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Ex-Boxer Chacon Pleads No Contest in Drug Case : Sentencing: Judge orders the former champion to undergo rehabilitation instead of prison because he suffers from pugilistic dementia.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Former world featherweight boxing champion Bobby Chacon pleaded no contest Wednesday to a charge of selling cocaine and was sentenced to a drug rehabilitation program and three years probation.

San Fernando Superior Court Judge Candace J. Beason ruled that because this was Chacon’s first felony and because he suffers from pugilistic dementia--once called “punch drunk"--from his boxing career, he should enter a live-in drug rehabilitation program instead of prison.

Chacon, 43, of Pacoima, could face up to five years in state prison if he violates probation.

Chacon and a co-defendant, Yolanda Medina, were arrested Sept. 12 for selling rock cocaine to undercover Los Angeles Police Officer Roger Morales on Tamarack Street in Pacoima.

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Authorities said Chacon led Morales to Medina, who said she could obtain cocaine for the officer. Chacon and Medina drove away and when they returned Medina handed the officer .12 of a gram of rock cocaine, authorities said.

While Chacon never handled the cocaine or any money, he facilitated the transaction, authorities said.

Medina, who officials said has an extensive drug-crime record, on Wednesday pleaded no contest and was sentenced to six years in prison. She will be evaluated to determine whether she qualifies for a state rehabilitation center, officials said.

Both the prosecution and the defense agreed that Chacon was not a hardened criminal who deserved to spend a long time behind bars.

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“It was a rather tragic case,” said Dale Cutler, the Los Angeles County deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case. “Here is a man who at one time was a world champion. It’s just sad that it came down to that.”

Cutler, who emphasized that Chacon’s fame did not influence the outcome of the case, said Medina influenced Chacon to break the law.

“I think certainly he has to be responsible for his behavior,” Cutler said. “I don’t think anything would have been gained to expend taxpayers’ money to keep him in jail.”

David S. Kestenbaum, the former fighter’s lawyer, was satisfied with the outcome.

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“He did make a mistake, an error in judgment,” Kestenbaum said. “The problem at this point in his life is that he’s been diagnosed with pugilistic dementia.”

Kestenbaum said the rehabilitation program, which Chacon is expected to participate in for at least several months, may be the best way to help him deal with his brain damage and other problems.

“The keys to jail are in his pocket,” Kestenbaum said. “That’s where I hope they stay.”


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