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Ex-DJ Pleads Guilty To Drug Charges

December 16, 1987 GMT

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Manuel Francisco Navarro, a velvet-voiced ex-disc jockey known as Paco, pleaded guilty Tuesday to drug charges nearly 10 years after riding the disco craze to stardom in the nation’s top radio market.

Navarro, 51, accepted a plea bargain under which he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of heroin distribution carrying a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. The original charge carried a sentence of up to life in prison.

Navarro was one of the best known voices of disco in the late 1970s and early 1980s at once top-rated WKTU-FM of New York, now rock station WXRK-FM, but ″couldn’t seem to find a job in radio″ recently, said a former WKTU colleague, Jim Harlan.

Navarro and two other men were arrested July 1 and charged with possessing and conspiring to distribute about two pounds of heroin.

Under the plea bargain, they admitted to a charge involving less than 3.5 ounces of the drug, and the government agreed to make no recommendation at sentencing Jan. 29. All three remained free on bail.

Harlan said Navarro left WKTU in 1984 or 1985 after the station changed its format and returned to his old employer, Spanish language station WJIT, as program director.

″He really didn’t quite fit in″ under the new format, Harlan said. After ratings dropped at WJIT, Navarro left in January 1986 and couldn’t find a job in radio, he said.

At a July hearing, the former disc jockey’s attorney at the time, Sal Nigrone, said Navarro owned two Union City companies, one that produced commercials and one that imported seafood.

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