Former guard who had baby with Ronell Wilson to be sentenced Monday
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Federal prosecutors have called for a prison term of at least 10 months for Nancy Gonzalez, the one-time prison guard from Huntington Station scheduled to be sentenced Monday for having sex in jail with cop-killer death-row inmate Ronell Wilson.
Gonzalez, 29, described by her lawyer as a victim of repeated sexual molestation as a child, has already lost her job with the federal Bureau of Prisons, and a Suffolk County judge last year took away the infant son, Justus, whom she conceived with Wilson in 2012, because of her alcohol and drug abuse and neglect.
But the government, in a filing last week, argued that Gonzalez's "tragic childhood" was no excuse for leaving a floor of inmates virtually unguarded to have intercourse with Wilson, who was awaiting a death-penalty hearing at Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center for his 2003 murder of two undercover NYPD detectives.
"She knowingly put the safety of MDC inmates and her unarmed colleagues at risk to achieve her goal of becoming pregnant with a cop-killer's baby," wrote prosecutors. They want U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan to sentence Gonzalez to 10 to 16 months in prison.
In contrast to the mocking tone of news headlines since her prison fling was revealed last February, a few months before Wilson was sentenced to death, defense filings portray Gonzalez as a sympathetic figure whose crime was the end product of a hard life few would wish for.
Born in Texas, she never met her father. Her mother moved to Long Island and married a pedophile, who raped, molested and beat Gonzalez from the age of 7 until she was 12. He was removed from the home and convicted of sexually abusing her in 1996, but as a teenager she was molested by two other relatives, and had sex with her foster father, the defense said.
Despite the nightmarish home life and a few efforts to run away, she had successes. She began working as a fast-food cashier at 14, graduated from Glen Cove High School and the Culinary Academy of Long Island, worked as a commercial chef, rose to the rank of sergeant in the National Guard and became a prison guard in 2009.
But the childhood sexual abuse scarred her. According to defense lawyer Anthony Ricco and a court-appointed psychologist, she was left suffering from depression that she combated with drugs and promiscuous, submissive sex -- with, among others, two superiors in the Guard and eight prison co-workers, including two lieutenants.
Ricco argues that the affair with Wilson was just the latest episode of "maladaptive" sex, and says his client -- "remorseful, humiliated and regretful" -- needs treatment, not prison.
"The present offense grew," he told Cogan, "from her lifelong struggle and inability to make appropriate decisions involving her sexual conduct and a misguided emotional belief that being impregnated by Ronell Wilson was providing him with a lasting purpose to his otherwise tragic and dysfunctional life."
Gonzalez pleaded guilty in July, did not testify at Wilson's death penalty trial and eventually fought off his bid for paternity rights. But she told the press she hoped he would be spared, and eventually put her own parental rights at risk by drinking while taking the baby to visit Wilson's family.
Prosecutors said Wilson, a gang leader, was a dominant force in the prison unit Gonzalez guarded. They said her crime was well thought out -- she made preparation for quick sex and told another inmate that a baby would help Wilson earn jurors' sympathy -- and in addition to neglecting her duties, she favored Wilson by walking away when he and other inmates had altercations.
"The defendant," prosecutors wrote, "put the entire institution at risk."