Mono County Superior Court Judge Mark Magit on Tuesday sentenced former Mammoth day care provider Guadalupe "Lupe" Almaguer, 58, to 60 years to life in prison, following Almaguer's arrest in early October of last year on suspicion of child sexual abuse. Since that time, Almaguer has admitted he is guilty of sexually molesting four children, a confession he made after at least one victim and the victim's mother confronted him in person in October. The confrontation was taped under the guidance of the Mono County District Attorney's office and later used as evidence.
A fifth victim was also identified as part of Almaguer's plea agreement, but this victim was not named as one of the four counts against Almaguer.
Almaguer was sentenced on four counts of "lewd and lascivious behavior" with four children under 14 years of age. Each of the counts carries a 15-year sentence, which must be served consecutively, and there is no possibility of parole until those sentences are served. "He will have to serve approximately 53 years in state prison before he is eligible for parole," Deputy District Attorney Todd Graham said after the sentencing Wednesday, meaning that Almaguer, in his later 50s now, is thus expected to spend the rest of his life in prison.
"The defendant entered his pleas of guilty to the four charged molest counts on December 14th, 2010," Graham explained further in an e-mail Wednesday. "He admitted a “one-strike” punishment allegation as to each count with the understanding that he was ineligible for probation, and he could receive a sentence of 15-years-to-life up to and including 60-years-to-life. He also agreed that a fifth uncharged victim’s allegations could be considered by the court at his sentencing hearing."
Almaguer will be moved to the state prison in Tracy to serve out his sentence.
Almaguer came into the courtroom with his eyes downcast. At no time did he ever look directly at the audience. He did give a short statement, saying, "I am truly, truly sorry" and that he hopes the victims can now move on and "follow their dreams."
Although Almagurr's attorney, David Hammond, argued for minimizing Almaguer's time in prison due to several factors, including the fact that Almaguer confessed and that Almaguer was unlikely to commit such crimes again after even one 15-year sentence due to his advanced age. Graham argued against leniency. He stated that Almaguer is the "worst kind" of criminal, a "molester masquerading as a saint" because of the fact that Almaguer has been a deeply loved and trusted member of the community for many years. To many children, he was a trusted confidant and mentor, and to many parents, he was a friend, he noted.
"He lied for two decades," Graham said, noting that as parents dropped off their children, believing their children were safe, "it was implicit (from Almaguer) that "You can trust me."'
"There is no greater position of trust than a day care provider," he said.
One audience member, who asked that her name not be made public, read a prepared letter, ending with, "Lupe, I despise you."
Almaguer pleaded guilty to four counts of child molestation at a December court hearing.
About 12 parents and/or family members of victims attended the sentencing. Several parents, whose children were not named as one of the four victims, told the MT that their children too, had been molested by Almaguer, but that for various reasons, they had decided not to press charges.
The sentence was pronounced at about 3 p.m. and the hearing began at about 2:10 p.m.
Although the audience was restrained and quiet for the most part, immediately after the sentence was pronounced, one man in the audience said, "Rot, you piece of garbage."
The audience also clapped when Judge Magit pronounced his sentence. Most of the parents were in tears for much of the proceedings.