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Court views drug defendant as pawn of family

The third of the four people charged in a drug case in June pleaded guilty Thursday to cocaine trafficking.

Emilio Gonzalez, 23, of 7403 Buck Hope Road, Brooksville, was sentenced to just under three years in prison - below the minimum sentence based on state guidelines. But Assistant State Attorney Rob Lewis was okay with it. So was Circuit Judge Jack Springstead.

Gonzalez deserved the lesser sentence, his attorney said, because he just got sucked into what was essentially a family business.

His father, Emilio Gonzalez Sr., also known as "Papi," and his uncle, Juan Lindo, were the ringleaders of the operation that brought drugs from Miami.

The rules in the mobile home on Buck Hope Road were clear, public defender Colleen Kasperek said Thursday after the sentencing: "Papi is the boss, and you better do what Papi says."

Kasperek said Gonzalez Jr. didn't buy the drugs and didn't know where they were coming from and was "just being used as a handoff."

Back in June, the Hernando Sheriff's Office arrested Gonzalez Sr., 51, and Lindo, 54, along with Gonzalez Jr. and Eduardo Martinez, 18.

The arrests were the result of a three-month investigation. Authorities said "Papi" and Lindo were the "organizers."

Gonzalez Jr., though, sold to an undercover detective three times in early 2005, records show.

Gonzalez Sr. got more than eight years in prison in December. Martinez got three years in December. Lindo has a pretrial conference next week.

On Thursday, Gonzalez Jr. was dressed in a red jail jumpsuit, and Springstead asked him if he understood the sentence. He said yes.

Kasperek told him good luck and waved goodbye as he was being taken away.