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  • By Bernadette Carreon

Hillbroom Jr. skates again in Palau

Judge admonishes millionaire's son, who is facing 30 years in jail if he skips stateside treatment for drug addiction

Koror -- DHL Heir Larry Imeong Hillbroom is allowed to go off-island to seek drug rehabilitation after Palau Associate Justice Lourdes Materne in Tuesday's sentencing showed compassion and recognized that the he needs help to treat his addiction

Judge Materne at the same time took cognizance of the fact that Hillbroom has the “resources” to get addiction treatment not available in the island-nation.

According to Hillbroom’s lawyer, he is looking at the United States for rehabilitation.

During Hillbroom's sentencing for violation of his probation after he failed a drug test in July, Judge Materne showed mercy anew to the DHL heir. She admitted that Hillbroom is uniquely possessed of resources to get help for his addiction which others--lacking his money and connections--don't have due to a lack of a proper drug rehabilitation program here.

Judge Materne made it clear that Hillbroom, who previously jumped jail, will not be able to buy his way out if he fails another drug test. another failed drug test or rehabilitation would mean spending at least 30 years in jail.

“I find myself giving you another chance,” Materne told Hillbroom during the sentencing.

She added that Hillbroom unlike those involved in other drug cases is in a “unique” position to “ get better” and seek addiction treatment outside of Palau which lacks a rehabilitation program.

Hillbroom is a multi-millionaire who holds US and Palau passports, is a son of Larry Hillblom, co-founder of the shipping company, although their surnames are spelled differently.

Hillbroom in June was sentenced to 10 years' probation, fined $50,000 and ordered to undergo a drugs rehabilitation program after after admitting trafficking methamphetamine.

Authorities had warned him he would serve a five-year jail term if he failed the drug test on July 16, Hillbroom failed the drug test on July 16 and was briefly on the run after the court ordered his arrest.

In the sentencing, Assistant Attorney General Leach asked that the court to impose a sentence of at least 30 years against Hillbroom arguing that the heir is a “recidivist” who has contributed to the drug problem in Palau.

He said Hillbroom has committed serious drug offenses repeatedly and that sending him to jail will serve as a deterrent

Hillbroom spoke in court and wept before the sentencing asking for mercy from the court.

After the sentencing, Hillbroom thanked Materne for which the judge replied, " don't thank me, this is not over yet, you still have a long road ahead of you."Materne said it is up to Hillbroom to get help.

Materne said as a condition for the rehabilitation, the choice of rehabilitation center should be court and government approved.

Materne said Hillbroom has to complete the rehabilitation program and upon his return to Palau after the treatment he has to stay out of trouble for six months and get drug testing three times a week.

The initial plea bargain had angered Palau President Tommy Remengesau who said the island nation's zero tolerance policy on drugs should apply to all people, regardless of their wealth.


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