Free Weldon Angelos - 55 years for marijuana
My brother Weldon Angelos, who was on his way to becoming a successful musician--writing and producing songs with artists such as Snoop Dogg and other acclaimed musicians--has been in federal prison for over 12 years. He faces 43 more years. All because he sold small amounts of marijuana and possessed--only possessed, didn't use--a gun at the same time! Even the judge who sentenced Weldon disagreed with the mandatory sentence of 55 years.
The father of two young boys and a daughter, Weldon had never before been in trouble with the law. He was convicted when he was 24 years old of selling small amounts of marijuana to a confidential informant three times. The informant, who was a childhood acquaintance of Weldon, testified that a gun was present (never brandished or used) during two of the pot deals, which were friendly encounters in a store parking lot.
When the police officers presented a warrant for Weldon's arrest, he consented to a search of his home, where officers found some marijuana and three guns, one in a locked brief case and the other two in a locked safe.
The conservative federal judge Paul Cassell, appointed by President George W. Bush, sentenced Weldon to one day in prison on the marijuana charges. But, to the judge's dismay, he had to sentence Weldon to 55 years in prison because Weldon possessed a gun during a drug offense, which was mandatory under federal law, even though Weldon had never before been convicted of a crime.
Judge Cassell called the sentence "cruel, unjust, and even irrational," and "one of those rare cases where the system has malfunctioned." Members of Congress have also publicly decried the injustice of Weldon's sentence, including Senators Rand Paul (R- Ky.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Mike Lee (R-Ut.), and Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.), and over 100 former federal prosecutors and judges joined together to challenge Weldon's outrageous sentence.
Judge Cassell highlighted that Weldon's sentence is far longer than the sentences received for "child rape (11 years)," "second-degree murder (14 years)," and even "aircraft hijacking (24 years)." Had Weldon been prosecuted in state court, the judge noted, Weldon would have served about 2 years in prison.
In 2004, Judge Cassell called upon the President to commute Weldon's unjust sentence. Since then, Senators Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch of Utah, and dozens of prominent celebrities, activists, book authors, legal scholars, business leaders (including Koch Industries), and former elected and appointed government officials have joined Judge Cassell in calling on President Obama to release Weldon from prison. But that hasn't happened yet. After 12 years, Weldon is still in prison. It breaks my heart. My father feared he would die without ever seeing Weldon free from prison. And on January 4, 2015, that's exactly what happen. Our father died without seeing his son free from behind bars.
The Constitution provides the President with the power of commutation to reach a humane, merciful, just result.
Please help us reach that result by signing and sharing this petition.
- Pardon Attorney
- President of the United States
Weldon Angelos is a first time non-violent drug offender who was sentenced at 24 years of age to 55 years in federal prison (at a cost to taxpayers of approximately $26,000 per year, not including the cost of prison construction) because he possessed (not used or even displayed) guns at the time of a few small marijuana sales.
His sentence, imposed only because of a mandatory minimum statute, is an affront to any notion of justice. Already, dozens of former federal judges, U.S. Attorneys, U.S. Attorneys General, and a former Director of the F.B.I. have agreed that the sentence is cruel and unjust. The federal judge who was forced by a mandatory minimum sentencing statute to impose the sentence, found the sentence to be “unjust, cruel, and even irrational” and grossly disproportionate to the crimes.
The bizarre, inhumane, and unjust sentence of Weldon Angelos can and should be remedied by a presidential commutation without delay. Weldon has already served ten years of his sentence, far longer than he would have served had he been tried and convicted in state court where the offenses occurred. (As found by the trial judge, Weldon would have served about five to seven years in Utah.) As noted by the trial judge, Weldon’s sentence is far longer than sentences imposed “for three aircraft hijackings, three second-degree murders, three racial beatings inflicting life-threatening injuries, three kidnappings, and three rapes.” It is also “far beyond the roughly two-year sentence that the congressionally-created expert agency (the United States Sentencing Commission) believes is appropriate for possessing firearms under the same circumstances.”
Please commute the sentence to time served, thereby wisely and justly exercising the discretion bestowed upon you by our Constitution.
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