Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

first time offender gets 55 years

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Stebalo, Nov 18, 2004.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Stebalo

    Stebalo Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2004
    Messages:
    312
    Location:
    Texas
    I'm not sure how I feel about this. I am against criminalizing guns but am in favor if criminalizing criminal behavior. This guy got 55 years for gun posession while dealing drugs. It doesn't say but I don't think any violence was involved. 3 counts of gun posession--the first got him 5 years the second and third counts had mandatory minimum federal sentences of 25 years each. I'm not in favor of drug dealers let alone drug dealers with guns and feel they should be dealt with harshly. However this seems excessive.

    I would like to consider some other opinions on this. Thanks.

    http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595106003,00.html


    Wednesday, November 17, 2004


    He reluctantly imposes a 55-year prison term
    By Angie Welling
    Deseret Morning News

    A Utah federal judge on Tuesday reluctantly imposed a 55-year mandatory-minimum sentence on a first-time drug offender, but not before delivering a scathing rebuke on the sentencing laws that mandate the term.
    "To sentence Mr. Angelos to prison for essentially the rest of his life is unjust, cruel and even irrational," U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell said.
    That said, however, Cassell said he had no choice but to follow the statutes and sentence 25-year-old Weldon Angelos to prison for more than half a century. But in doing so, he called on President Bush to commute Angelos' sentence to one more in line with his crime. The judge suggested 18 years and asked Congress to revisit the mandatory-minimum laws that required the term.
    The sentence was handed down in front of a full courtroom of Angelos' family and friends, as well as legal observers, many of whom expected Cassell to declare unconstitutional the mandatory-minimum sentencing laws that governed Angelos' sentence.
    Angelos' loved ones, including his wife and two young sons, were in tears upon hearing Cassell's decision. Defense attorney Jerome Mooney also expressed disappointment.
    "We just saw the effect of a Congress concerned about their seats and re-election instead of justice," Mooney said, saying the harsh sentencing laws prove legislators are more concerned with being viewed as tough on crime rather than the imposition of fair punishments on criminal offenders.
    To mandate a term that would keep the young father behind bars until he is 80 years old, Mooney said, is "unjust, and Congress should be ashamed of themselves."
    Angelos, the founder of the Utah-based rap music label Extravagant Records, initially faced at least a 61 1/2-year sentence for the 16 criminal counts of which he was convicted in December. The bulk of that term — the 55 years imposed Tuesday — is based on just three firearms charges for carrying a gun during two drug sales and for keeping additional firearms at his Fort Union apartment.
    Cassell imposed just one day for the additional 13 drug, firearm and money-laundering charges.
    The case has garnered the attention of legal experts across the country, who have been following Cassell's moves since June, when he declared the federal sentencing guidelines unconstitutional in the case of a Utah man convicted of child pornography. That ruling came on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that called the constitutionality of the guidelines into question.
    Mooney, joined by 29 former legal officials from across the nation, had asked Cassell to find that the onerous mandatory-minimum term in the Angelos case constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The defense also argued the firearm statute is not applied equally to all criminal defendants, a violation of Angelos' equal-protection rights.
    And although Cassell appeared to agree with the defense on nearly every point, the judge, in a lengthy opinion released immediately following Tuesday's hearing, said his analysis failed to meet the legal threshold required to find a statute unconstitutional. Thus, he said, he was required to impose the "Draconian" prison sentence.
    "Our constitutional system of government requires the court to follow the law, not its own personal views about what the law ought to be," the judge wrote.
    Federal prosecutors have maintained throughout the case that Cassell had no choice but to impose the mandatory-minimum sentence. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Lund argued Tuesday that lawmakers passed the firearms statute — which requires a five-year mandatory-minimum sentence for the first charge and a 25-year term for each count thereafter — with the clear intent to address the growing problem of mixing drugs and firearms.

    Attorney Jerome Mooney talks to the media after his client Weldon Angelos was sentenced to prison, calling the virtually lifelong term unjust.
    "Drugs and gun violence are an endemic problem in this country," Lund said. "There's a huge societal impact."
    Angelos' sentence simply reinforces the message Congress intended and will serve as an important deterrent, Lund said.
    "People who engage in armed violent crime or armed drug dealing are going to face very serious consequences," he said.
    Critics of the legal mandate, however, question the fairness of a method that doesn't allow judges to tailor a sentence to fit a particular crime or criminal defendant.
    "Judicial discretion has always been the heart and soul of the American justice system," said Monica Pratt, of the Washington D.C.-based organization Families Against Mandatory Minimums.
    Margaret Plane, staff attorney for the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, agreed.
    "That's why this case is such a great example," Plane said. "(Mandatory-minimum) laws apply without regard to the offense type, without regard to the particular offender. It's really kind of a one-size-fits-all approach, and that's not how our justice system should necessarily work."
    Despite his ultimate finding, University of Utah law professor Erik Luna commended Cassell for addressing the matter at all.
    "Judge Cassell did a very brave thing in even raising the issue," said Luna, an outspoken critic of federal sentencing laws. "We need to take this to the next level, which is to talk to the politicians. . . . I hope and pray some day that sanity will come back to the system."
     
