Man pleads guilty to robbery in beating of man he suspected of being informant in drug case
WILLMAR — Andrew Lee Gomez, 26, of St. Cloud and formerly of Willmar, pleaded guilty Monday to a first-degree aggravated robbery charge for beating a man he suspected was a drug informant to law enforcement.
As part of a plea agreement in Kandiyohi County District Court, four additional felony charges of burglary, assault and terroristic threats will be dismissed. Gomez entered an Alford plea to the charge. Under an Alford plea, a defendant agrees there is enough evidence to convict but does not admit guilt.
Gomez will be sentenced on Aug. 11 and could be sentenced to as much as 41 months in prison, but is allowed to argue for a lesser sentence.
The charges were filed after Sept. 3, when a man reported to Willmar that Gomez had assaulted him at an apartment along the 1400 block of Fifth Street Southwest. The man said he had been hiding from Gomez because Gomez had been charged in a drug case. The man said Gomez thought the man had been the informant to law enforcement in the case.
The man said Gomez entered the apartment, grabbed him by the throat and strangled him to the point that the man blacked out, threatened to kill him and attempted to make him admit to being the informant. The man said Gomez also beat him with his fists and elbows.
Gomez was arrested the next day and refused to talk to law enforcement. Two witnesses reported seeing Gomez in the area of the apartment building at the time of the incident and another person reported that Gomez had told them Gomez suspected that the man was the informant, was angry with him and threatened to kill him.
The two charges for synthetic cannabinoid against Gomez were dismissed in May, because the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension laboratory was not prepared to testify that the substance in the case was a controlled substance, according to the dismissal notification by the county attorney’s office.
Gomez and Derek Bergen Ellingson, 25, of Willmar, were charged in that case, for ordering 2.8 pounds of the substance on the Internet and receiving the shipment of more than 300 ready-to-sell packets last summer at the Willmar post office. Ellingson was sentenced to a year of probation on two felony charges of synthetic cannabinoid possession. The charges against Ellingson will be dismissed in a year if he meets the probation requirements.