Gomez sentenced to eight years in connection with teen's death at Groton motel
The harm that Ramon Gomez has done to children, including his own sons and a confused 17-year-old girl he set up as a prostitute and provided with deadly heroin in May 2016, was on display Tuesday in a Hartford courtroom.
Gomez, 41, of Uncasville, who is also known as BI, was sentenced to eight years in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release and registration as a sexual offender for sex trafficking of a minor and possession of heroin with intent to distribute. The sentence could have been much longer, had he not provided the government with information that led to the arrests of other drug dealers, according to court documents.
Sitting in the courtroom gallery were his two sons, close in age to Griswold native Olivia Roark, who died of a fatal overdose at the Flagship Motel in Groton after Gomez told her he would take care of her. The young men watched as their father was led into the courtroom in prison garb and handcuffs. When called on, they stood, approached the bench and told U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson that Gomez was a loving father and they couldn't wait until he came home and cooked his speciality dish of stuffed fish. The older son, who is studying business at Mitchell College, said he plans to start a business with his father one day. Gomez's father had also sent a letter of support to the judge.
Gomez spoke briefly, saying he would pray for Olivia Roark every day for the rest of his life. He broke down as he apologized for letting down his own children.
More than 700 miles away in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where Roark's parents moved following her death, her family prepared for their second Christmas without their daughter. Bob and Sherry Roark didn't think they could handle attending the sentencing. Groton resident James Spellman Jr., who taught and coached Olivia's father at Fitch Senior High School, attended on their behalf and asked the judge to impose a punitive sentence, since Gomez, who has a long criminal record that includes 26 prior arrests, didn't appear to be a candidate for rehabilitation.
Speaking by phone later, Bob Roark said his family feels betrayed.
"The way this liberal judicial system works these days is, if the felon, or perp, is not going to benefit by going to jail, it's not worth penalizing them and putting them in jail," Roark said. "They're closing jails, they're closing juvenile halls. What do they think these people are going to do? They're just going to continue to prey on people."
Gomez's cooperation with the government did not impress Roark.
"What does this do for my wife and me and Olivia?" he said. "They're saying, 'It doesn't matter about her.' They just get another person's name and they get another notch, another arrest on their belt, and they look good. 'Look! We got another (criminal) off the streets.' What, for six weeks?"
Olivia Roark had been having trouble at home and was being supervised by a juvenile probation officer. Her parents said she had been testing clean for drugs and had enjoyed a vacation with them shortly before she left home about a week before her death. Then, they said, she put her trust in the people who caused her death.
According to court documents and testimony, Gomez had Roark taken to the Flagship Motel in Groton and stay with Adele K. Bouthillier, a heroin addict and prostitute, on May 27, 2016. Bouthillier helped Roark advertise her services on backpage.com. Bouthillier bought a gram of heroin from Gomez on the morning of May 28, 2016, and used it with the teenager. She said she awoke at 10 p.m. to find Roark unresponsive with vomit coming out of her mouth. She didn't call 911 until 2:36 a.m. on May 29, according to a police affidavit.
The teen could not be revived and was pronounced dead at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital. The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled that she died from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl.
According to court documents, Gomez texted Roark on May 27 at 2:46 p.m. that he was going to take care of her "from now on," and promised her that if she listened to him, she would always have money.
But by May 28 at 8:02 a.m., the two were arguing about money and Gomez texted the teen, "Trust me you won't last," and "I hate you don't even speak to me no more."
Arrested two days after the teen's death, Gomez has remained incarcerated, first at the Bridgeport Correctional Center and most recently at the Wyatt Federal Detention Center in Rhode Island. He pleaded guilty in November 2016 to sex trafficking of a minor and possession with intent to distribute heroin. His sentencing hearing was continued several times.
Though he faced up to life in prison, Gomez received a substantial sentence reduction by providing information to the government. His cooperation was not discussed on the record in court Tuesday, except perhaps in whispers between attorneys and the judge during a lengthy sidebar.
Last week, Thompson granted motions from the government and defense to seal sentencing documents that contain background information on the offense, the defendant and the attorneys' sentencing arguments. The sentencing memoranda are usually available for public inspection. The Day is seeking to unseal those documents with legal assistance from the Washington, D.C.-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving and advancing the First Amendment's guarantee of a free press.
The defense motion to seal was itself filed under seal. The government memorandum was briefly available to the public before the judge granted the motion to seal.
In the memorandum, Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas P. Morabito wrote that the government was seeking a "downward departure" from the calculated sentence of 12.5 to 15.6 years in prison for Gomez because he had provided "substantial assistance in the investigation or prosecution of other persons who have committed offenses."
Gomez provided information about others involved in the case and was prepared to testify if the case went to trial, according to the document. The information led to at least two people being charged in state court along with the prosecution of an undisclosed number of other individuals federally and the identification of others involved who weren't charged, according to the motion.
On Sept. 20, Nestor Santana, also known as Beans, of New London, pleaded guilty to a heroin distribution offense stemming from the investigation into Roark's death. According to the government, he supplied the heroin that Gomez provided to Roark. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, Groton Town Police and the Regional Community Enhancement Task Force.
Gomez was represented by attorney Michael O. Sheehan.