  2. itgoesboom

    itgoesboom member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    1,675
    Location:
    By the River
    Oh, wah, wah wah.

    This poor young father is a victim, he didn't do anything wrong.... :scrutiny:

    [/sarcasm off]

    Look, we have laws. Drugs are illegal, he made the decision to deal drugs, and at the same time he made the decision to carry a firearm while doing it. We all complain about drug houses on our blocks, and violence from drug dealers, and here we have a chance to show how tough we are when it comes to dealing with them.

    We can effectivly send a message to these punks that are actively involved in ruining our society.

    You get caught, tough ****. You go to jail.

    I will shed no tears when these elements of our society are no longer allowed in our society.

    I.G.B.
     
  3. Bobarino

    Bobarino member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2003
    Messages:
    1,625
    Location:
    western Washington
    i'm just fine with it. the fact is, laws don't prevent crime, they only outline what punishment you will get if break said laws. aside from our own morals, which some people don't have, like the guy in the story, the only thing that prevents people from commiting crimes is fear of being thrown in the pokey or some other form of punishment. if those punishments are substantial, waaaay more substantial than they are now, then some folks might think twice about commiting a crime. i'm all for being MUCH harsher on criminals. be it for gun violations or dealing drugs. in my opinion, a good way to reduce crime is to double all current mandatory minimum sentences and do away with the parole system all together. you get ten years, you serve ten years. not a day more or less. just my opinion of course.

    Bobby
     
  4. itgoesboom

    itgoesboom member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    1,675
    Location:
    By the River
    BTW....

    It should be noted that there were 16 counts against him, including drug dealing and money laundering and the other firearm charges.

    And he is not a "first time offender", it just happens this was the first time he got caught.

    I have little sympathy for people who do drugs. I have ZERO sympathy for dealers.

    Now if we were talking that he had an 1/8 ounce of pot, and was smoking it in his home, than I would think this was extreme.

    But, once again, I have zero sympathy for dealers.

    I.G.B.
     
  5. Beren

    Beren Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2002
    Messages:
    2,388
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Why? If it's "not so bad" for someone to have 1/8 ounce of pot in their home, someone has to grow the pot, and someone has to distribute the pot.

    Decriminalize, control like the accepted recreational drugs (alcohol, tobacco), and tax. Watch violent crime drop as there is no longer a profitable market to fight over.
     
  6. TearsOfRage

    TearsOfRage Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    166
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Well, the money laundering shows that he was dealing as a business, so he knew the risk he was taking.

    I do think the mandatory minimums are excessive, though. I don't see how he was doing anything more 'wrong' with three guns than with one. And for all we know, he may have had them only for his own self defense.

    I've never been too sure about the idea of x counts of _____ for what was really one incident either.
     
  7. Daemon688

    Daemon688 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2004
    Messages:
    825
    Location:
    MN
    He knew the risks invovled and he got what he deserved.
     
  8. Hawkmoon

    Hawkmoon Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2004
    Messages:
    3,454
    Location:
    Terra
    The nice thing about mandatory sentences is that anybody can look up ahead of time and know what they're facing if they choose to embark on an "extra-legal" enterprise. Those who oppose mandatory sentences conveniently forget that before we had them, they were the same bleeding hearts who complained loud and bitterly about the terrible inequities of a criminal justice system that allowed two people convicted of the same (or similar) crime(s) to receive vastly different sentences.

    So Congress responded, and fixed that little problem. Now everyone gets treated more nearly the same ... and now every liberal defense attorney thinks HIS (or HER) client is the poster child who should be exempt from the same uniform sentencing laws they were asking for a few years ago.

    BS
     
  9. Daemon688

    Daemon688 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2004
    Messages:
    825
    Location:
    MN
    Not that I agree with my next statement but....

    What if there was a mandatory death penalty or life in prison sentence if people were caught with drugs. How much would that stop drug use?
     
  10. mfree

    mfree Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2004
    Messages:
    1,079
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    Well, if it were the death penalty, I gather you'd see quite the population thinning in some areas of the country...
     
  11. coma

    coma Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Messages:
    71
    Location:
    greenfield mass-o-chussetts
    I believe the saying is still true, "If you can't do the time don't do the crime"

    Deal drugs go to jail, what else do people need to know?
     
  12. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    24,041
    Location:
    Idahohoho, the jolliest state
    More Great Victories in the war against some drugs!
     
  13. deej

    deej Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    449
    Location:
    (Occupied) California Republic
    I feel safer already.
     
  14. JerryM

    JerryM Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2003
    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    New Mexico
    I wouldn't give him 55 years if I could give him 100 years or better yet the death penalty.

