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Natanael Sagastumeal Varenga’s conviction upheld; immigrant fighting deportation

Natanael Sagastumeal Varenga, shown at his attorney's Hauppauge

Natanael Sagastumeal Varenga, shown at his attorney's Hauppauge office on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, is a Honduran immigrant living on Long Island who said he didn't know that he risked deportation when he pleaded guilty to assault. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

New York’s top court has refused to overturn the conviction of a Honduran man living on Long Island, who said he wasn’t aware that he risked deportation when he pleaded guilty to assault.

In a 4-2 decision Thursday, the Court of Appeals upheld Natanael Sagastumeal Varenga’s 2009 conviction for his role in an altercation in Farmingdale. The court rejected Varenga’s contention that he was protected retroactively by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says noncitizens should be afforded Sixth Amendment rights in being told they risk deportation before entering a guilty plea.

That ruling, known as the Padilla case, applied to immigrants who pleaded guilty between March 1, 2009, and March 31, 2010.

In reaching its decision, the Court of Appeals said, in part, that it couldn’t apply Padilla retroactively to Varenga’s case. The court also said it couldn’t extend the time period for Varenga to appeal his case under Padilla.

In reaching its decision, the Court of Appeals overturned a midlevel court decision.

Earlier this year, Varenga, 39, told Newsday he had two children and a wife here, as well as daughter in Honduras, and wanted to stay in the United States.

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