“We're asking the president for a full commutation,” says Lisa Angelos.
In 2004, her brother, Weldon Angelos’ federal prison sentence sparked outrage and caused federal lawmakers to consider changing federal mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines.
Angelos’ mistake: selling $1,000 worth of marijuana while carrying a gun. The possession of a gun sent the case to federal prosecutors and enhanced the sentence.
Angelos’ was a hip hop record producer working with notable artists like Snoop Dog, Bad Azz, and Napoleon.
Advocates, led by Angelos' sister, have been showcasing his cause to federal lawmakers, in talk shows, news accounts and on Youtube.
‘I realize the sentence is ridiculous and doesn't make any sense,” says his sister Lisa Angelos.
At the time of the sentencing, then Judge Paul Cassell called the 55-year prison sentence “cruel, unusual and irrational.” He pointed out that rapists, airplane hijackers and some murderers serve less time than Angelos.
Wednesday, lawyers acting on Angelos’ behalf sent a letter to President Obama asking to commute the sentence.
“The undersigned – former judges and prosecutors, former elected and appointed officials and prominent authors, scholars, artists, activists and business leaders – firmly believe that justice necessitates the exercise of executive clemency on this case,” the letter stated.
Dignataries such as former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, Former FBI Director William Sessions, musicians Bonnie Rait, Graham Nash, former Utah politicians Norm Bangerter, Jake Garn, Rocky Anderson and Former Chief Justice of Utah Supreme Court Mark Zimmerman and many others have signed off on the letter.
“I'm very hopeful,” says Angelos. “I've remained hopeful through the last ten years even when I've been hopeful and my hopes have been let down.”
Last year, Angelos says lawyers sent a last minute request to commute the sentence and never received any response. But this time she says their request has much more support.
Weldon Angelos’ case has sparked Congress to change federal mandatory minimum sentences.
Currently Senators Patrick Leahy and Ran Paul have introduced legislation to consider changes to the federal law.
Lisa Angelos has visited Washington D.C. urging lawmakers to pass the legislation.
“I know Weldon is not above the law but ten years for a thousand dollars of marijuana seems plenty just to me,” says Lisa Angelos. “And I hope in the future this can help people like Weldon.”
Weldon Angelos is currently serving his sentence in a California federal prison. His sister says presidential commutations normally occur at the end of the year.
“I’m hoping by Thanksgiving we’ll know,” says Angelos.