Man in federal drug case says he wants to be around for his kids

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Benjamin Fontanez, III's own father, who is in jail, wasn't around while he was growing up

Benjamin Fontanez, III, federal drug charges.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Attorneys for a man about to be sentenced in a federal drug case asked a judge Tuesday to allow him to be with his children, unlike his own father, who is serving a 12-year federal sentence in another case.

Attorneys for Benjamin Fontanez, III, 31, told Judge Sara Lioi their client has three young children, including an infant born last month. He wants to be able to spend time with them because his own father, Benjamin Fontanez, II, was not around for his upbringing, according to the memorandum.

Fontanez, II was sentenced Sept. 25 in an unrelated drug case to 12 years in prison.

Fontanez, III pleaded guilty Aug. 1 to a charge of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. He is expected to be sentenced at 11 a.m. Nov. 14.

He was indicted Feb. 28 for trying to sell more than 40 grams of fentanyl on April 8, 2017.

Prosecutors also filed a motion asking they be allowed to seize several items found when investigators searched his Churchill-Hubbard Road home in Liberty, including $10,734, two semiautomatic handguns, a .233-caliber semiautomatic rifle, a 5.56mm semiautomatic rifle and a 7.62mm AK-47 rifle.

In a sentencing memorandum for their client, attorneys said Fontanez was born in Youngstown and raised by his mother. He began selling marijuana at 13 years old to help support his family, according to the memorandum.

“It was the only way he knew how to make a difference,” the memorandum said.

Fontanez, III attended the Rayen School but dropped out in 10th grade. He later earned his GED while he was incarcerated in 2015.

He abuses several drugs and also has problems after witnessing the murder of a friend on the east side in 2016, the memorandum said.

Besides the infant, who was born Oct. 15, he also has a 10-year-old who lives in Youngstown and a 6-year-old who lives in Seattle. The memorandum said he wants to be able to be involved in his children’s lives.

“Fontanez doesn’t want to be a father whose children grow up while he is in prison,” the memorandum said. “He deeply remembers the loneliness and pain he endured as a child of an incarcerated father.”

His attorneys said Fontanez has accepted responsibility for his crimes and because of his young age, there is still hope he can rehabilitated, the memorandum said.

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