    Jerry
     
  15. FeebMaster

    FeebMaster Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2004
    Messages:
    275
    I see this thread is already filling up Republicans, likely of the small government variety, eager to support various drug and gun laws.
     
  16. sigmaman

    sigmaman member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    199
    well lets see
    look at it like this
    he deals in cash needs a gun to protect himself
    since the money is illegally gained hes guilty of money laundering
    he had 3 guns so 3 counts of guns posession by a drug dealer
    mmm
    i wonder if rush limbaughs dealers were packing
    how about if we decriminalise and control?
    i like that idea of total freedom a lot better
     
  17. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Messages:
    13,232
    Location:
    Richmond, Virginia
    Additional quote found on the web...

    "Cassell noted that the same day he sentenced Angelos, he gave 22 years to a man convicted of beating an old woman to death with a log."

    It's a strange world some days.

    John
     
  18. Flyboy

    Flyboy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    Messages:
    1,888
    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Amendment VIII

    "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."


    Fifty-five years of his life isn't "excessive" for posession of a naturally-occurring plant (ever wonder why they call it "weed?"), with intent to sell to willing consumers, with no violence or violation of the rights of the people with whom he dealt?

    Fifty-five years for carrying a gun to defend himself? It's not like he started any fights. Does he really forfeit his moral right to be alive just because a few people don't like the plants he offers for sale to willing buyers?

    Fifty-five years. He's twenty-five now. That means he'll be released at age eighty! Life expectancy being what it is, the odds are against his ever being a free man again. This is, for all practical purposes, a life sentence, for somebody who hasn't violated anybody's rights.




    "I wouldn't give him 55 years if I could give him 100 years or better yet the death penalty." "I believe the saying is still true, 'If you can't do the time don't do the crime.' Deal drugs go to jail, what else do people need to know?" "if those punishments are substantial, waaaay more substantial than they are now, then some folks might think twice about commiting a crime. i'm all for being MUCH harsher on criminals."

    OK, here's a thought: mandatory $10,000 fine, five years in jail, and ten year suspension-of-license for anybody caught speeding, running a red light, etc. After all, "if you can't do the time, don't do the crime." And besides, as itgoesboom pointed out, this wasn't his first time, just his first conviction. No doubt, if you're caught for speeding, you've done it before. We have to make sure to punish you for everything you've ever done, not just the ones we can prove, right?

    Heck, he's already done it, why even bother with the trial? We could save the taxpayers a lot of expense right there!
     
  19. RevDisk

    RevDisk Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2004
    Messages:
    1,737
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I find it amusing that his guy got 55 years, and the Enron CEO served how much time in jail?
     
  20. TearsOfRage

    TearsOfRage Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    166
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    I've got an idea! Let's make it a felony (with a mandatory minimum) to possess a firearm while speeding! After all, speeding is illegal. We don't want criminals to have guns. I mean, if a person does something illegal with a car, you KNOW they're gonna do something bad with a gun, right? Right?

    :rolleyes:
     
  21. Jeff Timm

    Jeff Timm Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2003
    Messages:
    933
    Location:
    St. Augustine, FL
    He deserved a suspension sentence. As in "by the neck, until DEAD."

    Geoff
    Who has no sympathy for Dealerss, or the Democrat politicians who protect them. :fire:
     
  22. Car Knocker

    Car Knocker Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Messages:
    3,809
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    From a different story:

    "Angelos, who had no prior convictions, was originally indicted on one gun possession count, three counts of marijuana distribution and two lesser charges.

    "Angelos declined a plea deal to serve 15 years. In response, the U.S. Attorney's Office obtained a new indictment with 20 charges mandating a minimum 105-year sentence."

    http://www.sltrib.com/ci_2464294

    Seems to me that the Feds were being a little vindictive in this case. Next thing ya know, if you're cited for speeding on federal property and decide to contest the citation, the prosecutor just might decide to tack on a half-dozen other charges just to show ya who's got the biggest ones!
     
  23. JerryM

    JerryM Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2003
    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    New Mexico
    Flyboy,

    Aren't you a Libertarian? If so don't you believe that people should be responsible for their actions?

    So you say yes, then how responsible? See why your LP views won't work?

    Jerry
     
  24. 316SS

    316SS Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2004
    Messages:
    590
    Flyboy wrote:
    At the dire risk of sounding like WildAlaska...

    Flyboy, I find your rational and non-hyprocritical viewpoint uncalled for, and very bad form.

    316SS
     
  25. Hawkmoon

    Hawkmoon Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2004
    Messages:
    3,454
    Location:
    Terra
    THIS I find very bothersome.

    Not surprising, mind you ... but bothersome. I do not approve of beating a defendent to death (figuratively ... sort of) by leafing through the law code to find every last offense he/she could possibly be charged with. If "the punishment should fit the crime" ... so should the charge(s).
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page