It’s not often that we cover stories involving the theft of less than $3,000, but the case of 18-year-old Gus Zamudio is different because it involves immigration.
Zambudio had been living in Charlotte under the DACA program, which is for immigrants who arrived in the country as children. His arrest on a felony charge last month prompted immigration officials to initiate deportation proceedings to Mexico as part of a new Trump administration policy. The previous policy had been to wait until conviction.
Zamudio pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor. His lawyers hope the plea-bargain aides his deportation case.
Gus Zamudio wasn’t in court on Tuesday, but he had a pretty good excuse. He’s currently being held in a detention center in Lumpkin, Georgia. He’s been there for about a month.
Both sides recognized there was evidence that showed Zamudio took money from Harris Teeter from a self-checkout register. Prosecutors referred to video footage that was not shown in court.
Zamudio’s mother listened intently. She later spoke through an interpreter and said she still couldn’t believe her son took the money.
Zamudio’s lawyers presented the judge with several letters from friends and family speaking to his character. They also pointed out that restitution to Harris Teeter has been paid.
Judge Alicia Brooks granted Zamudio a Prayer for Judgment. In legalese this basically means although Zamudio entered a guilty plea, the judge won’t issue a punishment.
Following the hearing, Rob Heroy, an attorney for Zamudio, told reporters he believed the lesser misdemeanor charge might give Zamudio a chance to make bond in Georgia.
“It’s no longer a felony, it’s a misdemeanor and a
Prayer for Judgment,” Heroy said, “I think that’s different than someone who has a felony charge against them. Ultimately, that’s a question for the judges down in Georgia.”
The next step is for this new information to be passed along to his immigration attorneys so they can use it for his next immigration hearing, although it’s not clear when that will be.