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Sentencing delayed in sex crimes case

Guo facing at least 60.5 years in prison for assaults, drug and prostitution rings

Guo

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County prosecutors are asking a county judge to sentence a former Penn State Altoona student to at least 60.5 years’ incarceration for sexually assaulting four underage girls and for running a prostitution and drug-selling business in the Altoona area.

Jeffrey Guo, 25, who rendered guilty pleas in February to 35 felony and misdemeanor offenses, was supposed to be sentenced Thursday by Judge Wade A. Kagarise.

But Guo’s sentencing was delayed until Nov. 30, providing time for preparation of a report to challenge Guo’s potential classification as a sexually violent predator.

The judge said the delay will also allow further review of the potential merger of some of Guo’s offenses, an action that could factor into the sentence length.

First Assistant District Attorney Nichole Smith said Thursday that delaying Guo’s sentencing until Nov. 30 won’t change the 60.5 years to 121 years incarceration that she and District Attorney Pete Weeks are seeking.

“This defendant didn’t limit himself to one crime or one kind of crime,” Smith said in support of the sentence request. “(He) indulged in a series of predatory sexual assaults of multiple underage victims … inflicting life-changing damages to them.”

Guo, who came to Blair County from New York in 2018 and enrolled at Penn State Altoona, has been in prison since February 2019.

That’s when he was arrested and accused of sexually assaulting four underaged girls, of bringing drugs into Blair County, of recruiting Penn State Altoona collegians to sell drugs for him and of setting up a prostitution business that operated out of a local hotel and drew in patrons.

“His sentence should reflect the damage he wrought on the various populations within Blair County,” Smith said in a memorandum prepared for Thursday’s court hearing.

Defense attorney Thomas M. Dickey said he will ask Kagarise in November to consider “less” incarceration than the prosecutors are requesting for Guo.

“Sixty to 120 years is a life sentence for my client,” Dickey said. “A person could commit third-degree murder and get far less than that.”

Still, the defense attorney said he and his client acknowledge that laws were broken, the basis for Guo’s entry of guilty pleas.

“I’m not making light of this situation because, yes, it is a real serious situation,” Dickey said. “But my client has accepted responsibility, which should go a long way in determining his sentence. Because of his pleas, he spared the victims from having to testify at trial.”

In preparation for Thursday’s sentencing, the state Sexual Offenders Assessment Board evaluated Guo and is recommending that he be classified as a sexually violent predator, a determination that rests with a county judge.

Dickey told Kagarise that he was asking to delay Thursday’s sentencing to await a forthcoming report that could put him in a position to contest the board’s finding. Weeks and Smith told Kagarise that to avoid post-sentence challenges, they would agree to the request.

Dickey is also asking Kagarise to consider merging the defendant’s offenses where contributing facts are similar. In a memorandum filed with the court, Dickey spoke of merged offenses as a way to avoid double jeopardy issues.

Guo’s guilty pleas applied to multiple counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, aggravated indecent assault, statutory sexual assault, corruption of minors, indecent assault of minors, dissemination of explicit sexual materials to minors, promoting a house of prostitution, procuring patrons for a house of prostitution, possession with intent to deliver cocaine, possession with intent to deliver marijuana, possession with intent to deliver ecstasy and tampering with physical evidence.

Smith is already on record against merging any of the offenses, pointing out that the crimes and the crime victims are distinct.

“Each child’s suffering should be respected with a consecutive sentence that does not allow this or any other defendant to believe that they can afford to adopt an ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ mentality,” she wrote in her sentencing memorandum. “To consolidate any of the sexual accounts concurrently to each other would send a message that sexually assaulting a child once is a free ticket to do so in more ways, across more victims, more times.”

Altoona Police Chief Joseph Merrill, one of the police investigators who was expected to speak during Thursday’s sentencing hearing, said outside court that he too believes that each of Guo’s victims deserve justice and that Guo deserves a lengthy sentence.

“He is a predator,” Merrill said. “Children are his victims and drugs are his weapons.”

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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