Crime & Justice

Former Riverside Catholic priest pleads guilty to drug possession

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A former Catholic bishop in Riverside pleaded guilty Monday to possessing illegal drugs for sale.

Police arrested Anthony Martinez Garduno last week for selling methamphetamine and the so-called date rape drug G.H.B. Garduno was defrocked by the Catholic Church 14 years ago by authorities after he formed his own church.

Riverside County Sheriff’s detectives say they also found evidence that links Garduno to one or more sexual assaults at his church in Home Gardens, a small community off the 71 Freeway east of Corona.

Authorities say a young man has accused Garduno of sexually assaulting him when he was 17 years old. The alleged victim told investigators he knew of other boys the 51-year-old bishop had assaulted.

To date, prosecutors have declined to file sex-related charges against the cleric.

Garduno initially pleaded not guilty to four felony and one misdemeanor counts related to drug possession and receiving stolen property.

With his guilty plea, he faces more than four years in state prison.

(KPCC wire services contributed to this story)