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After Nassau County deputy killed, illegal immigrant given 2-year sentence

Deputy Eric Oliver killed in foot pursuit of Francisco Portillo-Fuentes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The El Salvadorian man who ran from Border Patrol and Nassau County deputies in November was sentenced Monday to two years in prison, then to be deported. That is the maximum sentence for Francisco Portillo-Fuentes' violation for illegal re-entry.

Portillo-Fuentes, 26, will then be deported for a third time. He will remain on supervised release in El Salvador for one year, and face even more jail time if he were again found in the United States.

Nassau County Deputy Eric Oliver was struck and killed by a car as he ran after Portillo-Fuentes. State prosecutors are still investigating to see if Portillo-Fuente will face charges related to Oliver's death.

"It's an emotional thing for us," said the deputy's father, Doug Oliver. "We are very pleased with the outcome today, with the judge, with the system. It's a max we could ask for. It's the next phase, and we will see what the state does."

The attorney for Portillo-Fuentes told a federal judge that the deputy's death was tragic, but his client did not engage in reckless endangerment.

As Portillo-Fuentes stood before the judge hearing that the will spend the next two years in prison, his wife sat in the courtroom crying.

"It's hard, because my kids are (not) going to see their daddy anymore," Viviana Portillo said. "And yes, I'm going to El Salvador with my husband so we can be a family again because I don't want him coming back over here."

Assistant Federal Defender Mark Rosenblum told the court that life in El Salvador is not easy and he was doing nothing more than escaping poverty and violence. He will go back when his sentence is complete.

"Mr. Portillo-Fuentes will think about Deputy Oliver and his family every day for the rest of his life," Assistant Rosenblum wrote in a sentencing memorandum. "He wishes he had submitted to being taken into custody, rather than running away. At the instant he ran, all he was thinking about was being separated from his wife and children and the end of his dream of forging a better life for his family."

CRIMINAL COMPLAINT: U.S. vs. Francisco Portillo-Fuentes

Portillo-Fuentes was living near the Gator Lodge on Philips Highway and was picked up to do day labor work in Nassau County the day of the incident.

Todd Bryant, division chief for the U.S. Border Patrol's Miami Sector, said six men in a pickup truck at a Gate gas station in Yulee were investigated by Border Patrol officers, and at least three were found to be foreign nationals not authorized to be in the United States. Portillo-Fuentes was in the truck with the men, authorities said.

As agents were arresting the three men and putting them in the Border Patrol vehicle, Portillo-Fuentes ran. Oliver and another deputy followed him, and Oliver was killed when he was hit by an SUV while chasing Portillo-Fuentes across State Road 200.

Portillo-Fuentes was arrested that night at Atlantic Self Storage on Powers Avenue after a manhunt involving the U.S. Marshals Service, the Nassau County Sheriff's Office, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and the Florida Highway Patrol.

Portillo-Fuentes was deported from the United States in 2011 and again sometime after an Aug. 15, 2016, conviction for DUI. He was arrested in a traffic stop on Philips Highway at 2:15 a.m. May 15, 2016.

After he pleaded guilty to the DUI charge, he was transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to federal court documents, he re-entered the United States a second time by wading across the Rio Grande River from Mexico to Laredo, Texas.

The State Attorney's Office released a statement Monday on the current status of the report on Oliver's death:

“The State Attorney’s Office received a criminal referral from the Florida Highway Patrol on Feb. 28. The State is evaluating the referral to determine if any laws of the State of Florida were broken in connection with Deputy Oliver’s death last November. This report is considered active criminal investigation and not subject to public records laws at this time.”

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.