois said Olivo’s drug sale activities had come to the attention of state drug enforcement officials, which prompted them to set up the controlled drug buys which led to Olivo’s arrest.