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Encinitas pro skater avoids more prison in drug case

Robert Lorifice was sentenced in San Diego federal court.
(The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Robert Lorifice, who admitted to trafficking heroin, meth and other drugs, was sentenced to time served

Encinitas professional skateboarder Robert Lorifice had pushed through injuries before. But this one was different.

When he fractured his tailbone, prescription opioids had dulled the pain — and set him on a path of addiction that contributed years later to a federal drug conviction.

On Friday, Aug. 7, Lorifice appeared for his sentencing hearing in San Diego federal court, facing possibly decades in prison for pleading guilty to possessing methamphetamine and heroin with the intent to distribute. Federal prosecutors asked the judge for a term of 41 months behind bars.

Ultimately, he was sentenced to time served in federal custody — a nod to the two days he spent jailed in January 2019 — as well as one year on GPS-monitored home detention.

Defense attorney Stefano Molea said Lorifice’s drastic life turnaround since being out on bond in the case helped sway the judge. He has finished a drug rehabilitation program, as well as an after-care program, and become a mentor to others, Molea said. He also enrolled in school and found employment.

Lorifice, 32, was a well-known name in the skating scene, having been mentored as a youth in Encinitas by pros such as Tony Hawk and later winning three medals in the X-Games.

He was arrested in September 2018 by sheriff’s detectives after a stash of drugs was found at his home on Blossom Field Way.

He had refused their entry into the home as he disposed of methamphetamine and other drugs down the toilet and sink of his master suite, authorities said.

Still, investigators discovered in the bedroom about 193 grams of methamphetamine, 231 grams of heroin, Roxicodone pills, more than 800 Xanax pills, a yellow powdery substance, marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms, a digital scale, packaging materials, three cell phones and $16,824, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

His then-girlfriend, Elizabeth Landis, was also present.

Both were also present in December — Lorifice was out on bond on state charges — when investigators served a second search warrant. Lorifice admitted to trying to flush a tennis ball-sized chunk of meth down the toilet, according to prosecutors. More drugs were found in the bedroom, including 31 grams of black tar heroin and 18 grams of methamphetamine, as well as $10,926.

Federal charges were filed against him in January 2019. Both he and Landis ultimately pleaded guilty.

Landis is set to be sentenced in January.

Related drug charges brought by the District Attorney’s Office were dismissed due to the federal prosecution.

Molea said Lorifice’s substance abuse was triggered by the tailbone injury. But the loss of sponsors and inability to compete due to his physical condition, as well as a separation from his wife, pushed him to “rock bottom,” the attorney said.

“Mr. Lorifice is extremely grateful to the Court for believing in him and giving him a second chance,” Molea told the Union-Tribune. “He looks forward to helping those in the skateboarding community realize the dangers of drug use and has recently teamed up with the Ryan Bowers Foundation to work with kids with the hopes of showing them how skateboarding can be a healthy outlet to obtain and maintain their sobriety.”

Lorifice will be under federal supervision for the next five years, according to the terms of the sentence.

— Kristina Davis is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune


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