Prosecutors to seek prison for ex-cop who wants probation

Posted at 2:08 PM, Dec 21, 2022

A former police officer might have avoided prison as part of a plea agreement this summer related to allegations of stalking and harassing a woman, but his prosecutors are likely to seek a prison sentence now that he has been accused of further crimes against her, according to court records.

Walter Pacheco, 28, of Pleasant Hill, is accused of repeatedly attempting to contact the woman against her wishes for about two months early this year. The alleged communication culminated with a flurry of handwritten and electronic messages in April that included a picture of a penis and foul language, court records show. He was also accused of damaging her yard by driving a vehicle on it.

Pacheco was charged with harassment, stalking, criminal mischief, theft and false imprisonment. Court records did not contain details about the false imprisonment allegation.

Pacheco is a former police officer of Carroll — where he was forced to resign — and Eagle Grove — where he was fired. He was hired by both cities after being accused by an ex-girlfriend of threatening to kill her and her daughter, although he was not charged with a crime in connection with the allegation.

In July, he pleaded guilty to felony willful injury and misdemeanor stalking for incidents that occurred early this year. Together, the charges are punishable by up to seven or 12 years in prison — the court record has conflicting information about the severity of the willful injury charge.

As part of the plea agreement, Polk County prosecutors had intended to seek a punishment “no worse” than a criminal conviction and a suspended prison sentence, Pacheco’s attorney said in a recent court filing. But the prosecutors indicated days ago that they will seek prison because of further crimes Pacheco is alleged to have committed against the woman since the plea agreement, the defense attorney said.

“This is a breach of the plea agreement if the state did not put on the record at the time the plea was offered … that it could back out of (the) agreement if new charges were acquired,” wrote Pacheco’s attorney, Austin Jungblut of Des Moines, in a request Tuesday to delay a sentencing hearing and to obtain a transcript of the July plea hearing at the state’s expense.

A judge rescheduled the hearing for Dec. 27, a Polk County district court clerk said.

About 10 days after Pacheco pleaded guilty in July, he allegedly stalked and accosted the woman at an office building she was cleaning and took her cellphone, court records show. He was charged with multiple felonies for robbery, burglary, theft, assault and stalking.

Pacheco — also known by the surname Pacheco Belen — was released from jail. He was accused of threatening to harm the woman in October “with the intent to interfere with the prosecution” of his criminal charges, court records show.

Pacheco was charged with felony extortion and stalking and misdemeanor tampering with a witness. He was arrested Nov. 17 and has been held since. A judge revoked his bond.

Before the latest charges, the attorneys involved in the case had been attempting to negotiate a “global agreement” that would conclude all of the previous charges. But his original attorneys withdrew from the case in October due to a “breakdown of the client-attorney relationship,” and his first court-appointed attorney withdrew about a month later due to an unspecified conflict.

His new attorney, Jungblut, was appointed to defend him less than two weeks ago. He is seeking deferred judgments for the two charges to which Pacheco pleaded guilty, probation and minimum fines, court records show.

Jungblut is also recommending a 30-day jail sentence for violating a no-contact order.

Those who are granted deferred judgments are not formally convicted of the crimes and can have information about the accusations expunged from the public court record.

“A deferred judgment gives Mr. (Pacheco) Belen the opportunity to continue to prove he has learned from his actions, while still providing sufficient supervision and punishment to ensure the safety of the community,” Jungblut wrote.

Jungblut cited Pacheco’s lack of a criminal record, “a history of steady employment,” his college education and support of others in the community as reasons for a more-lenient sentence.

A presentence investigation report also concluded that Pacheco should get probation, but that report was completed before his recent criminal charges.

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

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