Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) urged President Obama to commute the sentence of Weldon Angelos.
MICHAEL S. LEE
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WASHINGTON, DC 20510-4404
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
I write to urge you to commute the extraordinary sentence of Weldon
Angelos, who is serving 55 years for a non-violent drug crime-the sale of
about $350 worth of marijuana on three occasions while possessing firearms
(which were merely possessed, not used). Weldon fell into the fowest
criminal history category, and he has been a model prisoner. His continued
incarceration is unjust, contrary to the wishes of the judge who sentenced
him, and a waste of government resources.
Weldon's case is striking and important. Prosecutors used mandatory
sentencing laws to inflate his sentence after he turned down a plea offer and
went to trial. Sentencing Judge Paul G. Cassell, leading legal scholars, and
national commentators have published compelling arguments that Weldon
was over-sentenced for his crime. In an interview on February 18, 2015,
Judge Cassell told ABC News that the sentence he was forced to give was
"not only unjust to Weldon Angelos, but also unjust to the taxpayers."
The 55 year sentence was grossly disproportionate to the facts of Weldon's
case. In his sentencing opinion, Judge Cassell compared Weldon's sentence
(738 months) to the presumptive guideline sentences for the kingpin of a
major drug trafficking ring which caused a death (238 months), an aircraft
hijacker (293 months), a second-degree murderer (168 months), and the
rapist of a 10-year-old child (13 5 months). A sentence for selling marijuana
that is five times longer than a child rapist's is not only unjust-it is
Judge Cassell noted that if the Guidelines were allowed to operate without
the constraints imposed by the mandatory minimum, taking into account all
the facts of his case, a just sentence would have been between 97 and 121
months. I agree that a sentence within this range should have been enough,
and now that Weldon has served more than the high end of this range, the
injustice grows with each passing day.
361A Russell Senate Office Building
(202) 228-1168 Fax
The U.S. Sentencing Commission has reduced the guidelines for drug
sentences, and while thousands of offenders are granted relief under that
retroactive change, Weldon is ban-ed from relief because of the statutory
penalties in his case. He has served more than 11 years in prison for selling
small quantities of marijuana. This should be enough.
You and I have discussed the problems created by mandatory minimums,
but I have never before written you to request executive clemency. This
extreme case, however, has understandably provoked substantial public
outrage: there is no reasonable argument for the justice of the sentence
imposed on Weldon Angelos. You alone have the constitutional authority to
commute the unjust- but legal-sentence that was required in this case. It
would be a grave injustice to let this sentence stand, and I urge you to
exercise your authority and commute Weldon's sentence.
W. Neil Eggleston
White House Counsel
Acting Deputy Attorney General