Aukongak sentenced for dealing heroin
In a sentencing hearing Nov. 27 in Nome, Judge Romano DiBenedetto handed down four one-year sentences to Rayne Aukongak. A jury of 12 found Aukongak guilty in July on four counts of misconduct with controlled substances in the third degree, including distribution.
The sentences will be served one after another, or consecutively, for a total sentence of four years’ jail time. Additionally, Aukongak has been ordered to pay $1,500 dollars to partially reimburse services by public defenders, plus police training charges.
Law enforcement arrested Aukongak, 30, on January 12, following an investigation of heroin and oxycodone sales he made to a confidential informer in August and September 2016.
The conviction for the offenses committed in 2016 was not Aukongak’s first. He was found guilty of selling oxycodone tablets in 2011.
In pronouncing sentence, DiBenedetto observed that he was not a candidate for probation; he had previously been convicted of an almost identical drug crime. District Attorney John Earthman agreed. The sentences are “flat” or straight sentences, meaning there generally is no probation time following release. With good time, Aukongak may get out of jail having served 32 of the 48-month jail sentence. Aukongak has already about a year’s time served.
In his defense, Aukongak told the court through his attorney, Krista Maciolek, that he was a nonviolent offender who had sold small amounts—less than a gram in each sale, and that the informer had sought him out to purchase the drugs; he had not been charge with selling to others. DiBenedetto agreed that the total amount being less than five grams was a mitigating factor. However, he found an aggravator. Selling narcotics is an aggravator, and that weighed in meting out the length of incarceration.
“Distributing narcotics in this small community is a dangerous offense,” DiBenedetto said. “You don’t have to walk two steps to see Nome in an opioid crisis.”
Aukongak did not take the opportunity to address the court during the hearing, and did not exhibit outward emotion when he heard his sentence. Aukongak, in custody, laughed as he left the courtroom with law enforcement, and blew a young woman sitting in the front row a kiss.
Aukongak has the right to appeal the conviction and the sentencing.