Marcos Manzano Jr. apologized to U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller, saying he was “ashamed and embarrassed.” The 27-year-old has lost his career with the Border Patrol, where he had worked since August 2007.
In July, he pleaded guilty to harboring an illegal immigrant — his father, Marcos Manzano Sr. — at the house on Shooting Star Drive. At the time, the younger Manzano was working at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol station.
His father had been deported in 2008 after being convicted on drug-selling charges, but he returned to the U.S. the next year. Federal agents spotted him living at the home in late 2009.
In December 2010, a Border Patrol supervisor asked the younger Manzano if he knew where his father was, and he said he did not. Frank Ragen, the former agent’s lawyer, told Miller the son made the statement out of a sense of trying to protect his father.
Ragen said his client had lived with his mother since age 14, when the parents divorced. He moved back in with his father at the Shooting Star Drive home in February 2010.
In a sentencing memo, Ragen said the son paid $500 in rent per month to live in a bedroom. The home was purchased by the father in 1992, then title was transferred to the mother in 2000. In 2008, in an effort to shield the home from creditors, the mother transferred title to the son.
Ragen said the mother did so without the son’s knowledge. The documents transferring title have her signature but not the son’s.
The son moved in with the father because he had a falling out with his mother over the son’s frequent trips to Mexico to visit family and friends, Ragen wrote.
In court Friday, Ragen said it was the “son’s allegiance to his father” that stopped him from informing the Border Patrol.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Ko told Miller that family ties was no excuse for a federal agent and asked for a sentence of 10 months in prison. Ko said that Manzano not only hid his father but concealed his whereabouts when asked.
The father was not only an illegal immigrant but was also selling drugs out of the home during the time the son was living there, Ko said.
Ragen said his client had no knowledge of the drug dealing.
When the home was raided in January, federal agents found a hidden underground room in the backyard. Miller said the existence of the room should have tipped Manzano off that his father was engaged in some kind of criminal activity.
In addition to the halfway house term, the judge placed Manzano on probation for two years.
The elder Manzano was sentenced to 6½ years in prison after pleading guilty to drug charges and being in the country illegally.