Former world featherweight boxing champion Bobby Chacon was ordered on Tuesday to stand trial on a felony charge of selling rock cocaine.
If convicted, Chacon faces up to five years in prison. But attorneys for both sides said it is likely that a plea bargain will be reached for Chacon, who suffers from debilitating memory loss and other mental problems as a result of his years in the ring.
Chacon and Belinda Ortega, also known as Yolanda Maria Medina, were ordered to return Oct. 27 for arraignment in San Fernando Superior Court.
During a preliminary hearing for Chacon and Ortega in San Fernando Municipal Court, Los Angeles Police Officer Roger Morales testified that he asked the former fighter "for a 20," street vernacular for a $20 bag of rock cocaine, on Tamarack Street in Pacoima on Sept. 12.
Chacon led Morales to his home down the street, where Ortega promised to buy him cocaine, Morales said. Chacon and Ortega then left Morales in the house and drove off to obtain cocaine, Morales said.
When they returned, the officer said, Ortega handed him a .12-gram rock of cocaine.
Chacon, he said, never handled the drugs or the money. The former fighter, 43, who was champion in 1974, stood several feet away while the transaction was made, Morales said.
"Mr. Chacon is clearly an abettor in the sale of drugs," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Dale Cutler.
But David Kestenbaum, Chacon's attorney, said the fighter is too damaged to be held responsible for dealing drugs. He said Morales peppered Chacon repeatedly with requests for drugs and that Chacon finally agreed to help out.
"He was reacting based on his current medical condition," said Kestenbaum, who said Chacon receives state disability payments. "He was trying to help somebody."
Kestenbaum said that Chacon did not, as Morales testified, take the officer to his home to meet Ortega. Rather, he said, Morales was in front of the Chacon home when he met the former fighter, who pointed him down the street to where Ortega stood.
He did not dispute that the two drove off together, or that when they returned they came to Chacon's driveway, where the arrest was made.
Kestenbaum said if the state offers a settlement that does not involve jail time, Chacon will probably accept. One possibility, he said, would be for the boxer to be ordered into counseling and rehabilitation for his physical condition.
"It's a tragedy to see how far you can fall," he said. "He was on top of the world in the '70s, and now he's trying to scrape himself off the bottom."