A former Delaware 7-Eleven store owner has been convicted of heroin conspiracy and racketeering charges in a 1986 case tied to mob activities involving former Maryland Del. George S. Santoni.
Sayon Sangvixienkit, 34, was convicted in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. The jury acquitted him of one of the two racketeering counts in his indictment tied to an alleged heroin delivery that went sour when he and an accomplice couldn't connect with the intended buyers.
The defendant, a Thai immigrant and admitted former heroin user, fled the United States in mid-1986 just before he, Santoni and two New Jersey mobsters were indicted on a variety of criminal charges.
Sangvixienkit, who remained a federal fugitive for nearly four years, was arrested in New York last May as he re-entered the country.
The reluctant defendant backed out of a plea bargain in July on the day he was to plead guilty to criminal charges.
Last week he sat through two days of prosecution evidence, then decided -- again at the last minute, and against the advice of defense attorney E. Thomas Maxwell -- to take the witness stand in his own defense.
During the three-day trial, prosecutor Gary P. Jordan presented witnesses and tape-recorded evidence that Sangvixienkit conspired with Herbert D. Britton Sr. in early 1985 to sell a pound of heroin to Palmer "Sonny" Brocco and Nicholas Massaro at a New Jersey motel.
Britton, a former Elkridge businessman who served 18 months in prison for drug-related racketeering, testified for the prosecution about details of the drug delivery.
He said Sangvixienkit agreed to sell him the heroin for $145,000 and he was to sell it to Brocco and Massaro for $165,000. But the deal went sour, Britton said, because the heroin was of poor quality.
Sangvixienkit acknowledged that he went with Britton to New Jersey, but told the jury he made the trip only to buy counterfeit videotapes of movies to sell in his home country.
The defendant said he and his girlfriend got high on heroin during the trip and he didn't remember going to his car with Britton to deliver heroin to Massaro in a hotel parking lot.
Jordan countered that the FBI had the three men under `f surveillance and that Sangvixienkit's lack of memory was merely a convenience designed to hide his guilt in the transaction.