JANESVILLE

A man being sentenced in Rock County Court on Wednesday was more concerned about getting deported to Mexico than losing his freedom in the United States.

Jesus Rangel-Silva, 19, of 727 Milwaukee Road, No. 14, Clinton, was sentenced on a charge of second-degree recklessly endangering safety.

Judge Karl Hanson noted Rangel-Silva was brought to this country illegally as an infant, and it’s likely he will be picked up by federal agents when he finishes his sentence and deported to Mexico.

Hanson quoted from Rangel-Silva’s presentence report, in which he said, “I’m scared about my future. I feel like my future is over. There is no future in Mexico, really. Being deported scares me more than going to prison.”

But Hanson said Rangel-Silva had chosen to deal drugs and arm himself, endangering himself, his family and his community.

“In a very real sense, you had the American Dream in front of you,” Hanson said. “And I think it’s not hyperbole or exaggeration to say, sir, that you took the opportunity of that American Dream and turned it into a nightmare.”

Rangel-Silva fired a pistol while being pummeled by three people who were trying to rob him of the marijuana he was going to sell him Feb. 18 near his home, said his attorney, Douglas Phebus.

The three had arranged to buy one pound of marijuana, according to the criminal complaint.

The bullet hit the shoulder of one of the three assailants, Taylor R. Lantz, 19, of 4325 N. River Road, Janesville.

Lantz survived, but someone in the scuffle or in the neighborhood could have been hit and killed, Hanson said.

Assistant District Attorney Jerry Urbik said Rangel-Silva had a right to defend himself, but reacting to pepper spray and fists with a handgun was excessive and would not be an effective defense if the issue had gone to trial.

Urbik argued for the maximum sentence of five years in prison and five more of extended supervision, saying that if the danger of deportation for someone who dealt in large amounts of drugs was not enough to deter Rangel-Silva, “I’m not sure what will.”

Phebus said Rangel-Silva and his brothers suffered from an abusive and alcoholic father who left the family two years ago. He said his client had no drug-abuse problems or previous criminal record.

Phebus quoted letters of support from former Clinton High School Principal Janea Gile and a teacher.

Gile described him as respectful, compliant, honest and open, Phebus said.

But Rangel-Silva was frequently absent and had 68 disciplinary referrals at the school, Urbik said.

Rangel-Silva originally was charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, which carries a life sentence, but that and related charges were dismissed in exchange for his guilty plea to the lesser charge.

Phebus said deportation for Rangel-Silva, who has “basically never been to Mexico” and who has no contacts there, is harsh.

“He’s being sentenced to a life sentence, basically. His life here is gone,” Phebus said. “He never intended to harm anybody. That much is clear. Yeah, OK, he did want to do a drug transaction.”

Phebus noted his client has spent 289 days in jail, and if he was held 10 days longer so immigration authorities could pick him up, that would be sufficient punishment.

Hanson imposed the maximum sentence, five years in prison plus five years of supervision.

Rangel-Silva has 289 days of sentence credit, and Hanson made him eligible for prison rehabilitation programs that could lead to early release, but Hanson said those programs could not start until 3½ years into the sentence.

Hanson said that because Rangel-Silva is facing deportation, he should be given five minutes with his mother at the courthouse before being taken to prison.