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Denied the Congress-granted Chance

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The key problem is the improper "stacking" of sentences without a trial and the appropriate sentence served for an offense for solitary occurrences with the chance to learn a lesson and not repeat th crime again...  not pack the person off for 57 years due to three offenses within a few months of each other.  What Congress wrote and hence intended was for the first trial to have a sentence range of 7 years.  Only after that sentence was completed, and the subject returns to society and is once more found guilty of an identical offense, only at that point, can the party receive as a consequence the second and more severe sentence of 25 more years for which a lesson should have been learned.

Should the party then again return to society after serving this second sentence of 25 years, and again repeat this identical offense for the third time, then and only then can the final sentence of 25 more years be given.

This is not hard to figure out.  I am shocked that this adverse dichotomy persists after all these decades, right here in America. Clearly a whole lot of politicians, judges and lawyers have no clue as to the audacity of their inaction to correct this mess. Every judge has the power to make correct rulings as to the true intent of the true law, and if that judge makes a mistake,  it will  have to be dealt with on appeal, but this has never happened. I am amazed that nobody -- who is a power that is -- has the "internal fortitude" to stand up and correct this obvious issue.

Congress did not intend for Joshua Rich, or Weldon Angelos, or anyone else, to get de facto Life Sentences in these non-victim instances, which is obviously contrary to the U.S. Constitution in terms of being "overly severe", "lacking in mitigating and circumventing consideration" and particularly, being cruel, unusual and inhumane on its face.

Detailed information on these two cases comes directly after this bold type which has pertinent information; good to have from the onset.

In addition, there is yet another factor that overrules and completely mitigates this entire situation.  At the time, Joshua was a treatable heroin drug addict.   His habit was costing him $200 per day to get a needle fix on an hourly basis, even during the night.  he had no job or income, etc. etc.  This revelation should have been a game changer as to his conviction and sentencing, but it was not.  He should not have been deemed to be a normal person that was acting within the bounds of standard cognitive thought capacity.  In other words, Joshua, and hundreds of thousands of others need help, not a lifetime in a prison hell hole, for mere warehousing purposes.  Our grand nation must do much better than this. 

The real reason for the robberies was strictly to assuage his drug addiction disease, and did not reflect an independent criminal mind.  This condition is rampant.   As a Nation, it is time to quit kidding ourselves.  Over 70 percent of all inmates are in prison due to an uderlying drug or alcohol addiction,  For example maybe there was a robbery, but the robbery stemmed from the need to satisfy an addiction craving.  Solve the addiction problem, through much cheaper and more effective rehabilitation; job training and job re-entry, and the robberies, etc. that fill our prisons will dramatically diminish.

There is not a family in this nation that does not have a close friend or relative that has fallen into this abyss.  It is an illness that can be successfully treated with a drug called ibogain, which is one pill, with one application, that wipes out all desire to ingest heroin or cocaine forever, and it involves no withdrawal. It also cures alcohol and tobacco addiction.  This miracle drug has been around for years, but for some reason, the FDA has chosen to either ignore it or to squelch it, so it is primarily administered under proper care and supervision in Mexico.

Again, look at it this way.  Is it better to lock up an addict for 57 years and let the taxpayers pay a minimum of $2,850,000 (at 50k per year) for mere lockup? Or, spend less than $100,000 over a six-month period of time for complete and supervised rehabilitation, new job training, and new job entry, so that person can again return to viable society? 
For that matter, the benefits of such rehabilitation are so huge, and the cost so relatively little, it make sense to initiate this type of program right on the street, before incarceration activity even becomes a temptation.

Joshua Rich was charged with three bank robberies and three blandishments of a firearm, because he was involved with three separate bank robberies.  He did go to trial, and he lost, and got 57 years in federal prison. The Judge, the Honorable Dee Benson, thought this very long sentence was outlandishly severe, and he said so, but in the end he just bowed his head and issued the 57 year minimum sentence.  Part of the reason why Judge Benson gave Joshua Rich 57 years was because Weldon Angelos also got  a 55 year stacked sentence, and the prosecutor hammered Judge Benson to impose the same "stacking" concept against Joshua Rich.

Here are the details of the Angelos Case.  Mr. Angelos was accused of selling marijuana to a police informant on several occasions worth a total of $350.  The witness stated that Angelos had a firearm strapped to his body, but no photographs or evidence existed other than the witness testimony.  In any event, no firearm was ever used or brandished by Mr. Angelos at any time.

However, section 924(c) of the congressional federal code provides for mandatory sentences for dealers who carry firearms during their drug transactions.  This caused Mr. Angelos, who had no prior criminal record, to be sentenced  in November 2004 to a minimum of 55 to 63 years in prison.

The Judge in Mr. Angelos' case was the Honorable Paul Cassell, of the U.S. Court for the District of Utah, the same Court but a different judge who sentenced Joshua Rich.  Both Judge Cassell and Judge Benson said they had no choice  but to impose these harsh sentences.   Judge Cassell urged President Bush to commute the sentence, calling it "unjust, cruel, and irrational", noting the sentence is much more than the minimum for hijacking, kidnapping,, etc. On appeal the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld the sentence and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Angelos' petition to that highest Court.

Fortunately for Weldon Angelos, he did get a Presidential Pardon after serving 13 years of his 55-year sentence.  On the surface, that sounds like a huge degree of clemency.  However, in realty it is the opposite. If the law had been correctly applied, Mr. Angelos should have only served five years of the sentence to begin with, which means he actually served 8 years too much.

In this light, Mr. Angelos did not get a pardon at all.  What he got was a correction that should have happened a long time ago.

