A judge Thursday sentenced Citadel graduate and convicted child molester Michael Arpaio to more than 12 years in federal prison for his role in a carjacking conspiracy that led to the death of a cocaine courier in Puerto Rico in 2008.
A federal judge imposed the 151-month sentence in San Juan. Arpaio, a 38-year-old former Marine captain, pleaded guilty last year to aiding and abetting in the crime, in which 11 others also were implicated, court records show.
The prosecutor’s office and Arpaio’s attorney, public defender Yasmin A. Irizarry, did not return messages seeking comment on the case.
It is unclear what effect Arpaio’s incarceration will have on a pending lawsuit against him and The Citadel in connection with alleged sexual abuse at the military college’s summer camp.
The Bell Legal Group is representing a former camper who alleges that he was sexually assaulted by Arpaio on campus in 2001. The Bell group previously sued Arpaio and The Citadel in 2005 on behalf of five campers who alleged that they were sexually abused by Arpaio at the camp. The victims were awarded a $3.8 million settlement.
Attorney Edward Bell and The Citadel’s lawyer, Dawes Cooke, could not be reached for comment. Bell’s firm previously said it has been contacted about handling multiple new claims against Arpaio.
Arpaio, a counselor at The Citadel Summer Camp between 1995 and 2001, pleaded guilty to indecent assault and other charges in 2003 during a military court-martial. Arpaio, then 29, served 15 months at the Navy brig in Hanahan.
Arpaio was required to register as a sex offender as a result of his June 2003 guilty plea in military court to charges of indecent assault on a minor, inappropriate conduct of an officer and sodomy with a minor, court records show.
He did not register in his native Georgia after he was released, then spent four years avoiding detection in San Juan, where he became part-owner of a restaurant, court records show.
In January 2009, Arpaio pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to register and was sentenced to 15 months in prison. He was serving that sentence when he was indicted in the carjacking plot, records show.
Arpaio and 11 other men, including two police officers and a former law enforcement officer, were accused of staging a phony traffic stop in May 2008 to rip off a man who they knew was carrying almost 31 pounds of cocaine, according to the FBI.
After “arresting” the man, the group took him in handcuffs to an auto repair shop for further interrogation. Arpaio then allegedly helped steal drugs, money, watches and a gun from the man’s home, according to federal court records.
The man later was strangled, court records show.