Now let us consider the case of Joshua Samuel Rich.  The same illegal "stacking" of sentences applies to him and to myriads of other similarly mistreated inmates.

Joshua was actually charged three counts of 18 U.S.C. sec. 924(c), which is the brandishing of a firearm, which was never discharged.  The reason for these three counts was because there were three bank robberies, but he never entered the bank on the second robbery.  He only waited out in the car while his partner went inside the bank, so it is outlandish that Joshua got charged with three instead of only two  blandishment counts.

Joshua was also charged with three counts of armed robbery under 18 U.S.C. sec. 2113 (a) and (d). because there were three robberies.  However, these violations were waived by the government, and only the blandishment convictions went into effect.

Apparently, the government prosecutor determined that 57 years in prison for brandishing a pistol was actually a life sentence, so putting on more years was undeniably cruel, inhumane and not necessary.  Nevertheless, those robbery charges got waived and Joshua cannot be retried again.  Moreover, to show how outlandish the minimum congressional sentencing is, under 924(c)(1)(B)(ii), in the event the pistol had a silencer on it to make less noise, the minimum term for the first offense is 30, not 7 years. How capricious and vague can it get contrary to the the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Johnson vs. United States!

The event of the three blandishments occurred on November 10, 2006, November 27, 2006 and January 27, 2007, for a total of three times in less than three months.  Right after the last event Joshua was taken into custody where he has been ever since.

Joshua Rich was convicted of three pistol blandishments and given 57 years in federal prison.  This sentence was tabulated by calculating 7 years for the first event, 25 years for the second event and 25 more years for the third event.   He has already been in prison for over 11 years and yet after 7 years he should have been released for completing the proper time served.

The reason is because it is only after the first sentence is tried and served, which in this case was for 7 years, can a subsequent sentence of another 25 years be imposed, provided, that first Joshua was duly restored to his freedom after the first 7-- year sentence, and, only after that point, did he then commit a second similar offense, which only at that moment, would trigger the more harsh sentence for such a repeat offender, for which a lesson should have been learned.

In other words, Joshua Rich was unconstitutionally denied what can be viewed as both a God given and a Congress granted chance to repent and to honorably return to society, after the completion of the first sentence.

 Joshua Rich should be immediately released by President Donald Trump for one key reason.  It is the right thing to do.  There needs to be a "Poster Boy" example as to both the identification of a problem and the decisive correction to that problem.  Such would be fulfilled in the case of Joshua Rich being properly pardoned and immediately released from prison.

From a legal sentencing standpoint, it is immaterial that three banks got robbed before Joshua went into custody.  According to the law, Joshua can be convicted of three armed robberies, but each conviction has to have a "concurrent" sentence, not a "consecutive" sentence, and above all, none of those first three armed robberies can start off with a 25 year sentence. Otherwise, the intent of Congress is denied.  The only way a minimum 25-year prison sentence can apply to a single armed robbery is if that event took place after serving the first 7 year sentence.

I have personally known Joshua Rich for the past four years.  I have visited him many times in prison and we have written dozens of letters back and forth.  Joshua Rich is a splendid and a remarkably avid person.  As soon as I met him, I could tell he was an extraordinary person.  So much so that since I am an author,  I asked Joshua if he would like to cooperate with me on writing his whole life story.  He quickly agreed.

Over the next several months, Joshua sent to me page after page of his whole life story, beginning with his somewhat challenging childhood on up through his legendary years in high school -- not only as a top scholar -- but also as an outstanding athlete with numerous scholarship opportunities as both a football and a baseball player.  Then Joshua got on the slippery slope of drugs.

So many surprising and absolutely mesmerizing things happened, that this book became two books.  The first book ends with his honeymoon trip to San  Diego and Las Vegas, with his new bride, after the second bank robbery.

The second book begins with the third and last bank robbery.  By this time, Joshua and his wife are about to become known as the new Bonnie and Clyde of Utah.  Three times Joshua eluded the police, even when they had him right in their grasp.

Joshua just happened to be very smart, agile and street wise.  In the end, he actually had a friend call the police so he could give himself up.  This book not only details his trial, but also the publicity.  TV crews came from several countries in Europe to film the day-to- day events of that trial.  BTW, it was not a good PR clip for the rest of the world as to our broken judicial system.  The second book also details a whole new world of what prison life is all about.

Sometimes good things happened, like when Joshua conducted class after class to prepare other inmates to finally pass their GED test.  Other times, as the elected pod boss, he broke up fights, and convinced inmates to give up their many contraband knives.  Obviously this was at great risk to himself.  Other times were horrible.  I.e., time after time he had to fake a fight with another friend he could trust, so that both of them would be sent to the hole, with no privileges, but be safe from predatory gangs.

Unfortunately, these two books have never been published and they have not yet been made into the epic films they should be.  Only two copies of these copyrighted books exist.  Once set is in Joshua's possession, and I have the other set. He lived it, I just wrote it.  We have a 50-50 deal on the proceeds.

Each of these blockbuster books are actually modified feature-film screenplays  with scores of speaking parts, which are all designed for the big screen.  All of my books are like this.  Nobody else in the world writes in this format.  There are so many pictures it is like reading a movie.  Examples of the works I have already done include Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, Michelangelo, Adolf Hitler, Charles Russell, Ataturk, myself in Vietnam as a front-line Infantry Lieutenant and many more.

I only do highly researched biographical-type historical portraits of key individuals who changed this planet, and Joshua Rich is in this category. 

Hopefully, Joshua Rich can be released from prison very quickly.  He has more than served his time and the world needs his example of not just ultimate recovery, but also, what he can bring to the table as to actual contribution to family, friends, and all of society.

Very truly yours,

George M. Papa      




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